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Thursday
Feb122015

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

PB Cup Brownies

Today is my brother’s 30th birthday. Of the two of us, I have the bigger sweet tooth. That being said, when he does eat sweets, he doesn’t mess around. Each year of our adult lives, I’ve been making dessert for his birthday dinner, and each year, he suggests the same “guidelines” and leaves me to choose the perfect recipe: chocolate with peanut butter, or Oreo. The boy certainly knows the best flavor combos! This year, I figured the suggestion was no different, so imagine my surprise when he said brownies! While I could have just used that as an excuse to go easy this year and reach for a box, I could never do no such thing for such a milestone birthday! I took it as the chance to merge his apparent simpler tastes of his 30’s with his favorite flavors of his 20’s. Not to mention, merge my favorite flavors together into one fudgy bite. These brownies were rich, but delicious. Definitely the right way to ring in a new decade. Happy birthday, Michael!

For the Brownies
10 tablespoons Butter
4 ounces Semisweet or Milk Chocolate Chips, divided
1 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1 tablespoon Butter, softened
1 tablespoon Powdered Sugar
Peanut Butter Cups, chopped (about 15-20 miniature size)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. To a large, microwave safe bowl, add the butter along with 2 ounces of the chocolate, and microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Whisk in the sugar until completely combined. Add the vanilla and eggs, whisking until smooth. Stir in the cocoa powder, flour, and salt until just combined. In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon of butter until smooth. Pour half of the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish. Drop the peanut butter mixture onto the brownie batter and sprinkle with the remaining 2 ounces of the chocolate. Top with the remaining brownie batter, gently spreading it toward the sides of the dish, if needed. Bake for 30 minutes (my oven took more like 45 minutes), until the brownies are set on top. Allow the brownies to cool completely before frosting. 

For the Frosting
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
5 1/2 ounces Semisweet Chocolate, chopped (I used chips)
1 tablespoon Creamy Peanut Butter
2 teaspoons Vanilla

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to just below a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and peanut butter until it is melted and smooth. Set the frosting aside to cool and thicken as the brownies are cooling. Once thickened and cooled, spread the frosting on the brownies and sprinkle with chopped peanut butter cups. Allow the frosting to set for about 30 minutes (I popped them in the fridge) before slicing into 16 squares. 

SOURCE: Half Baked Harvest
  

Tuesday
Feb032015

Cherry Almond Granola

Cherry almond granola

We’ve really been getting into granola and yogurt for breakfast lately. Personally, I find that it has more staying power than something like a bagel. Joel has a favorite granola recipe, which is chock full of nuts and brown sugar, and while it is delicious, I enjoy dried fruit in my granola so I kept on searching. I’ve made countless different recipes, and I have to say that this one ranks up there among my favorites. A little bit nutty and a little bit fruity, the almonds and cherries are the perfect pair. Not only does this granola cook quickly, it stays together perfectly, which creates the most deliciously perfect clusters to top my morning yogurt!

1 cup Almonds, divided
3 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup Dried Cherries (I added)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Honey
3 tablespoons Coconut Oil
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/8 teaspoon Almond Extract 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Finely chop half of the almonds and place them in a large bowl. Coarsely chop the cherries and remaining almonds, and add them to the bowl. Add the oats, salt, and brown sugar to the bowl and toss to combine. In a small microwavable bowl, combine the honey and coconut oil and heat for about 40 seconds, until the coconut oil is mostly melted. Stir to dissolve the coconut oil and add both extracts. Pour the oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir to coat evenly. Spread the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet, then bake for 5 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven and stir, then return it to the oven and bake for about 10 more minutes. Remove the granola from the oven and let it cool completely. As it cools, it will clump together. When it has cooled completely, break the granola into clusters and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, but I bet it won’t last that long! (*FYI...The cook time is not a typo. I thought so at first too, but it really does work!)

SOURCE: Barely adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen

Monday
Jan262015

Kimmelweck Rolls

Kimmelweck Rolls

It’s the first Secret Recipe Club reveal day of the year! This month, I was assigned to Karen’s Kitchen Stories. Karen, a busy, working mom and grandma, has so many amazing recipes on her blog with beautiful pictures to go along with each one. I know that I say it every month, but I really, truly had a difficult time paring down what I wanted to make from her blog. While she has posted many delicious main dish, side dish, appetizer, and dessert recipes, her favorite thing to make is bread, which shows through her extensive list of recipes in her bread category. It’s no secret that we are big on carbs in this house, so I wanted to take advantage of all of the bread recipes that Karen had to offer. While searching, I came across this Kimmelweck Roll recipe. I’m from Buffalo, NY and Beef on Weck is about as Buffalo as you can get, next to wings, so I knew that this was the bread recipe that I had to make! I’m so glad I did! Of course, we could’t resist trying one hot out of the oven, which was so delicious! The flavor of these rolls are spot on for some of the best I’ve had around my city. They made for the perfect vehicle for a roast beef sandwich! Thanks for giving me a reason to try my hand at a hometown staple, Karen!! 

2 1/2 teaspoons Dry Active Yeast
1 cup Warm Water, divided (95-110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Barley Malt Syrup or Honey
2 Egg Whites, separated
3 to 3 1/4 cups Bread Flour
1 tablespoon Water
Coarse Sea Salt
Caraway Seeds

In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of the warm water with the yeast and set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the remaining 3/4 cup water, oil, sugar, salt, honey/barley syrup, and one egg white. Add 1 1/2 cup of the flour along with the yeast mixture and combine with a wooden spoon. Add another 1 1/2 cup of the flour and mix to combine. Knead the dough with the dough hook for 5-7 minutes. The dough should be smooth, elastic, and tacky but not sticky. Add additional flour if the dough is too sticky. Form the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 1 hour, until doubled. Punch the dough down, cover, and let it rise for 30 more minutes. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and slightly flatten. Place the pieces onto a parchment lined baking sheet, pray with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 30 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over the rolls. Cut crescent shaped slits into the tops of the rolls and sprinkle them with the salt and caraway seeds. Mist the rolls with water and place them into the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then quickly mist the rolls again. Continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until browned. Cool on a wire rack before slicing. 

SOURCE: Karen’s Kitchen Stories

 

Monday
Jan192015

Chocolate Covered Coconut Marshmallows

Coconut marshmallows

This year, I didn’t make too many Christmas cookies. I participated in two online cookie swaps, and one cookie exchange with my friends, but aside from the small amount I made for each of those, I didn’t make any cookies. Instead, I decided to try my hand at making homemade marshmallows. I made Alton Brown’s recipe, bagged them up 6 at a time, tied them with ribbon, and gave them to my family at our after-Christmas gathering. They were a hit, especially with the kids! I had a few bags left, so I whipped up a jar of homemade hot cocoa mix and planned to bring my best friend hot chocolate and marshmallows when I brought over my goddaughter’s present. I came home from work one day and noticed that the marshmallows were no longer on the counter. In a cleaning spree, Joel had accidentally thrown them out. Luckily, I had plenty of ingredients to try again, this time trying a different (& flavored!) recipe. Making marshmallows is incredibly easy and the outcome is fabulous. They are perfect for eating plain or topping a mug of hot cocoa. The hardest part is waiting for them to set. To be honest, I don’t buy marshmallows regularly, but now that I have seen how simple it is to make my own, I may not ever go back to buying bagged marshmallows whenever I need them.

For Marshmallows
2 envelopes Unflavored Gelatin
8 tablespoons Cold Water
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/3 cup Cold Water
2 teaspoons Coconut Extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Powdered Sugar, for sprinkling

For Dipping
8 ounces Dark Chocolate
1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
1/2 cup Unsweetened Flaked Coconut, toasted (I omitted, but I’m sure it was delicious)

In a small bowl, stir together the gelatin and the 8 tablespoons of cold water; set aside. Spray an 8x8 pan with nonstick spray, then sprinkle in powdered sugar, shaking well to coat the bottom and all 4 sides. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining cold water with the sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and bubbly, about 3-4 minutes. Whisk in the gelatin mixture, bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat. Add the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and let it cool slightly. Add the coconut extract, vanilla bean paste, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture is thick, white, and glossy. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and top with more powdered sugar, if desired. Allow the marshmallows to sit for at least 4 hours to set, or overnight. Cut into 16 cubes and shake each in excess powdered sugar, if desired

If dipping the marshmallows in chocolate, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave on 30 second intervals. Once melted, stir in the coconut oil. Dip a portion of each marshmallow into the chocolate and place them on a sheet of wax/parchment paper. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top, if desired. Let sit for about 30 minutes to set before serving.  

SOURCE: How Sweet It Is

Saturday
Jan032015

Dark and Stormy Chocolate Cake

Dark and Stormy Cake

Happy 2015! I’m ringing in the new year with a delicious cocktail-inspired dessert! Joel and I discovered Dark and Stormy cocktails on our trip to Newport, RI and haven’t been able to get enough of them since. While the drinks remind me of summer, they really are delicious all year round. We hosted Christmas dinner at our house, and since I chose the meal, Joel chose a dessert from a cookbook we have. I should have guessed that he would pick this cake. Perhaps he was nostalgic for the warm ocean breeze or maybe he just wanted an excuse to have rum in his dessert, but either way, it was the perfect way to end a Christmas meal!

For the Cake:
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Molasses
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 cups Flour
4 1/2 teaspoons Fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves 
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Dark Rum
2 Eggs
2 teaspoons Lime Zest
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
4 ounces Dark Chocolate, chopped

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar, molasses, and oil. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix to combine. Add water, rum, eggs, lime zest, and baking soda. Fold in the chocolate. Pour the batter into a 9-inch round cake pan that has been buttered/sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack, then remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely.  

For the Frosting:
8 ounces Dark Chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon Vanilla
2 cups Powdered Sugar
2 packages (8 ounces each) Cream Cheese

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each). In a bowl, cream the butter and vanilla with the powdered sugar. Add the cream cheese and melted chocolate and combine until smooth. Pipe or spread on cake. Depending on how much frosting you like, you will have leftovers. Store in the fridge.

SOURCE: Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook