Category Archives: Baking

The Dawn of a New Era – Reese’s Cheesecake Brownies

Today is Dan’s last day at his job. The only job he has had since he was in intern at the same company over seven years ago.

final with reece's

Because I am a (self-proclaimed) awesome fiancee, when Dan asked if I would be willing to make one last tasty treat for the guys in the office, I couldn’t say no. After all, how on earth are they going to survive without my delicious treats? Dan’s expertise?

Mix batter

So, the office is probably currently feasting on my delectable Reese’s Cheesecake Brownies (recipe slightly adapted from Pip & Ebby), and I want to share their experience with you with pictures and words, since you can’t taste it yourself. Unless you work at Dan’s office. Then you are a lucky bastard.

reece's pieces

While you’re feasting your eyes on these bad boys, can you help me with something? I have an opinion/favor to ask of anyone who reads this little bloggy blog. You see, I love writing about my life, however I sort of get that my day-to-day experiences may not be super riveting to anyone else. It sometimes feels like my blog lacks a focal point. I mean, it’s not a “wellness” or “healthy living” or “food” or even “wedding” blog. It’s all of those things, depending on what’s going on in my life. As a reader, do you prefer to read blogs with one focal area? I’m hesitant to put myself in a box and label myself as any one sort of blogger, because I love writing about all things. That said though, I do want to keep people entertained and coming back! So tell me, even if I don’t pick one thing to write about everysingleday, what do you like to hear about most?

  • Recipes/food
  • Wedding updates
  • Goal updates
  • Fitness
  • Jameson 🙂

Jameson

I will pick a random comment and send you cookies 🙂

Now, onto the good stuff:

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Reese’s Cheesecake Brownies (recipe from Pip & Ebby)

What You Need:

  • 19.5-oz box of chocolate fudge brownie mix
  • 8-ox package of softened cream cheese
  • 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2-cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 12-oz package of Reese’s Pieces candies
  • 12-oz bag of milk chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream (or half and half or milk)
  • 12 large Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped

What You Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. (I use an olive oil & water mixture in my Misto.)
  2. Prepare your favorite packaged brownie mix according to package directions. Spread batter in pan and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese with a hand-held mixer until fluffy.
  4. Add in your sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter and beat until smooth.
  5. Stir in Reese’s Pieces candies.
  6. Spoon peanut butter mixture over the brownie batter and spread evenly using a spatula.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cheesecake layer is set and the edges are golden brown. Cool for 30 minutes and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  8. Add chocolate chips and whipping cream to a small microwaveable bowl or double boiler. The idea here is to melt the chocolate chips (without burning them). In the microwave, I usually do about 30 second increments, stirring each time until smooth.
  9. Spread over the cheesecake layer. Sprinkle chopped peanut butter cups over the top. Store covered in the refrigerator.

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What Christmas Is All About

Fudge.

Fudge 2

Amiright? Okay, maybe Christmas is also about cookies and family and presents. But in this case, we’re focusing on fudge. Mostly because (a) it was sofreakingdelicious and (b) I didn’t have time to bake anything else this holiday season.

Dan and I  have a surprising amount of Christmas traditions piling up, considering he’s Jewish and I’m Jew-ish. I threw this awesome fudge together in less than 30 minutes, and we were off!

Holiday Traditions 2012:

  • Chinese food and a movie with Dan’s parents on Christmas eve. (Usually, we would do this on actual Christmas, along with all the other Jews in America, but we decided since we had a full day on Christmas we would go the day before.)  Lunch was great (P.F. Chang’s), and we saw Lincoln. Although it was a bit slow at times, I sort of liked it. I was apparently the only one in my party that did… so… let’s move on.
  • Christmas Eve night was spent at my sister’s and her husband’s eating chili and watching Miracle on 34th St (the Matilda version), and then home so Santa could come!
  • Santa came!Family christmas
  • I cooked a Christmas Dinner and my whole family and Dan’s parents came over to eat it! (14 humans and 5 dogs were in our little house. It was fabulous.)

But back to the important matters at hand. The fudge! Re-blogged and slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is.

Loaded Chocolate Whiskey Fudge

What You Need

  • 20 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (15-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons bourbon
  • 10-12 caramel-filled chocolates/fudge, such as truffles of Ghiradelli squares, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chocolate toffee pieces, like Heath toffee chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, melted

What You Do

  1. Line 8×8 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray
  2. Chop up all your little candiesCaramel
  3. Create a make-shift double boiler out of a pot and a bowl (or use a real one if you have one. I obviously don’t.) Add semi-sweet chocolate to a double boiler, and melt completely.Double Boiler
  4. One melted, remove from heat and slowly add in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract, stirring until mixed. The chocolate will be thick. Begin in stir in bourbon 1 tablespoon at a time – mixture is going to get super thick but slowly stir and just fold the chocolate mixture over until combined.
  5. Use the spatula or a large spoon to spread the chocolate in the pan. It will be thick! Don’t worry about the top looking pretty because we are going to cover it up. Just spread it evenly. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to set.Fudge Layer 1
  6. Melt the milk chocolate and remove the pan from the fridge. Take a few small spoonfuls of the milk chocolate and using the back of a spoon, spread it evenly over the top of the fudge. Immediately cover it with the chopped caramel-filled candies, chocolate chips and chocolate toffee pieces. Take remaining milk chocolate and drizzle it over the top to set some of the loose candy. You can also use any additional sweetened condensed milk that may be left in the bottom of the can and drizzle it over top. Let set in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.Top
  7. When ready to cut, fill a large cup with hot water. Pull the fudge out of the 8×8 with the parchment paper and lay on a flat surface like a cutting board. Dip a sharp knife into the water, then blot on a towel. Use knife to cut fudge into your desired size of squares.Fudge 3
  8. Note: the melting can also be done in the microwave. Jessica from How Sweet It Is suggests melting the chocolate first on medium power in 30 second increments, stirring after each time. Once melted, add in remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.

 

 

 

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Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies from How Sweet It Is

I ate so many cookies today.

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So many cookies. And there are bags and plates and platters of cookies on my counter. So. Many. Cookies.

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Don’t worry – I would never complain about such a thing. That’s what the holidays are for! Cooking! Baking! Eating! Time with friends and family and the presents are just byproducts. We alllll know it’s about the eating.

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We had our department cookie-swap today, and man, the girls I work with… we could (should?) open a bakery! So much talent. So much delicious. I made these Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies from How Sweet It Is. Mine turned out looking pretty different from her’s, but they were still delicious. I’ve eaten way too many of them, but they’re just so, so good with a glass of red wine milk.

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Check out the recipe from my favorite blog.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Twilight Saga… What?

So apparently I OMG NEED to blog about this Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread that I made on Saturday night, because I wasn’t going to but then three different people asked me for the recipe so I will (even though I have one sad lonely picture of the empty bread pan. Fail. New Year’s Resolution!)

Banana Bread

But a picture of an empty pan means it was enjoyed and not wasted, so I’m not complaining!

But before the recipe, a brief review of Breaking Dawn Part 2 – the end to the Twilight Saga:

(Spoiler alert – I felt the same way when the book series ended.)

Wow. I just did that. Again. It was worth it. I’m glad it’s over.

Okay but really it was the best of all the Twilight movies, which isn’t really hard to accomplish. The acting was slightly less awkward, and there was an epic fight scene (and a bit of vampire sexy time), so all in all, not a bad flick. But I am not-so-secretly glad I won’t be shelling out $12 a pop for any more of those gems. The time spent with Sabrina though, priceless 🙂

Okay, so, this bread. Of course the original recipe came from my favorite blog How Sweet It Is, but I changed it a little. I actually 1 and a halfed the recipe (not quite doubling it) and it made: One bread loaf, one 8×8 pan of brownie like bread, and one muffin pan (12 muffins). That’s a lot of bread. You probably don’t need to do that, but I have a bad habit of buying bananas, not eating them, and throwing them into the freezer saying, “I’ll make banana bread some time!” and then never making banana bread…

Also, instead of PAM or other spray, I’ve been using a mixture of olive oil and water in a spritzer, and it works just as well and makes me feel better about my ozone contribution. And arteries. Slightly.

Enjoy!

What You Need:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 4 large bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

What You Do:

Mash yo bananas.

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter until smooth. Add brown sugar, egg and vanilla, mixing well for about 2-3 minutes. Mix in bananas and heavy cream until smooth. Add flour, baking soda and baking powder and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter in a greased loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes.

PS Happy Chanukah/Hanukkah/however you choose to spell or celebrate it! I had latkes twice this weekend and I could not be happier!

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How Do I love Sundays?

Let me count the ways.

Hey, okay, I know it’s Thursday. It’s been a busy week.

But Sundays. When you get an honest-to-goodness, real, relaxing Sunday… Well, I just don’t think there’s anything better.

You can see from the picture above that my Sunday was pretty great. I woke up and took Jameson to the Dog Park, where he, my 60 pound mutt, was the smallest dog there! I kid you not. The dog count went something like this:

  • 4 Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • 3 German Shepherds
  • A gaggle of labs and retrievers
  • 1 Great Dane
  • Jameson

It was so awesome. He thought he was one of the big dogs, and insisted on wrestling with the biggest guys there.

Anyway, I know why you guys really come here. Sure maybe the hook of puppy pictures brings you in, but just like the dogs, you come for the food. Which brings me to my second adventure of the day: French Toast Muffins. Thank goodness for (1) Pinterest and (2) A stocked baking cabinet. I woke up hungry, checked my boards and found something I had all the ingredients for, and 30 minutes later, voila! Breakfast!

This recipe originally came from Velvet Lava. I tweaked a few things, and, well, it was awesome. I brought the leftovers to Book Club later that evening and they were a hit. Without further ado:

French Toast Muffins (aka Snickerdoodle Muffins)

What You Need:

For the Muffins

5 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. milk (I used Vanilla Silk)

For the Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F.

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  2. Scoop batter into greased or sprayed muffin tins (I used my awesome olive oil spritzer. You could use olive oil, butter, or Pam).
  3. Divide evenly into your 12 muffin tins. I got 12 small-ish muffins, but you could be more generous and get 8-10 larger ones. (I liked the smaller muffins so I could roll them in the topping mixture).
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they just start to turn a bit golden at the edges.
  5. For the topping, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  6. Place melted butter in another small bowl.
  7. Dip the warm muffins in melted butter (you can dip just the top, but as per the recommendation from Velvet Lava I dipped the whooooole thing!
  8. Dip/roll the muffin in cinnamon sugar.
  9. Devour

Since it is already Thursday, and I’m realistically not going to write a post about my week from Sunday to now, I wanted to also talk about my two book club meetings this week. Yes, two. I’m so popular.

Book club #1 met Sunday night (enter leftover muffins, blue moon, cheese spread, and Puck the kitten.) We discussed “The Fault In Our Stars”, which is a young adult novel about a 16 year old girl with lung cancer. It sounds depressing, but it was actually quite funny, witty, heartbreaking, and fascinating all at once. We all really liked it, and I encourage anyone looking for a quick read (or good audio book, apparently) to give it a try.

Book club #2 met Tuesday night, and there was a FABULOUS spread of food.

And also some fabulous beverage refreshments courtesy of Marie.

Here, we discussed A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This is a timeless novel about a girl who grows up in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. We had a great discussion about some of the main themes, and overall, I think everyone really liked it.

All in all, a good Sunday, good week so far, and a super freaking long post.

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Are These For Real?

Seriously. These cupcakes. I’m pretty sure they’re not real. Except, they have to be, because I made them, and if I do say so myself, they were awesome.

Chocolate. Peanut butter. More Chocolate. What the heck?

Enticed yet?

You should be. Try ’em for yourself.

These delectable treats came from Susannah’s Kitchen. I think Susannah has a death-by-chocolate wish. But I’m okay with it.

What You Need:

For The Cupcakes:

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For The Peanut Butter Buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons softened unsalted butter,
  • cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Coating

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

What You Do:

For The Cupcakes:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin pan with 10 cupcake cups.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Separately, combine sugar, buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add dry mixture and whisk until blended. Fill cupcake cups, dividing evenly.
  4. Bake 25 minutes and let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Buttercream:

  1. Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of electric stand mixer.
  2. Set up a double boiler (bowl over pan of simmering water.) and gently whisk until mixture registers 160 degrees F on instant-read thermometer.
  3. Transfer bowl to electric stand mixture, and whisk on medium-high speed until mixture thickens to a whipped cream consistency.
  4. Keep mixing on medium speed, and add butter, one piece at a time, until combined and creamy. Whip in peanut butter and vanilla and beat until smooth.

I have a nifty little icing tube thingy that helps me pipe icing beautifully (or so I tell myself), but you can also use a pastry bag. Pipe as much frosting as you want onto each cupcake, and chill until buttercream is completely firm. This takes about one hour. (Note: As much as I loved these bad boys, the icing kind of is the consistency of butter, so if you’re not into that, you can probably try adding less butter.)

Make the chocolate coating

Place oil and chocolate in a medium bowl and melt over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth, and transfer to a large coffee mug.

 

You are now ready to combine all of your amazingness into a chocolate covered chocolate cupcake with peanut butter butercream. What?! Holding cupcake by the bottom, carefully dip into the chocolate. Be sure to submerge all of the buttercream. Repeat x9.

I put them back in the fridge so the chocolate hardens into a shell.

Nomathon.


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