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Inside-Out S’Mores Brownies

January 22, 2012

Hey everyone! How was your weekend? Joey and I have really been enjoying spending weekends at home lately after spending what felt like every weekend on the go during the months of September through December. I’m not going to lie, we felt completely overwhelmed and exhausted after the Christmas season. For that reason, January has been amazing. 

In other news, I must have been really loving the February issue of Better Homes and Gardens because the last two recipes I’ve made have been from said issue. It probably has something to do with the fact that it’s packed with gooey chocolate recipes, including these Inside-Out S’Mores Brownies.

While I was editing these photos, Joey said to me, “Those look good in photos. But no matter how good they look in photos, they are a million times better in your mouth.” I take that as high praise, seeing that my husband is more of a fan of salty snacks than sweet desserts.

I, on the other hand, think I need to get these babies out of the house and in the hands of my work colleagues before I demolish them myself. If you’re planning on making them yourself, I would highly recommend inviting friends over to share them with!

Inside-Out S’Mores Brownies
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, February 2012

*1/2 cup butter
*2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
*1 cup sugar
*2 large eggs
*1 tsp. vanilla
*3/4 cup all-purpose flour
*9 honey graham cracker squares
*1 cup tiny marshmallows

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
*In a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and add in the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the flour until just combined.
*Spread half the batter in the prepared pan. Top with graham crackers (divide as necessary to evenly top batter). Sprinkle marshmallows on the graham crackers, but do not let them touch the sides of the pan. Carefully spread the remaining batter on the marshmallows and graham crackers, covering them completely.
*Bake for 25 to 27 minutes or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 15 brownies

Happy Baking!

Black Bean Brownies

January 6, 2012

Three months ago I took a trip to the Wednesday Farmer’s Market in downtown Des Moines over our lunch hour. The day was beautiful and I was impressed with the selection of tasty lunch items the small farmer’s market had to offer. But what really drew me in was a small whole foods stand selling, among other things, black bean brownies. As you can probably imagine, I couldn’t resist trying a sample and hearing about what this black bean brownie thing was all about.

Turns out, the nutrition stats on the brownie were really impressive and I couldn’t even tell there were black beans in the brownie. It was just incredibly moist and gooey. Totally my kind of brownie.

Although it took me a while to get in my kitchen and replicate the black bean brownie in my own kitchen, I can report back to you that they are as easy and tasty as ever. Made with whole wheat flour, just a bit of sugar and black beans for protein, these are brownies that you can feel good about eating! In fact, each brownie contains just around 120 calories and 3 grams of protein. If you want to make them even healthier, I think you could probably cut back on the sugar even more, and perhaps sub some apple sauce for some of the oil.

Oh, and as a trial, when Joey got home I offered him a brownie and asked what he thought. He couldn’t even tell there was anything healthy about these brownies. When I asked him what he thought the secret ingredient was, he said whole wheat flour. And although that’s true, it wasn’t exactly the answer I was looking for. He couldn’t even tell there were black beans involved. I would call that a success!

Black Bean Brownies
Adapted from

*3/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained (canned is fine)
*1/2 cup light flavored olive oil or canola oil
*2 eggs or 1/2 cup Egg Beaters liquid egg replacement
*1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
*1/2 cup granulated sugar (could probably reduce to 1/3 cup if desired)
*1 tsp. instant coffee granules
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
*1/3 cup whole wheat flour
*1/2 tsp. baking powder
*1/4 tsp. salt
*Additional chocolate chips (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
*In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the black beans, olive oil, eggs, cocoa powder and sugar. Blend until well combined and mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Add in the coffee, vanilla, melted chocolate, flour, baking powder and salt. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
*Pour batter into prepared baking dish and spread to distribute evenly. Top with additional chocolate chips, if desired. Bake in the middle rack of the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes 16 brownies

Happy Baking!

Everyday Chocolate Loaf Cake

October 7, 2011
Thank you all for the happy birthday wishes and for your support as I balance a whole host of things that are piling onto my platter. I can promise you that I’ll have more information for you about unspoken happenings by the end of the month.
Now, let’s talk about cake. Although Joey and I celebrated my birthday with an ice cream cake this year, I made these little individual chocolate loaf cakes a few weeks back after spotting them on Smitten Kitchen for a little early birthday celebrating. 
Although I’m famous for not loving chocolate like most people seem to (including my hubby), something about this simple recipe called out to me. You see, when it comes to baking, there are few things I love more than a simple cake recipe. I guess I still believe deep down inside that cakes are supposed to be simple, Little House on the Prairie style. It makes absolutely no sense, I know. 
This recipe made enough cake to feed a small crowd, or a few hungry chocolate lovers for days on end. I found that dividing the batter among individual loaves as opposed to one giant loaf made it easier to freeze some of the cake and save it for later. Which, of course, comes in handy when the craving for chocolate strikes. 
Everyday Chocolate Loaf Cake 
Recipe just slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
*1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
*1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 large egg
*1 cup buttermilk
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*3/4 cup whole wheat flour
*3/4 cup all-purpose flour
*3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
*1/4 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter three mini loaf pans (you can also just use one standard-sized loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes). Line the bottom of the baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside. 
*In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs. Beat until just combined, followed by the buttermilk and vanilla. 
*In a large bowl, beat together the flours, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the mixture in the bowl, beating until just combined. Do not overmix. Scrape down the batter from the sides of the bowl and transfer batter into the prepared pans. 
*Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
Happy Baking!

Homemade Almond Joy Candy Bars

August 29, 2011
Hey, friends! I hope you had a great weekend. My mom spent the weekend with us, which meant Joey and I spent the weekend trying to keep up with her. We played tennis, grilled out and went on an 8-mile run this morning. Exactly how I like to spend my weekend. 
For as long as I remember, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of making my own candy bars. I don’t really have a clue why, since I can’t remember the last time I ate a full-sized candy bar or purchased one at the store, but it’s intrigued me none the less. 
Of course making homemade Snickers intimidates the heck out of me, and don’t ask me how to recreate that filling inside a Milky Way. So to begin my candy bar making adventures, I stuck with something approachable: an Almond Joy. 
I suppose it’s only fitting that the recipe I found when I Googled ‘Homemade Almond Joy’ was from Joy the Baker. Trust me, her recipe does not disappoint. We’ve been keeping these babies in our fridge for the last week or so and I can only imagine they would make a great treat wrapped up in waxed paper and tied with a ribbon.  
Homemade Almond Joy Candy Bars
Recipe Courtesy of Joy the Baker 
*7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
*1 cup powdered sugar
*1 tablespoon vanilla extract
*Pinch of salt
*2 1/2 cups unsweetened flake coconut 
*30 almonds
*20 ounces good quality milk chocolate chips 
*In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, salt and coconut. Stir until well combined. Refrigerate mixture until ready to use. 
*Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, melting in 30-second intervals until it is completely smooth. 
*Form the coconut mixture into 30 oval-shaped clusters. Press an almond into the center of each cluster. 
*Place one coconut cluster on a fork. Use a spoon to scoop a bit of chocolate over the almond.  This will help the almond stick to the candy and not fall off during dipping.  Lower fork into chocolate and spoon chocolate over candy to coat.  Lift fork and gently shake to release some of the chocolate.  Scrape the bottom of the fork along the side of the bowl and place on the lined baking sheet.
*Allow chocolate clusters to harden, at least an hour. 
Happy Baking!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream

August 22, 2011

This weekend, something so amazing came out of my ice cream maker that I can hardly believe it was me who made it. Chocolate and peanut butter are a killer combination in every form, but chocolate and peanut butter together in cheesecake ice cream form? Absolutely killer.

I could keep rambling about how the subtle chocolate flavor compliments the creamy peanut butter perfectly. Or comment on how the cream cheese adds a perfect bit of tang and makes for the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever eaten.

Or I could just encourage you to make some for yourself and actually taste what I’m talking about.

Yeah, that sounds about right. Go forth and make ice cream! What are you waiting for?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream
Inspired by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home

*2 cups 2% chocolate milk
*1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon corn starch
*2/3 cups granulated sugar
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 1/4 cups heavy cream
*4 oz. cream cheese, softened
*1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter (not natural peanut butter)

*In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the chocolate milk and the corn starch until smooth. Set aside.
*In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining chocolate milk, sugar and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil and continue to cook for four minutes, stirring frequently. (I had issues with the mixture boiling over a bit, so watch carefully and remove from the heat for a second or two, if necessary)
*After four minutes, remove from the heat and whisk in the corn starch mixture. Return to heat, bring to a boil and continue to boil for one to two minutes or until mixture is thickened slightly. (A good test: it’s ready when it thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon.)
*Remove from heat and whisk in the cream cheese and peanut butter. Whisk until smooth and well combined. Whisk in the heavy cream. Pour mixture through a mesh sieve and into a bowl.
*Place mixture in the refrigerator and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours or until mixture is completely chilled.
*Transfer chilled mixture to the bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Store mixture in an airtight container in the freezer.

Happy Cooking!


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