Jeannie's Healthy Breakfast Cookies

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What could be better than a cookie? How about a cookie that’s packed with nutrients and can be eaten anytime, especially for breakfast, guilt free?

I love cookies. They are my go-to when I want to whip up something with limited time, or don’t have much energy for other more entailed desserts. I’m sure this has NOTHING to do with the fact that cookies are also one of my favorite things to eat. It ends up turning into a win-win-win situation because I’m having fun, being productive, get to eat some of the ingredients while baking, get to eat some dough while baking, and BONUS if there is enough dough to actually be baked into cookies! So many wins.

I have to bring up the negative, however, to classic cookie baking. They’re kinda calorific and not very good for you. I’m all for eating cookies for breakfast, but that usually goes along with a sugar crash later on. What to do?

Bake healthy cookies! They have to be delicious of course, and not gross. I have just the recipe for you, made up by my mom many years ago when we needed a portable nutritious breakfast for a trip. This recipe has been in my recipe box ever since as “Jean’s breakfast cookies”, made with many adjustments because the add ins are very versatile depending on your tastes. My mom likes to be called Jeannie (not by her kids of course) so I adapted the title accordingly.

One thing this recipe is not is a taste-alike recipe to say, chocolate chip cookies with a surprise twist that it’s healthy. Nope, these cookies have a satisfyingly healthy look and taste and are upfront about it from the get go. They get positive feedback and recipe requests wherever they go!

The recipe that follows is just one version of many, many possibilities. Just keep in mind that major adjustments may need other adjustments. For example, if you don’t have any honey or maple syrup on hand for the sweetener, you could use raw or regular cane sugar. Substituting a liquid for a dry ingredient, however, will mean you may need more liquid from elsewhere. Maybe add another egg, a bit more oil, or even water until you get a cookie dough consistency once again. Other ideas to make the recipe your own:

  • Use any kind of flour you wish instead of wheat flour. Oat flour, almond flour, coconut flour…I often use wheat germ in place of part of the flour or flaxmeal, usually 1/4 cup.

  • If you want these cookies to be gluten-free, ensure that your oats are gluten-free, and use a gluten-free flour.

  • Change up the spices. Sometimes towards fall I also add a bit of ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Cardamom is also nice.

  • Beyond dried fruit and walnuts, get creative with your add-ins! Just try not to go too far beyond 1 cup, otherwise there might not be enough dough to hold everything together. In the photos on this post I used dried apples, dried cranberries, and walnuts. I’ve also added various combinations of dried cherries, prunes, dried apricots, raisins, dates, dried figs, dried pears, fresh apples, grated coconut, pecans, hazelnuts, dark chocolate, crystallized ginger, and anything else I had on hand!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, Jennyblogs may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps to support Jennyblogs. For further information see the privacy policy. Grazie!

Recipe adapted from my mama


Jeannie’s Healthy Breakfast Cookies

Makes about 18-22 cookies

Ingredients:

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  • 1/2 cup / 112g olive or coconut oil

  • generous 1/3 cup / 120g maple syrup or honey

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 cup / 120g all-purpose or whole wheat flour

  • 1 1/2 cups / 135g rolled oats

  • 1/2 cup / 90g flaxmeal

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

  • 3/4 cup / 105g nuts, roughly chopped

  • 1/2 apple, diced

  • 1/4 cup / 50g dried fruit, chopped if necessary

Directions:

Oven 375°F / 190°C. Baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.

  1. In a large bowl combine wet ingredients: oil, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla; beat with a spoon until smooth.

  2. In another medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients: flour, oats, flaxmeal, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

  3. Add dry ingredients, nuts, apple, and dried fruit to wet ingredients, mix until well combined.

  4. Spoon generous tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly as they won’t spread much, leaving at least 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges turn lightly golden brown and centers are no longer doughy.

Jenny’s Notes:

  • you can make flaxmeal at home by simply processing some flaxseeds in a coffee or spice grinder.

  • olive oil has a rather strong taste so if you prefer to avoid that, try going with the coconut oil option or even a neutral oil like peanut oil.

  • 3 egg whites can be substituted for the 2 eggs for cholesterol-conscience people.

healthy, nutritious, cookies, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, dried fruit, apple, fall spices, oats, nuts, coconut, portable
breakfast, dessert, snack
American
Yield: 12-16 cookies
Author:

Jeannie's Breakfast Cookies

Healthy cookies packed with nutritious ingredients that make for a great breakfast or anytime snack. Dairy-free, refined sugar-free, and can easily be made gluten-free.
prep time: 20 Mcook time: 10 Mtotal time: 30 M

ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup / 112g olive oil or coconut oil
  • generous 1/3 cup / 120g maple syrup or honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup / 120g all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups / 135g rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup / 90g flaxmeal
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup / 105g nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • 1/4 cup / 50g dried fruit, chopped if necessary

instructions:

How to cook Jeannie's Breakfast Cookies

  1. Oven 375°F / 190°C. Baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine wet ingredients: oil, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla; beat with a spoon until smooth.
  3. In another medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients: flour, oats, flaxmeal, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Add dry ingredients, nuts, apple, and dried fruit to wet ingredients, mix until well combined.
  5. Spoon generous tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly as they won’t spread much, leaving at least 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges turn lightly golden brown and centers are no longer doughy.

NOTES:

you can make flaxmeal at home by simply processing some flaxseeds in a coffee or spice grinder. olive oil has a rather strong taste so if you prefer to avoid that, try going with the coconut oil option or even a neutral oil like peanut oil. 3 egg whites can be substituted for the 2 eggs for cholesterol-conscience people.

Calories

265.40

Fat (grams)

15.87

Sat. Fat (grams)

2.49

Carbs (grams)

27.23

Fiber (grams)

3.34

Net carbs

23.89

Sugar (grams)

9.53

Protein (grams)

5.72

Sodium (milligrams)

188.36

Cholesterol (grams)

31.00
Nutritional information is approximate and based on 12 servings.
Created using The Recipes Generator
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Sicilian Almond Cookies - Paste alle Mandorle

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This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something using these links, Jennyblogs may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps to support Jennyblogs. For further information see the privacy policy. Grazie!

Paste alle mandorle, or almond cookies, are one of the simplest and most delicious cookie recipes you could ask for, requiring only 4 ingredients and an overnight refrigeration, so you can make the dough one day and bake the next. And because they only use almond flour, they are gluten-free friendly!

These cookies and many variations of them hail from Sicily, where the land is full of sunshine and Mediterranean breezes, charming towns, and has the perfect climate for some of the most succulent citrus fruits and almonds. Or so I’ve heard, I have yet to actually go there! The first time I found a bag of Sicilian almonds in Italy I snatched them up, hoping for a taste experience like never before. Basically setting myself up for disappointment. They were good, yes, but I think it would be best to eat them fresh, in Sicily. Until that day when I go to Sicily, I will content myself with tastes of their culture, like the occasional good arancini (fried pyramids of rice stuffed with cheese and veggies or meat) that you can find around Florence, granita ( a slushy type drink), brioche stuffed with gelato, and cannoli. And of course, these almond cookies. And they’re so simple to make. Dangerous.

Original recipe adapted and translated from GialloZafferano


Sicilian Almond Cookies - Paste alle Mandorle

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups / 250g almond flour

  • 1 1/4 cups / 250g granulated sugar

  • 2 / 60g egg whites

  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Garnishes (optional)

  • powdered sugar

  • whole, sliced, or slivered almonds

Directions:

Oven 350F / 180C

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour and the sugar.

  2. Mix in the egg whites and the almond extract until thoroughly combined. This can be done with a spoon, a hand mixer, stand mixer, or even in a food processor.

  3. Cover dough and place in fridge overnight or for at least 7 hours.

  4. Remove dough from fridge and roll into balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Flatten cookies a bit, as they will not spread much in the oven. Press in a few almond slices on top. Alternately, shape them as you wish, as they hold their shape well after the overnight refrigeration.

  5. Place cookies on a silpat or parchment covered baking sheet, leaving about 1” between cookies.

  6. Bake in preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, until just lightly golden. Be careful no to overbake, cookies should be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Jenny’s Notes:

  • If you have almonds and a method to grind them, such as a food processor, go ahead and make fresh almond flour! Be careful not to overgrind, you don’t want the almonds to heat up and the oil to start to escape, resulting in almond butter.

  • If you prefer other extracts, go ahead and play around with other flavors; vanilla, orange, lemon, coconut, etc.

  • This recipe, if you go by weight instead of imperial measurements, is very easy to modify or double, triple, halve, etc.! You can see that the ratio of almond flour to sugar is 1:1: essentially all you have to do is mix together equal weights of almond flour and sugar, with just enough egg whites to bind them together easily and a touch of extract for flavor. Voila.

  • These cookies have many variants and shapes and are often piped with candied cherries on top. I’m not a huge candied fruit person, and so I found a simple recipe and omitted the piping for one of the simpler almond cookie methods, rolling in powdered sugar and decorating with almonds.

Italian
Yield: 24
Author:

Sicilian Almond Cookies - Paste alle Mandorle

A classic Italian cookie originating in Sicily with a soft center and crunchy exterior. 4 ingredients and gluten-free.
prep time: 30 Mcook time: 12 Mtotal time: 42 M

ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups / 250g almond flour
  • 1 1/4 cups / 250g granulated sugar
  • 2 / 60g egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
Garnishes (optional)
  • powdered sugar
  • whole, sliced, or slivered almonds

instructions:

How to cook Sicilian Almond Cookies - Paste alle Mandorle

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour and the sugar.
  2. Mix in the egg whites and the almond extract until thoroughly combined. This can be done with a spoon, a hand mixer, stand mixer, or even in a food processor.
  3. Cover dough and place in fridge overnight or for at least 7 hours.
  4. Remove dough from fridge and roll into balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Flatten cookies a bit, as they will not spread much in the oven. Press in a few almond slices on top. Alternately, shape them as you wish, as they hold their shape well after the overnight refrigeration.
  5. Place cookies on a silpat or parchment covered baking sheet, leaving about 1” between cookies.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, until just lightly golden. Be careful no to overbake, cookies should be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

NOTES:

If you have almonds and a method to grind them, such as a food processor, go ahead and make fresh almond flour! Be careful not to overgrind, you don’t want the almonds to heat up and the oil to start to escape, resulting in almond butter. If you prefer other extracts, go ahead and play around with other flavors; vanilla, orange, lemon, coconut, etc. This recipe, if you go by weight instead of imperial measurements, is very easy to modify or double, triple, halve, etc.! You can see that the ratio of almond flour to sugar is 1:1: essentially all you have to do is mix together equal weights of almond flour and sugar, with just enough egg whites to bind them together easily and a touch of extract for flavor. Voila. These cookies have many variants and shapes and are often piped with candied cherries on top. I’m not a huge candied fruit person, and so I found a simple recipe and omitted the piping for one of the simpler almond cookie methods, rolling in powdered sugar and decorating with almonds.

Calories

110.04

Fat (grams)

5.24

Sat. Fat (grams)

0.40

Carbs (grams)

14.38

Fiber (grams)

1.31

Net carbs

13.07

Sugar (grams)

12.51

Protein (grams)

2.76

Cholesterol (grams)

0.00
Nutritional information is approximate.
Created using The Recipes Generator
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Chocolate Thumbprint Cheesecake Cookies

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This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something using these links, Jennyblogs may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps to support Jennyblogs. For further information see the privacy policy. Grazie!

I like cookies.  I like cheesecake.  What happens when you put them together?  These Cheesecake Cookies!  And you know what's great about this recipe?  Besides being delicious, of course, is that it calls for one sleeve of graham crackers.  Perfect for all those times you buy a box of graham crackers to make a crust or similar recipe that usually call for two sleeves of graham crackers and leave you hanging with just one lonely sleeve.  Cheesecake Cookies to the rescue!  They look more time consuming to make than they really are, it's pretty straightforward.  So let's get to it! 

Recipe adapted from Kitchme


Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients:

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  • 1 1/4 cups / 135g (1 sleeve) finely crushed chocolate graham crackers

  • 3/4 cup / 90g all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 cup / 113g butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup / 100g brown sugar

  • 1 egg, separated

  • 3 ounces / 85g cream cheese, softened

  • 1/4 cup / 50g sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, optional

Directions:

Oven 350°F / 177°C.  Line 2 cookies sheets with parchment or silicone mats.  

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, flour, and baking powder.  

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter with the brown sugar.  Beat in the egg white.  Add the mixture to the graham cracker mixture and mix until combined.  

  3. Again, in the clean bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.  Add the sugar, egg yolk, zest, and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Set aside.

  4. Using a spoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop a very generous tablespoon worth of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.  (If your graham cracker dough seems too soft to easily hold its shape, add a bit more flour.)  Repeat until all the dough has been scooped onto the cookies sheets, evenly spaced, leaving room for them to spread.  

  5. Press your thumb into the cookies to make a deep well; fill with the cream cheese mixture. 

  6. Bake 8-11 minutes or until the filling is just set.  

Can't do anything around here.

Can't do anything around here.

Jenny's Notes:

  • Use any flavor graham crackers, regular, cinnamon, chocolate! You could also experiment with similar cookies, such as teddy grahams.

  • Regular sugar can be substituted for the brown sugar with a slightly different texture for the cookie. Not bad, just slightly different. Or add a teaspoon or two of molasses to 1/2 cup regular sugar and mix before adding to the recipe.

  • You can fill the cookies right to the top with the cream cheese as the filling shouldn't do more than puff a bit in the oven.

  • Feel free to add different extracts and zests to your cream cheese filling, if you wish, or even cocoa to make it ALL chocolate! I'm thinking cinnamon graham crackers with a touch of orange extract and orange zest for a fall treat!

American
Yield: 24
Author:

Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

Chocolate graham cracker thumbprint cookies filled with a cream cheese filling.
prep time: 50 Mcook time: 11 Mtotal time: 61 M

ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups / 135g (1 sleeve) finely crushed chocolate graham crackers
  • 3/4 cup / 90g all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup / 113g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup / 100g brown sugar
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 3 ounces / 85g cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup / 50g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, optional

instructions:

How to cook Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

  1. Oven 350°F / 177°C.  Line 2 cookies sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, flour, and baking powder.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter with the brown sugar. Beat in the egg white. Add the mixture to the graham cracker mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Again, in the clean bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, egg yolk, zest, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Using a spoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop a very generous tablespoon worth of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. (If your graham cracker dough seems too soft to easily hold its shape, add a bit more flour.) Repeat until all the dough has been scooped onto the cookies sheets, evenly spaced, leaving room for them to spread.
  6. Press your thumb into the cookies to make a deep well; fill with the cream cheese mixture.
  7. Bake 8-11 minutes or until the filling is just set.

NOTES:

Use any flavor graham crackers, regular, cinnamon, chocolate! You could also experiment with similar cookies, such as teddy grahams. Regular sugar can be substituted for the brown sugar with a slightly different texture for the cookie. Not bad, just slightly different. Or add a teaspoon or two of molasses to 1/2 cup regular sugar and mix before adding to the recipe. You can fill the cookies right to the top with the cream cheese as the filling shouldn't do more than puff a bit in the oven. Feel free to add different extracts and zests to your cream cheese filling, if you wish, or even cocoa to make it ALL chocolate! I'm thinking cinnamon graham crackers with a touch of orange extract and orange zest for a fall treat!

Calories

111.78

Fat (grams)

6.07

Sat. Fat (grams)

3.44

Carbs (grams)

13.46

Fiber (grams)

0.31

Net carbs

13.15

Sugar (grams)

8.41

Protein (grams)

1.29

Sodium (milligrams)

108.74

Cholesterol (grams)

21.56
Nutritional information is approximate.
Created using The Recipes Generator
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Very Chocolate Cherry Brownies

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We bakers like to stick to the four main food groups: Chocolate, chooooocolate, chocolat, and cioccolato.  Although we no longer believe, as the Aztecs did, that chocolate is a gift from the gods nor do we throw away the golden goblet once the chocolate drink has been consumed (haven't you heard about recycling?! Sheesh), we'll take it for its taste and possible health properties.  I say possible because it hasn't been scientifically proven yet.  But we know in our hearts, right?  So, let's make some Very Chooooocolate brownies.  And throw in some cherries because it's just about cherry season and I grew up in a cherry town.  National Cherry Festival, anyone?  


Very Chocolate Cherry Brownies

Makes about 9-12 brownies

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp / 85g butter

  • 1 1/3 cup / 225g chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate bar, or chips

  • 3/4 cup / 150g sugar

  • 1 tsp / 5g vanilla extract

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/3 cup / 40g all-purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup / 115g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

  • generous 1/2 cup / 110g dried cherries

Directions:

Oven 350°F / 177°C.  Grease an 8x8in / 20x20cm square pan.

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Add the chocolate and stir continuously until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. 

  2. Remove from the heat and add sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  

  3. Add the flour and stir vigorously for about a minute, until the batter turns from grainy to glossy, and starts to pull away from the edges of the pan.  Add chocolate chips and cherries.

  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until center isn't quite set or a toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean.  

Jenny's Notes:

  • If using semisweet chocolate I prefer to reduce the sugar to 125g or about a generous 1/2 cup. 

  • Don't over-bake brownies!  In my opinion, brownies are always better off on the dense, slightly under-baked side than dry or crispy.  

  • Nut fan?  Add 1/2 cup walnut, pecans, or your nut of choice! 

American
Yield: 9-12 servings
Author:

Very Chocolate Cherry Brownies

Dense, fudgy, double chocolate brownies loaded with chocolate chunks and tart dried cherries.
prep time: 20 Mcook time: 30 Mtotal time: 50 M

ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp / 85g butter
  • 1 1/3 cup / 225g chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate bar, or chips
  • 3/4 cup / 150g sugar
  • 1 tsp / 5g vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup / 40g all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup / 115g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • generous 1/2 cup / 110g dried cherries

instructions:

How to cook Very Chocolate Cherry Brownies

  1. Oven 350°F / 177°C. Grease an 8x8in / 20x20cm square pan.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate and stir continuously until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Remove from the heat and add sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Add the flour and stir vigorously for about a minute, until the batter turns from grainy to glossy, and starts to pull away from the edges of the pan. Add chocolate chips and cherries.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until center isn't quite set or a toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean.

NOTES:

If using semisweet chocolate I prefer to reduce the sugar to 125g or about a generous 1/2 cup. Don't over-bake brownies! In my opinion, brownies are always better off on the dense, slightly under-baked side than dry or crispy. Nut fan? Add 1/2 cup walnut, pecans, or your nut of choice!

Calories

387.92

Fat (grams)

20.18

Sat. Fat (grams)

11.93

Carbs (grams)

54.18

Fiber (grams)

2.66

Net carbs

51.53

Sugar (grams)

45.56

Protein (grams)

3.67

Sodium (milligrams)

82.56

Cholesterol (grams)

61.64
Nutritional information is approximate. Based on 9 servings.
Created using The Recipes Generator

How to Blog - By Someone Who Doesn't Know How

Photo Credit: Hannah Kelsey

Photo Credit: Hannah Kelsey

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something using these links, Jennyblogs may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps to support Jennyblogs. For further information see the privacy policy. Grazie!

Oh hey there.  It's nice to see you here.  Looks like someone is curious about how to become a STAR blogger.  Beyond viral.  Basically means you're in the hall of fame for bloggers.  I can assure you, you have come to the right place.  In this humble post I will show you how to:

  1. Create interesting content

  2. Improve your writing

  3. Up the game on humor

  4. Get Your Point Across, Be Understood Really Well, Be Clear

  5. Take super-awesome-stunning-great photos

  6. Edit photos and choose filters

  7. Increase your intelligence

Don't have a blog?  No worries, number 7 still applies.  If you are thinking about starting a blog, I can help you.  

First, you'll need a blog.  We could make really extensive pro and con lists about all of the pros and cons about where to get a website, but hey, time is precious, right?  I'll save you the trouble: Get Squarespace.  There, no time wasted, no stress in having to make a decision, no taking into consideration what some of your specific needs might be.  Next, you'll want to pick out a name for your blog and get a domain to match.  Just like you wouldn't go out the door with your cell phone cover not matching your pillowcase, you need a good name and domain to match.  What's a domain? Idunnaknow.  Probably means you have dominion over your blog, and no one else.  Mwahahaha.  Because if they don't match, your name might lose syncretism with your domain, and the domain might decide it wants dominion and take over.  Thankfully it hasn't happened to me yet, but I thought I should warn you.  

So now you have a website and your domain.  Now what?  I'll be using a new baking post, a recipe and photos for Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies, to help demonstrate some of the techniques and strategies listed below. 

Create Interesting Content

To have a star blog, you need to have interesting stuff to write about.  For example, if you collect baseball cards, like animals, try the samples at Sam's Club on a regular basis, watch a ton of movies...There's also an appalling lack of political opinions out there.  Especially long rants, judgy articles, and arguments.  So you might want to consider putting yours out there, fill the gap, ya know.  Oh, and I almost forgot, baking blogs.  There aren't very many of those, either, that's why I decided to blog n' bake.  That and the baking/cooking section on Pinterest is a little lackluster.

Once you've found your niche, it's time to let the pen fly!  Or fingers, as you'd say in this day and age.  Always, always, ALWAYS start your blog out with a personal story or anecdote.  Make it at least 7 paragraphs long (the number of completion), and if you can start to weave in your actual content or recipe towards the end, that's toooootally cool.  Bonus if you can include an anecdote within the anecdote, or tie in 3 other stories during your main content.  The more the merrier!  This would also be a great spot to include your dog/cat's cute behavior for the last two weeks.  Keep your main content to a minimum, people's attention spans are rather short these days, and this is your blog, so you need to make sure you get your moment.  Include your opinion, your take, and advice on everything.  And be super transparent about everything, no walls.  Why else would people be reading your blog?  

Improve You're writing

Whilst blogging, you got to be ready to let your ideas fly.  Don't let grammer, spelling; and punk-you-a-shun get in you"re way.  There more like guidelines anyways.  If your bad at spelling or grammar doesn't come naturalmenty to you, don't use spell check and be like all those spelling bee medalists out there; no! You be you.  You do you.  If you spelled environment enviermant, leave it.  Empowerment to bad spellers everywhere.  Chances are people won't notice.  And time is money, people!  

Up the Game on Humor

Tell jokes.  Even if no one laughs in real life, or you forget the punch line.  Quote Parks and Rec and SNL constantly.  Give it the Girl Scout try.  No one was ever born funny, after all.  

Get Your Point Across, Be Understood Really Well, Be Clear

Don't be afraid to repeat yourself, be redundant, quote multiple sources to make just one point, or say the same thing twice. USE ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS as OFTEN as you WANT, and/or use BOLD or italic font.  Then you can step back and enjoy your blog for what it is, a piece of art, rather than just blah, blah, blah.  

Don't be afraid of clichés, catch-phrases, and idioms.  They always help to make your writing really clear and concise.  Otherwise your point might be like looking for a needle in a haystack.  Stay away from euphemisms.  

Avoid big words.  Lots of little words make so much more sense.  The extraneity of lengthy words then becomes superfluous.

Take Super-awesome-stunning-great Photos

Now.  I know all your blogging friends have fancy-smchancy cameras that you're not allowed to touch, but I'm here to tell you that you can do better.  Why spend thousands of dollars when your iPhone 4 takes photos?  No reason, that's why.  No need to lug around a camera bag, buy and change out lens', or learn what all those little black buttons mean when you have everything you need in an iPhone.  Not to mention Beyonce's latest album and Snapchat.  

When your friends get to talking, you can just bring out your IDK to their ISO, your amateur to their aperture, your Boca Burger to their Bokeh.  

Multiple shots were taken in this exhibit to be examples, and show the transition from "follow camera techniques boring" to "create your own inspired masterpieces."

Multiple shots were taken in this exhibit to be examples, and show the transition from "follow camera techniques boring" to "create your own inspired masterpieces."

For lighting, direct sunlight or a bare bulb lit directly overhead your subject is fine.  A dark, rainy day works well, or better yet, night.  When working with humans or animals, you can best light their face by shining a light straight on, directly in front of their face.  Gently remind them to keep their eyes open.  A spray bottle can be used to gently mist their face and keep their eyes from drying out.  If no light source is available, flash is always a viable option.

Trying to find a "studio." Up against a wall, tight, uninspired...

Trying to find a "studio." Up against a wall, tight, uninspired...

When choosing a location, the messier the better.  Some may choose to have a special window, area, or even studio where they take their photos and do "sessions," but I believe this natural lighting and set-up area produces, stiff, unnatural, and  sterile photos.  You and your subject need inspiration, room to breathe.  In a corner, on the floor, or the front seat of your car is fine.  When the inspiration hits, you need to be ready with your phone held high, face close to the screen, and finger poised to snap the moment, soon to be forever encapsulated on your blog.  I recommend keeping your phone out at all times, taking photos at will.  Even if you don't remember the moment because you were so busy "capturing" it, you'll always have the photo.  And we all know that's more important than the actual experience in the long run.   

Blurry hand, bodies...this photo speaks of movement and life.

Blurry hand, bodies...this photo speaks of movement and life.

Having a background and props is essential.  What that background is and what those props are, less so.  No need for a plain wall behind.  To have chaos in your photo is to have life.  To create an au naturel photo that doesn't look "staged" or "set up" I like to grab the 12-56 objects in closest range to me and set them up haphazardly around the subject.  I then choose my angle, and snap.  Yes, one snap.  No multiple shots, re-angling, re-staging.  It is what it is, and that's how it's meant to be.  Animals, babies, blurry hands, and half-eaten pizza all help to liven up the photo.  

In the culmination of this art spread, please notice the parallelism, rhythm, and flow within. The echoes of the greens, connections between the browns, the cylinders. The keys seem to say, "choose your path" while though the pile of succulent cookies seems to beckon and say, "we offer life, sweet life, and money" you see the healthy apple is also saying, "eat of me!" Meanwhile, the beano reminds us that the remedy lies within, that life is time, take of yourself, and keep a dream journal.

In the culmination of this art spread, please notice the parallelism, rhythm, and flow within. The echoes of the greens, connections between the browns, the cylinders. The keys seem to say, "choose your path" while though the pile of succulent cookies seems to beckon and say, "we offer life, sweet life, and money" you see the healthy apple is also saying, "eat of me!" Meanwhile, the beano reminds us that the remedy lies within, that life is time, take of yourself, and keep a dream journal.

Everyone will be jealous.

Edit Photos and Choose Filters  

Here's how to take your photos to the next level.  You'll first need a photo editing program.  Higher end programs like PaintShop Pro, Final Cut, and Photo are ideal.  Then, modify away.  As a general rule, I think photos always look pro when you really crank the structure, saturation, and ombre.  If you have a ton of photos to share with the world and are short on time, filters are your friends.  X-Pro II, Lo-Fi, and Nashville are go to's.  

Increase Your Intelligence.

If you have made it this far, you have already acquired much intelligence along the way, all that stated above.  I have so much more I wish to impart to you, my young padowan, but I must first see how you bear up under this already great load.  So be free, conquer the world, and let your dreams take flight.  Remember as you soar high, to take others with you under your wing.  

Two more things before we part ways: One, this blog is completely facetious.  Happy April Fool's Day!  Don't take a word of it seriously.  Don't believe me?  Ask any of my seven followers.  Second, the cookies in the photos exhibited above are, despite the photos, really yummy.  Recipe below!

Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 24-36 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder, regular or chocolate

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp cornstarch

  • 3/4 cup oil or 1 cup butter, room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

  • 2 cups/12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Whisk together flour, malted milk powder, baking powder, salt, and cornstarch in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Beat together oil and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  If using butter, beat mixture until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add vanilla.  

Stir in dry ingredients until just combined.  Switch to a spoon and stir in chocolate chips.

Chill dough for 2 hours or up to 72 hours.  

When ready to bake the dough, preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.  Place the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges begin to turn golden-brown.  

Jenny's Notes:

For reasons why chilling dough helps create beautiful cookies, see my notes on this chocolate chip cookie recipe.

To create a truly malted experience, replace chocolate chips with a package of chopped Whoppers.  Even milk chocolate chips are delicious.  

Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups.

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_4755.jpg

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Going back to the classics.  American classics.  Chocolate chip cookies.  And not just any chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookies the NY Times way.  Want me to say chocolate chip cookies one more time?  Chocolate. Chip. Cookies.  

Why do we need one more chocolate chip cookie recipe floating around?  

When it comes to the kitchen, I'm not one much for routine.  I like to explore, to try and constantly better what it is in my power to improve.  And as I am constantly learning about foods and why ingredients act the way they do, the more I can apply that to recipes.  When you have a classic such as chocolate chip cookies (yes, chocolate chip cookies) it may seem unnecessary to improve upon it.  Chances are, even if your recipe isn't that great, they probably will taste great anyway.  They're pretty hard to mess up.  That's also why there are so many chocolate chip cookie recipes out there.  People are satisfied with "good" when they don't know they're missing out on "great".  

I have three recipes for chocolate chip cookies)that I love, including the one I am about to share with you.  The other two include a classic recipe a.k.a. my mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies, and one with browned butter. You can find that one here.  I'm sure there are more out there that are wonderful.  But for now, I share with you another truly good recipe.  Courtesy of the NY Times, they knew what they were doing with this one.

The recipe includes bread flour and cake flour, lending a wonderful chew and delicate crumb, respectively.

Then there is the long refrigeration, which allows all the ingredients to marry and the flavor to concentrate as the dough dries out every so slightly.

When the cookies are finally baked, the sugar is able to crystallize easier resulting in beautiful golden edges with a center still soft, and an extra caramel nutty flavor.

Even if the refrigeration has to be skipped due to a time constraint, the cookies will still turn out delicious, although I would urge you to try the refrigeration for yourself to taste that extra special result!

Recipe adapted from the NY Times


NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 40-70 cookies, depending on size.

Ingredients:

  • 220g / 2 cups cake flour

  • 200g / 1 2/3 cup bread flour

  • 6g / 1 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 6g / 1 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • 5g / 1 tsp salt

  • 283g / 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter

  • 250g / 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

  • 225g / 1 generous cup granulated sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 9g / 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 566g / 20 oz. 60% bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks

Directions:

  1. Whisk together cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, and baking powder.  

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla.  

  3. Add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.  Carefully incorporate chocolate chips.  You may want to use a spoon as a stand mixer can crush the chocolate chips.  

  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 24-72 hours. 

  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C.  Scoop cold dough out onto cookie sheets in 1" balls, or desired size.  Sprinkle with a touch of sea salt, if you like.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges turn a nice golden brown and centers still look a bit soft.  

Jenny's Notes:

  • Why bread and cake flour?  Bread flour has a higher gluten content and lends more crisp and chew to the cookies.  Cake flour is finer and lends a delicate crumb.  

  • If you need these cookies the same day you are making the cookies, the refrigeration is not absolutely essential.  When you place a dough in the fridge, the moisture in the dough is able to be evenly absorbed, then after a time begins to dry out, concentrating the flavors.  Then, when you bake the cookies, the sugar is able to caramelize better.  That is the beautiful golden brown color you see, and nutty flavor you taste.  Also, a cold or refrigerated dough won't spread as much.    

chocolate chips, bread flour, cake flour, NY Times, cookies
Dessert
American
Yield: 40-70 cookies
Author:

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies get a remix with bread flour, cake flour, and the magic trick of refrigeration, resulting in nothing short of amazing cookies.
prep time: 30 Mcook time: 20 Mtotal time: 50 M

ingredients:

  • 220g / 2 cups cake flour
  • 200g / 1 2/3 cup bread flour
  • 6g / 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 6g / 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 5g / 1 tsp salt
  • 283g / 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 250g / 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 225g / 1 generous cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 9g / 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 566g / 20 oz. 60% bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks

instructions:

How to cook NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

  1. Whisk together cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Carefully incorporate chocolate chips. You may want to use a spoon as a stand mixer can crush the chocolate chips.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 24-72 hours.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Scoop cold dough out onto cookie sheets in 1" balls, or desired size. Sprinkle with a touch of sea salt, if you like. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges turn a nice golden brown and centers still look a bit soft.

NOTES:

Why bread and cake flour? Bread flour has a higher gluten content and lends more crisp and chew to the cookies. Cake flour is finer and lends a delicate crumb. If you need these cookies the same day you are making the cookies, the refrigeration is not absolutely essential. When you place a dough in the fridge, the moisture in the dough is able to be evenly absorbed, then after a time begins to dry out, concentrating the flavors. Then, when you bake the cookies, the sugar is able to caramelize better. That is the beautiful golden brown color you see, and nutty flavor you taste. Also, a cold or refrigerated dough won't spread as much.

Calories

235.01

Fat (grams)

13.56

Sat. Fat (grams)

8.26

Carbs (grams)

24.83

Fiber (grams)

2.61

Net carbs

22.22

Sugar (grams)

11.36

Protein (grams)

3.66

Sodium (milligrams)

122.36

Cholesterol (grams)

24.84
Nutritional information is approximate. Based on 1 cookie from a 40-cookie batch.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Snickers Bars

Happy New Year's Eve!  Whether your plans include watching a movie, going to a party, throwing a party, watching the ball drop, or going to bed early, I hope you get to spend your evening ringing in the New Year in your favorite way.  I'm not entirely sure what that means, "Ringing in the New Year."  Did people used to use bells?  Oh!  Well, my evening is planned.  I'm getting out all the bells and ringing in the New Year.  Literally.  This is going to be so great. 

But first, (don't take a selfie) make Snickers!  If you just thought, "Why would I want to make Snickers when I can just buy them and save a whole lot of time?" I'm with you on that one.  I'm not normally the first one to jump on making things homemade that have already been perfected.  Homemade Reese's?  Samoas?  Oreos?  I'll let Nabisco and the Girl Scout Foundation of America do that.  I did make homemade Oreos once, but after a couple hours of work and ending up with less cookies than a package of Oreos that didn't even taste like an Oreo, I decided to be more discerning with such recipes in the future.  They tasted good...but nah.  The exception is, if you can make something that tastes like the original or better, even if it takes longer, because homemade means less chemicals and preservatives!  Yay.  That's where these Snickers come in.  

Snickers Bars

Makes 20-30 bars

Directions:

Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan and line with parchment paper.  Grease the parchment paper. 

For the Top and Bottom Chocolate Layer

  • 2 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips (about 1 1/4 bags) or 15 oz

For the Nougat Layer

  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups salted peanut, roughly chopped

For the Caramel Layer

  • 1/2 batch caramel sauce, recipe found here

or

  • 14 oz caramel squares, unwrapped
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Directons:

Make the Bottom Chocolate Layer

Place 1 1/4 cups of the milk chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted.  Spread evenly in the bottom of the 9x13 pan.  Place in fridge or freezer to set until next layer is ready.

Make the Nougat Layer

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add sugar and milk, stirring until dissolved.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove from heat and stir in marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla until smooth.  Fold in peanuts.  Spread evenly over chocolate in pan and place in fridge or freezer. 

Make the Caramel Layer

Make a half batch of the caramel sauce as directed. 

or

Melt caramel squares with heavy cream in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth.  Once melted, cook for 4 more minutes, stirring frequently. 

Pour caramel over nougat layer and place back in fridge or freezer.

Make the Top Chocolate Layer

Melt the remaining 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.  Spread evenly over caramel layer. 

Place back in fridge or freezer until completely set, 10-30 minutes.

Keep in pan or remove using parchment paper; slice and serve.

Can be stored at room temperature for up to a week, two weeks in the fridge, or three months in the freezer. 

Jenny's Notes:

Really like peanut butter?  You can add 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter to each the top and bottom chocolate layer after melting the chocolate.  Or, use part peanut butter chips instead of all milk chocolate chips.  

Don't need a whole 9x13 pan of Snickers?  You can always halve this recipe and put everything in an 8x8 pan.  But since you're putting the time in, I would recommend making the whole 9x13 pan and simply freezing whatever you won't eat right away.   

The first greasing of the pan before you put in the parchment paper may seem redundant, but it helps the paper to stick to the pan and not move all over while you are trying to spread chocolate and such.  Ironic, though, isn't it?  Usually you grease something to help it move, not keep it in place.

 

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

What's peanut buttery, sweet, chewy, crispy, (aren't you so glad I didn't just spell that "krispy"?) easy to make, and makes you want more?  This.  This....Reese's Loaf, as JohnPaul called it the first time I made it.  Because Rice Krispie Treats weren't delicious enough, we needed to add peanut butter and Reese's.  Oh yes. 

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Makes about 16 squares, but hey, that all depends on who's slicing, doesn't it?

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 10 oz bag marshmallows, regular or mini
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 5 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 1 1/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 8 oz bag mini Reese's, miniatures, or regular, chopped

Directions:

Prepare an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish by greasing or lining with parchment paper.

In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt butter and marshmallows.  Stir until combined and smooth. 

Working quickly, remove from heat and stir in peanut butter.  Stir in Rice Krispies.  Gently fold in mini marshmallows. 

Using a well greased hand, scrape Krispies out of the pan and into the baking dish, gently pressing into an even layer. 

Top with mini Reese's and (try to) allow to set before slicing. 

Jenny's Notes:

Optional: For a more loafy loaf of Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats, melt a bag (about 10 oz) of peanut butter chips and spread on top of the Rice Krispies, right before adding the Mini Reese's on top.

Like super chewy Rice Krispie treats?  Increase the amount of marshmallows you use!

Pumpkin Coconut Bars (Vegan)

One week until Thanksgiving!  'Tis the season for baking too much, cooking too much, and eating too much.  But sometimes you don't want to wait until Thanksgiving for a slice of pumpkin pie, yet you don't want to ruin it, or sometimes you just want something of a lighter nature that you can feel good about eating.  The upcoming season of delicious foods and feasting does not mean that you should be eating plain lettuce, carrot sticks, and rutabaga all day to "save up" for the holidays.  In fact, if it's not delicious, then you shouldn't eat it.  I believe food is a good gift and should always be enjoyed, and never suffered through.  If it's not delicious, then something isn't being done right.  Nutritious can be delicious.  But delicious does not always have to be nutritious.  Everything in moderation.  Do you follow me?  Well, never mind.  Now for something that falls into the three most important categories: Delicious, Nutritious, AND Festive. 


Pumpkin Coconut Energy Bars

Makes 8-10 Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pitted dates

  • 1/2 cup nuts of choice, raw and unsalted

  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds or chia seeds

  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut

  • 1/4 cup oats

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp cloves

  • 1/4 tsp ginger

  • 1/4 cup / 60g pumpkin puree

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Blend for several minutes, until slightly chunky or completely smooth, as you wish.

Line an 8x8 in baking dish with parchment paper.  Lightly sprinkle with oats or coconut to prevent mixture from sticking too much.

Scoop mixture into dish and carefully spread to the edges.  Use lightly oiled or wet hands to help this process.  Sprinkle with more coconut, pumpkin seeds, or both.

Place in the freezer for a couple hours, then slice into bars.  Store in at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer, depending on how firm you want the bars to be. 

Jenny's Notes:

I used a combination of almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts.  Why use only 1 or 2 varieties of nuts when you can use 5?? Haha


White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

"Delicious Oats.  Sweet Oats.  Lovely, crunchy oats!  Splendid Oats."  If you've ever seen the live-action talking horse Black Beauty, you'll know what I'm talking about.  If you haven't, then you probably think I'm crazy and really like oats.  I'm not denying that.  But if you fall into the latter category and have never seen Black Beauty, the I suggest you make these cookies, pop a large bowl of popcorn, and do yourself a favor and enjoy this classic.  The stuff of childhood.   

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. 

In another large bowl combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla; mix well. 

Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients and combine.  Stir in oats, chips, and cranberries until evenly distributed. 

Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes, until edges are set but centers are still soft and wet looking.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from baking sheet.

Jenny's Notes:

Dried cherries are also a delicious combination with white chocolate.  And if you live in Traverse City, Michigan, it may be obligatory for you to try it at least once...;)

Burgundy Chocolate Cherry Cookies

September 24 feels like a very significant day.  You know, one of those days where you feel like it's someone's birthday (well, that's always true, even if you don't know them), a holiday, or something significant happened for you on that day.  But, I have nothing.  Except, this day last year Hannah Kelsey and I got off our first and hopefully last overnight train in Europe...terror....nope, not that.  Oh, it's the third day of autumn.  OH YEAH.  That's significant, we'll roll with that.  If you still have a nagging feeling like you're forgetting something, best wish everyone you meet a happy birthday, just in case...

...and make these cookies so it really didn't look like you forgot....worst case scenario it's no one's birthday and you have to eat them yourself...

...actually, it's always a good idea to have cookies on hand, whatever the occasion, if even just to say "Happy September 24!" Especially these ones.  Let me list some reasons for you.  Wine, chocolate, very chocolate, cherries, super chocolatey, and very chocolatey.  In fact, the batter is so chocolatey it makes the semi-sweet chocolate chips look like light milk chocolate.  But they are not.  So chocolatey. 

Burgundy Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cherries

Directions:

Oven 375 Fahrenheit. 

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl combine oil, sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Carefully stir in wine.  Stir in dry ingredients until fully incorporated, then add chocolate chips and cherries.  Batter will be soft, but shouldn't be too soupy.  If it is, just add a touch more flour.

Spoon little mounds onto a baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes, until edges look set but center still looks wet.  Allow to cool for several minutes on baking sheet before removing to cool completely.

Pairs wonderfully with...the remainder of the bottle of wine you used to make these...

Jenny's Notes:

Feel free to use any kind of red wine you like for these!  I have used the an Italian red, Savini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva with great success, and the cookies in the photos I used a French red, Côtes du Rhône.  I chose to call these Burgundy because of the Burgundy wine region, which I think would be lovely in these, (the wine, not the region) and saying "Burgundy Cookies" is a whole lot easier than "Côtes du Rhône Cookies," no?  And, red (wine) plus brown (chocolate) makes burgundy.  Yes.  Maybe.   

Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

I'm not sure where August went off to, but happy September!  Sometimes when I think too much about time, and how fast it goes by (and I'm still young by most people's standards!!) I get a little nostalgic.  I'm sorry future self, I hear it only gets worse!  However, when that happens, sometimes it's best to make cookies.  And eat a few.  A recipe for success! Sorry couldn't resist...

Now, if you followed my lead and made lots of caramel last week, (then I left you hanging and didn't blog for a while, so sorry.  It's called: Apartment hunting in Italy) then you were probably wondering what to do with all of it.  A little in coffee, a little for dipping, a little in the freezer for emergency situations, and some left over for....these salted caramel thumbprint cookies! Or if you opted for the eating by spoonful, no worries, the recipe is still up and you can just go make some more, fret not!

Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 18 Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Scant 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate or 1/3 cup chips, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 recipe caramel

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt. 

In a separate bowl, combine sugar and oil.  Beat in egg yolk and vanilla, then mix in melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula as needed.  Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Dough will be soft.

Place dough in fridge for about 20-30 minutes, or until dough thickens enough to be rolled into balls.  Alternately, place in the freezer to speed up the process. 

Place some sugar in a small bowl.  Once dough has thickened, roll into about 1-inch balls, roll in sugar.  Press thumb into the center of each cookie, place on cookie sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes.  If centers have puffed up, remove from oven and press down again.  Return to oven and bake for 3-5 minutes more, until edges are cracked and set but center still looks soft.  Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool. 

When cookies are almost cool, spoon caramel into centers.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Always feel free to up the salt in recipes too, to taste.  (I just accidentally wrote "...feel free to up the caramel in recipes too..." haha.  That too, that too.  Always more caramel.)

Cookies still warm when caramel is added makes for ooey gooey drippy caramel...yes please!

Adapted from The Busty Baker

Espresso Oatmeal Cookies

Coffee. What a beautiful word.  It incites such eager anticipation, excitement, thirst, and general burst of energy even before drinking said caffeinated beverage.  It's loved the world over, with different ways and preferences for roasting, preparing, and consuming, but in the end it's something we share together, with our family, friends, and our early mornings and foggy brains. 

My mom's coffee bar.  A nice mix of the Italian Moka pot on the left, an American drip coffee machine, Chemex, and a French Nespresso machine.

My mom's coffee bar.  A nice mix of the Italian Moka pot on the left, an American drip coffee machine, Chemex, and a French Nespresso machine.

In Italy coffee is a way of life.  More or less espresso, because if you order a caffé or caffé normale, you will get a shot of espresso.  Drip coffee, or so to speak "normal" coffee for Americans is rare to find here.  Almost all of their drinks are espresso based and served in small espresso cups, such as cappuccino, macchiato, ristretto, mocha, etc. Whereas our coffee is served in large mugs and not nearly as strong, usually the smallest size being a 12 oz if you go to a coffee shop.  If you think about it, the Americano is aptly named.  An Americano is watered down espresso.  And what is espresso?  Strong coffee.  So if you add water to strong coffee, what do you get?  A bigger cup of not as strong coffee, more similar to American coffee.  And we seem to like that quantity.  Soup bowls of it in the morning.  You know it, all the mugs that talk about "Don't talk to me before coffee," "Coffee First," and the likes.  And we go out for coffee dates with friends that last an hour, two, or three.  And that 20 oz mug of coffee will last for almost that long. 

In Italy, you go to a bar, order your coffee at the bar, and throw that espresso back within a minute or two.  Sometimes you sit down, but usually only if you are with someone and are at your leisure.  Un caffé, or espresso, only costs 1 euro usually, so it doesn't set you back too far.  You're not dropping $5 on an Ethiopian single origin organic latte with raw honey and cardamom with a twist of lemon.  Actually, that sounds really good right now.  

Un cappuccino from News Caffé in Florence

Un cappuccino from News Caffé in Florence

Not to infer that Italians always drink their coffee out and at the bar, especially when they drink it throughout the day; something with milk for breakfast, such as a cappuccino, espresso to finish off the other meals and at any other time of the day that tickles their fancy. They also prepare their own at home as well, usually involving the beloved Moka pot.  According to my Italian workbook, the average Italian drinks 600 cups of caffé and cappuccino per year, and of these cups 70% are drunk at home while only 20% are drunk at a bar, and 10% at work. 

Another interesting tidbit about espresso is that the word "espresso" is the Italian past tense of "esprimere" or "to express."  The Italians love to express themselves (but who doesn't?) and I like to think of it as just another way in which they do that, in their art and passion for creating and drinking coffee.  It also denotes express meaning the speed in which the beverage is both prepared and consumed.  The express lane.  So don't be too harsh on your friends when they call espresso "expresso."  They're actually not as far off as we think.  But still, be a good friend and correct them.

Does all this talk of coffee leave you wanting some?  Me too.  And cookies.  But I always want cookies.  You know those people who sport the mugs saying not to talk to them before coffee? Yeah, I can be that way before cookies.  So today, cookies with espresso in them!!!

Espresso Oatmeal Cookies

Makes about 30 small cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground espresso beans, or ground coffee
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, mix together oil, brown and white sugar.  Beat in the egg, vanilla, and espresso powder until well combined.

Add the dry mixture and chocolate chips to wet mixture and mix until well combined. 

Drop dough by spoonful onto cookie sheets and bake for 7-10 minutes or until edges are set and center still looks a touch wet.  Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

Jenny's Notes:

Only have white sugar or brown sugar on hand?  In a recipe such as this they can easily be substituted for each other.  You can use all white or all brown sugar.  In Italy true brown sugar is hard to find, and it usually has a strong molasses taste.  I frequently use all white sugar and eliminate the brown sugar here, I can't have all my desserts tasting like molasses and gingerbread and Christmas time!

Adapted from She Bakes Here

No-Bake Pumpkin Date Bars

Happy Wednesday/Buon Mercoledì!! Still didn't quite make the "Baking Tuesday" but today I shall dub "Baking Wednesday."  And it shall be good.  And involve all things healthy disguised as dessert (did I just lose you? Don't go away just yet, I don't put gross food on my blog!), chocolate (there, now you'll stay), pumpkin, spice, and everything nice! Life is too short to eat and drink poorly.

"La vita è troppo breve per mangiare e bere male" - Eataly

These bars feature a creamy, pumpkin chocolate chip filling atop a wonderfully soft and chewy-sweet date crust .  They can easily be made gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free.  And you can eat them anytime for breakfast or a healthy snack (to be pronounced snaaaaaack with the Italian hand going) because there is no refined sugar (except from the chocolate chips), protein from the beans, fiber from the oat flour and dates, antioxidants from the maple syrup and spices, and lots of vitamins and minerals from the pumpkin and above mentioned ingredients!  You guys, this is such a win-win.  In fact, these bars might help you not die.  That last claim is not backed by science. 

No-Bake Pumpkin Date Bars

Ingredients:

For the Date Crust

  • 1 cup packed dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • pinch of salt

For the Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Filling

  • 1 15 oz can white beans (navy beans, great northern, etc.)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dates
  • 5 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, plus extra for topping

Directions:

Make the Date Crust

In a food processor combine dates, almonds, and salt.  Pulse until the almonds are finely ground and everything comes together into a soft, crumbly dough that sticks together when pressed between your fingers.  If after a few minutes the crust doesn't come together, add a few more dates.

Spread and press crust into a 8x8 or 9x9 in square pan.  Clean food processor, you are about to use it again.

Make the Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Filling

In the food processor, combine all the filling ingredients except for chocolate chips.  Blend until smooth.  Scrape filling into a bowl and stir in chocolate chips.  Spread over crust and top with more chocolate chips. 

Cover and refrigerate for two hours before slicing and serving.  Of course, that's in an ideal world, if you just can't wait, it will be okay.  The center will just be softer.  (And I know this because...)

Jenny's Notes:

Vegan Version: Simply make sure your chocolate chips are vegan. 

Gluten-free: Use certified gluten-free oats.

Dairy-free: Make sure your chocolate chips are dairy-free.  Easy, no?

Don't have oat flour? Make your own! Put the amount of oat flour you need of oats in a food processor or blender, plus a little extra, and blend until finely ground into flour! Tada.

Regarding all spices ever, they should be ground for recipes.  I will indicate only if they should be whole.  For the most part I try to reduce redundancy, since most spices come pre-ground.  For optimal flavor I would recommend buying spices whole and grinding them as needed. A labor of love, but the flavor is so fresh.

If you like sweeter desserts, or are serving a crowd that isn't used to "healthy" desserts, you could always add an extra 1/2 cup or so of brown sugar to the filling.

Maple syrup made by my dad, home-ground oat flour, dry beans, homemade vanilla extract

Maple syrup made by my dad, home-ground oat flour, dry beans, homemade vanilla extract

Adapted from Imma Eat That

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars

IMG_4192.JPG

Blogging on a Friday? What happened to Tuesday Baking? Well, Tuesday Baking doesn't have that nice of a ring to it. I'm not married to it just yet. It just...has worked out that way. (I need a day of the week that starts with B...) This week I have been spectacularly busy, with not a moment to spare for blogging.  I beg your forgiveness, and I am hoping all will be forgiven once you make and bake and eat these bars. 

Because they are cheesecake. I really like cheesecake.  I mean creamy, not overpoweringly sweet, with a bit of graham cracker accompanying each bite.  Good morning, sunshine!  I also really like chocolate and peanut butter.  So today let's make some peanut butter cheesecake bars with chocolate chips. 

Fair warning: These can be very difficult to make.  You have to be able to resist eating all of the dough.  If you can do that, then the actual making of these are quite simple.  Va bene? Va bene.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients:

For the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

  • 6 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

For the Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Oven 325 Fahrenheit.

Make the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Mix together the oil, sugars, and peanut butter in a large bowl until well combined.  Add the egg and beat well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and oats.

Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture, then add chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.  Set aside.

Make the Cream Cheese Filling

Beat cream cheese in a stand mixer or with an electric handheld mixer for about 30 seconds.  Add sugar, egg, and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. 

Assembly

Press half of the cookie dough into the bottom of an 8x8 in or 9x9 in pan.  Pour and spread cream cheese filling evenly over dough.  Using your hands, crumble the remaining half of cookie dough over cream cheese until it is thoroughly covered.

Cover with tinfoil and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes, until cream cheese center is almost set and the top is lightly golden brown. 

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Cioccolato Cioccolato Cioccolato!

Cioccolato Cioccolato Cioccolato!

Don't be fooled, these cookies are nothing more than a chocolate bar with a few added ingredients to allow them to be legally called "cookies."  In trying to decide what to call these, Chocolate Candy Bar Cookies and True Chocolate Cookies were contending, but I can thank Paul and Melinda Hand for calling them out for what they really taste like: fudgy brownies in cookie form!  Oh yes, they be so chocolatey, so fudgy, so soft. 

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp oil of choice (I prefer to use refined peanut oil for baking, it doesn't leave a taste in baked goods, has a high smoke point so it won't become rancid when baked or cooked with.  It is a healthier alternative to vegetable or canola oil, common oils called for in baking.)
  • 14 oz (or about 400g) chopped quality semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.

In a medium saucepan combine oil and half of the chopped chocolate, 7 oz or 200g.  Melt over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is mostly melted.  Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Set aside.

In a medium-large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and vanilla until well combined.  Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  It's okay if it is still a little warm. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir flour mixture and remaining 7 oz of chocolate chunks into chocolate mixture until well combined. 

Place the bowl with the chocolate mixture in the freezer for 15-25 minutes.  Check and stir the dough every 5 minutes or so until batter has thickened and set up.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop small spoonfuls of dough evenly spaced on the sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies as they will spread quite a bit.  If you can get 12 cookies on each sheet, you're on the right track.  

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the cookies start to crackle and the edges set. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack or plate.  Or counter.  Or mouth.  Whatever floats your boat with these!  Maybe just don't all of them or your boat will sink...

Oh, the symphony of crackle!

Oh, the symphony of crackle!

Adapted from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook

Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

What has chocolate and oats in it, tastes like a cookie, but is sneakily nutritious for you?  These cookies!  Yay for things that taste good and are healthy simultaneously.  And don't forget fun to make!  So many wins, I want to make these all over again.  Instead, I shall have just as much fun writing out the recipe for you. 

Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

  • about 15 dates (if medjool, you'll need less)
  • 1/4 cup milk almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 small very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.

In a blender or food processor, blend dates until very finely chopped.  Slowly add milk and continue to blend until a smooth paste forms.  If using a food processor, be extra careful adding the milk as it may splatter; food processors tend to not have as good of a seal as blenders.  

Add peanut butter, banana, egg, and vanilla to the date paste and beat well. 

In a separate bowl whisk together oats, baking soda, and salt.  Add to date mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips and pecans just until combined.  Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes. 

Drop by spoonful onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-15 minutes until edges start to turn lightly golden.  Allow cookies to cool and set a bit before removing from pan. 

Jenny's Notes:

These can easily be made vegan, dairy and/or gluten-free: Make a flax egg instead of a normal egg by adding 1 Tbsp flax powder to 3 Tbsp water, use vegan chocolate chips, use certified GF oats and vanilla extract.  Voila!  Now anyone can eat these delicious morels. 

Adapted from Veggies Don't Bite

Jenny's Hershey's Chewy Brownie Pie

Hershey's Cookies 'N' Cream bar reminds of me my childhood.  I probably only had it a handful of times, but I have a couple very fond memories of my mom letting my brother JohnPaul and me have one.  So delicious with the little bits of Oreo cookie in it.  That is probably why I like this recipe, because part of the base is a Cookies 'N' Cream Bar.  It's like a white chocolate brownie with little bits of Oreo in it, covered in a homemade sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips. 

The original recipe uses a can of sweetened condensed milk, but I made my own for the first time this week, and I like it so much better!  Not to mention no BPA from the can, and you can use organic milk and sugar.  Win win.  Plus you can nonchalantly throw out that the sweetened condensed milk is made from scratch when people ask you what it is or what's in it.  Win win win.

I tweaked a couple other small details in the recipe to make it a little less rich, but it's pretty delicious.   

Jenny's Hershey's Chewy Brownie Pie

Ingredients

For the brownie:

  • 6-6.5 oz Hershey's Cookies 'N' Cream Candy Bar (about 1.5 small bars, or 1 giant bar)

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

For the topping:

Directions

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9 in spring-form pan, or you could also use a 9 in cake pan.

Make the brownie:

In a small saucepan combine Cookies 'N' Cream bar, sugar, and butter over low heat just until melted, stirring occasionally. 

Remove from heat and whisk in eggs and vanilla.

Stir in flour and baking powder just until combined. 

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown and toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 

Add the topping:

Immediately pour sweetened condensed milk over brownie, spreading to the edges.  Sprinkle on the chocolate chips.  Allow to cool before removing outer ring of spring-form pan and cutting. 

Jenny's Notes:

Want it denser and richer?  Omit the baking powder from the brownie and layer more mini chocolate chips on top.  Want it less rich?  Simply reduce the sugar in the brownie!

Adapted from Fahrenheit 350

Biscoff Oreo Layer Bars

Bucca di Beppo, using the proper snaaaack hand.

Bucca di Beppo, using the proper snaaaack hand.

You had me at Biscoff.  Then you had me again at Oreo.  These bars are decadent and disappear quickly.  I had barely pulled them out of the oven when my nieces and nephews appeared at the door looking to see if we had any "snacks." (To be said, "snaaaaaacks," with the hand gesture waving.)  Normally these bars should be cooled and chilled before slicing, but in this instance we used bowls and spoons to scoop up the warm, melty, ooey-gooey, Biscoff Oreo-ness with a hint of peanut butter atop a shortbread crust.  I practically had to put caution tape around the remaining few bars so I could get a picture of them before they all disappeared.  I don't own caution tape, but I think it would be a very handy thing to have around. 

Biscoff Oreo Layer Bars

Ingredients:

For the Crust

  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp salted butter, cold, cut into cubes (3/4 of a stick)

For the Layers

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter chips
  • 12 Oreo cookies, crushed (You could always use more, my Oreo loving friends)
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup Biscoff spread

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit

Make the Crust

Lightly grease an 8x8 in pan. 

In a food processor pulse together flour and sugar.  Add butter, one cube at a time.  Continue to pulse until mixture looks like wet sand and will hold together when pressed between your fingers.  Press evenly into prepared pan.

Make the Layers

Sprinkle peanut butter chips evenly over crust, then the Oreos. 

In a small bowl whisk together sweetened condensed milk and Biscoff until smooth.  Pour over crust and spread to evenly cover Oreos.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until edges are lightly golden and center is just set.  The filling will go from shiny to matte, forming a sort of skin over the top. 

Place in the fridge until completely cool.  Cut and serve.  Store covered in the fridge.

Jenny's Notes:

Don't sweat if you only have unsalted butter.  To interchange unsalted for salted butter, just add 1/4 tsp salt for every 1 stick of unsalted butter.  And vice versa, if you only have salted butter and a recipe calls for 1 stick of unsalted butter and salt, just omit the salt and replace unsalted butter with salted.  I just stared at the word "salt" for too long and now it looks very strange.  Salt.  Huh.

ALSO.  You could use the crunchy Biscoff spread in this and I think that would be amaze-za-zing.  I haven't gotten a chance to try it yet but if you do let me know and invite me over.  :)

Adapted from Call Me PMc

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

Happy Tuesday!  The sun is shining, the leaves are popping, and the trilliums are blooming.  So I'm going to sit indoors and make brownies.  Seems like the logical thing to do on beautiful day like this.  Don't worry, my nature loving outdoors people, I just came in from the great outdoors.  heh heh.

And these aren't just any brownies.  They are ooey and gooey with a layer of peanut butter truffle, topped with chocolate ganache.  Did I mention you can also make the peanut butter truffle layer with Nutella? Well, yes, yes you can. 

Lately I've been experimenting with different takes on brownies.  If you've ever compared brownie recipes, you might have noticed that some recipes include a leavening agent, such as baking powder, while others don't, some use melted chocolate in the batter, and others only cocoa powder.  Which is best?  This comes down to personal preference, but if you prefer that fudgy, dense brownie with a rich chocolate taste, I've found the most success without using a leavening agent and plenty of cocoa powder.  I couldn't taste a significant enough difference in chocolatey-ness if I included melted chocolate in the batter or not.  And for the trouble, I prefer sticking to a quality cocoa powder.  Sorry Hershey, you just don't cut it.  (I find their cocoa bland, lacking in that wonderful depth of flavor and buttery-ness that should come from chocolate.)  I love Saco Premium Baking Cocoa, Guittard, and Pernigotti.  I've heard wonderful things about Valrhona, but haven't had a chance to try it yet.  For these brownies I used Saco.

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

Makes about 24 servings

Ingredients:

For the Brownies

  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Peanut Butter Truffle

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tsp milk

For the Ganache

  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

Directions:

Make the Brownies

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oil and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Add cocoa powder and salt.  Mix in flour until just combined. 

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted off center comes out mostly clean.  Allow to cool.

Make the Peanut Butter Truffle

While the brownies are cooling, combine butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  Add in 2 teaspoons of milk and beat.  The mixture should be spreadable.  If not, add another teaspoon of milk.

Spread onto cooled brownies and place in the fridge to set the truffle layer. 

Make the Ganache

While the filling sets, place a small saucepan with a small amount of water on the stove over low heat.  Place peanut butter, chocolate chips, butter, and whipping cream in a small glass or metal bowl and place over simmering water on the stove. The bottom of the bowl shouldn't touch the water.  Stir just until all the chocolate and butter is melted, and remove from heat.

Remove brownies from fridge and spread ganache over the top.  Return to fridge and chill until set.

Nutella Version:

For the Peanut Butter Truffle replace the peanut butter with Nutella and add 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar with 3/4 cup flour, instead of 2 cups powdered sugar.  Cuts the sweetness since Nutella is sweetened and Peanut Butter usually is not. 

For the Ganache replace the peanut butter with Nutella. 

Proceed as normal.

Jenny's Notes:

These are rich and delicious, small portions go a long way.  I often cut the recipe in half and bake in an 8x8 inch pan.