Thursday, February 24, 2011

Brownie Bites

These are so quick and easy to throw together! But you want to know the best thing about them? They taste so yummy! They are rich, fudgey, and chocolatey. A great "finger food" type of dessert.

I would tell you that these are also great for portion control, but lets face it - if you're anything like me you'll still eat more than you should. Haha!

Brownie Bites
Adapted from
Makes about 24 mini bites

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or 2.5 oz. Soft White wheat flour)

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line mini-muffin tin with mini-cupcake papers, or grease pan with butter.

Stir together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add melted butter and stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add eggs. Stir until batter is shiny and thick. Add flour, and stir until well blended.

Fill muffin cups with batter (They don't rise very much at all during baking, so you can fill them pretty full). Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist batter crumbs, about 15-20 minutes. (If you have extra batter, you can bake it into regular muffin cups). Enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

Oh yeah! Cinnamon rolls - so indulgent, so delicious. Warm, rich, buttery, cinnamon-kissed, swirls of frosting-covered yumminess. There's nothing quite like them! I love them, like love them, a lot.

This recipe is great because it can be made in advance. Just prepare the rolls the day before, and have an easy breakfast for those mornings when you're short on time. I encourage you to make them soon. They are SO GOOD!

Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from this recipe
Makes 12 large rolls

For the dough:
1/4 cup warm water (110 ºF)
1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup milk, heated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
5 cups bread flour (or 25 oz. Soft White wheat flour)

For the filling:
1/4-1/2 cup butter, melted or softened (I used about 1/3 cup, melted)
1 cup packed brown sugar (or honey sucanat)
3-4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4-1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

To make filling: Stir together brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts (if using), until well mixed. Soften or melt butter. Set aside

For the frosting:
3-4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make frosting: (Make on the day you plan on using it). Stir together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar and extract until mixture is creamy. Set aside until ready to use.

To make dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, extract, butter, eggs, salt, sugar, and flour. Using dough hook, mix until everything comes together.

Turn out the dough on a lightly oiled surface. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until dough is elastic. Place in oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled (about 1-2 hours)

Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish, and set aside. Once dough has doubled, roll it out into a large rectangle (about 15 x 24 in.) Brush dough with the softened or melted butter, (listed in the filling ingredients). Sprinkle with cinnamon filling. Roll up the dough lengthwise, and pinch seams to seal. (Note: Rolling the log too tightly will cause the cinnamon roll centers to pop up higher than the rest of the rolls during baking).

Using a sharp knife (or dental floss), cut into 12 even rolls. Place them, cut side up, in prepared baking dish. Flatten rolls slightly. (They shouldn't be touching each other). At this point you can either refrigerate the rolls for up to two days (covered), or you can freeze them for up to 1 month, allowing to thaw completely overnight before baking. Or, if you wish to bake immediately, allow rolls to rise until double in size, about 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. (They may take longer depending on the temperature of the rolls when you started baking.) Allow to cool slightly before spreading with cream cheese frosting. Best served warm. Enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate Mousse

This recipe is from the one and only Julia Child. Oh my WOW!!! It is the most rich, creamy, silky-smooth, and delicious chocolate mousse I've ever had. It is absolutely AMAZING!!!

You want to know something else? It is actually really easy to make! Double yay!

I encourage you to give this recipe a try. You will be glad you did : ) In the words of Julia, "Bon Appétit!"
Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from this online source recipe
(or pages 604-605 in Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Serves 6-8

6 oz bittersweet, or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or about 1 cup chocolate chips)
1/4 cup strong, dark-brewed coffee
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
4 egg, separated
3 tablespoons water
2/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar (or honey sucanat)
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Melt together the chocolate, butter, and coffee over a hot pot of water. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

In a bowl whisk together egg yolks, 2/3 cup sugar, and water. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Beat until thick a pale colored (using a hand mixer) about 3 minutes. Sugar should be completely dissolved, and mixture should resemble runny mayonnaise. Remove from heat and beat an additional 2 minutes. Allow to cool. Fold in chocolate mixture.

In a separate bowl beat egg whites, salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar until you have stiff peaks. Stir in vanilla. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture, being careful not to overmix.

Pour into serving bowl, or divide into ramekins. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. Serve unadorned, or with whipped cream. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Red Velvet" Cookies

So why, you may ask, are these titled "Red Velvet" if they are, in fact, not red? Well, in the quest to decrease the amount of artificial ingredients in my baking, I simply left out the food coloring. Did you know that red velvet desserts are actually chocolate flavored? I know, right!?!

If you want your cookies to be "true" red velvet cookies, go ahead and add the coloring. However, they taste just as amazing without it : )

These are so chewy, so chocolatey, and so delicious. I really liked them using the vanilla chips, but feel free to stick with the original chocolate chips if you want - either way would be yummers!
"Red Velvet" Cookies
Adapted from this recipe
Makes 15-20 cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
1/2 cup brown sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or 7.5 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate or vanilla chips

Preheat your oven to 375º.

Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Stir in coloring (if using). Stir together cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Stir until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips.

Using medium cookie scoop, place 2-tablespoon-sized dough balls on cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Bake until cracked and slightly puffy looking, about 12-15 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Olive Focaccia

This fresh and aromatic bread is great served with your favorite Italian meal, or even as a stand alone for a delicious snack.

The dough is easy to work with, and there is very little hands-on time needed to prepare it. Yummy!
Olive Focaccia
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 8-10

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups all purpose flour (10 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup olives (any variety or combination), roughly chopped
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt, for sprinkling

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand for 2 minutes.

Combine flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using paddle attachment, with mixer on low, add oil and yeast/water. Mix until dough comes together (it will be sticky).

Coat a bowl with oil, and roll dough into a ball. Toss dough ball in oil to coat. Cover with plastic and allow to rise until double (1-2 hours). (Or you can store in the fridge at this point until you need it).

When ready to make focaccia, blot olives dry.

Place dough on lightly floured surface. Gently knead in olives, being careful not to overwork the dough. Roll into a large, thin rectangle or oval. Place on olive-oil greased cookie sheet. Cover with plastic and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 400º. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Use your fingertips to make dimples on the surface of the puffy dough. Drizzle top lightly with olive oil (optional), and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut with pizza wheel or knife. Best served immediately. (This bread does get a bit hard the next day, but you can cube and toast it to make delicious croutons!). Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chocolate-Vanilla Heart Cookies

Wow! These cookies not only look cute, they taste amazing! Crisp and buttery, these are sure to please : )
This dough is also easy to work with, and can be made in any shape you want. Use your imagination!
Chocolate-Vanilla Heart Cookies
Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour (or 13 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy with an electric mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into creamed mixture. Knead dough gently for 1 minute on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into two equal portions. Add cocoa powder to one, and knead until thoroughly incorporated. Shape each dough portion into a disc , wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm (about 3 hours, or up to 1 day). When ready to shape cookies, allow dough to slightly soften before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 350º, and place rack in center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Work with one of the dough portions at a time. Roll out to 1/8-inch thickness on a surface covered with parchment paper (I used plastic wrap). Use a floured 3-in heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Place on cookie sheet about 1/2-inch apart. Repeat until all the dough is used.. Cover cookies with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 20 minutes, or until firm. Repeat with second portion of dough, refrigerating those also until firm. Using a 2-inch cutter, cut out smaller hearts from the centers of the vanilla and chocolate cookies. Swap the centers, placing the vanilla in the chocolate, and the chocolate in the vanilla. Repeat with 1-inch cutter, swapping those centers. You should now have two-toned cookies. (You may have to gently press the dough after placing in the new center, so that the edges come together.)

Chill in refrigerator for 20 more minutes. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. (You don't want the vanilla dough to get too browned, or the contrast won't be as vivid). Allow to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Store for up to 3 days in an air-tight container. Enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

Cool and refreshing, (not to mention easy!) this smoothie is SO yummy! Such a great tasting way to add some fruit to your diet : )

Feel free to tweak the recipe to fit your taste. I love the flavor combo going on in this particular smoothie, and the banana makes it sooo creamy! Delish!

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
Serves 2

1 frozen banana
5-7 frozen strawberries
2 cups orange juice (or enough to cover fruit)

Whir all ingredients in a blender, adding more juice if necessary, until creamy (about 1 minute). Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Crunchy M&M Cookies

These cookies are not only easy to throw together, they are crunchy, satisfying, and delicious! Great for dipping in a glass of ice cold milk : )

If you bought any Christmas M&M's on super-markdown last year, or still have some leftover, then here's a tip - pull out the red ones and use them for Valentine's Day, and save the green ones to use for St. Patrick's Day. Or just go rainbow style, and use the regular multi-colored ones. Either way, they're delicious!

Crunchy M&M Cookies
Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 3 dozen

1/2 cup granulated sugar (or honey sucanat)
1/2 cup brown sugar (or honey sucanat)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups flour (or 10 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
M&M's for top of cookies (about 100, or 1 cup)

In a bowl cream together the sugars and butter. Add egg, milk and vanilla. Stir until combined. In a separate bowl stir together dry ingredients. Add to creamed mixture. (Dough may look dry, but just keep stirring and it will come together.) Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons on ungreased cookies sheet. Press 3 M&M's into the top of each cookie. Bake at 350º until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. While still warm transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely. Enjoy!