When I want a cookie, my first choice is that most classic of cookies: the Chocolate Chip Cookie! Whether its chewy or soft, with nuts or without, chocolate chips or chunks, or flat or rounded – it doesn’t really matter because while we all may have our absolute favorite, let’s face it – they’re all pretty easy to love.
I knew going in that making refined-sugar-free chocolate chip cookies would be a bit of a challenge; and sure enough, by the fourth batch, I was feeling like I needed to go back to school to take a chemistry class. Persistence paid off, though, and the end result was a slightly rounded, nicely sweet, golden-brown cookie studded with delicious chocolate morsels. Mmmm, just barely out of the oven, all melt-y and gooey-that’s cookie heaven!
It’s hard to beat a good brownie. If I have a chocolate craving, most of the time it’s the brownie I turn to for sweet satisfaction. When you add toasted hazelnuts, creamy chocolate mousse, and decadent chocolate ganache to all of that gooey, chewy, chocolate-y goodness, you’ve reached a new pinnacle in brownie deliciousness! Oh yeah!! As usual, I’ve used maple syrup as the sweetener, but if you prefer you can substitute an equal amount of cane sugar. You might consider these brownies a bit over-the-top, and perhaps you’re right, but there are those times that call for indulgence, so maybe they’re something you’ll make for special occasions. You know, like…Mondays.
Preheat Oven to 325ºF
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup coffee, cooled
- 10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 ¼ cup semisweet chocolate
- 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 2 Tablespoons cool water
- 3 Tablespoons Hazelnut Liqueur (optional)
- 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 3/4 cup cream
- Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl; add maple syrup and cooled coffee, mixing well. Set aside.
- Put chocolate and butter in a small sauce pan, stirring constantly over very low heat until completely melted. Remove from heat and cool until warm.
- Pour chocolate mixture into egg-syrup-coffee mixture, whisking until thoroughly combined.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients and stir just until the flour is absorbed and you can’t see any in the bottom of the bowl.
- Bake in a buttered and floured 10″ springform pan for 30-35 minutes at 325 degrees F.
- Let brownies sit on a cooling rack until room temperature.
- Place 1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips in a large glass mixing bowl.
- In a small cup, soften 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin in 2 tablespoons cool water. Set aside.
- Bring 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate chips, stir until smooth and the chocolate is completely melted. (Microwave on high at one or two 30-second intervals if the chocolate isn’t entirely melted and smooth).
- Heat softened gelatine on low heat, stirring to dissolve. When it’s completely free of lumps, stir melted gelatin into the melted chocolate.
- Whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream just until soft peaks form.
- Chocolate mixture should be smooth and the temperature should be about 80 degrees F (you want the chocolate to set up, but if it’s too hot, the whipped cream will melt).
- Add about half of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture and whisk gently until combined, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain.
- Spread the mousse over the top of the cooled cake in the ring and smooth it with a spatula. Place the brownies back in the fridge until the the mousse sets (about 30-40 minutes).
- Place chocolate chips in a large bowl.
- Heat cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for a minute, then stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Let it cool for 10 minutes or so, then pour over the set mousse.
- Place brownies back in the fridge until ready to serve.
NOTE: If you are allergic to nuts, you can easily leave the hazelnuts out; it’s still wonderfully delicious!
They say that everyone is a wee bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! Don’t you love that we’re all included in the fun?! My celebration of the day comes in these irrestible Chocolate Mint Bars that taste a lot like Andes mint candies or Girl Scout’s thin mint cookies. I’ve added a little green food coloring to the minty middle layer, but you can totally leave it out. This recipe comes from a friend’s Mom, who got it from a home-grown Colorado cookbook by the name of Colorado Cache Cookbook. I have a couple of these community/neighborhood cookbooks; they’re one’s that I’ve returned to time and time again, evidenced by the number of spots and splatters on the pages… I hope you’ll try these oh so yummy chocolate mint treats! Happy St. Paddy’s Day!
Bottom Chocolate Layer
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup (13.7g) butter, melted and cooled
- 1/2 cup (191g) maple sugar*
- ½ tsp (2.5g) peppermint extract
- 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
- ½ cup (49g) flour, optional
Middle Mint Layer
- 2 Tbsp (28g) butter, softened
- 2 Tbsp (15g) cream
- 1 1/4 tsp (5g) peppermint extract
- 1 cup (130g) maple powdered sugar*
- Green food coloring, optional
Top Chocolate Layer
- 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 2 Tbsp (28g) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325ºF
Bottom Chocolate Layer:
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs.
- Add the cooled, melted butter and maple sugar.
- Mix in the peppermint and melted chocolate.
- Stir in the flour.
- Pour the chocolate batter into a greased 9-inch, square pan.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn oven off and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. (They will set as they cool).
Middle Mint Layer:
- Blend all of the ingredients well.
- If desired, stir in several drops of green food coloring.
- Spread the mint layer on the cooled, baked chocolate layer.
- Place in the refrigerator to chill for five minutes.
Top Chocolate Layer:
- Whisk the melted chocolate and butter together until combined.
- Once the middle mint layer is firm, spread the butter-chocolate mixture over the top.
- Place in the refrigerator to chill for five minutes.
- Cut the chocolate mint bars into strips or squares.
- Store these treats in the frig until ready to serve.
Adapted from: The Colorado Cache Cookbook, Chocolate Peppermint Bars recipe.
*NOTES: The maple sugar used in this recipe can be substituted with granulated sugar and confectioners sugar in equal amounts.
Ah, cookies! In any shape, flavor, or form, they’re pretty much always welcome whenever I make them. Which, I’ll admit isn’t all that often because I’m kind of a lazy cookie baker. Shocking, I know…. Making the batter is fine and preparing the first couple of trays for the oven is okay too, but after that I tend to lose enthusiasm for the process. Enter…Raspberry Shortbread Cookies. Easy, small-batch, delicious and pretty to boot!
These were made with maple sugar for those of you reducing your refined sugar consumption, but they can easily be made with granulated sugar. When you’re having a cookie craving but aren’t feeling all that energetic, these little morsels will satisfy.
Preheat Oven to 350
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup maple sugar (or 1 cup granulated sugar)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Seedless, fruit juice-sweetened raspberry jam
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate, if you prefer)
- 1/4 teaspoon vegetable shortening
For the cookies:
- Beat butter and whichever sugar you choose with an electric mixer until blended.
- Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt; beat until smooth.
- Using a spoon, stir in the flour to form a stiff dough.
- Divide dough in half. Form each half into a rough cylinder. Wrap each dough cylinder in waxed paper; rolling back and forth on countertop until it the dough smooths out and forms a round, smooth 1 ½-inch diameter roll.
- Refrigerate dough until firm.
- Cut dough into ¼-inch slices. Roll each slice into a ball. Make an indentation in the center of each cookie with your thumb or use the back of a ¼ teaspoon (the round part) to make a more uniform indentation and fill with ¼ teaspoon raspberry jam.
- Arrange cookies about 2-inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Place sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. The cookies should be lightly brown on the bottom.
For the chocolate drizzle:
- Measure chocolate chips and shortening into a small, microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 50% power for 45 seconds or until the chocolate is completely smooth when stirred (be careful not to overheat the chocolate – only microwave for additional 10 second intervals if needed to fully melt the chocolate).
- Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle each cookie. (I poured the chocolate into a squeeze bottle and then drizzled it, which gives more uniform results, but the fork method is a little faster and easier.)
- After cooling on a wire rack, place in an air-tight container until ready to serve.
Yield: 24-30 cookies
NOTE: These cookies freeze well for about a month or so.
You may have heard it said that chocolate makes everything better, and (big surprise!) you’ll get no argument from this corner. Case in point: Palmiers (you know, those lovely, buttery cookies with the crispy layers) were served at a recent work event, but were obviously the least favorite of the goodies offered. So I’m looking at them, wondering why that would be, and it came to me. Chocolate! Of course, they need chocolate! What else immediately turns a relatively modest cookie into an irresistible delight?! And so I took the leftover Palmiers and turned them into chocolate dipped Palmiers. Just call me the chocolate fairy! From the perspective of a chocolate lover…soooo much better! Fair warning though, chocolate dipping is habit-forming, because there are just so many things that are made more yummy with the addition of a chocolate coating – the list is a long one. Here are a few more options to get you started: Nutter Butter cookies, Oreos, piroulines, peanut butter filled pretzels, oatmeal cookies, Bing cherries, orange slices, shortbread cookies (of course!) and many more. Any of these dipped in chocolate are great for a gotta-have-something-in-a-hurry chocolate treat. I think most of them are elegant enough for a dinner party too. I got my palmiers at Costco, but I’m sure you can find them in bakeries most everywhere. If you are feeling a bit more energetic, try this palmier recipe from the Food Network.
- 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (I used Ghiradelli)
- 2 tsp. vegetable shortening, divided
- Peanut butter stuffed pretzels nuggets
- Pirouline rolled wafers (various flavored fillings)
- Divide chocolate chips into two microwave safe containers (1 ½ cups in each container). Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable shortening to each container. If dipping rolled wafers or pretzel rods, you will want a sturdy water glass or other similar cylindrical container to melt your chocolate in so you can dip the wafers at least half way up. I used a large soup bowl in which to melt the chocolate for dipping the palmiers.
- Melt chocolate in the microwave. It’s important to melt the chocolate slowly so it doesn’t get too hot; microwave at 50% power, stirring the chocolate every 30 seconds. Depending on your microwave, the chocolate usually melts in about a minute and a half total. If your chocolate isn’t fully melted and a few chips remain, stir until they’ve all been melted by the hot chocolate. If you feel the chocolate still needs more melting, microwave for an additional 15 seconds at 50% power. It’s also very important to not get any water in the chocolate – moisture will cause the chocolate to seize and become lumpy and unusable for dipping.
- For the palmiers: using your fingers dip one side of the cookie in chocolate until half is covered. Shake excess chocolate off the cookie and place on waxed paper lined baking sheet.
- For the pirouline wafers: again, use your fingers to dip the roll wafers into the melted chocolate in the cylindrical container until about half to three-quarters up the wafer, shaking the excess off and place on waxed paper.
- For the pretzel nuggets: use some small prongs to dip nugget in chocolate until fully covered, shake excess chocolate off and place on waxed paper lined baking sheet.
- You can leave your chocolate dipped delights at room temperature to harden or if you’re in a hurry, place them, still on the wax paper-lined sheets, in the frig until they set up. Store in an airtight plastic container until you’re ready to serve them.
Servings: I made 25 palmiers, 20 piroulines, and 20 peanut butter pretzel nuggets with just a little chocolate left over.
Almost all of the desserts I make for this blog are shared with my co-workers and a week or so ago one of them requested Lemon Bars. I was happy to oblige, kind of excited because it was my first request (it’s the little things…), and a little relieved too because sometimes I think that without intervention, most of the desserts I would make and share here would be made of chocolate or have chocolate in them somewhere. Not that there’s anything really wrong with that, but as strange as it may seem to us chocolate lovers/addicts, there are people out there who really don’t care for chocolate (they say it tastes bitter). To the rescue…Lemon Bars! I’ve tried a number of recipes over the years with varying degrees of success, but just recently I discovered Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s perfect Lemon Bar recipe. It has just the right ratio of tender, buttery crust to creamy, tangy, lemon custard filling. Look no further Lemon Bar fans! Oh, there will be some lip smackin’ goin’ on.
For the Crust:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour:
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar, (plus additional to sprinkle on bars):
- 1/4 cup cornstarch:
- 1/2 teaspoon salt:
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), (dice small and put back in frig until ready to process):
For the Filling:
- 4 large eggs:
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar:
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour:
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest:
- 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 or 4 lemons):
- 1/3 cup milk:
- Pinch of salt:
Preheat oven to 350º
- Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil and lightly grease the foil.
- Mix together the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt (I used a food processor but you can also use a large bowl and a whisk to mix by hand). Add diced, cold butter and process in the food processor for 15-20 seconds; then a couple times more (the butter should be the size of small crumbs). (If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a pastry blender).
- Sprinkle the crust mixture into the prepared pan and, using your fingers, press into an even layer on the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. On the middle rack of your oven, bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- For the filling, whisk together eggs, sugar, salt, and flour in a medium bowl; add in the lemon zest, juice, and milk, whisking until combined.
- Pour the filling onto the warm crust. Lower the oven temperature to 325º. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the middle of the filling jiggles slightly when lightly shaken.
- On a wire rack, cool the bars to room temperature, dust with more powdered sugar and cut into squares or bars.
Adapted from: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe