There was a time when I liked my ice cream an unnatural shade of green, served in a cardboard container, purchased from the freezer isle of the grocery store. There was also a time I preferred neon orange macaroni made out of a blue box. Read more
Valentine’s Day is a trade-off in our house. One year I plan. The next year he plans. It’s romantic, I promise. We have yet to talk about it this year though. I’m hoping that means it’s his turn. But just in case, I’ll have s’mores ready. They have a sweet spot in our hearts.
Apples come from a case in the grocery store. Oats come out of a bag. And peppermint barks comes from a very expensive tin can. These were the things I thought growing up in sprawling suburbia. One of my favorite parts of adulthood has been understanding the origin of where my food comes from and how to make it if I can. I’ve picked apples from trees. Driven by oat farms and studied the anatomy of this lush little grain. And, as of now, I’ve figured out how incredibly simple it is to make peppermint bark at home. What is it they say? Girl grown.
Back to school (for the husband). Back to routine. And back to eating healthy. My, has summer done a number on us. Our consistent workout patterns have been, let’s just say, more organic. Our healthy eating patterns have been in hibernation. And our routine in general has been on vacation. Read more
This cake was supposed to be easy. I was going to brag about how fast I whipped it out. Ha Ha Ha. Oh the irony. One thing got in the way. That stupid virtue. You know the one. Patience. I’m scowling at the word as I type.
This recipe is easy. You just have to be patient. Don’t worry—I was impatient for you. I’ll let you know when you’re about to derail this simple recipe, making it complicated.
I really needed this cake to be simple. I got home from work at 5:30 pm, and had to be somewhere by 7:43 pm—leaving me a little over 2 hours to make a cake. Not bad. So while I made the cake, graduate school husband went to the grocery store to pick up the goods for the icing. Made the cake, no problem. I was home by 11 and ready to whip up a quick icing. In my defense, the word ‘icing’ was deceiving. Ganache would have been a better word choice. Needless to say, I exercised impatience. The icing wasn’t thickening as fast as I wanted to go to bed. So, I whipped up a meringue and added it to the icing thinking it would help it to stabilize. It was a runny mess. However, I proceeded to pour it all over the cake. What was I thinking? Meanwhile I looked at the remnants of the bowl with the orignal chocolate icing. Guess what. It had thickened up. In an abnormally calm manner, I directed graduate school husband to make another batch of ganache. He normally doesn’t involve himself in my baking adventures, but he was so helpful. I proceeded to scrape the cake of the runny chocolate mess. No lie, I wiped it down with a wet paper towel. We let the ganache set overnight and went to bed. 12:30pm. By morning, the ganache was perfect, so I re-iced the cake. Sprinkled with powdered sugar and shaved dark chocolate.
I was so thankful the cake was still salvageable. I’m not sure if this congrats sign ended up being for me or for my graduate school husband, although it was intended for him. He and his coworkers just finished up their practicum for the year and had a BBQ to celebrate/say goodbye. I’m going to miss those guys. They welcomed me into the group as if I were one of them. They gave me a nickname. They ate my food.
And they devoured this cake. Thank the Lord it turned out. I promise to be more virtuous.
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. AP unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. lightly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1. Preheat oven to 335° and place rack in middle position. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round pans with parchment paper.
2. Combine wet ingredients in a bowl. Combine dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in separate bowl. Set aside.
3. Using a spatula, toss 2 tablespoons of the wet ingredients with the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the dry ingredients. Toss again to coat evenly. This will keep the chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
4. Mix butter and sugars in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment until well creamed, about 3 minutes.
5. Add egg and egg yolk one at a time.
6. Alternately add dry and wet mixtures about a quarter at a time without pausing between additions.
7. Removed the bowl and fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula. The dough will be thick—more like cookie dough than cake batter.
8. Divide dough into prepared pans. It will be too thick to fill the pan to the edges, but will spread under the heat of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until edges crown and surface is browned.
9. Cool the cakes in pans to room temperature, then invert them using a small offset spatula to release edges.
10. Make ganache. Spread thick layer between the two cakes. Dust the top with confectioners sugar. Shave dark chocolate and sprinkle on top.
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 tsp. vanilla extract
dash of sea salt
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring cream and sugar to a light simmer, stirring occasionally. Place the butter, chocolate, vanilla, and sea salt in a large bowl.
2. Pour hot cream over ingredients in the bowl and let stand for a few minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool, but do not refrigerate. Here’s the part where you may derail if you neglect that virtue. Be patient. It will set up.
3. Once the icing has thickened, stir it with a flexible spatula to a spreadable consistency.
For a downloadable PDF of the cake banner and instructions, click here.
I make one brownie recipe. It’s from the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It’s so good, I haven’t felt the need to try any other recipes out there. These brownies make an appearance in the annual Christmas in a Bowl. They are fudge-y as opposed to cake-y. They are dark chocolate as opposed to milk chocolate. They are salty as opposed to sweet. Ha! Just kidding. However, they do have a hint of kosher salt that makes them taste all the more sweeter. (Did you know that adding salt not only compliments but brings out the sweetness? It’s my favorite ingredient in baking.)
Go ahead. Give it a try. It may end your brownie search. Did I mention, they are super easy to make? One bowl? Quick clean-up. Are you convinced now?
1 c. (8 oz.) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 c. all-purpose
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper by using 2 sheets of parchment paper, setting them perpendicular to one another in the pan. Set aside.
Add butter and chocolate in a double boiler set over a saucepan with simmering water. The water shouldn’t touch the base of the double boiler. Whisk frequently until chocolate and butter are melted, about 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat, and whisk in sugar until combined and cooled. Then whisk in eggs one at a time until incorporated. Whisk in vanilla. Gently fold in flour and salt with a spatula until just combined.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, and smooth top with the spatula. Bake until center is firm, about 40 to 45 minutes. These will be fudgey!
Using parchment, lift brownies out of pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour. Once cooled, store covered in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
• Let the brownies cool for well over an hour—I’d recommend 3 hours. They are really hard to cut right out of the oven because they are so gooey. Be patient. You will be rewarded.
• You may have to rinse your knife clean midway through cutting. This will make cutting the other half easier. The yummy brownie goo on the knife can make cutting difficult.
• Looking for more chocolate? Add 1/4 c. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips into batter. Don’t melt.
• Use the best you can find or afford.
• Wondering why they are so gooey? There is no leavener in this recipe, i.e. baking powder or baking soda. That’s the difference between a cake-y brownie and a fudge-y brownie.
I’ve been a big lazy bum this weekend. Reason being—Broomball.
We played Broomball Friday night, and it did me in for the whole weekend. After all the years of playing competitive soccer, I don’t think my body has ever hurt this bad. Maybe I’m getting old. In hindsight, I should have come armed with knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet. Speaking of helmets, I took a nasty spill about 10 minutes into playing, hitting my head on the ice. A goose egg bump ensued. Being the competitive kamikaze athlete that I am, if you can even still call me an athlete, I kept playing. But, oh, I payed for it the rest of the weekend.
You’re probably thinking—”Does she want some cheese, with that whine?” I’ll pass on the cheese, but I’ll take a cookie instead. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday. I soothed my soul with a healthy chocolate chip cookie. I wasn’t about to try making a new recipe to blog about with my head being a little more foggy than normal. There’s no telling how it would have turned out. So I stuck with what I knew—an oldie but a favorite.
This little gem of a cookie will delight your palette. It’s tiny. Cute. With hints of maple. Filled with dark chocolate. And hidden with healthy morsels of whole wheat flour, oats, walnuts, and honey. Even college students, known for their fast food pizza eating habits, love these cookies.
In a sauce pan, melt butter and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in bowl.
In food processor or high-powered blender, finely grind oats, and add to flour mixture. Then finely grind walnuts. add to flour mixture.
Into cooled butter mixture, whisk in sugar, honey, egg, and vanilla extract until sugar is dissolved and all ingredients are well combined.
Pour butter mixture into flour mixture, and mix until just combined. (Dough will be somewhat dry.)
Mix in chocolate chips.
Scoop cookies with a spring release scoop or roll in ball by hand. Chocolate chips will have a nasty tendency to drop out of the cookies. Give them a little nudge to stay inside. Roll cookies in turbinado and cinnamon mixture and place on silpat or parchment paper lined pan. Do not flatten.
Bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes.
You can also freeze these cookies before baking. Do everything up to step 9. Instead of placing the cookies in the cookies in the oven, place them in the freezer on the cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. This process is called flash freezing. Once they are frozen or hard, you can put them in a freezer proof bag and store up to 2 months in freezer. When you are ready for a cookie or two, set the cookie(s) out on your pan while preheating the oven. Bake for the same amount of time. You may have to add 2 minutes or so. With this method, you can have a freshly baked cookie instead of eating a week old cookie.
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Go ahead and treat yourself to a cookie. A healthy(ish) one at that!
If there is one thing you could do to change the world what would it be?
We’ve all heard this question and answer a million times while watching the Miss America Pageant or Miss Congeniality. What if world peace could be brought…in the form of a cookie?
This is exactly what Dorie Greenspan‘s neighbor thought (Dorie is the author of this recipe). He gave Dorie the idea to dub these cookies World Peace Cookies after exclaiming, “we’re convinced that a daily dose of the cookies is all that’s needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness.” I have to agree with Mr. Neighbor.
Because she’s the brains behind this peace, I’m going to let Dorie describe these decadent morsels. “The cookies are chocolate sables, French shortbreads, but, because they’ve got more brown sugar than white in them, they’ve got more chew than most shortbreads. They’ve also got a generous amount of dark chocolate chunks and enough fleur de sel, moist, coarse-grained French “finishing” salt (i.e., salt to be used in teensy quantities as a spice or condiment), to make them noticeably salty and completely addictive, in the way so many good things with salt are.” This rings music to my ears. My #1 baking philosophy is to use high quality, coarse salt. The contrast of salt makes the sweetness taste that much sweeter. And who can say no to chocolate? So now I have just one question for you—If there is one thing you could do to change the world what would it be?
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark unsweetened cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate (I used dark chocolate chunks)
1. Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl.
2. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth but not fluffy. Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
3. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended (mixture may be crumbly). Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn’t come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball).
4. Place dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Chill until firm, about 3 hours or flash freeze for 30 minutes. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.) 5. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Using thin sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes. If frozen, cook about 5 extra minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.
TIPS • Not keen on dark chocolate? Replace it with chunks of milk chocolate, white chocolate, nuts, andes mints, etc. • Place cookies in a cute package, give to a friend, and spread world peace. • Enjoy cookies within 3ish days of baking. They tend to dry out quickly.