My love for baking has been put on the back burner lately with the new baby. I see all these other bloggers that are still able to bake all the time and I wonder how they do it. I get home so late every day and with all the other things to get done, I do good just to get a decent dinner on the table. But occasionally on my days off, I squeeze in a little time to try a new baking recipe.

I love chocolate and cherries together so I marked this cookie recipe to try in my new Cooking Light magazine. I had some time once my husband got home this afternoon to watch the baby, and I whipped them up. They were really easy. And at only 94 calories per cookie, a couple of them aren’t so bad for an after dinner snack. IF you can only eat a couple that is. These are SO good. The cookie is chewy with all the oats and brown sugar and the cherries are a little tart. And then, THEN the melted chocolate. Mmm, a perfectly delicious cookie. Try them! You will like them. And if you don’t, send them to me! : )

Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

  • 1.5  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1.5  ounces  whole-wheat flour (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 1/2  cups  old-fashioned rolled oats (I used quick oats and they worked fine)
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 6  tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 3/4  cup  packed light brown sugar
  • 1  cup  dried cherries
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3  ounces  bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Cooking spray
  • 1. Preheat oven to 350°.

    2. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk.

    3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; add brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add cherries, vanilla, and egg; beat until combined. Fold in chocolate. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes. Cool on pans 3 minutes or until almost firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

    For complete nutrition info: Cooking Light

    *The cookie dough was a bit crumbly so you may have to press the dough together into balls when placing on the cooking sheet. They baked up great though.

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    I’ve learned while being out on maternity leave that there aren’t many things worth watching on daytime tv. You’ve got daytime talk shows, home improvement shows, and then there’s soaps of course. With not much to choose from, I’ve found myself watching Food Network a lot during the day while I’m just sitting and feeding Drew. And trust me, I do a lot of just sitting and feeding Drew. Try every two hours! He’s a hungry boy.

    Anyway, while watching Food Network I’ve started making a list of new recipes I’d like to try. Several of the recipes have come from one of my favorite cooks, Ina Garten. I look forward to watching her show every day, Barefoot Contessa, because everything she makes always looks divine and she makes it all seem so effortless. Plus I think she and her husband are cute as a button. I saw this recipe on her show the other day and it really made my sweet tooth ache. When I finally got out to go the store yesterday I got all the ingredients to make it and baked it last night for dessert. It turned out so good but as Ina would say, what could be bad about brownies? I think this recipe has a deeper, richer, more chocolaty flavor than some brownie recipes I’ve made. The only thing that could probably make it better is some creamy vanilla ice cream.

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    Brownie Tart

    6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

    3 1/4 cups (20 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

    3 extra-large eggs

    1 cup sugar

    1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    1/2 cup all-purpose flour

    1/4 teaspoon baking powder

    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

    1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts

    2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream

    Grease and flour a 9-inch tart pan with removable sides. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

     

    Melt the butter in a bowl set over simmering water. Add 2 cups of the chocolate chips, remove from the heat, and stir until the chocolate melts. Set aside to cool completely.

     

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, coffee, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cooled chocolate. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, and the walnuts. Fold the flour mixture into the batter until just combined. Pour into the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center is puffed (the top may crack). The inside will still be very soft. Cool to room temperature before removing the sides of the tart pan.

     

    Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips with the heavy cream and drizzle on the tart. (I omitted)

    Source: Food Network

    I’m Going Bananas!

    April 21, 2009

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    Someone save me from the bags of ripe bananas in my freezer! I almost always have at least one banana left over from a bunch that just doesn’t get eaten before it’s too brown. I feel bad just throwing it away so that is how I have to come to have several bags of overly ripe bananas in my freezer. Every time I open the freezer door, there they sit and I always intend on making something with them. But we all know what often happens with the best of intentions. They normally turn into regular banana bread or muffins, but I wanted to make something a little different this time. I’ve had chocolate banana bread on my mind this week so today I set out to find a recipe. Joy of Baking has never steered me wrong with a recipe so when I found this one on their website I decided to give it a try. I didn’t have any white chocolate chips so I subbed semi sweet instead which just added to the rich chocolaty flavor. This is a very moist bread and a great alternative to regular banana bread.

    Chocolate Banana Bread

    Recipe:

    1/2 cup (55 grams) toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (I omitted)

    1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour

    1/4 cup (30 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

    1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

    1 teaspoons baking powder

    1/4 teaspoon baking soda

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/2 cup (85 grams) white chocolate chips (I subbed semi sweet chocolate chips)

    2 large eggs, lightly beaten

    1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

    3 ripe bananas (approximately 1 pound or 454 grams), mashed well (about 1-1/2 cups)

    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Garnish:

    Turbinado or Demerara sugar (omitted)

    Preheat ovento 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place oven rack to middle position. Butter and flour (or spray with a non stick vegetable/flour spray) the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Set aside.

     

    Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Let cool and then chop coarsely.

    In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

    In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients (banana mixture) into the dry ingredients until just combined and batter is thick and chunky. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and sprinkle the top of the bread with coarse brown sugar (optional). Bake until bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

     

    Makes 1 – 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf.

    Blondies

    July 29, 2008

    It’s going to be 90 degrees today where I live so why am I still baking you ask. Maybe the heat has gone to my head or maybe it’s because I saw these blondies on Loves To Eat last week and just had to make them. Whatever the reason, these were great! Very quick to make, too. I’ll be saving this recipe when I want a great bar dessert other than brownies.

    Makes 36

    1 cup pecans or walnuts (4 ounces)-I omitted these.
    1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
    1 teaspoon baking powder 
    1/2 teaspoon table salt 
    12 tablespoons unsalted butter ( 1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
    1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
    2 large eggs , lightly beaten
    4 teaspoons vanilla extract 
    6 ounces white chocolate chips (1 cup) or chopped bar, or 3 ounces each white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips

    1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on large rimmed baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer nuts to cutting board to cool; chop coarsely and set aside.

    2. While nuts toast, cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

    3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

    4. Whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in medium bowl until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in chocolate and nuts and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.

    5. Bake until top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes; do not overbake. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares

    Source: Cook’s Illustrated

    Go ahead. Call me crazy, but I just don’t like chocolate ice cream. I have on occasion eaten some Rocky Road or Triple Brownie, but as far as plain old chocolate ice cream. You can have it. Give me strawberry or vanilla any day. But my husband–he loves it. It’s his favorite ice cream and he could probably eat it by the buckets. Since he got me the Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment for my birthday, I figured I’d break it in by making him some of his favorite ice cream. I have actually never made homemade ice cream so I was looking for a super simple, idiot proof recipe for my first time. I came across this recipe online and figured I couldn’t screw it up too much. My husband upon finding out that I was making chocolate ice cream instantly wanted to taste test it for me, but I told him he had to wait for it to freeze first. Well, first thing this morning he dug right in with a spoon. And the results? “It tastes like chocolate ice cream!” So according to my husband, the chocolate ice cream connoisseur, this is a good recipe. I’m just happy that is was so easy and that it turned out! Now to make myself some strawberry.

    Chocolate Ice Cream

    (I doubled the following amounts)

    Ingredients:
    5 tablespoons of cocoa
    1 can (large) condensed milk
    1/2 pint (250ml) milk

    Mix together the milk and condensed milk. Dissolve the cocoa in a little hot water. When fully dissolved stir it into the milk/condensed milk mixture.

    Transfer mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

    (20-30 min in the KA ice cream maker)

    Source: icecreamrecipes.com

    The Search is Over

    July 4, 2008

    I think I’ve found it! The PERFECT chocolate chip cookie. I have tried several other recipes but this one takes the cake, or cookie rather. I came across this recipe on Sugar & Spice  and they just looked too perfect not to try. I was asked to bring a dessert for the 4th of July cookout we were having at work so I decided I’d give them a go. Now, I’m known as the resident baker where I work so I was a little nervous about how these would turn out. I have to keep up my good reputation and all you know. Thankfully, they were beyond perfect. One of my co-workers even stated, “they are big, perfectly round, soft and chewy cookies! Like you would get from a bakery.” That, along with the fact that everyone’s hand was in my cookie basket as soon as I walked in the door with them equals a baking success. If you are still in search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, try these. I think you will be very happy with the results!

    Oh, and sorry about the lack of a picture. I was so tired last night after baking and cleaning my house for my 4th of July get-together that I didn’t have time to take a pic. And now they are all gone so there will be no pic in this post. : P But take a look at Michelle’s post. They looked just like that!

    Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
    (Source: Baking Illustrated, page 434)

    Makes about 18 large cookies.

    These oversized cookies are chewy and thick, like many of the chocolate chip cookies sold in gourmet shops and cookie stores. They rely on melted butter and an extra egg yolk to keep their texture soft. These cookies are best served warm from the oven but will retain their texture even when cooled. To ensure the proper texture, cool the cookies on the baking sheet. Oversized baking sheets allow you to get all the dough into the oven at one time. If you’re using smaller baking sheets, put fewer cookies on each sheet and bake them in batches.

    2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
    1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
    1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
    1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

    1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

    3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

    4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

    5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

    *Copied from Sugar & Spice

    I love it when a plan comes together. I think someone from the A-Team said that originally, but for the purpose of this post, this statement works for me too. : ) I have been wanting to make a “for real” cheesecake with my new spring form pan for a while now. And by for real I mean, homemade crust, homemade filling and baked in a spring form pan type of cheesecake. The ones I’ve made before were made with a pre-made crust so they weren’t truly homemade in my mind. I had the perfect excuse to make my “for real” cheesecake this weekend. Some friends of ours asked us to come over to help them with some projects in their new house and in exchange they were grilling out for us for dinner. I offered to bring a dessert, not because I wanted to be nice, but because I was secretly yearning to bake this cheesecake and I needed a reason to justify making it. (just kidding of course) Somehow I was stuck on making a peanut butter cheesecake but as usual, I had no recipe in mind. I googled peanut butter cheesecake and found a few recipes that were okay, but sounded more complicated than what I was wanting to do for my first for real cheesecake. So I decided to use a recipe I have used before but make my own crust and just add in what I wanted. I was nervous about how it would turn out since I’m pretty novice when it comes to cheesecakes, but thankfully it all worked out! It was very rich but very good. Definitely a keeper.

    Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cheesecake

    3 tablespoons butter, melted
    1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used chocolate graham crackers)
    1 tablespoon white sugar
    3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

    1 cup creamy peanut butter
    3 eggs
    3/4 cup white sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

    2. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and 1 tablespoon sugar. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

    3. In a large bowl, cream the 3/4 cup of sugar and cream cheese together until smooth. Stir in peanut butter until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Pour into the spring form pan.

    4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes. Let cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    (I baked mine in a water bath to prevent cracking)

    Another one on the list

    April 29, 2008

    Please excuse my cell phone photo. A friend of ours is borrowing our camera so I was forced to be resourceful and use my cell phone to take pictures tonight. But these cookies were just too good not to be posted. I came across this recipe on Loves to Eat a couple weeks ago and instantly knew I wanted to try them. You can check out her photo to see how good these cookies really look. I’m normally not really big on butterscotch flavored desserts, but I do love it in oatmeal scotchies. And these definitely didn’t disappoint. In fact I think I’m adding these to my list of favorite cookie recipes. They are perfectly chewy which is always a good cookie in my book.

    Oatmeal Scotchies with Chocolate Chips

    Ingredients:

    1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour

    1 tsp. baking soda

    1/2 tsp. gr. cinnamon

    1/2 tsp. salt

    1 cup (2 sticks) butter

    3/4 cups granulated sugar

    3/4 cup packed brown sugar

    2 large eggs

    1 tsp. vanilla

    3 cups quick or old fashioned oats

    1 bag butterscotch chips (I used 1/2 bag)

    1 bag chocolate chips semi-sweet (I used 1/2 bag)

    Directions:

    Pre-heat oven to 375

    Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixer bow. Gradually beat in flour mixture, Sire in oats and chips. Drop a rounded, full tbsp. onto an ungreased baking sheet.

    Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes. Remove and cool on wire racks. Serve with a cold glass of milk!

    Brownies: Take Two

    March 20, 2008

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    As I was starting to write this post tonight, I realized that my last post was also about brownies. I promise I really have made real food since my last post, just nothing very interesting. Other than that I have no real reason why my last two posts are about brownies other than P-M-S. Yep, those three letters can cause you to have some weird cravings. Too bad I’m not craving anything healthy. Oh well.

    I was recently very flattered to receive an “E for Excellent” award on Cynthia Matzat’s blog. That’s how I first discovered her blog and some of her yummy recipes. One recipe on her blog caught my eye and it was this peanut butter brownie recipe. So when PMS rared its ugly head tonight, I knew it was the time to try out this recipe. I was not disappointed. These were so good! I added a 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips to the peanut butter batter because I just needed to have some chocolate. Thanks Cynthia for the award and for this great recipe!

    Peanut Butter Brownies

    Ingredients

    5 tablespoons butter
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup peanut butter
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder

    (I added half a cup of semi sweet chocolate chips to the batter)

    Directions

    In a 3-quart pan over low heat, heat butter until melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, peanut butter, and baking powder until smoothly blended. Evenly spread batter in a buttered and floured 8-inch square pan. Bake in 350°F oven until edges feel firm to touch and begin to turn a shade darker, 25 to 30 minutes (but can take up to 40 minutes, depending on your oven). Run a knife between pan rim and baked brownie. Cool in pan on a rack. Cut into squares.

    Heaven in a Brownie

    March 10, 2008

    Mmm, here’s one recipe that combines two of my favorite kinds of desserts; brownies and cheesecake. My husband is the inspiration for me making these heavenly brownies. He started talking about cheesecake brownies yesterday and I realized I had not made these in years. In fact, the last time I made them they were from a box. 😛 So I asked my friends over at What’s Cooking for some suggestions and got some great recipes. I decided on this one from Baking Blonde. I can always count on her for great dessert recipes. I will say that the brownie part of this recipe is really thick and kinda of hard to work with but it was well worth it. They turned out so great!

    Ghirardelli Award Winning Brownies
    2 eggs
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 tsp pure vanilla
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    3/4 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa (3/4 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder)
    2/3 cup unsifted flour
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/2 cup walnuts (I did not use)
    1 cup Chocolate Chips (I used 1/2 semi sweet and 1/2 milk chocolate chips)

    Preheat oven to 350.
    Line 8×8 pan with foil and spray with PAM.
    In bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add butter.
    Sift Cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into egg mixture.
    Stir in chips (and nuts if using).

    **Spread into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs.
    Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

    **If making cheesecake swirled brownies, use recipe above but only spread 2/3 batter into pan. Dollup cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan.
    Dollup the remainin 1/3 batter on top of cheesecake mixture.
    Run a knife through the brownie and cheesecake layers to create a pattern or swirls.
    Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs when inserted. Do NOT overbake

    Cheesecake Swirl
    7 oz cream cheese, softened
    1/3 cup sugar
    2 TBS flour
    1 tsp pure Vanilla
    1 egg

    In bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla beat until smooth. Add egg and beat just until combined.

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