Sweet summertime! Nothing better than popsicles and ice cream, but variety is the spice of life. Let’s shake up our summertime with these unique treats perfect for picnics, family gatherings, or relaxing at home.

Five Star Candy Bars

What do you get when you combine smooth, creamy peanut butter and caramel with crunchy, salty pretzels and peanuts, then coat the whole shebang in chocolate? You get Five Star Candy Bars – the perfect combination of salty and sweet. Keep them in the cooler for your beach trip, but melting may not be a problem because they won’t last long!

  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 lb chocolate candy coating
  • 1 ½ cups mini pretzel twists
  • 11 oz soft caramels, unwrapped

Line a 9”x9” square baking pan with foil, then give it a light coat of nonstick cooking spray. Coarsely crush the pretzels and set them aside. Mix the butter and peanut butter in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for two minutes. Allow the mixture to cool for a couple of minutes – then stir, recover, and microwave for an additional minute. Stir the mixture again, add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, and mix everything together. At first, it will seem too dry, but keep mixing! If the mixture is a bit too crumbly, add a teaspoon or two of milk to loosen it up.

Once the peanut butter fudge has come together, add the pretzel pieces and rake the fudge into the prepared pan. Spread into an even layer, then refrigerate the pan as you prepare the caramel layer. Combine the unwrapped caramels and 1 ½ tablespoons of cream in a microwaveable bowl, and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well, then continue to alternate between microwaving for 30 seconds and stirring, until the mixture is melted and smooth. It will resist melting initially, making it difficult to mix, but it will smooth out and become fluid as you continue to heat it.

Combine the peanuts and caramel, stir well, then scrape the mixture onto the peanut butter layer, spreading evenly. Refrigerate the tray for approximately one hour, until everything is completely set. Use the foil as handles to assist in removing candy from the pan, cut the chunk of candy in half, then slice each half into thin fingers. Melt the chocolate candy coating in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring repeatedly to avoid overheating. Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper, then use a fork to plunge each bar into the chocolate, before placing it on the baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, and serve the bars at room temperature.

Bite Size Colorful Chocolate Cupcakes

Celebrate summer with these diminutive cupcakes, perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth while holding on to that beach body.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Gel paste food coloring (assorted colors)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use mini paper liners to line mini-muffin tins. Sift cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, stirring until smooth. Split batter between muffin cups, filling each ⅔ full. Bake until tops spring back when touched – about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire racks, and allow them to cool.

Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until light in color and smooth in texture – about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add ½ cup sugar at a time, then beat about 5 minutes after each addition. (After every 2 additions, elevate speed to high, beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, beating until buttercream is smooth.

Reserve 1 cup frosting in a bowl. Divide remaining frosting among several bowls. (If making 1 color, put remaining frosting in a large bowl.) Tap a single drop of gel paste coloring with a rubber spatula, and stir into a bowl of frosting. Add more, drop by drop, to achieve desired shade. Repeat with remaining frosting. If frosting is too dark, mix in some reserved white frosting, then frost the cupcakes.

Secret Fruit Salad

Enjoy the fresh flavors of summer with this scrumptious fruit salad. The ‘secret ingredient’ creates a tasty and sweet glaze that ties all the flavors together.

  • 2 tablespoons dry instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 pound of strawberries, quartered
  • ½ pint blueberries
  • ½ pint raspberries
  • ½ pineapple, cubed
  • 1 bunch of grapes

 

Place all of the fruit in a large bowl. Sprinkle the pudding mix over the fruit and mix gently until dissolved. Serve immediately or allow the salad to sit overnight.

Don’t feel like messing up the kitchen or don’t have time to whip something up? American Dream Cakes offers all types of yummy summertime treats perfect for a family gathering or picnic in the park. Come by our bakery at 1121 Gum Branch Road, Jacksonville NC 28540.