Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend Ashley (the one who we had the birdy baby shower for) just had her baby last week! The sweetest little boy named Brayden :) Whenever I go to visit them I try to bring some treats with me. This week request was peanut butter! I looked around and came across this recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. It got rave reviews from mama Ashley and everyone else I gave extra cookies too.
When it comes to cookies I LOVE soft baked cookies. I'll eat crunchy ones, but they have to be dipped in milk to soften them up. This recipe makes a very soft cookie that is still soft the next day (if you have any left). They also don't spread very much so you can fit a lot on one pan ;-) Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe modified from All Recipes


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I subbed 1 cup whole wheat flour for o ne of the cups of all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped semisweet chocolate (I used Nestle's new semi-sweet/white chocolate swirl chips)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chunks. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 3 inches apar t onto ungreased baking sheets (I used my small cookie scoop which drops them in tablespoon fulls, which I baked for about 9 minutes).
  3. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

Here is an easy chocolate cake recipe if you need a quick dessert. It doesn't use a lot of utensils either (because you all know we hate doing dishes!). And you can top it with whatever you like (I topped these off with a quick vanilla cream cheese frosting)... Enjoy :)

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
From All Recipes
Makes about 36 cupcakes or 2, 9in Rounds

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

A few things about this chocolate cake recipe: it is a soft lighter cake, almost like a box mix texture (so I don't think it would be very sturdy for stacking or anything like that); if you are making cupcakes like I did, fill the liners no more than 2/3's of the cupcake liner because anymore than that and you will have cupcakes with overflowing "muffin tops" and that ain't pretty (basically when I used my ice cream scoop to portion the cupcakes, right where the metal thingy is that swoops across to release the ice cream/batter is, that is the line I used to fill the scoop). Also, this recipe is easily cut in half (I made 17 cupcakes when I cut in half :).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

9 years

The key to a man's heart: bacon & bourbon

Today marks our 9 year anniversary together! That is my boyfriend and I ;-) Crazy huh?! Were not really into gift giving but we do always try to go out to a nice dinner somewhere and maybe give a creative little gift. This year I decided to surprise him with this dessert I saw in the latest issue of Food & Wine Magazine. He's not really a sweets person yet he complains I make things for everyone else and not him. Seriously... men?! lol.

I love the irony of the card next to the bacon brownies

I instantly wanted to make these Bacon Bourbon Brownies when I saw them in the magazine. I love the sweet and salty combo and he loves bacon and alcohol just brings it all together. I find homemade brownies hit or miss for me. I've made a batch before that came out rock hard and others that were just okay. I'm actually a fan of the box mix becuase they always turn out right and taste damn good! So anyways... These were actually really good but just a few things: After I baked these, I don't know if I over baked them a few minutes or what, but the outside ones were a little dry. These are definitely a dark chocolate kind of brownie and it needed a little something sweet (maybe that's just me). I whipped up some Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting to top it off with which married perfectly together with the brownie. In the end the BF liked them and that's what matters the most. Happy anniversary babe!

Bacon Bourbon Pecan Brownies
From Food & Wine


1/2 cup pecans

1/2 pound sliced bacon

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 packed cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons bourbon

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on 2 opposite sides. Spray the paper with vegetable spray. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.
  2. In a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp, 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and let cool; reserve 3 tablespoons of the fat. Finely chop the bacon.
  3. In a saucepan, combine both chocolates with the butter and stir over very low heat, until melted; scrape into a large bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in both sugars with the reserved 3 tablespoons of bacon fat. Beat in the bourbon. Add the eggs and salt and beat until smooth. Sift the cocoa and flour into the bowl and beat until blended.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the bacon and pecans on top. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the brownies are set around the edges but slightly wobbly in the center; a toothpick inserted into the center should have some batter clinging to it. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool completely. Lift the brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares or rectangles and serve.

Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting


1 stick of butter (room temp)

1/2 block of cream cheese (4oz.) (room temp)

Powdered Sugar

2 tsp. bourbon

1 tsp. maple extract


1. Mix together butter and cream cheese in your stand mixer until combined.
2. Add about a cup of powdered sugar and the bourbon and maple extract and continue to mix.
3. Add a little more powdered sugar until it is the consistency you desire. (I never measure my powdered sugar).
4. Put in a ziploc bag, cut off the corner of the bag and drizzle onto the cooled brownies.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

This is one of the first years we aren't hosting a 4th of July BBQ and I must say it's been quite a relaxing day! We are headed to a friends house to BBQ later today and I always have to whip up something to bring. I picked up fresh blueberries, strawberries and rhubarb at the store last night and concocted this cake with the inspiration of Martha Stewart.

I used Martha's Strawberry Cream Cake recipe but instead of just plain strawberries to layer the cake with, I made a strawberry-rhubarb compote between the layers. Garnished it with fresh blueberries. Hopefully it won't be a pain to transport to the BBQ tonight... Happy 4th of July!The cake is made in 3 parts: the cake, the whipped cream and the compote. This recipe makes 2 8 inch layer cakes, if you want a 3 layer like mine, make and additional half of the cake recipe. Once the cakes and compote are cool you can layer away. I did have to torte the tops of the cakes to make them flat before layering. Compote and whipped cream can be made the day before. What I love about this cake is that rustic, simple look. Enjoy!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cream Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
Cake Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottoms of 2 8-inch round cake pans, and line with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper and sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

  2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla bean, orange and lemon extract. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in 3 parts and milk in 2, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Spread batter in prepared pans. (I like to use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter evenly between the pans. All you have to do is count how many scoops you do in each pan ;-)

  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 18 - 20 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Whipped Cream Ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce envelope)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
Cream Directions:
  1. Place 2 tablespoons cold water in a small saucepan, and sprinkle with gelatin; let soften 5 minutes. Place saucepan over very low heat, and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat; let cool.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl until very soft peaks form. Continue to beat, and gradually add gelatin mixture; beat until soft peaks form. Add vanilla bean paste and mix for a few more seconds.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
From Martha Stewart

  • 10 ounces (2 cups) fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 10 ounces trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 2 3/4 cups or 2 large stalks)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Stir strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice in a small nonreactive pan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove strawberries with slotted spoon; place in a bowl and let cool. Set aside pan with strawberry liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, in another small pan over medium-low heat, combine rhubarb, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and the water. Simmer gently, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved and rhubarb is almost tender, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to bowl with strawberries. Add strawberry liquid to pan.
  3. Raise heat to medium and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Stir into strawberry-rhubarb mixture.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Semi-Homemade Mini Lemon Tarts

I pulled a Sandra Lee last weekend and made "semi-homemade" mini lemon tarts garnished with fresh berries for the wedding shower. The lemon curd I had prepared a few weeks before hand for the wedding cake I did recently (which was actually for the bride to be's now sister in law ;-). The lemon curd froze really well and did not loose any of it's thickness when defrosted. This is a great recipe for summer and mini desserts are all the rage right now.

How to make "Semi-Homemade" Mini Lemon Tarts....
1. Prepare lemon curd (this can be done in advance and like I said
it freezes well. When you need to defrost it, put it in the refrigerator 24hrs before you need it.)
2. Prepare the mini shells with pre-made pie crust
3. Pipe the lemon curd in the shells and garnish to your liking (these can be prepared the night before and kept in the fridge).

Lemon Curd By The Joy of Baking

3 large eggs

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar

1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)

4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 tablespoon (4 grams) finely shredded lemon zest

In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisktogether the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for up to a week. Makes 1 1/2 cups

Mini Pie Shells

You can find pre-made pie dough in the refrigerator section at your grocery store. I found mine near the cookie dough. Unroll the dough on your counter and using at least a 3in circle cookie cutter cut out circles. I around 8 circles in one dough. Place them each in a muffin tin cup. You want to make some sort of well for the curd to sit in. Don't forget to pierce the bottom of the dough or it will balloon up! I baked mine on 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes (this may vary according to the directions on the box). Let them cool. Now you're ready to fill with the curd!

*I tired using the extra dough by putting all the scraps together and re-rolling it out, cutting out the circles, and everything... but when it baked it shunk up and did not make a cute little bowl/well like the others. Still tasted good though ;-)

Here is a funny pic my friend sent me of her family's dog rocking a "sombrero cookie" as her dad called them when he first saw the tarts LOL...