Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

DSC_0448Happy Halloween!!

Soon we’re heading out to trick or treat in the neighborhood with my cousins and their three year old pirate.  William is going to be snug in the stroller in his koala bear costume.  In addition to it being my first Halloween as a mom, this is also the first year I’ve lived somewhere that kids trick or treat!  I’m stocked with candy and ready for the cuteness and Frozen overload.

We haven’t carved our pumpkin yet but I did make these pumpkin cookies yesterday.  They’re not cakey but are soft and loaded with plenty of white chocolate and semi-sweet chips.

What to buy:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the miniature kind)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

What to do:

  • whisk the melted butter, sugars, pumpkin and vanilla until smooth
  •  in another bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg
  • pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together to form a soft dough
  • fold in  semi-sweet chocolate and white chips
  • chill dough for 30 minutes or a few hours
  • preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray
  • roll the dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons of dough for each
  • bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, they’ll look a little under baked but you want this so they don’t get too dry and cakey
  • cool cookies for 10-15 minutes on cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack
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Decadent Banana Bread with Mini Chocolate Chips

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This recipe is a decadent spin on the classic banana bread – improved, in my opinion, with the addition of mini chocolate chips.  Every bite is delicious and dense, packed with chocolate and banana.  It’s a great way to use your overripe bananas and if for some reason it doesn’t disappear within a a day of baking, it freezes well tightly wrapped in foil.  I like to use the mini chocolate chips because they distribute more evenly through the bread and won’t sink to the bottom of your loaf pan.  The key to perfect banana breads is not overmixing the batter once the liquid ingredients are added to the dry. 

What to buy:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

What to do:

  • preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • combine flour, baking soda and salt and set aside
  • whisk eggs and vanilla until combined
  • grease a medium to large size loaf pan with butter or cooking spray
  • cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy
  • gradually pour the egg mixture into the butter, while mixing, until incorporated
  • add the bananas (which will appear to curdle the mixture, don’t fret)
  • slowly mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated and fold in the chocolate chips
  • transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, about one hour
  • cool the bread in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes until you can flip it out to cool fully

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Dark Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti

My husband is the perfect taste tester because he likes most flavors and is happy whenever I cook something.  He rarely requests I make something in particular, so when he does, I get excited to make something I know he’s craving.  This was the case  a couple of weeks ago when he told me he really liked almond biscotti.  I had no idea but I used to enjoy making biscotti all the time in high school because it was one of my Aunt’s favorite treats.  I finally found one of my old recipes from way back when and  did a little baking this weekend. I had forgotten how easy and delicious homemade biscotti is and how well it pairs with a nice cup of coffee.  I dipped half of mine in dark chocolate but you could use white chocolate, milk chocolate or serve them plain.  DSC_0122

What to buy (makes about 20 biscotti):

  • 1 2/3 cups blanched sliced almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • semi-sweet chocolate, white chocolate or milk chocolate for drizzling or dipping

What to do:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees and cover a baking tray with parchment paper, spray with cooking spray
  • beat eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a bowl
  • combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in another bowl
  • gradually incorporate egg mixture into flour mixture until dough comes together
  • add 1 cup almonds and mix
  • turn dough out onto parchment paper and shape into a log that is roughly 3 by 12 inches
  • sprinkle remaining almonds on top
  • bake in the preheated oven until firm to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes
  • allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and transfer log to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, using a serrated knife
  • return slices to baking sheet, cut-side up
  • place biscotti back in the oven and bake until biscotti are firm to the touch, about 10 minutes
  • flip each biscotti and continue baking until toasted, about 10 minutes more
  • allow biscotti to cool before dipping in melted chocolate

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Super Easy Red, White and Blue Cookies

If you’re looking for a sugary, low-brow dessert that is slathered in frosting and appropriately the red, white and blue for this Fourth of July, I’ve got just the thing for you: Red, White and Blue White Chocolate Chip Cookies!  I made these the morning before a staff meeting at work and they took less than an hour from the mixing to the baking to the frosting.  These are number twenty-four in my countdown of cookout friendly recipes for the Fourth of July.  You can find them all here!
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What to buy (makes about 18-25 cookies:

  • 1 box vanilla cake mix
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 container vanilla frosting with red, white and blue sprinkles

What to do

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or spray
  • stir melted butter into cake mix
  • add the beaten egg and extract, fold in chocolate chips
  • roll cookie dough into small balls and flatten slightly on the baking sheet
  • bake for 8-10 minutes and allow to cool before frosting generously

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Smores Brownie Pie

Smores Brownie Pie, recipe number twenty-three in my countdown of thirty cookout recipes, screams summer and the Fourth of July.  It’s made up of a graham cracker crust, a brownie layer topped with Hershey’s chocolate bars and finally a marshmallow layer.

What to buy:

for the crust:

  • 12 graham crackers or approximately 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar

for the brownie layer:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 Hershey’s chocolate bars
  • 20-25 marshmallows

What to do:

to make the crust:

  • using a food processor or blender, pulverize graham crackers into fine crumbs
  • pour crumbs into a medium bowl and mix with melted butter and sugar
  • press into an ungreased 9 inch pie dish

to make the brownie layer:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • mix oil and sugar until well blended
  • add eggs and vanilla; stir until blended
  • mix all dry ingredients in a separate bowl
  • stir dry ingredients into the oil mixture
  • pour into graham cracker crust
  • top with hershey bar pieces
  • bake for 20 minutes or until the middle is beginning to set
  • remove from the oven and top with marshmallows
  • return to the oven and continue to bake for an additional 3 minutes to melt the marshmallows
  • remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.
  • serve at room temperature or reheated slightly if you like for 20-30 seconds in the microwave

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Irresistible Baked Smores Bars

I love smores and I think they’re a quintessential summer dessert.  They’re perfectly American, making them third on my list of thirty recipes to make this Fourth of July. They’re the best with marshmallows roasted on an open fire in the backyard but if you want to skip the campfire and still get that one of a kind smores flavor, I’ve got the recipe for you today! The stars of the show are marshmallow creme and Hershey’s bars. DSC_0743

They’re gooey, chocolatey and irresistible (and really, really easy to make.)

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What to buy:

  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ⅓ cups flour
  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 Hershey bars
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow fluff

What to do:

  • preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 9 baking dish
  • cream butter, brown sugar, sugar, egg, and vanilla, adding flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt
  • spread half of dough into pan and lay chocolate bars evenly on top
  • spread marshmallow fluff over chocolate and top with remaining dough (it’s ok if the marshmallow peeks through)
  • bake for 20-25, or until golden with marshmallow bubbling
  • serve warm or at room temperature (best if eaten within a couple days of baking)

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Carolina Chocolate Sheet Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

If you love chocolate, I’ve got a classic southern recipe for you that’s perfect to serve a crowd.   This rectangular, frosted chocolate cake is often called a Texas Sheet Cake because it’s as big as Texas but since this is my blog, today I’m christening my version the Carolina Chocolate Sheet Cake.  State pride aside, you can call it what you will, in terms of taste, this cake is hard to beat.  Top with toasted pecans, cinnamon spiced pecans or vanilla ice-cream for the perfect chocolate indulgence.

What to buy:

for the cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

for the icing

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cinnamon sugar pecans (or plain pecans)

What to do:

to make cake

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • grease a large baking dish or jelly roll pan (I used a 9×13 casserole dish)
  • in a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt
  • in another bowl combine eggs and yolks, vanilla, and sour cream
  • heat chocolate, butter, oil, water, and cocoa in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes
  • whisk chocolate mixture into flour mixture until combined
  • whisk egg mixture into batter, then pour into prepared baking pan
  • bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes
  • poke top of the cake with a fork to make holes for the icing to sink into

to make icing (while cake is baking)

  • heat butter, cream, cocoa, and corn syrup in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth
  • turn off heat and whisk in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla
  • spread warm icing evenly over hot cake and sprinkle with pecans

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Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Here’s your excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast in the form of my Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake. This dense cake pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or you can serve as dessert.  You can make this in a loaf pan like I did or a more traditionally shaped coffee cake pan.  If you like nuts, chop up some pecans or walnuts and mix them in with your cinnamon sugar topping.  It is great served warm with butter or at room temperature.  I don’t have any “sliced” pictures as I dropped this one off with the neighbors to thank them for giving us their Durham Bulls tickets Sunday so you’ll have to take my word for it that the inside is packed with chocolate and cinnamon goodness.   And again, chocolate for breakfast…DSC_0575

What to buy:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk, (I use 2%)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

for the topping:

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

What to do:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a large loaf pan
  • combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • in another bowl, beat butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined
  • add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to butter mixture, mixing until light and fluffy
  • add eggs one at a time, then add the flour mixture alternating with the milk, mixing until just incorporated
  • fold in chocolate chips and pour the batter into pan
  • mix 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over batter.
  • bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 70 to 90 minutes
  • cool in pan until the sides are loosened and you can easily shake it out

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Copycat Wendy’s Frosty

I like a good knockoff recipe every now and then like Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits or this version of the iconic Wendy’s Frosty.  I was inspired by a few different pins on Pinterest and had to try it.  The verdict: this is a great frozen treat that tastes almost exactly like the real thing!

For easier pouring into the ice cream maker,  I mixed the ingredients in a pitcher and I made this in two batches because my ice cream maker is pretty small but that way you can make some for dessert one night, throw the rest in the refrigerator and make frosties again the next night.  Top with sprinkles, brownie bites, chocolate chips or serve plain with a spoon and a straw.  DSC_0518

What to buy (serves 5-6):

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip
  • 1/2 gallon chocolate milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What to do:

  • whisk all ingredients until combined
  • pour into your ice cream maker for 25-30 minutes or until frosty has reached your desired consistency

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Chocolate “Dirt” Pudding

It’s a cold dreary Monday in NC and I for one, am ready for daffodils, sunshine and flip-flops.  At least there is lots of basketball this week and chocolate, always chocolate!

This is a dessert that will be popular with both the big and little kids in your life.  I think the first time I experienced dirt pudding, complete with gummy worms, was in science class in lower school.  It rocked my world.  Today, I like serving this as dessert because it always makes people smile to see a worm coming out of their glass.
DSC_0197If you’re making this for kids you might want to go more milk chocolate route versus semisweet or you could just use a jello chocolate pudding mix.  Grown-up kids will be fans of the darker, more bitter chocolate taste from semisweet morsels and cocoa powder.  If you want to make these mint chocolate dirt puddings, add a teaspoon of mint extract when you add the vanilla and garnish with mint sprigs. DSC_0155 You could also alternate layers of pudding and cookie crumbles if you love Oreos or throw a few mini-Cadbury or malted eggs on top for a lovely nature scene! 

What to buy (makes 10 small servings):

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/2 cups half and half
  • 2 and 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 15-20 Oreos
  • mint sprigs and gummy worms for garnish (optional)

What to do:

  • whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt in a saucepan over medium heat
  • combine cream, milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl
  • pour 1 cup cream mixture into sugar mixture, whisk until cornstarch is dissolved
  • add remaining cream mixture, whisk until smooth
  • bring to a boil, whisking constantly, cook until thick, about 5 minutes
  • reduce heat to low and add chocolate, whisk until chocolate melts, about 1 minute
  • remove from heat and add vanilla and butter, whisk until butter melts
  • divide pudding, pouring or spooning into 8-10 small glasses or glass flowerpot votive candle holders leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top of each
  • refrigerate until set (which will take about 2 hours)
  • pulse Oreos in a food processor or blender until finely ground and top each pudding with ground cookie “dirt,” and garnish with worms and a mint sprig
  • serve chilled

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