Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Classic Brownies


Difficulty: Moderate (but not really)

Moderate? Yes, I suppose since it’s not as easy as dumping a mix into a bowl but who really likes those brownies anyway? (My husband does! But he admits these are better. )  I, for one, am not a fan. Once again, my complaint with anything boxed is the lack of true chocolate flavor, plus the structure and texture of box brownies is downright awful. They are mushy and taste commercial. Well, becuase they are commercial. This recipe is mildly adapted from whom I consider the gold standard; Cook’s Illustrated. Love them. Try these babies from scratch, I promise you’ll never go back. And if you do, you’ll regret it, or at least admit these are infinitely better. These are brownie perfection; chocolatey, moist and is neither cakey nor fudgy.

I wanted to get a better picture of the brownies cut and in their full delicious glory, but it was dark and we ate them. Yes, all of them, but not that night. We had guests to help us and then I never got around to it as we polished off the leftovers in subsequent days.

Makes 24 2-inch brownies (1 9×13-inch pan)

Note: Be sure to test the doneness of the brownies before removing from the oven. If underbaked (the toothpick has batter clinging to it), the texture will be dense and gummy (bad); if overbaked (toothpick comes out completely clean), the brownies will be dry and cakey.

1 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 TBS (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into 6 pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 TBS vanilla

Directions: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 13×9 baking dish with foil both lengthwise and widthwise(perpendicular to each other), pusing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan, leaving some to hang over the edges so you will be able to easily lift the brownies out of the pan once baked. Spray with cooking spray.


Whisk flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and set aside. Melt chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in sugar. Add eggs, stirring after each addition. Add vanilla. Pour warm chocolate mixture over flour and fold with spatula until batter is completely smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle top evenly with chopped nuts if using. (You should use them.)

Bake until a toothpick instered in the center comes out with a few moist and yummy crumbs attached, 30-35 minutes. Cool on wire rack until room temperature and then life brownies out of pan using foil handles. Cut into squares and serve. Or if you can’t wait, cool for 15 minutes or so, dig in and make a lovely brownie sundae or enjoy with a cold glass of milk. Delish!


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Difficulty: Moderate

It’s really not that difficult. Easy as baking a cake, not a box cake but still easy. And infinitely better. My biggest gripe with any baked good that claims to be chocolate is that it is not enough. Not enough chocolate. Sure it smells like chocolate, tricks you into thinking that it is going to deliver. And it always falls short. Not this recipe. This is chocolatey, tender and moist. Perfect.

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes and does not double very well. If you need more then it is best to make a separate batch. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

8 TBS butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with baking-cup liners

Combine butter, chocolate and cocoa in medium saucepan and heat until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder in small bowl to combine. Whisk eggs in large bowl, add sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until combined. Add cooled chocolate mixture, whisk until combined. Sift one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and stir; add sour cream and stir to combine and then add remaining flour until batter is thick and all combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions: In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency. Spread on cooled cupcakes or pipe as desired.

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Chocolate Pots de Crème


Difficulty: Moderate

Oh. My. Goodness. Deep, rich, satiny, luscious and glorious chocolate. This isn’t your mild milk chocolate dessert. Serious and adult. There aren’t enough adjectives to due this fabulous dessert justice. Just try it yourself and your taste buds will forever praise you. Use good quality 60% bittersweet chocolate; Ghirardelli, Callebaut, etc. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Serves 8


Pots de Crème
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
5 egg yolks
5 TBS sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 TBS vanilla

Whipped Cream
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Garnish (optional)
Cocoa for dusting
Chocolate shavings for sprinkling

Directions: For the Pots de Crème:Place chocolate in a medium bowl; set fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside.

Whisk yolks, sugar and salt in medium saucepan until combined; add in heavy cream and half-and-half. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until thickened and silky and custard registers 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 8-12 minutes. (When its temperature is between 175 and 180 degrees, the custard will coat the spoon, and when you run a finger through it the line will maintain neat edges.) Do not let custard overcook or simmer!

Immediately pour custard through strainer over chocolate. Let mixture stand to melt chocolate, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then whisk in vanilla. Divide mixture evenly among eight 5-ounce ramekins. Gently tap ramekins against counter to remove air bubbles.

Cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 72 hours. Before serving, let stand at room temperature 20-30 minutes.

For the whipped cream: Beat cream, sugar and vanilla together until they form soft peaks. Dollop each pot de creme with about 2 TBS whipped cream; garnish with chocolate shavings or cocoa if using and serve. Take the first bite. Sigh. Take another bite and the bliss continues.

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Cake Mix Cookies

Difficulty: Easy

I was in a pickle with a serious chocolate hankering and inspired by a fellow blogger, I used what ingredients I had on hand to make these amazingly easy and oh so wonderful cookies. All you need are 3 basic ingredients and if you want to dress them up with frosting and garnish, by all means! It satisfied my craving and is now a dangerous thing since they are so easy and accessible. You may substitute regular oil for the coconut oil. Feel free to try any cake mix, skies the limit!

1 dark chocolate (or any chocolate) cake mix
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup coconut oil, if solid then melt it down gently until liquid

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 TBS butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Toasted coconut

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine cake mix, eggs and oil. Drop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and let rest on pan for a few minutes, transfer to cooling rack.

For frosting, cream together cream cheese and butter. Add vanilla, milk and powdered sugar and continue to beat until smooth. Frost over cooled cookies and sprinkle with toasted coconut. The result is a crispy exterior and a moist and chewy interior.

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Chocolate Truffle Pie

Photo from Pioneer Woman

Difficulty: Easy

This delightfully rich and decadent chocolate pie comes from Pioneer Woman, I reduced the sugar, upped the vanilla and gave it a new name since it melts in your mouth just like a chocolate truffle. This is rich and so satisfying. Freshly whipped cream and chocolate curls are a must!

2 sticks regular butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 baked pie shell

Directions: In the bowl of a standing mixer beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then mix in cooled melted chocolate. Add vanilla and mix. Turn the mixer to medium speed, then add in the four eggs, one at a time, mixing for 5 minutes after the addition of each egg. Scrape sides of bowl once during mixing. Pour into the cooled pie shell and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Top with whipped cream and serve. Garnish with chocolate curls.

To make chocolate curls: Melt 3 ounces semi-sweet, milk, or dark chocolate with 1 TBS Crisco in microwavable bowl until just melted. Stir to combine. Pour over the backside of a baking sheet and spread very thin. Put in the freezer until it is firm, about 3 minutes. Using a sharp metal spatula scrape the chocolate from the pan, if its the right temperature it should curl instead of breaking. If it is too hard, wait a minute, too soft then put it back in the freezer for a minute. Transfer curls to a cold plate and stick them in the freezer to harden. Store in a plastic bag until ready for use.

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Easy & Fool-Proof Pie Crust

Difficulty: Easy

This wonderful recipe comes from Cook’s Country. There is no rolling required! Mix, place in your pie pan and press into place. It bakes up wonderfully crisp and flaky with a rich buttery taste. This is my new go-to pie crust recipe.

The pastry can be pressed into the pie plate and refrigerated for up to 2 days or double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month. Once baked and cooled, the shell can be wrapped tightly in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Makes one 9-inch Pie Shell

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
2 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool

Directions: Lightly coat 9-inch Pyrex pie plate with cooking spray. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in bowl.

With electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl, stopping once or twice to scrape down beater and sides of bowl, until completely homogeneous, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture and combine on medium-low until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until dough begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Reserve 3 tablespoons of dough. Turn remaining dough onto lightly floured surface, gather into ball, and flatten into 6-inch disk. Transfer disk to greased pie plate.

Press dough evenly over bottom of pie plate toward sides, using heel of your hand. Hold plate up to light to ensure that dough is evenly distributed (see photo 1). With your fingertips, continue to work dough over bottom of plate and up sides until evenly distributed.

On floured surface, roll reserved dough into 12-inch rope. Divide into three pieces, roll each piece into 8-inch rope, and form fluted edge (photos 2 through 4). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly prick bottom of crust with fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack. (If large bubbles form, wait until crust is fully baked, then gently press on bubbles with kitchen towel. Bubbles will settle as crust cools.)

1. 2.

3. 4.

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Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Difficulty: Easy

Mmmmmm, peanut butter & chocolate. I love how the Hershey kiss gets soft and the cookie is nice and chewy. A classic combination.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 bag Hershey kisses, unwrapped
3 TBS sugar for rolling dough

Directions: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, peanut butter and vanilla. In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and powder. Gradually add to peanut butter mixture until it comes together. Roll cookie dough into 1″ balls with hands and toss in sugar in small bowl. Place on ungreased cookie sheet (I used my Silpat) and bake for 8-10 minutes until light golden brown. Do not overbake.

Remove cookies from oven, transfer to cooling rack and immediately place one Hershey Kiss in center of cookie, pressing down to flatten cookie a bit, cookie will crack a bit. Repeat with remaining dough. Store in airtight container or eat them all!

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