May – Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Chocolate and peanut butter are my favorite flavors, separate or together.   The first time I posted this recipe was May 2014.  That was the last time I baked this delicious combination for a cheesecake.  Brought this into work today for our Spa Day.  We all enjoyed this and hope you will too!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
(compliments Food Network)

Ingredients

Be sure all your ingredients are room temperature before you start.  The ingredients will blend together much better that way.  Also, if you have a food processor it will mix together to a wonderful, creamy mixture – no lumps!

Base:

1/2 (14-ounce) box graham crackers (2 cups crumbs)
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter

Filling:

2 (8-ounce) bars cream cheese
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Topping:

1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Process the crackers, peanuts, bittersweet chocolate chips, and butter in a food processor. Once it comes together, turn it into a 9 inch springform pan and press into the bottom and up the sides to make the crunchy crust.
  3. Put it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  4. Add all the filling ingredients to a food processor and pulse until it becomes a smooth mixture.
  5. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 1 hour. The top, only, should feel set and dry.
  6. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and set aside while you make the topping.
  7. Warm the sour cream and milk chocolate with the brown sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat. Gently whisk to blend in the chocolate as it melts, then take the pan off the heat.  This takes 5-10 minutes.
  8. Spoon and spread the topping very gently over the top of the cheesecake.  Put it back in the oven for a final 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool.
  9. Slice and serve.  (I think it tastes better after being refrigerated at least 4-6 hours, overnight preferably.)

Enjoy!!

Chocolate Croissant Cookies

Martin has been bugging me to make Chocolate Croissants.  If you checked into making croissants you would know it is a 3 day ordeal to make these baked goods.  I am sure I will do these someday but not quite yet.  Maybe in the dead of winter.  These cookies were super simple and very delicious. I don’t think he shared these cookies with anyone!  No one!!

Chocolate Croissant Cookies

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Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 (1.55 ounce) Hershey’s milk chocolate bars
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons sugar

Directions

1.  Whisk flour and salt together in bowl.
2.  Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, cream cheese, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 2 additions, until just combined, scraping down bowl as needed.
4.  Form dough into 6-inch disk. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. (2 hours worked for me)
5.Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
6.  Break 5 chocolate bars crosswise along their 3 seams to yield 4 rectangles. (You should have 20 chocolate pieces in total.)
7.Roll dough into 20 by 8-inch rectangle on lightly floured counter. Cut dough into twenty 4 by 2-inch rectangles. Working with 1 dough rectangle at a time, place 1 chocolate piece crosswise across dough so chocolate overhangs edges. Fold dough around chocolate. Repeat with remaining 19 pieces of dough and chocolate and place cookies seam side down, 1 1/2 inches apart, on prepared sheets (10 per sheet). Brush tops with egg and sprinkle with sugar.
8.  Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
9.  Break remaining 1 chocolate bar into pieces and microwave in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, about 1 minute. Using spoon, drizzle chocolate over tops of cookies. Let set for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Mini Mocha Cupcakes – Simple and Delicious

Thursday night.  Time to spend some time in the kitchen.  Cupcakes sounded like a plan.  How about Mini Mocha Cupcakes?  Why not.  Who doesn’t love coffee and chocolate?

Mini Mocha Cupcakes

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Ingredients

1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup espresso, cooled

Directions

Preheat oven 350 degrees and line 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

1.  Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.  Set aside.
2.  With electric mixer or in stand up mixer, beat butter on medium high speed until creamy.  About 1 minute.
3.  Add sugar and beat until creamy, about 4 more minutes.
4.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then 2 teaspoons extract.
5.  Beat in flour mixture in three batches on low speed, alternating with 1/2 cup milk with 1/4 cup espresso.  When all blended mix on medium high speed until just combined.
6.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups.  Bake until the tops spring back, 15 minutes.  7. Transfer to a rack and let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove the cupcakes to the rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

1 stick softened butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
4 ounces melted semisweet chocolate
2 Tablespoons cocoa
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder

Directions

Combine all ingredients in food processor and mix until smooth.  Voila, frosting!!

Frost the cupcakes and ENJOY!

Italian Chocolate Cookies

My brother, Tony texted me last night for a couple of Italian cookie recipes.  The Italian Lemon and Italian Chocolate.  I have been making these cookies for years.  It just so happened this weekend is my cookie making weekend.  Since he is so crazy busy I thought I would make them and send some his way.  I ended up baking those today along with the Spritz cookies.  They are boxed and off to Syracuse (sent some to Scott too) for Christmas Eve.  Here is the Italian Chocolate recipe I got from the Syracuse Newspaper many years ago!

Italian Chocolate Cookies

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Ingredients
(this recipe makes 2 dozen cookies)

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ounce whiskey (I used Kent’s Woodford Reserve Bourbon)
1/2 cup whole milk

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large bowl (I used my stand up mixer)
  3. Add shortening, whiskey and milk.  Mix on low to blend together and increase to medium until all combined.
  4. Add chopped walnuts and mix into batter.
  5. Form dough into small balls, press slightly.  The dough balls weigh 1 ounce or about 1″ rounds.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.  I turn the baking pan around after 7 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and dip immediately in a chocolate frosting.
  8. EAT!

I dip in a chocolate ganache.  You could do frosting or a chocolate glaze.  Whatever works for you.

Enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies

December 2015; Saw these on my blog last night. Thought I should make them again.  Great choice!  You should add this recipe to your holiday cookie list this year!!

First post March 2014;  Eric saw the recipe for the German Chocolate Cake.  He thought a cookie with coconut and nuts sounded enticing.  I found this recipe and gave it a shot.  They are quite tasty.  I need to get Eric’s opinion though.  Eric and Rachel will be over for pizza night tomorrow.   We shall see what they think of these very “simple and delicious” cookies!

Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies

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Ingredients

10 1/2 ounces All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup dark brown sugar (you could use light brown)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used combo of semi sweet and bitter sweet)
1 cup sweetened coconut, shredded
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.March 13 2014 001
2.  Using stand up mixer, cream together butter and sugars.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Add in dry ingredients until combined.
3.  Add coconut, macadamia nuts and chocolate chips.  Stir together by hand.
4.  Drop cookies (about 1-2 Tablespoons) onto parchment lined cookie sheet.
5.  Bake 15 minutes.  I rotated cookie sheet half way through.  This helps to make an evenly baked cookie.

Salted Caramel Toffee Cupcakes – Simple and Delicious

I am going to conquer Food Network 50 Cupcakes.  I started with Snack Food Cupcake and my second one is Salted Caramel Toffee Cupcakes.  Now that you know my goal is for cupcakes you will understand each week I will be posting a new cupcake flavor.   Hope you enjoy our adventure!  We sure are!!

Salted Caramel Toffee Cupcakes

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Vanilla Cupcake

Ingredients

1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup toffee bits

Directions

Preheat oven 350 degrees and line 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

1.  Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.  Set aside.
2.  With electric mixer or in stand up mixer, beat butter on medium high speed until creamy.  About 1 minute.
3.  Add sugar and beat until creamy, about 4 more minutes.
4.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then 2 teaspoons vanilla.
5.  Beat in flour mixture in three batches on low speed, alternating with 1/2 cup milk.  When all blended mix on medium high speed until just combined.
6.  Fold in toffee bits.
7.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups.  Bake until the tops spring back, 20-25 minutes .  Transfer to a rack and let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove the cupcakes to the rack to cool completely.

Frosting

1 stick softened butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
4 ounces melted semisweet chocolate
2 Tablespoons cocoa
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup caramel sauce

Directions

Combine all ingredients in food processor and mix until smooth.  Voila, frosting!!

Frost the cupcakes and top with toffee chips and flaky sea salt. (I used kosher salt).  DELISH!! may 010

Snack Cupcakes – Simple and Delicious

Food Network Magazine has 50 cupcake recipes in their May issue.  I love baking cakes.  They are just too much for our family.  Coworkers can only handle so many baked goods.  Cupcakes seem like a great idea.  Not too much, or too little, but just right!  Eric started us off with the first one to try; Snack Cupcakes.

Snack Cupcakes

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Ingredients – Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup crushed potato chips
1/2 cup chocolate covered pretzels (I had trouble finding these.  I ended up buying a bag of mini pretzels.  Melted 4 ounces of semi sweet chocolate. Added 2 cups of pretzels to melted chocolate.  Voila – chocolate covered pretzels!)

Directions

1.  Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.
2.  Heat milk until hot but not boiling. (I used a double boiler)
3.  In a large bowl pour warm milk over unsweetened cocoa, whisk until smooth.  Let cool slightly.
4.  Add sugar, oil, egg and vanilla to whisked cocoa/milk.  Whisk all until smooth.
5.  Whisk in the dry ingredients until combined.
6.  Add crushed potato chips and pretzels.  Fold into batter.
7.  Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups.  Bake until the tops spring back, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, remove the cupcakes to the rack to cool completely.

While cooling make the frosting!

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

1 stick butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted (I used a double boiler to melt chocolate)
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Place all in food process and mix until smooth.  This frosting is awesome!

This makes the perfect amount – exactly 1 dozen cupcakes.  We all loved these cupcakes. april 002 Great one to start with!! Next…

Molten Chocolate Cakes – Oh so Simple and Delicious

Martin2 has a March birthday.  He requested a lava cake for his birthday.  (I found this recipe on Food and Wine website.) He and Martin were in New Orleans on his special day.  Then, when they returned I was sick. Can’t bake when I am not healthy.  I promised him I would take on the challenge and bake these cakes.  I decided to try a test run on this cake tonight before I actually baked it for him.  Wanted to be sure I didn’t bomb. 😉 This is the easiest cake I have ever made.  (Well, maybe the flourless cake was the easiest.)

A nice accompaniment with this chocolaty dessert would be fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or some berries. I was just making sure I could pull this off so I just ate the cake.  It was delish.  Any time Martin2 is ready for chocolate and coffee I will bake it again.  Here is the recipe;

Molten Chocolate Cakes

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Ingredients

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1 stick of butter (4 ounces)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I think you could use any chocolate you want.  Variety is the spice of life!)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
pinch of salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Butter and lightly flour four 6 ounce ramekins.  Tap out excess flour.  Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.  (I did one ramekin with butter/flour and another with butter/cocoa.  Next time I will use butter/cocoa. Just my personal preference.)
2.  In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate. april 010
3.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and salt at high speed until thickened and pale.  (I used my electric mixer with the whisk attachment on high speed.  It took 2-3 minutes on high speed. april 013The mix was bubbly and thicker.)
4.  Whisk the chocolate until smooth. april 015
5.  Quickly fold it into the egg mixture along with the flour. (I added the flour to the chocolate before adding to egg mixture).
6.  Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins april 019and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers soft. (Next time 10 minutes)
7.  Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, april 020 then cover each with an inverted dessert plate.  Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold.  april 021Serve immediately.

The 6 ounce serving is perfect.  Not too much, not too little.  It was just right!  Enjoy!!april 025

**The batter can be refrigerated for several hours; bring to room temperature before baking.**

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Eric requested a Chocolate Fudge Cake for his birthday.  I thought about this for a few days.  I wanted to combine brownies and chocolate cake.  I made my favorite Chocolaty Brownie and Chocolate Cake recipes.  I wasn’t sure how I wanted to combine the batters.  I was thinking I could swirl the two of them together.  I called Kent in the kitchen for his engineering mind advice. 🙂  He suggested I put the brownie batter on the bottom (being that is the heaviest batter) and the chocolate cake batter on top.  I took his advise and ran with it.  Here is what I did;

Chocolate Fudge Cake

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Made the Very Chocolaty Brownies and Chocolate Cake recipes posted on my blog.

Sprayed and floured a 9×13 baking pan

Spread out the Brownie batter on bottom of pan.  Topped with Chocolate Cake batter. Baked for 50 minutes.

Let the cake rest for 10 minutes while I made the Chocolate Ganache

Poked holes in the cake March 007 and spread the chocolate ganache over top of cake.  Allow cake to cool completely.  Frost with:

Buttermilk Chocolate Frosting

2 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons softened butter
3-4 Tablespoons buttermilk (no buttermilk?  Use 3-4 Tablespoons of softened butter and 2-3 Tablespoons milk)
2-3 Tablespoons cocoa (depends on how chocolaty you want the frosting)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

I use my stand up mixer to blend together.

Frost and serve. March 022 Eric brought some home with him.  When he came over for Sunday dinner he said the cake tastes even better if you put in the refrigerator.  So, I tried that and he was right, as usual 😉

This cake was awesome!  We all loved it.  Well, except Kent – he thinks we overkill on the chocolate.  What does he know! 😉

This may not be simple but it sure was delicious.  Happy Birthday Eric! March 019 Love you very much!!

Ultimate Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

I enjoy baking.  I enjoy baking anything chocolate.  I saw this recipe and had to give it a try.  I am on an America’s Test Kitchen kick so it is no surprise this is where I found this recipe.  These cupcakes were rich, decadent and delicious.  My only problem was the ganache sunk to the bottom.  If the ganache sets too much (somewhat solid) it will sink to the bottom of the cupcake.  Next time I will leave in the refrigerator 20 instead of 30 minutes.  Other than that they were awesome!  Eric and Martin2 loved them (and so did I).  If you love chocolate you will love these cupcakes!  This recipe was somewhat simple but extremely delicious!

Ultimate Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

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Ingredients

Ganache Filling

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (I used Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Bar)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Chocolate Cupcakes

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. GANACHE FILLING: Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes. (20 minutes would be better)
2. CUPCAKES: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan (cups have ½-cup capacity) with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
3. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
4. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes.(19 minutes, exactly!)  Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.
5. FROST: Mound 2 to 3 tablespoons frosting on center of each cupcake. Using small icing spatula or butter knife, spread frosting to edge of cupcake, leaving slight mound in center. ( I made a Chocolate Cream Frosting. Guess where I got the recipe.)

Chocolate Cream Frosting (This frosting is incredibly creamy!)

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Ingredients

1/3 cup granulated sugar
2large egg whites
Pinch table salt
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-Tablespoon pieces
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (Again I used the Ghiaradelli Bittersweet Chocolate)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of stand mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water. Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Place bowl in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat mixture on medium speed until consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1 to 2 minutes. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy. (Frosting may look curdled after half of butter has been added; it will smooth with additional butter.) Once all butter is added, add cooled melted chocolate and vanilla; mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds, scraping beater and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary.