Tonight is the office Christmas party, so I brought in a little cheer to spread. Double chocolate chip cookie bars with mint chocolate chips, topped with chocolate ganache and some Christmas sprinkles.

Tonight is the office Christmas party, so I brought in a little cheer to spread. Double chocolate chip cookie bars with mint chocolate chips, topped with chocolate ganache and some Christmas sprinkles.

grasshopper bars

I made these for my friend Annie who just had her baby, and loves loves loves anything chocolate and mint. When I first got my Baked:Explorations cookbook, I saw this recipe and knew I had to eventually make it for her. These taste like giant Andes mints. Seriously awesome. Do it.

Baked Grasshopper Bars

ingredients:

For the brownie base:
  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
  • 5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the buttercream:
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened but still cool, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons creme de menthe
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
For the chocolate glaze:
  • 6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes 

directions:

  1. To make the brownie base: Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder. 
  3. Configure a large size double boiler. Place the chocolate and the butter in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature. 
  4. Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey. 
  5. Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (do not use a whisk) fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The brownies should be just a tad underdone (not too gooey, but ideally, just 1 minute from being cooked through completely). A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely while you make the creme de menthe filling. 
  7. To make the buttercream: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. 
  8. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until filling is light and fluffy. 
  9. Add the creme de menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined. If the filling is too soft, chill slightly in the refrigerator and then mix again until it is the proper consistency.

  10. If the filling is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and re-mix to proper consistency. Spread the filling evenly across the top of the brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator, for a minimum of 45 minutes, while you make the chocolate glaze.
  11. To make the chocolate glaze: In a large non-reactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir vigorously for 1 minute to release excess heat. 
  12. Pour the mixture over the chilled creme de menthe layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Place the pan back in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens. 
  13. Remove the pan from the refrigerator, wait about 15 minutes for the glaze to soften slightly, and cut the bars with a warm knife. Cut into squares and serve immediately. 

I hope my tumblr eat up buddy enjoys this “adventures in chocolate, peanut butter and bacon” sampler package! I decided to make a few different things that always looked interesting to me, and threw in some classic chocolate and peanut butter whoopie pies for good measure. There’s some bacon jam with sliced bread, peanut butter and chocolate clouds, beer and pretzel chocolate covered marshmallows, and the whoopie pies. Let me know if anyone would like to see additional photos and recipes for any of the above!

for the love of guinness…

It’s been almost a year since I started this little blog, and I’m so glad I did. One of my first posts was for guinness cupcakes with irish cream frosting. At the time, I hadn’t posted the recipe, but this year I will! Check it out, the recipe is at the end! Have an awesome weekend everyone, and please, drink a guinness and some jameson for me!

for the love of guinness…

i know st. patrick’s day is over, but i figured it wasn’t too late to post a picture of one of my favorite cupcakes. at least, i heard it was really good. i gave up sugar for lent so i couldn’t try it. but it got pretty good reviews from the coworkers and the husband! and who doesn’t love baked good and alcohol put together?

the cupcake is a chocolate guinness cake with bailey’s irish cream buttercream. and of course green sprinkles.

i hope it makes nan proud!

patricia kelly, my one irish grandparent.

guinness cupcakes with irish cream buttercream

adapted from smitten kitchen

ingredients:

cupcakes:

  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter
  • ¾ cup Quality Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ¾ Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • ⅔ Cup Sour Cream


Irish Cream Buttercream:

  • 4 to 5 Cups Confections Sugar
  • 2 Cups Unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 to 5 Tablespoons Irish Cream Liqueur
directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake cups with paper liners.

Prepare the cupcakes: Put the butter with the stout beer in a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a mixer bowl, beat the eggs and the sour cream together. Add the beer/butter/cocoa mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat briefly just to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined, making sure to incorporate little pockets of flour on the bottom so that the batter is of equal consistency everywhere.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way if you want flatter cupcakes and 3/4 if you want domed. Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely to room temperature.

Prepare the frosting: In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until incorporated. Slowly drizzle the Irish Cream and whip until combined. Add the rest of the powdered sugar until your desired consistency has been achieved.


Assemble: Fill a pastry bag and pipe buttercream on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles or other adornments. Enjoy!


guinness brownies!

As we get closer to St. Patrick’s day, I start to make things with Guinness. I don’t like corned beef, so I just mix Irish beer with chocolate. Good enough, right? Plus the fact that I can’t actually drink the Guinness this year, baking it is the only way to go.

When I saw this recipe for Guinness brownies, I decided it would be a good way to kick off the holiday! I think my favorite part of this recipe was mixing the beer into the creamed butter and sugar. I’m pretty sure you could just stop there and use the butter for anything you’d normally use butter for. It’s literally butterbeer. Or, I guess, beer butter. Either way, pretty awesome.

guinness brownies, from heather christo cooks

makes 36 brownies

ingredients:

  • 8 oz dark chocolate pieces (I used dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup, plus 2 Tbs butter, soft
  • 3 cups sugar
  • ½ cup Guinness Beer
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 6 Tbs dark cocoa powder
  • 10 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) Take a 12×16″ sheet pan, (a cookie pan with sides) and put a sheet of parchment paper down on the bottom of the pan. I then spray the top of the parchment, and the sides of the pan with non-stick baking spray.

3) Take the chopped dark chocolate and microwave it for 90 seconds.

4) Whisk the chocolate until very smooth. Set aside to cool.

5) In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the beer and beat until well combined.

6) Beat the eggs in one at a time, until they are completely mixed in, then slowly beat in the cooled melted chocolate.

7) Sift the flour and coco together, and then slowly add it to the batter, mixing in until it is just combined.

8) Add the chocolate chips, and mix until just combined.

9) Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and spread evenly to the edges.

10) Bake the brownies at 350 degress for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Do not over bake!

11) When the brownies are finished, let them cool completely before cutting into them for the cleanest cut.

These are actually very easy to make, and they come out really rich and fudgy. The beer taste isn’t super obvious, but I think it makes them richer and gives them a deeper flavor.

Happy (almost) St. Patrick’s Day!

pumpkin chocolate chip squares

This week, like last week, has be crazy! I’m feeling like a blog neglect-er! Hopefully things will ease up soon, but until then, here’s the only thing I made this week!

pumpkin chocolate chip squares

recipe from martha

makes 24 squares

ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
  4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

These are really moist, like a cross between pumpkin bread and a blondie! Perfect for fall. Happy Friday everyone!

scary chocolate cupcakes

Happy Halloween everyone! I’m sorry I’m so late with these goodies…my day has been pretty scary!

These are super moist chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. The orange frosting had a bit of orange zest in it, giving it an unexpected citrus punch. You choose, with or without the orange!

recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

makes 24 cupcakes

ingredients:

for the cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

for the frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • zest of one large orange
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

directions:

for the cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. Using a large scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.

for the frosting

1. In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese, orange zest, shortening, and butter until well combined.

2. With the mixer of low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Add vanilla and mix to combine.

I used these awesome halloween sprinkles from my tumblr buddy on the orange ones…

and made ghosts out of the white ones with some black gel frosting.

I hope you all have a super scary and fun (and safe!) evening!!

peanut butter chocolate chunk banana bread

I had a whole bunch of ripe bananas, and by this point you probably know what I do when I have a lot of ripe bananas.

I went with bread and muffins, since it was the first official weekend of fall! I decided to change it up a bit and add in some peanut butter and chocolate chunks, along with some peanut butter glaze.

I used this awesome peanut butter Dave brought back to me from his trip to Vermont. Dark chocolate peanut butter!

This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found in the October 2010 issue of Cooking Light Magazine.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

makes one loaf (I doubled the recipe since I had so many bananas and made the muffins as well.)

ingredients:

Bread:

  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup of chocolate chunks
  • Cooking spray

Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare bread, combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until blended.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Stir in chocolate. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool.

4. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over bread.

The glaze was probably not necessary, but why not?

I used a pumpkin patch pan I have from Williams Sonoma. I don’t get to use it much, so I break it out whenever I can!

Quick to make, perfect for fall! Enjoy!

root beer bundt

Root beer and chocolate are two of my most favorite things. When I saw this recipe a while back I knew I had to make it, and this weekend I finally got around to it!

This cake was super quick and easy to make. It doesn’t have to be made in a bundt pan if you don’t have one, but it’s so pretty when it is!

Root Beer Bundt Cake, adaped from the Baked cookbook

ingredients:

Cake

  • 2 cups root beer (we suggest Trader Joe’s Old Fashioned Root Beer, or any root beer made with cane sugar)
  • 1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used regular, because I couldn’t find dark)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown, because that’s what I had!)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs

Frosting

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup root beer
  • 2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (Again, I used regular here)
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

directions:
For the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour the bundt pan.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy (do not overbeat, as it could cause the cake to be tough).

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

For the frosting:

1. Melt the chocolate over low heat on the stove. Add the rest of the ingedients and stir.

2. Take the mixture off the heat and allow to cool. (We put it in the fridge for about 2 minutes).

3. Whisk the cooled mixture to make sure it’s mixed well and stiff enough to frost.

note: I whisked the frosting, but it wasn’t getting that airy, light quality I wanted. Once I broke out the handheld electric mixer, it worked great! Immediately light and airy. You can see the difference in the pictures below.

I brought a giant piece of this to my neighbor, then a few more big pieces to the guys at work. Since I’m trying to not eat this sort of this right now, I didn’t have my own piece. But sample the cake/frosting that was left on the knife. Let me just say, if you aren’t trying to not eat this sort of thing, you must absolutely make this.

Mmmm. This cake with some vanilla ice cream? Perfect.

pumpkin chocolate chunk cookies

as promised, here is the recipe for the first fall cookies of the season! they were one of two different types i made for my cousin to try. she’s getting married in october, and one of these recipes will be the ones that go in the guest’s welcome bags at the hotel. stay tuned for the other choice tomorrow!

pumpkin chocolate chunk cookies

adapted from picky palate

makes about 4 dozen cookies

ingredients:

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin, from can
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 12 oz bag chocolate chunk pieces (or chocolate chips work fine too)
  • 12 oz bag of butterscotch chips

directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined then add pumpkin.

2.  Place flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into large bowl; mix to combine then slowly add to wet ingredients then chocolate and butterscotch chips.  Mix only until just combined.

3.  If using muffin top pan, scoop 1/4 Cup dough into each muffin top cup that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Press to spread to edges.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.  If using baking sheet, scoop medium cookie scoop of dough onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet, about an inch apart.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges just begin to brown.  Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing.

happy almost fall!