Ana is a single mama to an 8-yr-old son, Javier, who loves to wear costumes 365 days per year. When not exploring her beloved Sunshine State with her family, she's planning date nights with her single dad beau, Mark. The former content director for parenting.com, Ana is now the VP of Content for Today's Mama. She has interviewed a wide range of mamas, from First Lady Michelle Obama to the Kardashians and everything in between.

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Fall Treats for Chocolate Lovers

darkchocsaltedcupcakesAre you raising an army of chocolate lovers just like you? Does your family pay equal respect to both the sweet and salty gods? Then you will love the recipes in the new Salty Sweets: Delectable Desserts and Tempting Treats with a Sublime Kiss of Salt. Author Christie Matheson does an a-ma-zing job mixing in just the right amount of salt to her delicious creations. The result: Fall treats perfect for chocolate-loving families. Some of the recipes require only a handful of ingredients or less!

Dark Chocolate Fleur de sel Cupcakes with Snappy Butterscotch Icing
Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup water
1 large egg
¼ cup buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Fleur de sel

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and fine sea salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

3. In a small saucepan, heat the butter, oil, and water over medium-low heat, stirring until the butter is melted and incorporated.

4. Whisk the butter mixture into the dry ingredients on low speed until combined. Whisk in the egg, then the buttermilk and vanilla.

5. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter and sprinkle a tiny bit of fleur de sel over the top of each. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes are set and spring back when you touch them and a cake tester comes out clean.

6. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Ice with Snappy Butterscotch Icing (below). The cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Snappy Butterscotch Icing
Makes about 1 ½ cups (enough to ice 12 regular-size cupcakes)

½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon water
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1. Combine sugar, cream, butter, water, and salt in a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Turn the heat to low and let simmer for 8 minutes without stirring, until the icing has thickened. Remove from heat and cool completely, so the icing will thicken enough to spread. (You can refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes to speed the thickening process.) The icing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

SWEET IDEAS!
* For a double dose of chocolate, frost these cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
* Skip the icing altogether, sprinkle these with a tiny bit more fleur de sel immediately after they come out of the oven, and serve warm with a scoop of butterscotch ice cream.

Nana Rodda’s Peanut Butter Fudge
Makes 40 to 50 pieces.

2 cups sugar
1⁄2 cup whole milk
Heaping 1⁄4 cup creamy peanut butter (regular, not natural)
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. Combine sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until a candy thermometer registers 235°F.

2. Add peanut butter, butter, and salt and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until thick, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour into an 8-inch-square ungreased pan, and let cool completely before cutting into 1-inch squares. The fudge will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Chocolate-Coconut Mini Candy Bars
Makes about 30 bite-sized pieces

• 1 1⁄2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
• 1⁄2 teaspoon Maldon salt (or another flaked sea salt)
• 1⁄3 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

1. Line two 5 x 9-inch loaf pans with parchment paper, letting the ends overlap the edges.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the coconut, salt, and condensed milk until combined. Divide the mixture between the pans in even layers. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes.

3. Spread melted chocolate over the chilled coconut layer, distributing it evenly between the pans. Chill until just firm, about 5 minutes.

4. Remove the chilled chocolate-coconut layers from pans, peel the parchment paper, and firmly press the two coconut sides together, forming a chocolate-coconut sandwich. Cut into bite-size piece. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to serve (or up to 4 days).

Recipes © 2013 by Christie Matheson and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press

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