Happy 3rd Birthday to Tag Sale Tastes!  My very first post — Patriotic Red and Blue Spritz Cookies — was July 1, 2012.  Each year around this time I’ve continued to post a recipe or two for some sort of patriotic-themed treat:  Giant M&M Cookies, 4th of July Firecrackers, Stars and Stripes Pie, and this year’s Red, White & Blue Biscotti:

I hope one of these might inspire you to make a special dessert to celebrate Independence Day.

If you are not quite into red, white, and blue, in honor of Tag Sale Tastes’ birthday, I’m sharing a recipe my daughter made for Father’s Day that is worthy of any summer celebration.  Layers of brownie, mint chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate ganache, real whipped cream, and a topping of shaved chocolate — it’s easy, cool, and quite decadent.  Although I think you cheat yourself if you use whipped topping instead of real whipped cream, don’t think twice about using Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix instead of making your own brownies.

Recipe type: Dessert
  • 1 box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • 1.5-quart container good quality Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1.5-ounce chocolate bar
  1. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Lightly spray a 9x9 pan with cooking spray. Spread brownie batter in prepared pan and bake according to package directions. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Remove ice cream from freezer and allow to soften at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, until soft enough to spread. Spread ice cream over the cooled brownie layer, leaving approximately ½" to top of pan for ganache layer. Place pan in freezer and allow ice cream to harden, at least 1 hours.
  3. Prepare ganache by placing ¾ cup heavy cream in a microwave-proof container and heat for 2 minutes until hot but not boiling. Add the chocolate chips to the cream and set aside for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to melt, then stir until cream and chocolate are thoroughly combined. Set aside and allow to cool (ganache will thicken as it cools). When the ganache is cool, spread evenly over the ice cream layer and return pan to freezer for 2-3 hours, until ice cream and ganache are firm.
  4. Just before serving, whip 1 cup heavy cream and powdered sugar using an electric beater, just until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overwhip -- you don't want butter!).
  5. To serve, cut into 2" squares. Pipe or dollop whipped cream decoratively on top of each square. Garnish by grating chocolate over whipped cream. Serve immediately.

 IMG_6319Happy 3rd Birthday to Tag Sale Tastes!


For summer entertaining, chocolate-covered strawberries are a delicious dessert treat that are easy to make and won’t heat up your kitchen.  I’m always surprised to learn how many people have never made them or think they’re too difficult to make at home, and for those people, this post is for you.

Begin with the most beautiful firm, bright red strawberries you can find.  Check for ripeness by making sure they smell like strawberries.

Use any chocolate that you like.  You can use plain old chocolate chips, or get fancy with fair trade chocolate, 85% cacao dark chocolate, or single estate chocolate made from cocoa beans picked from a single tree by a single person.  But don’t overthink it — I use Hershey’s bars, and they work just fine and taste great.  Whatever you do, don’t use candy melts (also known as confectionery coating) — it’s not fair to the strawberries.

Make sure everything you’re using is dry and free from water drops, including the strawberries and the cooking equipment.  Otherwise, your chocolate may seize up, and then the party’s over.

The secret to a smooth chocolate coating on your berries is a tablespoon of shortening.  (I had a friend that used paraffin, but I don’t consider that a food, so I wouldn’t recommend it.)  Crisco works great (which I also don’t really consider a food.)  Simply melt the chocolate and shortening together in a small saucepan — no tempering, no water bath (which you are free to do, but your berries will not taste any better and you’ll just be in the kitchen longer and make a bigger mess).

To dress up your berries, you can sprinkle them with jimmies, nuts, or toffee bits, although they look just as tempting plain.  You can also drizzle them with white chocolate.  If you’re really in it to win it, you can use a syringe to inject them with Grand Marnier, although it might not be the best idea for a kids’ birthday party.

Have some fun and get dipping!

Recipe type: Dessert
  • 8-9 ounces of chocolate (chocolate chips, Hershey's bars, dark chocolate -- your pick)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • 1 pound strawberries, cleaned and thoroughly dried
  1. Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.
  2. Place the chocolate and shortening in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. (If using candy bars, coarsely chop chocolate before adding to saucepan.). Remove from heat.
  3. Holding 1 strawberry by its green top, dip ¾ of the berry into the melted chocolate (tip pan slightly to make it easier to dip). Let excess chocolate drip into pan. Place on prepared baking sheet. (If desired, can sprinkle with jimmies or nuts at this point.) Repeat with remaining berries. Refrigerate until chocolate coating is firm, approximately 1 hour. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 IMG_6204Hershey’s bars and Crisco — easy!


Stir together until melted


Pretty smooth, huh?


Time to get dippin’


Nothing says “party” like a few sprinkles