Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brother:  Hey Kayla do you think we could make chocolate chip cookies and put bacon in them?

Me: Uhhh, yeah.  Definitely.

Brother:  Cool. 

Yep, that simple convo is how it started.  A little flicker of an idea in that big guy’s head and our baking adventure began.  I think this was the first time I’ve ever baked with my brother.  Sure we’d made dinner together a time or two when we both lived in California.  I’d come over to his house and we would work our way through our mom’s green chile chicken enchilada recipe, but baking?  Nope… that has always been my job.

His number one request is always chocolate chip cookies.  Always, always, and always.  I bet he could eat an entire batch in one sitting… but I think I could too so I’m not that impressed.

Of course, I have baked for him many, many times.  But he never makes much more than burnt popcorn for me.  Wah wahhh.   So naturally I figured his spark of bacon genius would leave me to do the “work” and he would be left with a very tasty reward.  Not that I mind making the cookies it’s just the fairness factor between siblings that is stuck in the back of my mind.  Example:

Brother: Hey Kayla can you get me some water?

Me:  Yeah, next time I get up from the same couch you are on and go to the kitchen I’ll get you one.

…. the next day

Me: Nick can you grab me a kleenex… they’re right there next to you.

Brother: (walks over to the couch) Did you want me to get you something?

This is just one example of a give and take imbalance in this relationship.

To my surprise he helped me out in the end.  I watched, very carefully and slightly controllingly (is that a word? Nope.), as he measured the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  I may have hovered over his shoulder a little bit as he creamed the butter and sugar.  I definitely had to help him put the food processor on the right way.

But really, he helped a lot.  And I really enjoyed it.

Especially when he did the dishes. (what?!)

When the timer went off we were both anticipating what was to come.  Would they taste good?  Would it just be weird?  Too much bacon?  Or worse, not enough?

In the end, and after several taster cookies, I decided that they were perfect for my mouth buds.  I like the subtle salty, smoky flavor that sneaks up on your taste buds.  Since the bacon is ground into small pieces each bite is flecked with a few bacon-y gems.  Not overwhelming but noticeable.  I still feel like I’m eating a choco chip cookie, which was important to me.

I give a high five to the man with idea… Nick, you did well.

Now go to the gym…

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe adapted from nestle tollhouse

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner.
  2. In a food processor, grind bacon into small pieces about the size of a pebble.  Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. One at a time add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Pour flour mixture into butter mixture and stir until combined.
  7. Add chocolate chips and bacon stirring until fully incorporated.
  8. Using a small ice cream scoop or a large spoon drop about a tablespoon of dough onto the baking sheet.
  9. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 9-10 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.  Or eat one right away when its still warm!

*Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  Have leftovers?  Freeze them!

{Chocolate Coconut} Peanut Butter Banana Bread

 

Oh man.  I am ready for the weekend.  This week and last have been one of those I-just-want-to-crawl-in-a-hole-as-fast-as-possible weeks.  I’ve messed up what seems like a million times at work this past week or so and it is so frustrating.  I just want to punch myself in the face.  Not really though.

Okay, maybe a little bit.

As a slight perfectionist, I find it quite difficult to make mistake after mistake, especially when you aren’t the only one having to bear the consequences of those mess ups.  My boss is completely nice about it but I hate that feeling of “letting them down.”  And I have a ridiculous time letting it go.  All last weekend my mind would wander toward what I did wrong at work, how I could’ve fixed it, what my co-workers were thinking/saying about me, how I could make it right… My mind would not stop going there.  I was worrying about a situation that I had no current control over, and fretting about mishaps that I couldn’t take back.

It’s true that we have to live with the decisions that we make, or the things we do wrong, no matter how big or insignificant they may be, but there is a point when living with it can cross over to being consumed by it, and I have been consumed.  I find myself being swallowed up by my own thoughts, concerns, future projections, and other’s opinions quite a lot.  I take myself out of the current moment to instead be in a negative space that leads me nowhere.

There is a point where I must remind myself that I am human, I will make mistakes, I will learn as best I can to avoid doing them again and I will let. it. go.

Then I will reward myself with a high five and a slice of chocolate coconut  peanut butter banana bread… whew thats a mouth full.

Let take a quick second to talk about this peanut butter.  Its…  just really delicious.

What could go wrong with chocolate and coconut swirled into creamy peanut butter?  Nothing, thats what.  Absolutely nothing.

Well, except maybe my waning self control once I hold this jar of pb in one hand and a spoon in the other.   I’ll just consider that a tasty mishap.

Okay, here’s the deal.  Quick breads are fantastic for many reasons.  They are very versatile, quick to put together, hard to screw up, and freeze well.  Plus they are delicious.

All you really need are two bowls.  Whisk together your dry ingredients first.  Whisking them before adding them to the wet ingredients ensures that everything is equally distributed.

Next, things start to get wet and wild.  Sugar and eggs are whisked into a lovely mixture.  Add bananas, yogurt, melted coconut oil, and peanut butter.  Things start to get really crazy when the sugar, banana, peanut butter situation invites the dry ingredients into the party.  They mingle and turn into a silky batter ready to be baked.

But first generous dollop of peanut butter gets swirled into the batter.  You can always leave this step out and the bread will still be delicious… but, really, why would you?

Here it is.  A version of banana bread that you will come back to again and again.  The flavors are well balanced, playing nicely and sharing the spotlight.

The peanut butter and banana combo is an obvious win.  The addition of chocolate and coconut are like the moment you get the win, rip your shirt off, and fall on the grass in just your sports bra.

Thats a bad comparison…  does anyone even remember that?

Oh well, make this bread and your tummy will be happy… high five!

{Chocolate Coconut} Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate coconut peanut butter, or any other nut butter
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon slat
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter one 9×5 in loaf pan or 3 6×3.5 loaf pans (this is what I did).  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, flax seed meal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until well incorporated. Add yogurt, bananas, peanut butter, and coconut oil.  Whisk to combine.
  4. Pour flour mixture into the banana mixture and stir until just combined.  Don’t over mix!
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan(s), about 3/4 of the way of the pan.
  6. Optional: Put three dollops of softened peanut butter on top of the batter.  Swirl into the batter with a toothpick, skewer, or knife.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 45-60 minutes (if you are just using one large loaf pan it will be more on the 60 minute range.. opposite for the smaller pans!).  Test to see if the bread is down by placing a toothpick in the center and having it come out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for for about 20 minutes.  Run a butter knife along the edges to invert from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Bread will last well wrapped for up to 4 days at room temperature.  Alternately it can be stored in the freezer for a rainy day or just a crappy work week.

Chocolate Popsicles

We’re thick in the middle of summer livin, summer lovin.

The sun is out.  The sandals are on.  And my legs are still a nice shade of pale white.  What can say?  I blame Oregon.

Its play-outside-eat-on-the-patio-have-a-breakfast-picnic weather.

Its float-the-river-drink-a-gin-cocktail-on-the-porch weather.

Its wear-a-maxi-dress-let-your-hair-air-dry weather.

And its definitely make-lots-and-lots-of popsicles weather.

I’ve never been a huge fan of popsicles, preferring ice cream, or a Flinstones push-pop, when I craved a cold treat.  I think part of it is that they are just so sweet and I hate the fake fruit/sugar taste of most popsicles.

However, this summer popsicles have been all the rage in the blogosphere so I decided to try my own… chocolate style, of course.

I’m not sure these could get any simpler.  Dark chocolate chips and chunks get tossed in a bowl.  Coconut milk is heated up and poured over chocolate.  Then we wait.

Bananas get mashed.  Coconut nectar gets measured.

All ingredients are whisked together.  The chocolate deliciousness is poured into cups that remind me of the dentist.  They always brought the dreaded fluoride to me in those cups.

After being placed in the freezer for about 30 minutes the cups are removed and a wooden popsicle stick is placed in the middle.

Back to the freezer for another hour and half… at least!

The result is a creamy, cold treat that I’ve been guiltlessly indulging in every night the past two weeks, except the night I went to Salt and Straw… but thats a whole other scoop of ice cream.  See what I did there?

I’m not gonna lie, these choco pops are rich.  If you don’t enjoy dark chocolate you are very welcome to use a lower percentage of chocolate chip/bar.  You can also use honey or maple syrup instead of coconut nectar.  Maybe you’d like to add peanut butter?  And maybe slash I definitely will give you a high five if you do.

Add salted caramel, try a different fruit, make 12 batches, and share them with a friend.  Why not?

After all it is feel-like-a-kid-again-eat-popsicles-for-breakfast-let-your-imagination-go-wild weather.

Chocolate Popsicles

Makes about 6

Ingredients

  • 2.5 ounces 99% dark chocolate
  • 2.5 ounces 67% dark chocolate
  • 1 banana, ripened and mashed or pureed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut nectar
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Directions

  1. Heat milk and coconut nectar in a small sauce pan until simmering around the edges.
  2. Place chocolate in a small bowl.  Pour coconut milk over chocolate.  Set aside for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk coconut milk and chocolate together until mixture is smooth.  If your chocolate did not melt all the way place bowl over a pot of simmer water to completely melt chocolate.
  4. Whisk in banana until combined
  5. Pour mixture into small cups or popsicle mold.  Place in freezer for about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from freezer and place popsicle sticks in the center of each pop.  Return to freezer for at least 1 1/2 hours.
  7. When you are ready to enjoy, cut a slit in the side of the cup and remove the cup from the popsicle.  Now, see how many licks it takes to finish!
  8. Store popsicles in an airtight container in the freezer.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

We’re all unsuspecting, really.  We all just have this body, this exterior that we could fool anybody with.  You know what I’m talking about.  Don’t try to act like you don’t!  I know you’ve got a lot going on inside that never quite makes it to the surface.  It’s okay, I do too.

Because inside I’m quite the talker.  Just in my head though.  Or when I have a drink or two. But thats a different subject.  Inside, I have lots of opinions.  Inside, I analyze like nobody’s business.  Inside, I feel totally normal being totally awkward.  Inside, I’m quite curious.. like George.

Inside, I’m a little crazy.  Inside, I think I’m good singer… then that comes out I realize, once again, that I’m not.  Inside, I should myself a lot… I should do this, I should do that.  But inside, I don’t want to do most of those things.  Inside, I’m a nervous… a lot.

Over the years I’ve gotten good at hiding the inside.  I’ve been perfecting the filter that only allows out the things I think most people will approve of.  Wanting approval, acceptance, a place to belong I shove inside the things about myself that are different in order to fit the body that someone else has constructed.  I feel like I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember.

I’ve been slowly waking up to this reality that I don’t know who I am exactly.  Or more correctly, that I don’t know how to let it out.

My best friend came to visit last week.  I was continually noticing the ease with which we interact.  The walls were down and the inside flowed to the surface.  We have a transparency with one another that I don’t feel with most people.  But it brought to light how much I want and need that in my life.

 It also brought to light how much cookies aid the process to transparency.  Give a girl a cookie and she’ll open up a little bit.

Give a girl a chocolate cookie with peanut butter inside and she’ll divulge all the craziness going on inside.

And its awesome.

These cookies, too, are unsuspecting.  Much like the people you run into everyday, their exterior only conveys so much.  Chocolate.  That is undeniable.  But whats inside is the treat.  The treasure to this cookie lies right in the center.  Slightly salty with just enough sweetness, the peanut butter surprise offers just that..  a surprise to your taste buds.  And one that I assure you will be welcomed.

Chocolate comes in two forms in this cookie.  Powder and chip.  Double the chocolate, double the fun.  This cookie crisps on the edges and softens as it centers around the peanut butter filling.  It might take a bit or two to get to the center but it’s an enjoyable trip to get there.  And finally, chocolate and peanut butter unite once again to form a delicious union!

I totally suspected that would happen.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used minis)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Directions

  1. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer or using a hand mixer, beat together butter granulated sugar and 1 cup brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated.  Add in vanilla.
  3. On low speed slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together peanut butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator.  Using a 1 1/4 inch scoop or heaping tablespoon, drop balls of dough onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  The cookies will spread quite a bit so be sure to give them ample room to grow.  Using your thumb, make an imprint in the center of each ball.  Place 1 teaspoon of peanut butter filling into each thumbprint.  Scoop a second ball of dough, flatten it with your fingers, and mold it over the peanut butter filling.
  7. Bake until firm, about 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on pan for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack to continue cooling.  Repeat process with remaining dough and filling.

~The dough started to be tough to work with when I was molding the tops onto the bottom.  If this happens to you just put a little bit of flour on a plate and dip your fingers in the flour before flattening the dough.

Chocolate Banana and Spinach Smoothie


“As long as I am alive in this body, there is good work for me to do…” -Philippians 1:22-

I kind of freak myself out a lot.  I get overwhelmed by details.  I stress myself out by thinking I have to have life all figured out.  I get down on myself for feeling like I don’t have anything figured out.  Then I get all dramatic and think I’ll never really find what I’m supposed to do in life and I’ll end up working some job I can’t stand and hating every minute of it.

Oh man, I need to take a chill pill… like, for serious.

All this stuff going on in my brain has been stressing me out!  But then, faithful as he is, God shows me the verse above — reminding me that good work is everywhere, waiting to be had.  It may not be glamorous.  It may mean waking up at 4:30 (am) sometimes.  It may not make any sense, but I do have a purpose in this place in time.

Ahhh, what breath of fresh air… words I need to hear and hold close.

When I’m stressed out I like to try to take advantage of things that make me feel good.  Eating well gives me a boost of energy inside and out, and helps me feel like I’m doing something good for myself… loving myself well.

The new year is full of resolutions to eat better and this smoothie is a great thing to add to your list of “healthy stuff.”  Smoothies in general can be a great way to add extra nutrients to your diet in a tasty and satisfying way.

This one is pretty simple:  spinach, a banana, a scoop of chocolate protein powder, flax seed meal, ice, and water.  I usually drink this or something similar after a workout, but its great to start your day with or as a refreshing snack in the afternoon!

You can switch it up however you’d like.  Add things in or take things away.  Smoothies are totally versatile… like a dress you can wear to work and out on the town or that pair of shoes you could wear with any outfit.

Pretty much if you make a smoothie you’re gonna be winning.  Just accept it.  Give someone a high five.  And know that you did good work.

Chocolate Banana and Spinach Smoothie

Makes one large or two small smoothies

Ingredients

  • About 2 cups spinach
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup water
  • About 1 cup ice
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed meal

Directions

  1. Blend together spinach, ice, and water until spinach is blended into small bits.
  2. Add banana and chocolate protein powder and blend until fully incorporated.
  3. Pour into a glass and top with flax seed meal.
  4. Enjoy!

*Don’t have protein powder or hate the taste of it?  Try adding in some greek yogurt and chocolate syrup instead.  You’ll still get the chocolate flavor and a some protein too!

Boozy Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

I love living in a big city.

One reason is that I don’t have to worry about running into people I know at random times when I’m not expecting it.

However, on the rare occasion that I do run into someone, its usually at the grocery store when I’m buying popcorn, wine, and tampons.

Thats when things gets slightly awkward and I’m reminded of why I don’t like running into people.

I don’t love when I miss judge how early I should get to the airport during Christmas time.

Thanksgiving?  No one there.  Christmas?  That place was filled to the max.

Lines out the ying-yang.  One of the Christmas presents that I got my dad had to be thrown away.  Theeen, I had to run to my gate to get on my flight.

And all at the chipper time of 6:00 AM!

I also don’t love making decisions.  I’m really bad at it.  Truly, its one of my flaws.

I could have had my Christmas shopping done in one day but I just could not make up my mind.  So, five days and way too many trips to the mall later I was finally finished!

And I think I ended up buying everyone the same things I was thinking about getting them on the first day.

I need to work on that.   New Years resolution perhaps?  I do love chocolate.  And truffles are the ultimate chocolate treat.

Dense, rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  What more can a girl ask for?

Oh, salted caramel and irish cream?

Well alright, if you insist…These truffles are a great, last minute Christmas gift that will leave you with no decisions except which chocolate to buy.

Plus, they make people feel like they’re your favorite.  And lets face it, everyone loves being a favy.

Caramel can be intimidating to a lot of people, but its totally doable and worth the effort. The truffle part is truly easy, and then things get a little fun (and messy) when its time to roll truffle mixture in little balls.

With a little more work added you can cover the truffles in melted chocolate.  Or for a bit easier route roll them cocoa powder, nuts, or powdered sugar.  All tasty options!

Just makes these.  Everyones mouth will thank you and their tummies will give you a high five… I promise.

Boozy Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

Very slightly adapted from Bakers Royale

Ingredients

Truffle:

  • 11 oz dark chocolate (I used Guittard 63% chips)
  • 8 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel (recipe to follow)
  • 2 tablespoons Irish Cream (you can omit this if you don’t want the booze)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups dark chocolate chips, melted

Instructions

  1. Place heavy cream in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until simmering slightly.  Meanwhile, place chocolate in a heat proof bowl.
  2. Pour heated cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.  Then stir cream and chocolate together until smooth.  If chocolate has not completely melted, place bowl of chocolate mixture over a saucepan with simmering water and continue to stir until the chocolate and cream smoothly melted together.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in salted caramel and then add in Irish cream, stirring until fully incorporated.
  5. Pour mixture into a flat casserole dish, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for about 3 hours, or until mixture is set.
  6. Remove chilled truffle mixture from the fridge.  Using a melon baller or small ice cream scoop, scoop out chocolate rounds.  Finish forming truffles by hand and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.
  7. If dipping truffles, place a truffle in the melted chocolate and roll around with a fork until completely covered.  Use fork to lift truffle from chocolate, shaking off any excess melted chocolate.  Scrape the bottom of the fork against the edge of the bowl to remove excess chocolate and slide covered truffle off of fork and onto a clean, lined baking sheet.  Continue until all truffles have been covered.  Transfer covered truffles to fridge to let chocolate set.  Use any leftover caramel to decorate truffles, if desired.
  8. If rolling truffles, place cocoa powder on a small plate.  Take each truffle and roll in cocoa powder until covered.  Place covered truffle on a pretty plate or parchment paper.  Continue until all truffles have been covered.

*You can also cover the truffles in chopped nuts, such as almonds or pistachios, or roll them in powdered sugar.

Salted Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Place sugar and water in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Stir until sugar has been dissolved and use a wet pastry brush to remove any crystals that form on the side of the pan.
  2. Once sugar has dissolved increase the heat to high.  Do not stir the mixture from now on, but occasionally swirl the pot using the handle to keep the mixture moving.
  3. After a few minutes the mixture will start to bubble.  Let mixture cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until caramel is a medium amber color.  Be careful to watch the mixture once it begins to caramelize because it will happen quickly and you don’t want it to burn.
  4. Add butter and cream and whisk vigorously.  The mixture will bubble like crazy at first so don’t freak out.. thats supposed to happen.
  5. Remove from heat and add salt, stir until combined.

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies

I realized today that its like half way through December already.  Say whaaaat?

I feel like the last few weeks have been a blur.  So much going on, so much to do.

I finished up school last week.  Cramming for finals and writing crazy long papers.  All I really wanted to do was be in the kitchen, but, alas, that was farthest thing from reality.

But, now that I’m finished for the term I am ready to get some holiday baking done!

Every year I have extravagant plans in my head to bake copious amounts of cookies and give them out to all my friends and loved ones.

Usually my plans are far fetched from what I can realistically get done without driving myself bonkers, so this year I’m scaling back.

I think we all put way too much pressure on ourselves to “get everything done” around the holidays and miss we out on a lot of the small jewels of happiness and joy that are available to us.

So, I’m trying not to stress this season.  I’ll bake what I can and shop when I have the time. I probably won’t decorate much (or at all) since I’ll be back home in New Mexico for Christmas, and also because I’m terrible at taking decorations down… I’d leave them up til like April.

But I will play Christmas music and enjoy other people’s lights.  And if you put up a Christmas tree or bake cookies I’ll give you a high five and tell you to take a break.

Cause you know what?  You deserve it!  Relax.  Enjoy the moment.  Give yourself a pat on the back and be okay with what you have and have not gotten done.

Thats what I did when I finished these cookies yesterday!

Chocolate and peppermint are the star attraction in these festive cookies.  Peppermint patties are wrapped in a chocolate cookie dough, drizzled with white chocolate, and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.  The chocolate cookie dough is similar to a shortbread and mellows out the sweetness of the peppermint patty nicely.

I was semi disappointed because the cookies aren’t really soft.  So, if you don’t like crunchy cookies these may not be your cup of tea.  However if you enjoy that sort of thing these are a great, festive cookie to enjoy yourself or give away!

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies

Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 egg
  • 24 miniature peppermint patties
  • 4 oz white chocolate (not chips), chopped

Directions

  1. Using an electric or handheld mixer, beat the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, salt, and baking soda on low speed.  Beat in butter, then the egg.  Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap.  From dough into a disk and place in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper, a silpat, or cooking spray.
  3. Working with 1 Tbsp of dough at a time, use your fingers to evenly encase each peppermint patty with dough.  Place on baking sheet and continue until all peppermint patties are covered.
  4. Bake until just firm to the touch, about 15 minutes.  Remove oven and transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, in a double boiler or a small heat proof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the white chocolate until smooth.
  6. Drizzle* white chocolate over the cookies and sprinkle peppermint candy canes over the top.
  7. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

*The chocolate I was working with was not drizzling very well so I used a pastry bag to stripe the cookies.  If you do not have a pastry bag you can also use a small plastic sandwich bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the corners.

Chocolate Espresso Tart

I love weddings.  Loooove them.  Ever since I was little girl I’ve been enchanted by weddings.

The white dress.  The flowers.  The dancing.  The cake!  The vows.  The kiss.

All so romantic.  Just like a fairy tale.

Well, until you actually plan a wedding.  Then the details all seem like a nightmare.  Not that I’ve had personal experience, but I’ve heard of and witnessed a few.

Plus, Father of the Bride is one of my favorite movies of all time.  I used to watch it like everyday when I was little (seriously).   I even thought I wanted to be a wedding planner when I was in high school.  Now, not so much.  I don’t think I’m that organized and I hate talking on the phone.  Two essentials for wedding planning.

Anyways, all this babbling about weddings is leading somewhere.

My friends Tina and Chris just got married!  What a beautiful wedding.

Tina was gorgeous in her empire waisted, white gown. Chris looked dapper in his tux.  Orange, red and yellow dahlias filled mason jars, while candles and the sounds of Frank Sinatra offered a romantic ambiance.

Their love filled the tent.  It was contagious.  The way they love each other is truly inspiring.  The way they look into each others eyes would make anyone long for a romance like theirs.  God blessed them with each other.  So beautiful, so unique.  so special.  Its sort of a mushy kind of love.  But in a really good way.  Not the annoying kind of way.

The food?  Delicious!

Por Que No?, local taqueria, did the catering.  Fresh, homemade corn tortillas, yummy tamales, and salsas out the wazoo.  It was perfect.  Plus, lots and lots of sangria.  I may or may not have indulged in a little too much of that.  But enough about me…

Lets talk about these tarts!

An almond crust with bits of ground espresso filled with rich, dark chocolate truffle filling and topped with a chocolate covered espresso bean.  Can you say chocolate heaven?

If you can, that means you should make these!  They look elegant and beautiful, but won’t leave you slaving in the kitchen for hours.  I made these little chocolate jewels as wedding favors for Tina and Chris’s guests to take home.  A little piece of themselves (they both love chocolate and coffee) for their guests to take with them.

If you don’t want to make mini tarts the recipe can easily be made into one large tart for a dinner party or function, or for you to get down on all by yourself.  If you choose the latter option take it slow.  This will put you in a chocolate food coma real quick.  You’ve been warned.

I like the mini tarts myself.  My own mini dessert makes me feel special.

Chocolate Espresso Tarts

Makes about 16 mini tarts

Crust

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 Tbsp ground espresso
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp coconut oil, melted

Truffle Filling

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips (at least 60%; I used Guittard)
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchen coconut milk)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together almond meal, espresso, sugar, and salt.
  3. Stir in coconut oil until dry ingredients are moist and clump together slightly
  4. Press crust into tart/cupcake liners.  The liners I used were self standing so I baked them on a cookie sheet, without the cupcake pan.
  5. Bake crusts for about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  6. To make the truffle filling, heat coconut milk in a sauce pan until the edges of the milk start to simmer.
  7. Place chocolate in a large bowl.
  8. Pour milk over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.  Don’t stir!  Just let it sit there.  I know its hard, but you can do it.  Its important to let the chocolate melt before stirring.
  9. After 5 minutes, stir chocolate and milk together.
  10. If you’re making mini tarts, I suggest transferring the chocolate into a pourable measuring cup.  This makes it easier and a little bit cleaner!
  11. Fill the tart molds as full as you want.  I left a little room at the top just because I like the way it looks.
  12. Put tarts into the freezer for 5 or so minutes to speed up the setting of the chocolate.
  13. Top the tarts with a chocolate covered espresso bean.  And you’re done!

*If for some reason your chocolate did not completely melt just place bowl over a double boiler and stir until it melts in with the rest.

~A special thanks to my mom for helping me with the favors.  She made all the lovely tags and helped package them too!  Thank you, mom!

Butterscotch Marble Blondie Drops

“The best of both worlds.”

I often find myself wanting this.  I want the best of both sides of a decision.  I want to benefit without having to lose.  I want myself to be happy, as well as everyone else around me.  I want to go to Anthropologie and buy a dress without forfeiting $150.00.  I want to eat chocolate cake all day without gaining a single pound.

Is this really too much to ask for?

Yes, yes I’m afraid it is.  Sorry to let you down, but life doesn’t work like this.  Why doesn’t it work like this?  I’m not sure.  It’s sound like a fantastic idea to me.

I suppose if we always had the best of both worlds, then we wouldn’t have to make the hard decisions that “add character” to who we are.  There would be a lack of appreciation for the process that’s involved in coming to the end of a decision.  In choosing between two good things.

Although we all must choose more often than not, there are those sweet moments when we get to enjoy “the best of both worlds.”

Take these cookies, for example.  These are cookies, that are sort of like a blondie, which is basically a brownie without chocolate.  But!  These babies have chocolate swirled right in.  Thats like the best of 3 worlds!  It’s almost too much to handle… almost.

These blondie-cookies bake out very thin with slightly crisp edges, and a soft, chewy center.  They are sweet, but the dark chocolate swirls add a nice balance.  Enjoy with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.  Or if you’re really feeling feisty, you could sandwich some ice cream between two of them.  That would be sure to take you to an entirely different world.

Butterscotch Marble Blondie Drops

Recipe from BigFatCookies

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used chips)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. Heat chocolate over a double boiler and stir until melted.  Once melted set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute.
  5. Add eggs and mix until combined.  Make sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl!
  6. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto the baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart, as they will spread quite a bit.*
  8. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate on top of the batter drops.  Then take a toothpick or the tip of a knife and swirl chocolate into the batter.
  9. Bake cookies until lightly browned on top, about 9-11 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack using an offset spatula and let cool completely.
These cookies can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for about 4 days.
* The original recipe said to drop 3 Tablespoons of batter for each cookie.  I did this and the cookies were too big for my liking.  I scaled them back down to 1 Tablespoon, which I enjoyed better.  You can make them as big or as small as you want.  Just remember to adjust the baking time slightly!