Saturday, March 30, 2013

Peep S'mores

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It seems like the holidays come earlier and earlier every year, which is kind of depressing when the stores are rushing me through life! I kind of prefer a leisurely pace. But I would never hold it against our dear retailers for rushing to get those brightly colored Easter Peeps on the shelves!

I know, some of you are rolling your eyes and wondering how in the world I could love something that is basically an animal-shaped piece of sugar coated in neon sugar with eyeballs. I ask you, how could you not?! But if you're going to hold onto your Peep-hatred, just think of the children! Would it really be Easter for them without a small overdose of sugary goodness? I think not.

Happy Easter!

Peep S'mores [click to print]
Makes 6-7 individual servings

  • 1 pkg mini graham cracker crusts (I used Keebler Ready Crust Minis)
  • 1 brownie recipe (the kind for an 8" or 9" pan)
  • 12-14 mini Hershey bars
  • 6-7 Peeps
1) Prepare brownie batter and preheat oven as instructed in recipe or on box/pouch. Scoop about 3 Tablespoons of batter into each crust and bake for 18-22 minutes. Note, time will vary based on recipe used, so stick a toothpick in the center to check doneness and when it comes out clean, you're good!

2) Lay two mini chocolate bars across top of mini brownie and allow chocolate to melt. If the brownies are too cool to melt the chocolate, place them in a warm oven for 2 or 3 minutes until the chocolate is shiny and soft. 

3) Top chocolate with a Peep and serve warm! Or cold, they're still fudgy and rich and delicious the next day...if they last that long! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chocolate Yogurt Cake

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I made this cake for the first time a while ago, but it somehow disappeared before I ever got a chance to take pictures. Hm. I guess that just goes to show that it really is perfect for snacking.

This cake has a beautiful dark chocolate color and is very moist, thanks to the yogurt, and, on top of that, it's really fast and easy to make!

Chocolate Yogurt Cake [click to print]
Makes one 8" square cake
  • 6 T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 c. vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. plus 2 T. flour
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Line bottom of 8" square baking pan with parchment paper or coat generously with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. 

2) In bowl of stand mixer, combine butter and sugars. Cream until well combined. Add egg and vanilla; mix until completely incorporated. Stir in yogurt and milk. 

3) In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa and salt. Gradually add to batter in about 3 additions, mixing until just blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan just slight and top of cake springs back when lightly touched.

4) Allow cake to cool about 10 minutes in pan before removing to serving dish. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. (P.S. This is still good cold, but who doesn't love warm cake?!)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Choco-nana Crunch Bread

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I'll be honest. I was a little skeptical about the success-ability of another version of the old banana bread. But with spotty bananas, a new bag of granola and a hankering for chocolate, what else was I supposed to do? I obviously had no choice.

With dark chocolate morsels and clusters of crunchy granola packed into every bite, this stuff is like a dream. The banana flavor isn't really strong, so don't worry about being overwhelmed by fruitiness. And even more good news, even after a couple days this bread is still awesomely moist.

Choco-Nana Crunch Bread [click to print]
Makes one loaf
  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 medium bananas, mashed (about 1 c.)
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. granola (I used some Open Nature Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Heaven)
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously coat 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 

2) In bowl of stand mixer, beat applesauce, sugar and eggs until smooth. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, powder, soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together bananas, milk and vanilla. Beat in half of flour mixture, then all of banana mixture, then remaining flour mixture, stirring until well combined. Stir in granola and chocolate chips.

3) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 60-75 minutes or until top springs back lightly when touched. Cool about 10 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sour Cream Peppermint Petits Fours

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I somehow survived DC's Snowquester last week and made the treacherous journey to and from work. I know, you're impressed. But instead of getting all cozy and sipping hot chocolate once I finally got home, I grabbed a few sticks of butter and got baking.

When it's cold and slushy outside, something about peppermint just warms me up from the inside out! These cute little petits fours are the perfect size for an individual serving. Nothing looks more elegant than a mini bundt dusted with a light coating of powdered sugar. But what? Your mom didn't give you this cute little pan from Nordicware? You can bake these as cupcakes, too, they just won't look as fancy.

Sour Cream Peppermint Petits Fours [click to print]
Makes 16 mini bundts or regular cupcakes (I used the Nordicware Mini Bundt pan)
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1-1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously coat mini bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray---use the kind with flour! Seriously, I can't tell you how big of a difference this makes.

2) Combine butter and sugar in mixing bowl and beat until well combined. Add sour cream, eggs, vanilla and peppermint extracts and mix well. In separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and stir into batter until just combined.

3) Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until top is slightly golden and springs back when touched lightly. Allow to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar to serve.

Source: Adapted from The Sweet Art

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Pistachio Cookies

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So I may or may not have gone to two or three separate cookie exchanges around Christmas last year...and these cookies just about knocked my socks off. Every single bite is packed with chewy flavor and bits of nut or berry or good!

And while the red and green mix-in combo looks especially gorgeous for the holidays, I've decided that these are year-round cookies. Also, I am now officially in love with pistachios.

Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Pistachio Cookies [click to print]
  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, large
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. cake flour*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. pistachios, shelled (and salted is great, too!)
  • 1/2 c. white chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
*Note: If you don't have cake flour on hand, substitute 2 c. all-purpose flour plus 2 tsp. cornstarch.

1) Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

2) Cream butter and sugars until well combined. Beat in egg and vanilla, scraping sides of bowl as needed. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, soda and salt; with mixer on low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture in about 2-3 additions. Stir in pistachios, chocolate and cranberries. 

3) Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days. 

4) Preheat oven to 350 F. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes or until the edges are just golden brown. Allow cookies to set on pan about 1-2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from my friend Jordan's recipe files!
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