Tag Archives: baking

Men In The Kitchen – Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

15 Nov

My husband doesn’t often bake – he usually leaves that to me! But occasionally he does strap on an apron (my apron usually) and get in the kitchen for some epic recipe creation – this time it was some hugely amazing Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies:

My handsome husband in the kitchen (and yes – his pants match his apron!)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 whole large eggs, 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped dark chocolate bar (like Hershey special dark or nicer)

Directions:
Melt 2 sticks of butter over medium-high to high heat 5-10 minutes until browned and smelling like toffee. Butter will melt then start to boil, then will rapidly foam after the water evaporates. Stir constantly with a silicone spatula and scrape up the browned fats off the bottom of the pot. When complete, it will be a rich nutty brown with a strong toffee/nutty scent. Transfer to a cold glass bowl and immediately put in fridge to cool to room temp.

While butter is cooling, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix together with a whisk. Set aside.

Combine white and brown sugars and molasses in a stand mixer.

Crack eggs and separate one, keeping the yolk. Allow to come to room temperature.

Chop dark chocolate bars for irregular chunks. Measure chocolate chips and chunks and set aside.

When butter is approximately room temperature, mix with sugars and molasses until Incorporated. Add eggs and yolk one at a time until combined. Add vanilla.

Slowly add dry ingredients until well combined and smooth. Dough will be slightly wet.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold in chocolate.

Refrigerate overnight. Remove from fridge 30-45 min before cooking.

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare baking sheets. Scoop dough into balls slightly larger than a golf ball (approx 3 oz) and give plenty of space on the cookie sheet to allow the cookies to spread. Bake 12-14 min or until edges are crispy and middle is set but still moist.

Cool 2-3 min on the cookie sheet before moving to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Brown butter spinning round and round

Dough before it gets an overnight chill session in the fridge

The glorious finished product

Aren’t they beautiful?!

He adapted the recipe using two different existing recipes, the links to which can be found Here, and Here
He made these once before – for me on my birthday, and truthfully I really did NOT want to share them – AT ALL. They are really amazing – a labor of love with the browning of the butter and all that, but worth it. They are the perfect thing to make for someone you love – as you can tell they are made with just that – LOVE!
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Snickers Brownies – Unbelievably Amazingly Ridiculous

18 Sep

I realized the other day that it has been a WHILE since I baked anything new – like – over a MONTH! It’s been a busy summer, and I haven’t had much time to focus on my one true love – BAKED GOODS. Well, I decided then and there that that was unacceptable – I needed to get on it like yesterday. So, since I am a nice wife, I asked my husband what he might want – and he said “something with caramel and brownie” – well – it didn’t take me long to land on these Snickers Brownies

Snickers has been a long time favorite candy of mine – and when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it – as it fulfilled both my husband’s desire for caramel and brownie, as well as my desire to turn an amazing candy bar into dessert!

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Ingredients and Tiny Baking Assistant? Check!

Snickers Brownies
(Recipe Courtesy of My Litter)

Layer #1: Brownie
1 box of brownie mix
Ingredients called for on box
1/4 cup hot fudge topping

Layer #2: Nougat 
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 (7 oz.) jars marshmallow creme (@1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup peanut butter ( I used Trader Joes Cookie Butter)
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

Layer #3: Caramel
1 (17 oz.) jar of caramel, preferably Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel

Layer #4 Candy Bar Topping
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Directions:
First Layer: The Brownie
Take a mix, make it according to directions. Add the 1/4 cup hot fudge sauce, directly from the hot fudge jar. Stir it in. Bake according to box. DO NOT OVERBAKE. In fact, I pulled mine out and was just a little worried about the center, but it finished baking after it was out.

Layer 2: The Nougat
Melt the butter, with the sugar and the milk. Bring to a boil and add the marshmallow. Add the peanut butter and vanilla. Then stir in peanuts. Pour over cooled brownies.

Layer 3: Caramel
Scoop the caramel into a pan, heat it up just a little so it is liquid-y and not all cold and hard to spread. Then pour over nougat layer that is solid because you had it in the fridge!

Layer #4: The Chocolate Topping
Take the PB and add it to a bag of chocolate chips in a pan, add about 1T oil. Melt the chips slowly, do NOT burn. When it is smooth, pour it over the caramel layer. Stick that back in the fridge, and when the top layer is set, you are ready to eat!

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Nougat assembly

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The layers of the finished product

When it comes to baking, I tend to gravitate towards “ridiculous” desserts – like adding frosting to these already insane Oreo Blondies, or making Slutty Pumpkin Bars and Slutty Brownies – and these Snickers Brownies DEFINITELY fall into the ridiculous category – they are SUPER RICH – and super sweet, too. The saltyness of the nuts helps, but it’s still overall a LOT OF SUGAR to handle all at once. I cut it into like a LOT of smaller squares – almost fudge sized – because really anything more than that is TOO much

That all being said, they are SUPER DELICIOUS – I love how it tastes just like a Snickers – but BETTER! If you’re a big Snickers fan like me you gotta try this recipe

An Ice Cream Cake For My Long Distance BFF

31 May

Friendships have always been something that is super important to me – and as I get older (and in theory – wiser?), I am reminded just how much a good friend is worth. Sometimes it’s a lot of effort to maintain/cultivate friendships, and it can be even tougher when the friends don’t live near each other. Long distance relationships – whether they be romantic or just platonic friends – are HARD. For those of you who haven’t experienced it – you’re lucky – TRUST me!

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A few snapshots of me and my Long Distance Bestie over the years

My best friend from college lives in Virginia with her husband and two kids, and I miss her every day. We are lucky enough to get to text, email, call, and FaceTime pretty often (thank GOD for Iphones, right?), and we also take turns traveling to see each other several times a year.

In fact, we just returned from a long weekend at their house – full of fun and crazy kids and laughter – and I wouldn’t have it any other way! We celebrated hers and her husbands birthdays while we were there – and when I was thinking about how to celebrate, I KNEW some kind of baking had to be involved – I just wasn’t sure what. Her favorite (and probably my LEAST favorite) birthday dessert is Ice Cream Cake. I hate it because it’s not even really cake – which means no frosting (a BIG no no for me – as what’s the point of cake with no frosting?), and she loves it because ice cream is awesome and it reminds her of her childhood as they always got them growing up. So – I can see where she’s coming from – and decided to make one for her – cuz I love her THAT much

Finding a recipe was not too hard – scrolling through Pinterest and This one caught my eye – using store bought brownie mix and ice cream – easy enough!

Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake
(Recipe Courtesy of Suburbia Unwrapped)

Ingredients
1 box brownie mix for 9 x 9 inch pan
1 container Blue Bunny PB N’ Cones ice cream
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
FOR THE TOPPING
peanut butter chips or chopped peanut butter cups

Instructions
-Make the package of brownies according to package directions EXCEPT bake in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan for 20 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let brownies cool completely
-When you are ready to assemble: Let the ice cream sit at room temperature for 20 minutes until slightly softened. Spread over cooled brownies and place in freezer.
-MAKE THE SAUCE: In a double boiler, combine the heavy cream, chocolate chips and peanut butter. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly. (SAVE 1/4 CUP FOR SERVING!)
-Remove the brownie/ice cream layer from the freezer and pour the chocolate sauce over the top. (don’t forget to save some!) Smooth it out and return to the freezer.
-MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM: In a mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
-Remove the brownie/ice cream/ sauce from the freezer and spread the whipped cream over the top.
-Sprinkle the peanut butter chips or chopped peanut butter cups on top and freeze for THREE HOURS before serving.
-Right before you serve, drizzle with remaining chocolate sauce that you have heated slightly.

I was lucky enough to have TWO tiny adorable kitchen helpers this time – my son and my BFF’s daughter helped with all the prep:

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Brownie baking and Ice cream testing (both very important)

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Whipping the cream and assembling the layers

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“Decorating” the cake with Mini Reese’s Cups

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The delicious finished product

I used Moose Tracks Ice Cream for this – which is basically vanilla with PB swirl, fudge and PB cups – but you can really use any kind you want for it – anything with peanut butter would work great! I also substituted the PB chips for the mini PB cups – I figured they would be more delicious

This was really easy to put together, and the kids had a blast helping! My BFF and her husband loved it so much that they didn’t even want to share it with their friends when we had them over for a Memorial Day BBQ the next day! And I can’t blame them – this was REALLY tasty – the chewy brownie, the ganache – YUM. While it in no way constituted a cake in my mind (what with it’s lack of frosting) – it was still a really delicious dessert, and I was glad to make it and get to enjoy it with my BFF (who I won’t get to see until July now – boo – but luckily, there’s FaceTime to get us through!)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

2 May

Peanut Butter and chocolate is one of those magical combinations – from peanut butter cups, to cakes, to brownies and cookies – it is a union that will forever be amazing and delicious. These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars are no exception – and they were so easy to make, too!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Averie Cooks)

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1/3 heaping cup peanut butter (I use Jif, Skippy or similar; natural PB can separate and/or be too oily)
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + 2 tablespoons, for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:
-Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
-In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
-Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don’t scramble it. Add the peanut butter, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
-Add the flour and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.
-Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.
-Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
-Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, smoothly the top lightly with a spatula.
-Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until done. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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This is one of those doughs I had to restrain myself from inhaling raw – it was just so perfect looking (and tasting!)

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Before and after baking

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That cross section says it all – melty chocolate and gooey bar – yum!

Had all ingredients on hand? Check
Easy to make? Check
Delicious? CHECK!

These were a winner – definitely great for beginner bakers – and anyone else who cherishes the marriage of Peanut Butter and Chocolate as much as I do!

Nutella Monster Cookies

2 May

I was itching to bake something new, and so instead of starting a new search for something, I headed to my “Must Try Desserts” Pinterest board. Ah….Pinterest. The home of ambitions, dreams, ideas – and most of all, the home of “shit I want to try/make/do but will never have the time/money/patience to do so” (harsh, but true). So – needless to say, there were plenty of recipes saved there that I have yet to find time to bake – and after careful consideration I decided to give these Nutella Monster Cookies a try

Nutella Monster Cookies
(Recipe Courtesy of Something Swanky)

Ingredients
3 eggs
1/2 c. shortening (not butter!)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
4 1/2 c. oats
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. corn syrup
1 1/2 c. Nutella
1 package M&Ms
1 c. dark chocolate chips

Instructions
-Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, combine all ingredients except for the M&Ms and the chocolate chips.
-Add in the chocolate chips and M&Ms using the lowest speed on the mixer.
-Scoop by tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets.
-Bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Let set and cool on the baking sheet.

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It was my little sous chef’s first time trying Nutella – he LOVED it!

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Bringing these “monsters” to life – the various stages of dough and baking 

Ok – so – truth be told – I really don’t care much for these cookies. I hate how much they spread, how crispy they are, how thin they turned out…NOT a favorite for me. The recipe doesn’t have any flour in it, and I think that’s the main issue – they didn’t stay together and rise like a “normal” cookie does

I got so mad about halfway through that I ended up adding a few cups of flour to it – helped a lot in keeping the cookies from spreading into crispy thin masses – but it sort of took some of the taste away, too

I think one of the reasons I am so irritated with the way these turned out is that I went to the store and spent money on a bunch of ingredients: Nutella, M&M’s, dark chocolate chips, extra oats, etc – and the results were just not something I really enjoyed at all. I LOVEEEEEE a huge, gooey, thick cookie – and these just did not do it for me. However, everyone else who tried them liked them – so if crispy cookies are your jam – you should give these a go!

And if you’re a Nutella lover (like me) who likes a thick, gooey cookie (like me!) – try these Soft and Chewy Nutella White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup Earthquake Cake (Happy Birthday to ME!)

17 Aug

I just celebrated my 33rd birthday – and as I am sure most of you adults (and moms!) out there can attest to – birthdays aren’t exactly a big deal anymore, but one thing that I do especially enjoy about birthdays is the FOOD! When you’re a kid, it’s all about sheet cake full of sugar and pizza and candy – and I would like to say that as an adult my tastes have evolved and I enjoy a fancy meal in an upscale restaurant for my birthday – but that’s just not me ha. I still love pizza and frosting and candy – but I have evolved a bit past the sheet cake, to this magical creation called the “Earthquake Cake”. It’s full of peanut butter and chocolate-y goodness, and it is a MUST try for those of you who love the PB/chocolate combo as much as I do!

PEANUT BUTTER CUP EARTHQUAKE CAKE
(Recipe Courtesy of Lamberts Lately)

INGREDIENTS
1 Box of yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups peanut butter
2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
chocolate syrup
¼ cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
30 chopped peanut butter cups

INSTRUCTIONS
-In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup of peanut butter, and 1 stick of butter. Spread mixture in a greased 9×13″ baking dish.
-In a mixer, mix together 1 stick butter, 1 cup peanut butter, and ¼ cup milk. Slowly add in powdered sugar until frosting is mixed well.
-Spoon half of the frosting mixture on top of the cake mix. Add 6-8 large squirts of chocolate syrup.Very gently swirl frosting and syrup into the cake mix. Don’t completely mix. Make sure you get swirls into the edge of the cake pan.
-Gently press in half of the chopped peanut butter cups.
-Bake cake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees
-Once cooled, Top cake with remaining frosting, more chocolate syrup, and remaining chopped peanut butter cups.

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A boxed yellow cake mix gets a healthy dose of peanut butter

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Half the frosting is actually used INSIDE the cake – keeps it moist and EXTRA peanut butter-y

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A Swirl and some PB cups and this guy is ready for the oven

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The name “Earthquake” is no joke – it got so big while baking it erupted over the side of the pan!

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The finished product is so rich and dense – and FULL of peanut butter – SO GOOD!

The only thing I really changed about the recipe is that I bought a big bag of the mini “unwrapped” reeses’s cups instead of using chopped ones. Truth be told I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to bother unwrapping a ton of candies and then chopping them – the unwrapped ones worked really well! Half went in the cake, half went on top. Easy.

Ok now, I know what you might be wondering – Did she make her OWN birthday cake??? And the answer is technically no – as my husband purchased my cake of choice – cookie cake with extra frosting (you can pay like $2 extra and they will cover the whole thing in frosting – best add on EVER!), but I knew we were having some people over last weekend and while cookie cake is great – it’s not everyone’s favorite – so I decided to make the Earthquake cake in addition to the cookie cake – because who doesn’t love multiple dessert choices, right?

My husband says I only made the Earthquake cake so that people wouldn’t eat as much cookie cake and I could have more of it to myself – which is actually NOT true – I hadn’t thought of that ahead of time – but he might be onto something there…hmm. Either way – the earthquake cake is the ultimate indulgence for the peanut butter/chocolate lovers in your life – it’s easy to make and delicious to eat!

Chocolate + Peanut Butter = Amazing Cupcakes

19 Jul

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When your BFF (Best Friend Forever – or at least for the past 15+years anyway) has a birthday, you go all out – especially when it comes to the dessert. Previous years have seen me making Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes and Rainbow Cake, but this year I had to go for her main love – PEANUT BUTTER. And what pairs better with it than CHOCOLATE? Nothing – the answer is nothing. It’s a match made in baking heaven

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I decided on Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes because we were going to one of those painting places (where you can bring wine, too!) and I knew I would want something easy to serve and that didn’t require cutting, or plates and forks. Oh – and I picked this recipe specifically because it featured Peanut Butter Cups INSIDE the cake – what a perfectly delicious surprise, right?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes
(Recipe Courtesy Of Tastes Better From Scratch)

Ingredients
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
• 1 box chocolate cake mix
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 2 heaping Tbsp Greek yogurt
• 30 mini Reese’s cups , divided

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
-Line 2 regular muffin tins with cupcake liners
-Mix together the cake mix, milk, eggs, oil and Greek yogurt until smooth
-Spoon batter into cupcake pans, filling the liners 1/2 full
-Place a Reese’s PB cup into the center of the batter in each cup and gently press it down a little
-Bake cupcakes for 16-20 minutes or until done. Allow to cool completely before frosting

Some action shots of the baking process:

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The peanut butter cups completely disappeared once baked – making them truly a surprise!

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So this came with an accompanying frosting recipe – but – I admit, I was completely UNsuccessful in getting it to work – which is why I didn’t include it here with my post. Seemed simple enough – peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, milk – so, I made it, and was wondering why it was so soupy/oily…then I tried to put it on the cupcakes and it just basically melted off – so I knew something had to be wrong. I followed the given amounts, but maybe I screwed something up along the way?? I was pretty confused – but luckily my husband was kind enough to give it a second go for me, and unfortunately, his results were even worse than mine!

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The super oily (and unusable) result of the frosting recipe provided with the cupcake recipe in the original link

Followed exactly, the frosting recipe provided in the above link just DOES NOT work – AT ALL. If you can get it to somehow come together and stay on the cake and not be gross – then kudos to you! But – since I was unable to get it together – literally – so I ended up googling peanut butter frosting recipes – and using the very first hit:

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
(Recipe Courtesy of All Recipes)
Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons milk, or as needed
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy

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Luckily – this one worked great on the first try (thank goodness – as I was running low on peanut butter at this point!) – and turned out exactly as promised – fluffy and smooth, sweet and amazing! I didn’t have time to pipe it on (since the extra batches put me just a bit behind schedule – oops!), so I slapped it on with my trusty offset spatula, and decided each one could do with another peanut butter cup – because – why not?

The overall taste was great – cake was moist and combined with the frosting was just perfect. Then the surprise of the peanut butter cup inside was great, too. A winner all around (once I found a better frosting recipe!), and my BFF loved it, too!