Category Archives: chocolate

Triple Chocolate Baked Donuts

DSC_0005Yesterday in first grade we talked about using body language to show emotions. We talked about how crossing your arms means you’re probably angry or frustrated (Melanie on a sugar cleanse), head down means you’re probably sad or embarrassed (Melanie when she tries to dognap a puppy and the owner catches her), rolling your eyes means you’re probably annoyed (Melanie when she runs out of sprinkles), and eyes + mouth wide open means you’re probably surprised (Melanie when she discovers a new item at Trader Joe’s).

DSC_0033We also agreed that smiling probably means you’re happy (Melanie when she sees donuts).

Unless you have 75 stages of happiness – beginning with a smile and ending with a happy dance – in which case you’re forced to create a body-language-as-related-to-donuts taxonomy…

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Smiling THIS BIG (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down and flailing your hands in the air (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze stuffed with chocolate chips).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down and flailing your hands in the air and occasionally fist pumping (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze stuffed with chocolate chips covered in rainbow sprinkles).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down and flailing your hands in the air and occasionally fist pumping and twirling (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze stuffed with chocolate chips covered in rainbow sprinkles on the first sunny and warm day in 4 months (!!!!!))

#happydance #happydance #happydance

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So…what makes YOU do a happy dance? And is it as *ahem* expressive as mine?

Triple Chocolate Baked Donuts (adapted very slightly from Shutterbean)

yield: about 9

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips or chunks

Note: the original recipe yields 6 donuts, but I ended up with 10, probably due to the addition of chocolate chunks and how I filled my donut pan with batter.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat a donut pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate, smaller bowl, stir to combine the buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently fold the ingredients together. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  2. Transfer the batter to a large (don’t try to use a small bag! Batter explosion!) ziploc bag; snip off a corner and seal shut. Use the bag to pipe the batter into the donut pan, filling each well about 1/2-2/3 full (I err on the side of 1/2 full). Be careful not to overfill as the donuts expand quite a bit. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the donut tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool completely on a wire rack. Top with chocolate glaze (recipe below).

Chocolate Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the microwave or in a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, butter, corn syrup, and vanilla. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Dip the donuts in and twirl slightly to coat; top with sprinkles if you please!

Homemade Snickers Cookie Bars

image_3I have a serious case of writer’s block, so instead of a typical blog post, here’s a list of random thoughts that are swimming around inside my head. And some delicious pictures of homemade Snicker-meets-Twix-cookie-bar-thingies (Mike suggested I call them Snix?). Enjoy!
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Babylandia. Beyonce. Destiny’s Child reunion. Blue Ivy (where IS she these days???)

French onion soup in a crock pot (THIS IS NOT GOOD.)

Snow day (when the heck are we going to get one?)

First cold in 2 years (waaaaaaaaaah.)

Parenthood (recently discovered, now addicted.)

Last week’s episode of New Girl (say WHAAAAAT?!)

Thinking of getting rid of cable (say WHAAAT?!)

Babylandia (want to move there.)

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Enchiladas.

Valentine’s candy.

Homemade caramel. Peanuts. Shortbread. Chocolate.

Yum.
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Snickers Cookie Bars (otherwise known as Snix)

yield: about 24, depending on what size you cut them

Shortbread Cookie Layer (recipe adapted from alli ‘n sons)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar on high until fluffy. Add vanilla; blend well.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir in flour and salt on medium until combined.  Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are just golden brown.  Allow to cool for at least 45 minutes before topping with caramel/peanut layer.

Caramel and Peanut Layer (recipe adapted from Ina Garten)

  • 1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  •  2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Sprinkle the peanuts over the cooled shortbread. In a deep saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Bring to a boil and cook the sugar, swirling the pan (don’t stir!) until the mixture has reached a deep amber color.  Watch it carefully, as it happens fast.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, bring the cream, butter, and salt to a simmer.  Remove from heat.

When the sugar is done, remove from heat and pour in the cream+butter.  Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon.  Cook over medium-low heat until it registers 244 degrees (just above “soft ball”) on a candy thermometer.  Immediately remove from heat and pour over the cooled shortbread.  Allow the shortbread and caramel to cool for 2-3 hours, until firm.

Chocolate Layer

  • 1 cup milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening

In a microwave-safe bowl or a double boiler, melt chocolate and shortening, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.

Spread the melted chocolate over the cooled caramel. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to allow the chocolate to firm up.  When the chocolate has hardened, remove from the pan and cut into squares. Store and serve at room temperature.

Peanut Butter Oreo Ice Cream

image_4This week marked the beginning of both student teaching AND my last semester of grad school, which means I’ve been having meltdowns left and right. For starters, the first week of the semester/student teaching = new. New people, new school, new experiences.

And Melanie ≠ good at new.

image_1I am that girl who would happily stay within her comfort zone and routine for the rest of her live-long days – if only that didn’t mean I would likely have stopped experiencing new things around age 7. You do NOT want to know how long it took my parents to get me to call and order pizza over the phone, because that would mean UM, TALKING TO A STRANGER.

I like to know what to expect. I like my schedule. I like things to happen the way I plan them to. So it goes without saying that the night before I started my brand-new student teaching I got totally nervous and spent eighteen hours running through every possible scenario in my head: What if I wear the wrong thing? What if I forget my lunch? What if my bus breaks down? What if the kids don’t like me? What if I’m supposed to bring pencils but I only brought pens? What if I forget the teacher’s name? What if I forget my name? WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ANY FRIIIIIEEEEENDS?

image_5Thanks (!) but no thanks, I’d rather stay in my familiar apartment with my familiar experiences. I have plenty of cookies friends here.

BUT, alas. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, and this girl’s gotta finish her master’s degree. So I put on my best I’m-not-scared-of-new-things-or-people face and marched to school and survived the day – and immediately came home and ate a giant chocolate peanut butter sundae, complete with homemade peanut butter oreo ice cream, brownies, and chocolate peanut butter ganache.

imageThank you, Ben & Jerry’s, for helping this hermit get through yet another [SCARY AND UNFAMILIAR] new day.

Peanut Butter Oreo Ice Cream (based on Ben & Jerry’s recipe)

yield: ~one quart

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped Oreos (I chopped mine into quarters, but you can make the chunks smaller if you’d like)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the sugar a little bit at a time, then whisk until fully incorporated, about another minute. Pour in the cream, milk, and vanilla extract, and whisk to combine. Place about one cup of the mixture in a separate bowl and whisk in the peanut butter. Add the peanut butter mixture to the rest of the ice cream base and stir until fully combined.
  2. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker/attachment and freeze according to maker/attachment directions. When the ice cream has frozen to soft serve, gently fold in the chopped Oreos. Place the ice cream in an airtight container and put it into the freezer until frozen to desired consistency (I like it best after it has hardened up in the freezer over night).

I served my ice cream with these brownies and chocolate peanut butter ganache (pour 1/4 cup hot [not boiling] heavy cream over 3/4 cup chocolate chips and 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter. Whisk to combine.)

Chewy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

chocopeppermint.jpgA few weeks ago, I freaked out over these peppermint bark baking bits from Trader Joe’s (new vlog coming soon!!) and immediately invented a cookie recipe to shove them in. I’ve now made these cookies 18 (okay, 3) times in the past couple weeks and I can’t. get. enough. They taste like brownie batter with the slightest hint of peppermint and are dangerously addictive.

chocopeppermint4.jpgI made the mistake of bringing the entire first batch of cookies into work, leaving only one cookie for Mike to try, which officially makes me the meanest – I KNOW. So, the other night, we’re finishing up dinner and Mike has dropped roughly 1,000 hints about how much he would just looooove a chewy chocolate cookie and it’s toooo bad  all the cookies ended up in someone ELSE’S belly, and I decide to redeem myself by whipping up another batch. At this point it’s 9PM and my bedtime is rapidly approaching, so I’m trying to make these cookies AFAP (as fast as possible. invented for the sake of this story), speeding around the kitchen like a Tazmanian devil. While the butter and sugar are spinning around inside the mixing bowl getting fluffy, I fling open the cabinet to grab the flour like a whirling dervish – thereby knocking the metal lid of my flour canister INTO THE MIXER WHICH IS ON. HIGH.

COOKIE DOUGH EXPLOSION. MELANIE CRYING. THE SOUND OF METAL SCRAPING METAL (a sound one hopes to never hear whilst BAKING). HELP. HELP. HELP.

If you have ever wondered what a cookie crime scene might look like, just imagine this:

Dough splattered onto every surface of your kitchen. Cocoa powder (which is im.poss.i.ble. to clean) sprayed across the counters and floor. Flour in your hair, eyes, and life.

chocopeppermint5.jpgAfter screaming for five seconds I had the clarity of mind to TURN OFF the mixer before it died a sad and messy death. Somehow I managed to salvage the few scoops of dough left at the bottom of the bowl to bake up a couple cookies, and all was well in the MJM household.

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The moral of the story? Make these delicious cookies, but don’t try to do it AFAP.

Chewy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups peppermint bark baking bits (if you can’t find the bits, you could use a combo of chocolate chips and candy cane pieces)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add vanilla, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides to incorporate ingredients as needed.
  2. In a separate bowl, add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir on low speed until combined. Add the baking bits; stir until incorporated.
  3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes – do not over bake, or the cookies will be crispy instead of chewy! Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Caramel Pecan Graham Squares

My dreams came true on Sunday. If you didn’t notice me shouting it from the Insta-sphere, THIS. HAPPENED.:

Oh just the tiniest 12-week-old baby Frenchie. WHOSE NAME IS BERNIE. With the nicest owner who let me pet that teeny little ball of wrinkle and take 10000 pictures and threaten to take him home. The stuff [my] dreams are made of, people. The stuff. Of dreams.

I apologize that this picture is blurry but I just needed to show you that Bernie is THE SIZE OF MIKE’S FOOT. His head is the size of a clementine. I AM LITERALLY LOSING MY MIND.

As in, I can’t think about anything else. WhencanIgetapuppywhencanIgetapuppywhencanIgetapuppy??? And also: grahamcrackercrumbscaramelpecanschocolate.

After meeting the puppy of my dreams (and eating an entire pot of fondue at Grendel’s Den), I came home and ate the best caramel-pecan-graham bars in the whole world and subsequently had the best Sunday e-v-e-r. Puppies + cheese + chocolate = MelsSweetLife ideal day.

These bars are whasssssupppp. They’re kind of a pain to make (ahem, homemade caramel), but I promise you they are worth it. I mean, can you ever go wrong with caramel and pecans and graham cracker crust and dark chocolate drizzle and a puppy named Bernie? Can you?

You can’t. So make these bars and and bask in their chewy caramel-ey graham cracker glory.

And think of Bernie. Always.

Caramel Pecan Graham Squares

yield: about 16 squares, depending on size

Ingredients

For the graham cracker crust**:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans, toasted

For the caramel layer (recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten):

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate drizzle:

  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

*Edit: Originally I had noted that the crust seemed very crumbly, so I did some research and realized the ratio of butter to graham cracker crumbs was too high – I’ve reduced the amount of butter from 8 tablespoons to 5, which should solve the crumble problem!

Directions

  1. Prepare the graham layer: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 if you’re using a glass baking dish). Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the butter, graham cracker crumbs, honey, and cinnamon. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan to form a smooth, single layer. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Place on a wire rack to cool while you make the caramel. Sprinkle the toasted pecans to form a layer on top of the graham crust.
  2. Prepare the caramel layer: In a deep saucepan (at least 4 1/2 inches deep) combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil until the caramel is a warm golden brown color. Do not stir – just swirl the sugar mixture around in the pan. Watch carefully, because the mixture will burn quickly! While the sugar is cooking, bring the cream, butter, and sea salt to a simmer in a small pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside. When the caramelized sugar is the right color, slowly add the cream mixture to the caramel – it will boil up at first but should subside after a few seconds. Stir in the vanilla with a rubber spatula and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 244 degrees F (between soft and firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Carefully pour the caramel on top of the pecans/graham crust in the prepared pan. Put the pan into the fridge and allow it to cool for a few hours, until the caramel is set.
  3. Prepare the chocolate drizzle: In the microwave or using a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and shortening; stir to combine. Drizzle over the cooled caramel bars. Allow the chocolate to harden, then cut into squares (tip: it’s easier to cut the bars if they’re at room temperature, but make sure the caramel and chocolate have set before you start slicing!). Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

Bernie.

Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

So… I started watching Grey’s Anatomy again. I went through a phase a few years ago where I was totally OVER Grey’s (much like the current phase I’m in where I’m OVER Facebook. [I know! The horror!]) but then I got my brother’s password to Netflix and didn’t already have enough ways to waste time so I figured…why not watch a whole 8 (9?) seasons of a TV show?

So WHY DIDN’T ANYONE ALERT ME TO THE FACT THAT GREY’S IS GOOD AGAIN???? I just watched the episode where (spoiler alert!) Henry dies and Meredith and Derek get Zola and that family gets hit by a car and the girl has to take her dad off of life support and…OMG. Sobbed my eyes out. Mike came home from work and was like “What happened?? Are you okay??!” and I was all, “Teddy! She didn’t know about Henry and she was operating and they lied to her and she didn’t even KNOW and it’s SO AWFUL!” and he was like…

“Please. Get. A real. Life.”

Which I really should do considering my days are spent having dance parties with growing the minds of 4-year-olds and baking millions of cookies and occasionally doing a yoga podcast and sitting on the couch sobbing over Grey’s Anatomy.

Then again, if I got a real life I probably wouldn’t have time to bake dark chocolate chunk cookies for my pretend internet friends, so this whole “not yet acting like a grown up” thing really is a win-win for all.

I made these cookies as an attempt to recreate the NUMMIEST cookies from Canto 6 in Jamaica Plain. Super chewy and buttery with dark chocolate chunks and specks of sea salt; these babies are perfection!

Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks
  • Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

*Bread flour gives these cookies their extra-chewy texture. If you don’t have bread flour, you could use all-purpose, but you will lose some of the chew!

Directions

  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on high until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides, then beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the bread flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture and stir on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Turn the mixer off and add the chocolate chips; mix on low until incorporated.
  3. Put the dough into the fridge for about an hour. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll into 2-inch balls and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet a few inches apart (the cookies will spread out while baking!). Sprinkle with a bit of coarsely ground sea salt. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Guys. I took a major hiatus from blogging. LIFE, ya know??

Luckily I made something craaaaaaaazy good to make it up to you. Gooey brownie and peanut butter frosting and peanut butter cups GALORE. Let’s not even pretend I waited for the brownies to cool before frosting them, hence the melting peanut butter cups in the photo below. My life.

These brownies are super gooey-fudgy-rich just like boxed mix but without the mix. They are PERFECTION. And the peanut butter frosting? DIE. Dead.

(Also dead from the heart attack from the 80 pounds I gained when I accidentally ate THE WHOLE PAN. Okay I shared two with Mike. And two with friends. But the rest? I ate.)

MAKE ‘EM ALREADY, would ya???!

 

Chewy Gooey Fudge Brownies (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and Cook’s Illustrated)

makes 15-20 brownies, depending on size

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped and divided in half
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the cocoa powder and water until combined. Stir in half the chopped chocolate until most of the chocolate has melted. Add the melted butter and vegetable oil; whisk until combined. Whisk in the egg + yolk, vanilla, and sugar. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour, salt, and the other half of the chopped chocolate.
  3. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan to cool completely. Top with peanut butter buttercream (recipe below).

Peanut Butter Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of peanut butter cups, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening on medium high until smooth.  Scrape down the bowl and add the peanut butter.  Beat on medium high until fully incorporated.
  2. Scrape down the bowl and add 2 cups of the confectioners sugar.  Start with the mixer on low, and as the sugar becomes incorporated, turn it up to medium.  Beat for about a minute, then scrape down the sides and add up to another cup of confectioners sugar 1/4 cup at a time, depending on consistency.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon milk, vanilla, and salt.  Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, or until frosting is light and fluffy.  If the frosting seems too thick, add another tablespoon of milk and beat until incorporated.
  4. Spread the frosting on cooled brownies; top with chopped peanut butter cups. Cut into 2-inch squares. Store at room temperature.