2.28.2013

Lucky Leaf Winner and 'Tunnel of Fudge' Bundt Cake


And we go onward with my Valentine's Day inspired chocolate recipes.  I told you I had a few up my sleeve and you do not want to miss this one in particular.  Trust.

But first things first.  I do believe it's about time I announced the winner of the Lucky Leaf giveaway I posted a few weeks back.  Drum roll pleaseeeeeeee....

Congratulations to Amelia!!

I'll be sending you [Amelia] an e-mail to get all of the deets I'll need to get you your prize.  And thanks again, everyone, for entering!


But let's get back to this here cake.  I started the month out with the Cosmic Brownies, moved on to Deep Dark Chocolate Muffins [link above], and now we have the 'Tunnel of Fudge' Bundt Cake [like my play on words there?].  Now, each of these decadent goodies are simply great in their own right, but this recipe has got to be my favorite.  It was by a narrow, narrow margin, but the bundt cake pulled it out in the end.

And why is that, you ask?  Well...look at it.  My pictures by no means do this rich cake any justice, but you're just going to have to go with me on this one.  The cake itself is wonderfully moist and that 'tunnel of fudge' I referenced?  Yeah, it's really there.  In some magical fashion, the center of the bundt cake turns into an almost gooey-like, but fudgey consistency.  A.k.a, a tunnel of fudge. Get it now?


But why stop there?!  To add to the decadence I just described, lets go ahead and add a shiny, smooth chocolate ganache that runs gracefully down the curves of the cake.  The ganache is simply the quintessential topping to this perfection of a bundt cake.  Yep, I just said it.

So grab some bars of chocolate and get bakin'!  .


My Notes:
  • Please be sure to check out Sweet Tooth's Fudge Tunnel Bundt Cake post, which is where I got the recipe, because her pictures do do this recipe justice.  You can't quite see the fudgey-ness in my pictures, so just take a quick gander and you'll see what I'm talking about.
  • The ganache ingredients make a good amount of ganache, and I actually didn't end up using it all.  But I would save it for serving, just in case some people want a little extra chocolate.




Ingredients:
For the Pan:
1 tbsp. Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Bundt Cake:
1/2 c. boiling water
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1-1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature

Chocolate Ganache:
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. light corn syrup
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350F.  In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and melted butter and using a pastry brush, evenly coat the inside of a 12-cup bundt pan; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, pour the boiling water over the chopped chocolate and whisk together until smooth.  In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt.  In another small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together sugar, light brown sugar, and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Turn down the speed to low, add the egg mixture, and mix well.  Add the chocolate mixture and mix until incorporated.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake 45 minutes or until the edges of the cake begin to pull away from the pan.  Let the cake cool in the pan for one hour before unmolding to serving platter.  Let cool for two hours.
  5. For the ganache, combine the heavy whipping cream, light corn syrup, and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir frequently until completely smooth.  Add vanilla extract and stir to combine.  Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes to thicken.  Using a spoon, drizzle the ganache over the top of the bundt cake.  Let ganache set for 10 minutes before slicing.
Yield: 12 servings
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2.24.2013

Deep Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins

.  So I have a couple of chocolate posts coming up, this one included.  My initial thought was that these would be great recipes for Valentine's Day but...that obviously didn't quite work out.  So what I've done [in my mind] is expanded Valentine's Day chocolate-inspired recipes into the full month of February, just so that I can say I had a legit excuse for going cocoa overboard.  Hopefully I can knock these posts out by the end of the week!


And speaking of chocolate overload, these muffins are nothing short of that.  Seriously.  Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate is all I can conjure up to describe these lovely breakfast treats.  And I say 'breakfast' because let's be real, mini chocolate cakes jam packed with chocolate chunks probably isn't what the dietician is referencing when they say we should start our day with a well rounded meal.


But at the time I made these, my only thoughts were Valentine's Day and who wouldn't want to wake up to a chocolate surprise on that lovey dovey day?  I think we'd all sacrifice our morning routine to indulge in [seriously] moist, gooey, outrageously chocolate muffins [even after they're cooled, the chocolate chunks remain gooey.  I don't know this works?!].  And if not, you've got a problem.

...just kidding...


But who's to say you can't make these for a Saturday morning breakfast?  Or better yet, whip some up tonight [they're easy peasy] for breakfast treats for the coming week.  Your family will thank you each and every morning as they're chomping into these decadent, unique muffins.  Ba-lieve me!

Happy baking!  .


My Notes:
  • When I say these muffins are moist, I mean it.  The ingredients are pretty unique from other muffin recipes I've made in that this recipe incorporates both cream cheese and sour cream.  How could you not get a moist muffin out of that?!
  • You're free to use chocolate chips or chocolate chunks,  but I would recommend the chunks because the pieces poke out of the top of the muffins making them pretty, pretty!
  • The original directions said the recipe only yielded between 9 to 12 muffins but even with packing my muffins cups with batter, I managed to get 18 muffins.  And don't be shy when putting the batter in the cups, it will look like they're overloaded but the muffins don't rise terribly much and you want a big muffin top anyway.

Ingredients:
Dark Chocolate Muffins:
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. milk
2-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 scant c. semisweet chocolate chunks or chips

Garnish:
Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Place oven rack in center of oven.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth.  Add cream cheese and beat together with butter until smooth.  Blend in sugar and light brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla extract and blend well.  Fold in sour cream and milk.
  3. In a medium bowl, blend together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, making sure no ingredients remain unblended.  Fold in chocolate chunks.
  4. Using a large scoop, scoop generous amounts of batter into each muffin cup.  Place a couple of chocolate chunks in the tops of each muffin.  
  5. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until muffins spring back when gently pressed.  Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.  When cooled, dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Yield: 18 muffins

2.22.2013

The Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

.  So I have some life updates.

And a fun one at that.

If you don't know me personally, obviously you have no clue what's going on in my life aside from what I write here.  And unfortunately I didn't have a chance to mention a trip I was to be going on this last week due to the long President's Day weekend.

 Well guess what?  I went to the Big Apple.

Coffee was our morning ritual.  And afternoon and evening...

Yep, the Big Apple.

As in New York City.

MoMA, such an intriguing and eye opening place.  A must if you visit NYC!

Now, you may or may not be as excited as I was for this trip but I love big cities.  Plain and simple.  I've always been an extremes kind of lady, like all or nothing.  Basically in everything I do.  So I absolutely love the country [for it's peacefulness and natural beauty] and big, big cities [for the hustle and bustle, too many people, and endless possibilities].  I'm sure many people can relate though, there's obvious attractions to both extremities.

We got plenty of walking in during our trip.  And yes, that is pigeon poop on my shoulder.

But this trip was all about exploring one of the greatest cities there is.  And don't worry, I didn't travel alone.  No, I actually met two of my wonderful and lovely cousins, Tyler and Ellee.  We decided to take a chance and plan this trip, oh, about 3 weeks ago and once we finally nailed down the details,  Nebraska, Idaho, and Georgia natives all convened in NYC.  A true melting pot of a trip, I would say!

We spent Valentine's Day in NYC.  Not too shabby, huh?!  Oh, and they're single ladies and gents.

And I can't speak for the others, but every second of this trip was memorable.  For whatever reason, be it the distance, etc., the three of us didn't ever hang out in our younger years, so I'd say we had about 20+ years of catching up to do.  Let the bonding begin!

The only thing funny about this show was...nothing.  Or maybe the part when the comedian forgot what he was saying!

So what did we do while we were there?  Well...we walked.  And walked.  And walked.  In my personal opinion, there's no better way to explore an unfamiliar place than walking the streets and getting to know every nook and cranny.  I felt like I could have walked for days.

Holy awesome experience!  Bouchon's french macaroons...indescribable!  They've inspired me to try my hand at french macaroons now.

And in between walking, we drank too much coffee, shopped way too much, and ate our freakin' fair share of savories and sweets.  As in hello sushi, cookies, bars, french macaroons, seafood, 'street meat', and roasted nuts and coconut [my addiction!].  Guaranteed I left out a few things that we consumed but let's not embarrass ourselves here.

Found some outrageous eats in Korea town, including fluffy humboughs and a rice noodle dish.  Nom, nom, nom.

So what were some of the highlights?  Well...dang, what wasn't a highlight!

Okay, seriously.  What do you do when you see that crosswalk?

I'd have to say our routine coffee morning coffee trips [we're all addicts.  Starbucks...you in?], the endless shopping, our trip to MoMA [I was surprisingly in love with this place], a random trip to Bouchon Bakery where I had the most mind blowing french macaroons [probably the best thing I had the entire trip, they were that scrumptious!], stumbling upon Korea town, a complete scam of a comedy show [don't buy tickets from the people in Times Square!], and last but not least...

The last day was just Tyler and I, and we made our way to see the new World Trade Centers and the surrounding area.  Very humbling.

Spending time with my relatives.  I really can't rave enough about these two as they are some of the most hilarious, straight forward, and loving people I will ever meet.  But don't be surprised, because these qualities seem to resonate throughout my entire family tree.  Just a uniquely special group of human beings, and ones that I wouldn't ever trade for the world.

Chelsea Market, easily my favorite place we went!  I've seen this place on the Food Network too many times to count and it was awesome to finally step foot in this infamous market.



post signatureSo it goes without saying that the past long weekend was outrageously delightful and a much needed vacay.  Tyler and Ellee, let's start planning the next one.  You in?  I'm in  .

2.18.2013

Secret Recipe Club: Tzatziki Dip

.  Hello, my dearies!

It's SRC time and my how time has flown in 2013.  Can you believe we're already two months through this year?  Because I can't.  I say this time and time again, so why not one more : I don't know where the time goes.  But I can't really complain about it because it indicates that life is happening.  At least I'm not bored out of my mind, right?

 
I have so much to catch you up on but I must save it for my next post, because this post is dedicated to my beloved SRC club.  And Simply.Food.  Who you can correctly assume was my February assignment.

Not gonna lie, Simply.Food and LSM could not have been more opposite in terms of context.  Simply.Food is well...healthy.  Healthy in a vegetarian aspect.  And if you've only taken a glimpse at my recipes, you'd see that LSM thrives off of butter, sugar, and more butter.  But the purpose of SRC is to broaden your culinary horizons, so no complaints here!  And who can't use a little more healthy in their lives?  I mean, really. 

Browsing through Simply.Food's recipes, I stumbled upon a review conducted on Total Greek Yogurt and it stopped me in my tracks.  A while back I went through a greek yogurt phase, eating it at every dinner [with some honey and fruit].  I went nuts for it.  And at the time I was running quite a bit, so the healthy and protein packed snack always hit the spot.  Unfortunately I never did much else with it but I know it can be used as a healthy subsitute in many recipes.  So here was my chance to see the savory side of greek yogurt.


And apparently Simply.Food and I had the same idea, because the blogger subsituted the greek yogurt in her classic tried and true Tzatziki Dip recipe and came up with this dandy creation.  I've had tzatziki a handful of times, and even tried making my own tzatziki sauce, but it didn't quite turn out like I had hoped.  So here was to hoping Simply.Food had a better recipe than I did!

The dip itself is so refreshing, filled with cold bits of grated cucumber.  The greek yogurt is uber creamy and thick and the secret ingredient [or at least in my mind] is the garlic-y paste you create out of garlic cloves.  This way, the garlic flavor seeps into the whole dip, finding it's way into every bite.  Mmhmmm!  I ate the dip with pita chips but I can imagine any type of carby goodness would be great.  Or you could be all healthy and use veggies, too.  Either way, this dip will be perfect for when the warm weather rolls around or if you're just looking for a healthy alternative right now

So thanks again, Simply.Food, glad to be a part of SRC with you!  .

From Simply.Food
 
Ingredients:
500 g. greek yogurt
1/2 of a cucumber
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 pinch paprika
 
Directions:
  1. Pour the greek yogurt into a large serving bowl and mix well. 
  2. Peel the cucumber and cut in half.  Remove the seeds and grate the cucumber half; set aside on a paper towel to drain some of the excess liquid.
  3. Peel the garlic and finely mince to create a smooth paste; set aside.
  4. Add the grated cucumber, garlic, olive oil, and salt to the greek yogurt and mix well.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Sprinkle with paprika before serving.

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2.09.2013

Lucky Leaf Pie Filling GIVEAWAY and Mini Fruit Pies


.  Yep, you betcha!

I have another Lucky Leaf Pie Filling giveaway!  And just in time for Valentine's Day.  I'm always thinking of you guys.  How nice of me  

You may have caught my previous Lucky Leaf Pie Filling giveaway and fortunate for me, Lucky Leaf tapped me on my shoulder to do a second one!  And because giveaways are simply exciting [we gotta switch it up every now and then around here, right?] and Lucky Leaf Pie Fillings are just so dang scrumptious, there was no way I was passing this up.


Like before, Lucky Leaf sent me a lovely package filled with three pie fillings [strawberry, blueberry, and apple], three recipe cards, a bakery bag, and a Rachel Ray 6-cup Muffin Pan.  Uh huh, it was an awesome gift I got in the mail.

One of the recipes cards I received was for Mini Pies and I opted for this choice because 1) pies are my absolute fav to eat and make and 2) my wonderful friend was having a Super Bowl party with some fancy homemade dishes.  Remember the gourmet cook I mentioned in a prior post?  Well it only seemed fitting to add to her spread with something that deserved to accompany her gourmet-ness, and lattice-crust pies are always a winner.  At least in my book.  Oh, and don't forget that these would be the most perfect Valentine's Day dessert.  Eh, eh?!

Anywho, I must say these pies went over rather well!  The recipe only made a dozen but there wasn't a crumb left in the house by the end of the night.  That's a good sign, right?


I of course chose to make a homemade [super easy] buttery pie crust and filled each with the delectable Lucky Leaf Pie Filling.  I decided on making Strawberry and Blueberry Mini pies simply for variety but the colors also went with the teams playing in the big game [i.e., red for the Niners and purple for the Ravens].  Like that?!  Then I topped the fillings with a fun lattice top and voila, mini fruit pies for everyone!

So enough chatting and let's get to this giveaway, shall we?!  Let's see what one lucky reader will win:

1 can of Lucky Leaf Pie Filling
1 recipe card
Festive muffin cup papers
1 bakery bag
And like usual, it's rather easy to partipicate.  All you need to do is leave a comment on this post below telling me what your favorite kind of pie is!  And to earn some additional entries, follow Lucky Leaf on Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Twitter, and leave separate comments telling me you did so.  The giveaway will be open until Saturday, February 23, so get commentin'!  And don't forget to spread the word!  .


My Notes:
  • I chose to make a homemade pie crust, but if you're in a complete bind for time, feel free to use store bought crust.


 Pie Crust from A Passion for Baking

Ingredients:

All Butter Pie Crust:
3 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 c. butter-flavored shortening, cut into chunks
1 large egg
4 to 8 tbsp. ice water
1 tbsp. lemon juice


Directions:
  1. For crust, place flour in food processor.  Add sugar and salt and process 20 seconds to combine.  Add chunks of butter and shortening and pulse to break up butter until mixture looks crumbly
  2. Add egg and drizzle ice water and lemon juice on top.  Turn on food processor for 15 seconds until mixture more or less holds together.  
  3. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead very gently for a few seconds to smooth out dough.  Divide dough ball in half, pat each ball into disks, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill dough for 1 hour or overnight before using.
  4. Refer to the Lucky Leaf Baby Pies Recipe for the assembly instructions.
Yield: 4 single pie crusts


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2.07.2013

Fudgey Cosmic Brownies


.  It's safe to say that this is the first time I have ever gotten a holiday recipe out to you earlier than the day of the actual holiday.  Mmhmm.  I feel accomplished.  And like a planner.

If you are one of those who browse other blogs [my hand is raised high!], then you undoubtedly have seen a slew of Valentine's Day recipes, including comforting savory dishes and of course: chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.  So why not add to the mix?  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

But these aren't just your good ol' classic brownies.


Nope, not even close.  These fudgey-wudgey brownies were molded after our childhood favorite Cosmic Brownies.  You know, those two-brownie packs that we all took to elementary school and chowed on during snack time?  Okay, maybe that was only me.  And I'm not kidding.  My mom used to get the brownies with nuts on them though, and I would meticulously pick them off every time.  Every.  Time.  She never got the hint though.

But regardless, that never stopped me from eating those decadent, chewy, chocolate-frosted brownies.  And this recipe is a spot on knock off.  In the best way possible, that is.


Seriously, these brownies are addicting.  Outrageously rich and uber fudgey brownies.  Accompanied by a simple yet luscious and smooth chocolate ganache.  They're that unique brownie recipe you're always searching for but never find.  But you can thank me later.  After you eat your fair share of the pan, of course.  And don't forget to give a bite or two to your Valentine...

Speaking of Valentine's Day, anyone have lovey dovey plans yet?!  I'll actually be in New York City [woop, woop!] for the special day but I ain't complainin.'  Matter of fact, I can't wait for the next two weeks to get over with.  I know, live in the moment.  But c'mon, it's NYC!  More to come on that though as my trip nears.  I'l try to keep my excitement to a minimum...maybe  .

My Notes:
  • I loved the deep, dark chocolate flavor of these brownies.  But if you're not a dark chocolate fan, I would opt to switch out the bittersweet chocolate in the ganache with something a bit lighter, such as semisweet chocolate.  
  • You may notice I don't have any sprinkles on my brownies [cosmic, my butt], but that's because I only had Christmas-colored sprinkles at my house and those were just not appropriate.  Next time I'll be more prepared.


Ingredients:

Brownies:
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. light brown sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. milk
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp. espresso powder
1-1/3 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

 Ganache:
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Pinch of salt

Sprinkles, nuts, etc. (optional for topping)

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Lightly spray a 13x9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, light brown sugar, melted butter, milk, vanilla extract, and espresso powder.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined.  Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.
  3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (try to avoid over baking!).  Remove brownies from oven and let cool
  4. Meanwhile, for ganache, place chopped chocolate into a small bowl.  In a small saucepan,  bring heavy whipping cream to a simmer.  Pour the heavy whipping cream over the chocolate and sprinkle with salt.  Let the chocolate sit in the cream for 3 to 5 minutes and then using a small whisk, stir the chocolate until mixture is smooth.
  5. Spread the ganache evenly over the brownies.  Sprinkle ganache with your choice of toppings, if using.  Refrigerate brownies until completely cooled before serving.
Yield: 2 dozen brownies

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2.03.2013

Key Lime Pie Dip

.  Wow.  It's already February.


I'm trying to get into a routine again of blogging regularly but I haven't been too successful.  So as you can tell, January passed me by with a limited number of posts AND a few important dates appeared to have slipped by me.

One:  my two year blogiversary!  Uhhh, hello?!  This special occasion didn't even cross my mind until a day or two ago when I was reading another blog who had missed their blogiversary.  Then I realized that it was near February and it all clicked.  Dang it...

But this second event trumps all others: my Grahammy boy's 3rd birthday!  And hmmm, did I ever feel like the worst mom ever!  Fortunately Graham doesn't know a Saturday from Tuesday, so he was none the wiser.  And lucky for me, my mom reminded me of my special boy's day so I grabbed a big bone for Graham on my way home from work.  Crisis averted.


With the way things are going, you'd think I'd miss the Super Bowl that's...oh, today!...but it's a good thing for us we have the endless commercials and advertisements reminding us of the big game every second of the day.  No complaints here though, I can't get enough sports and who doesn't love a championship?!  The scrumptious Super Bowl eats ain't bad either, right?!

My co-worker and good friend is having a good sized get together for the Super Bowl tonight and I fully plan on enjoying the wonderful foods she'll be providing.  Unlike me, she is a gourmet cook, so you can always count on some outrageous dishes at her house.  No joke.

And of course I'll be bringing a dessert of my own to share, but that's for another post.  What I have for you today is for any of you people who need some last minute, quick, and crowd pleasing dips for your gathering.  Or just for yourself.


This Key Lime Dip is stupidly easy.  Yes, stupidly.  And downright addicting.  I've already made this dip a couple of times in the last couple of weeks, once for a going a away party for a dear friend and a second time to bring into work.  Just because it's that good and I felt the need to share it with my co-workers.  So that should tell you something right there!

I also thought this would be a fun recipe to switch things up during these bitterly cold winter months.  This dip is light [not in a healthy way, sorry...], tart, creamy, and refreshing.  The dip tastes just like key lime pie filling, so in conjunction with some graham crackers or vanilla wafers you've got bite-sized slivers of key lime pie!  And since we all know we'll be eating way too much during the Super Bowl, small bite dishes are always a plus.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday, I personally can't wait to see what commercials they have in store for us this year.  Any guesses as to what company the first commercial will be from?!  .

My Notes:
  • The ingredient amounts below are the original recipe but I have both doubled and tripled this recipe, depending on the audience.  
  • I've served this dip with vanilla wafers, honey graham crackers, and cinnamon graham crackers.  Personally, the graham crackers were my favorite.  But I also think this dip would be outstanding with pie crust chips.  Try using one of my favorite pie crusts, cut the dough into strips, add a little melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar, and bake!  


Ingredients:
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. key lime juice
1/2 c. marshmallow creme

Graham Crackers, Fruit, Wafers, etc. (for dipping)

Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and key lime juice until thickened.  Add in marshmallow creme and whisk until incorporated (this may take a couple of minutes).
  2. Chill dip for 1 hour before serving.
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