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Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Somehow I always have a strange and intense craving for Buckeyes during the summer. I hop on a plane and camp out by their stadium with all my gear on just hoping to catch a satisfying glimpse of one of the players. Unfortunately I usually just end up with another jersey.
Okay, as you may have guessed from the photos the Buckeyes I’m actually referring to are the chocolate and peanut butter holiday treats that I can never get out of my head.
These mini desserts are best described as an amped up, homemade Reese Peanut butter cup rolled into a ball. The name actually does derive from their resemblance to the Ohio Buckeye tree, so I guess Ohio is not totally irrelevant here. And yes, while they are normally served in the colder months, I find them all too appropriate for summer. This is because you can serve them chilled, and that my friends, is pretty amazing.
So you might be asking yourself, why is she talking about Buckeyes when all I see are some bars above? Given my klutzy tray and dipping skills, the balls don’t always work out the best. And to be honest, I always end up dropping a few. This time around I decided to use similar ingredients but transform them into bars. Insert chocolate peanut butter bars. In addition to being a lot easier (no ball rolling), I upped the basic chocolate section to a ganache. This works better with the consistency of the peanut butter layer, and now this dessert is just way too easy to make at any time. That’s your warning, okay? But whether you make these bars, or buckeyes, or are simply too lazy and go buy a Reese’s cup (boo) I think most can agree the chocolate and peanut butter will always be magical together.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine vanilla, peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar with a mixer until homogenous and creamy.
  2. Place mixture in the bottom of a parchment lined pan (8x8 works well for this recipe). Chill.
  3. Meanwhile in a saucepan bring heavy cream just to a boil. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl, stirring rapidly. When chocolate has melted, cover and place the ganache in the fridge to chill.
  4. When the ganache is not completely hard but begins to thicken pour over the peanut butter layer. If it is too thick it will not spread and if it is too hot it will melt the peanut butter. The temperature can be adjusted by either leaving it out or chilling it.
  5. Place the bars in the fridge or freezer until chocolate is firm. When mixture is chilled remove the bars by the sides of the parchment and cut into small squares with a sharp knife. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Chocolate Cake with Cream and Cherry Sauce

Chocolate Cake with Cream and Cherry Sauce

I love a good chocolate cake. And when I say “good” I don’t mean the dry lump you sometimes get at birthday parties or the supermarket because that lump has no place in my heart.
And in my time as a baker I’ve tried out a good amount of recipes. I’ve frequented sour cream chocolate cakes, and cakes with ingredients that are basically equivalent to a brownie, and of course a few million boxes of good ole’ Betty. (Ugh, Betty).
But something my mom and I have both found is tha this recipe, yes this one, is pretty much always fantastic. Something about either the boiling water or just the recipe itself has always yielded a rich and super moist chocolate cake.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Fresh Cream and Cherry Sauce
However, you might not believe that this recipe is in fact on the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder box. It doesn’t even have melted chocolate in it, and still retains a wonderful flavor. This is especially good considering an innocent bag of chocolate chips has a shelf life of about 1 day in my household. (But I can’t say I’m not to blame?)
This time around I really put this recipe to the test. I used whole-wheat flour and honey instead of white sugar. To be honest I did not expect anything close to the normal result, yet, there I was, impressed by the back of the cocoa powder container again.
We also had a bunch of cherries in the house so I figured I’d make a cherry sauce, which is a lot easier to make than it sounds. With a little whipped cream and the sauce, this was definitely well received. I could eat some right. Now. Want to make it for me?
Cake recipe adapted from Hershey’s

Chocolate Cake with Cream and Cherry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Cherry Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted or sliced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  4. For Cherry Sauce
  5. In a small saucepan heat water and honey over medium high heat, stirring. Stir until mixture is homogenous and a syrup/combination has formed.
  6. Add in Cherries and vanilla and adjust the heat to low. Cover on a low boil for about 20-30 min or until your ideal syrup has formed. Serve warm or cool and reheat.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Fresh Cream and Cherry Sauce

Healthy Key Lime Pie

Healthy Key Lime Pie

I always enjoy making healthy alternatives to heart attack-worthy desserts because it’s challenging and sometimes rewarding. But my family members are not always fans. And I have to admit, these desserts can go very wrong, very quickly. I’m looking at you, pumpkin quinoa cookies (oompa-loompa cookies). Sometimes they look and taste…awful.

However, some of these desserts come out fantastic and make me consider giving up ingredients that are delicious, but not doing anything good to my body. This key lime pie was simple to make and actually tasted amazing. Everyone thought it was pretty neat to replace sweet and condensed milk, which usually makes your typical key lime pie, with healthier ingredients. Despite the pie’s low stature (whoops) the taste is on point, and I highly recommend it. Otherwise, I would also recommend buying or saving some coconut cream for a whipped topping, pictured is just conventional whipped cream. Another interesting addition would be to top it with unsweetened toasted coconut!
Additionally, this recipe is grain, dairy and processed sugar free. And it has avocado! So what’s not to love?

Healthy Avocado Coconut Key Lime Pie

Note: For separating the coconut milk I recommend letting it chill and then opening up the can upside down and letting the oil part drain out! It’s a lot easier than blindly poking a spoon in the cream end.

Healthy Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

    Filling
  • 2 cans coconut milk, chilled with the cream separated
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and mashed
  • 4 tbs lime juice
  • 2 tps lime zest, more for garnish
  • 2 tbs honey
  • Crust
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 1 cup nuts (used a combination of walnuts and almonds)

Instructions

  1. Pulse nuts and raisins in the food processor until smooth. Feel free to add other ingredients such as coconut or a nut butter.
  2. Press into a springform non-stick tart pan, chill while prepping filling
  3. In a large bowl mix lime juice, avocado, coconut cream, honey and zest. See note for coconut cream tip.
  4. Mix all until creamy and well combined, adding more or less honey and lime juice to taste.
  5. Spoon batter over chilled crust and chill for 3 hours or freeze until firm. Top pie with extra zested lime and or whipped topping of choice. Enjoy!

Raspberry French Macarons

Raspberry French Macarons

Something about these cookies makes people go nuts. Myself included. Maybe it’s because they look as sweet as they taste, or that they’re difficult to make, or maybe it’s that they are French (because let’s face it…they’re good at food).
The idea of making French macarons at home seems a little foreign to the usual baking crowd, and I don’t blame them. These cookies are not easy at all. The main indicator of success is the “foot” of the macaron, or the little ridges on the sides. To this day I’ve made the cookies 3 times and only the most recent time (this batch) had feet. You can imagine my excitement, and you can also imagine how strange my Dad must have felt about me babbling about “feet!”

Raspberry French Macarons
There are a few different ways to make these cookies, but a lot of the tricks are pretty consistent. If you make them you have to be hyper aware during each step ensuring that you sift correctly, don’t overmix, don’t undermix and wait till the cookies are tacky before baking. It’s a lot of little steps and then you have to wait to bake them. I’ll tell you one thing, if you don’t get the feet you may or may not feel like dumping the tray in the trash after all the work. But the good news is that all renditions of this cookie (feet or not) taste pretty delicious.
I followed Beth Le Manach of Entertaining With Beth’s macaron recipe video. She has a great recipe and great tips. However, I also recommend spending some time on Youtube to get a sense of other’s tips and tricks and unique flavors.

(And recipe credit goes to Beth Le Manach)

Raspberry Macarons

Ingredients

  • 3 Egg Whites
  • ¼ cup white sugar (50 g)
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (200 g)
  • 1 cup almond flour (120 g)
  • pinch of salt
  • Raspberry Buttercream
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (60g)
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar (75 g)
  • 1/2 cup (150 g) fresh raspberries, worked through a sieve to extract 3 tbsp of juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Beat egg whites until foamy, then add salt, cream of tartar and white sugar for 8-10 mins.
  2. Eggwhites should be room temp. To create room temp eggs, submerge in warm water for 5 mins.
  3. Whip until they form a peak that stands upright. Add food coloring when peaks are almost stiff.
  4. Sift almond flour, and powdered sugar once or twice. Discard large lumps of almond.
  5. Fold flour/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture. Under mix and your macaroons will be lumpy and cracked when the bake with no feet, over mix and your macaroons will be flat and won't have feet, the mark of a well-made macaron. 65-75 turns of your spatula when folding is about the right amount of time.
  6. Transfer batter to a pastry bag. Pipe out 1 inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tap the pan hard at least 2-3 times to release the air bubbles. This will prevent the tops of your macaroons from cracking.
  7. Let them sit out for 20-30 mins, or up to an hour if you want. This will allow them time to dry out a bit before hitting the hot oven. They should be "tacky" to the touch, but not stick to your fingertips.
  8. Bake for 20 mins, ensuring that they are down and will not stick to the tray.
  9. For The Buttercream
  10. Whip butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Slowly add sugar.
  11. Place sieve on top of a bowl the same size. Work raspberries through the sieve with a spatula, pushing them through, mashing them around until you extract their juice. You want 3 tablespoons of juice.
  12. Add juice to buttercream, and whip until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag, fitted with a small tip (about ¼ " in diameter) Reverse cookie shells on their backs, and pipe a small mound of filling on one of them.
  13. Refrigerate if not serving, bring to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!

Raspberry French Macarons

Lemon Cake with Lemon Zest Buttercream

Lemon Cake with Lemon Zest Buttercream

In today’s diary of a ‘kind-of unemployed college student with way too much time on her hands,’ a lemon cake was made. The desire to make this “light summer meal” (in a texture sense, not a caloric one) really just boiled down to me wanting to play with a piping bag. It’s pretty cool what a few Youtube videos can teach you in one afternoon about piping. And it’s really cool to “learn something new” and end up with a delicious dessert.

So you can imagine my pitiful excitement when I found a fresh lemon in the fruit bowl this morning, lemon cake it was! The actual cake is sour cream lemon cake, and it’s wonderfully…dare I say moist? (The most hated word has it’s place, and it’s here.) I made the buttercream with lots of lemon zest and a very small amount of lemon juice and it was a big hit. Super sweet buttercream pairs up really well with a tart flavor. The combination of the frosting and cake is quite perfect with no overkill on the lemon or the sweetness.
So if you can’t find some ridiculous justification to make this cake like I did, I might suggest it for Father’s Day. Or, if you don’t have a dad…summer solstice. Or…the beginning of June! There are secret holidays all around, and holidays call for cake like this. (As does my kind-of unemployed life).

Lemon Sour cream Cake With Lemon Zest Buttercream Frosting

 

Lemon Cake With Lemon Zest Butter Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • For the Buttercream
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs half and half
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1½ tbs lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk together.
  2. Add eggs, oil and lemon juice. Beat until smooth.
  3. Add sour cream and beat until smooth.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees in two 8-inch pans for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. For the Buttercream
  6. Begin by creaming butter until smooth, slowly add in powdered sugar and lemon zest.
  7. Continue to cream adding in half and half and lemon juice adjusting amounts to desired consistency.

 

 

Fudgy Brownies

Fudgy Brownies

No one ever gets mad at you for making brownies. Some “healthy” desserts that I’ve made don’t go over so well with in house. I often cut out processed sugar and sometimes reduce the butter or use a different flour. Some people don’t like this and proceed to describe the taste as something that “starts off good, but ends bad.” So, no, not everyone is into health around here.

But that’s where these brownies come in. Butter, Chocolate and all the goodness. The perfect mix of melt and form. A taste that other desserts fail to capture. They are a chocolate lovers heaven, aside from flourless cake that is.

hand on brownie

I’ve found that in brownies, especially super chocolate ones, that semi-sweet chips work a little better than dark. Though you pretty much have to pry the dark chocolate chip bag from my hands, they don’t melt as well and the overall flavor is a little lost.

I also want to mention that in this recipe I used dark chocolate cocoa powder, which made them extra dark. Obviously, regular works just as well.

Fudgy Brownies

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons (145 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark)
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F (163 C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. (This helps when removing the baked brownies from the pan, once cooled).
  2. Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat water until barely simmering. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl. Rest bowl over simmering water (if the bottom of the bowl touches the water, remove a little water).
  3. Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks granular, it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour.
  4. Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot.
  5. Stir in vanilla extract, then eggs, one at a time.
  6. Add in flour and mix until combined. Bake 20-25 minutes (and under bake a little for more fudge-like Brownies.)

best fudgy brownies