Browsing Tag

Valentine’s Day


Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake for Two

February 3, 2014


Happy Monday, friends! I’m so excited that February is finally here. In my mind, January is always a bit of a dull month where spring feels forever away and the post-holiday blues have set in. But February brings the Super Bowl and the Olympics and Valentine’s Day and spring is just close enough that there is a light at the end of the winter tunnel.

Although I’ve never been much for the pressure associated with Valentine’s Day (the gifts! and flowers! and finding the perfect restaurant!) I do enjoy the fact that we have an entire day devoted to showing friends and family how much we love and care for them. It’s pretty great, right? Plus, Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate, and that’s something I wholeheartedly support.


I love baking but having a full batch of cookies or an entire cake in the house with just two people to eat said cookies or cake is a little bit dangerous. My willpower only lasts so long and eventually I have to cave. My friend, Christina, is my hero because she solves this problem every day with her website Dessert For Two. She scales down desserts to serve two people, meaning fewer leftovers and less temptation to eat, say, a dozen cookies.

I took a cue from Christina for this year’s Valentine’s Day and made a small deep-dish cookie cake. It’s certainly not health food by any means, but it is gluten-free and grain-free thanks to the use of almond meal. The resulting cookie cake is gooey, rich and incredibly tasty. I can’t even begin to tell you about the deliciousness that is this cookie cake. If you’re looking to cut back on the sugar in this recipe, I have also had success swapping out Truvia baking blend for the brown sugar in this recipe. When doing so, use 2 teaspoons of the baking blend in place of the 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake for Two
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate morsels
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 6-ounce ramekin with cooking spray. Set aside
  2. In small bowl, stir together the butter, sugar and egg yolk until well combined and smooth. Stir in the vanilla, baking soda and salt until well combined. Stir in the almond meal until just combined, followed by the dark chocolate morsels.
  3. Spoon mixture into ramekin. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is still slightly soft. Cool 10 minutes. Enjoy warm!


Baked Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts

February 6, 2013


When it comes to breakfast, I really do believe it is the most important meal of the day. Most of the time I find myself in bed, planning what I’m going to have for breakfast the following morning. It tends to be a steady rotation of oatmeal, toast with peanut butter and sliced banana, a bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit or the occasional almond milk smoothie in the summer.

Truthfully, doughnuts for breakfast have never really been my cup of tea. Perhaps because I know they’re fried or, more than likely, because they never seem to have enough substance to keep me full for more than a couple hours. Which means I need a second breakfast around 9:30. But there are some occasions, like Valentine’s Day, that seem to call for a breakfast that is less about being practical and more about frivolity. On those occasions, toss out the oatmeal, eggs and toast and make doughnuts! Eat two or three to keep you full and feel good about the fact that they are baked, not fried, which I’m pretty sure cancels out the fact that they’re covered in powdered sugar glaze and colored sprinkles.


I can’t tell you how much I love these doughnuts. Or how much everyone else enjoyed them, too. It took me three times to get the texture and taste down, which isn’t an easy thing to do when you want a doughnut that tastes like fried cake but isn’t. They’re soft and moist thanks to the addition of finely chopped apples stirred into the batter; I found the apples keep the doughnuts tasting fresh days after you make them because they don’t allow the doughnuts to dry out.

Oh, and the glaze? Well, we didn’t have any apple juice on hand. The closest thing available was hard apple cider, which found its way into these doughnuts. For those opposed to beer with their breakfast, apple juice makes a wonderful substitution. Also, if you’re looking for another amazing recipe for Valentine’s Day, my sister-in-law, Amber, made the most amazing Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies. They are seriously the best cookies I’ve ever had, and that’s saying something!

Baked Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts
Makes 8 donuts
*1 cups all-purpose flour
*1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/2 cup sugar
*4 tablespoons butter, melted
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
*3/4 cup peeled and finely chopped granny smith apple (about 1 medium apple)
*1 cup powdered sugar
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 cup hard apple cider or apple juice
*Sprinkles (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a nonstick doughnut pan. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and sugar. In a second bowl, combine the melted butter, egg and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and and stir until evenly combined. Stir in the apples.
*Transfer batter to a pastry bag or a large zip top bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe some of the batter into the prepared doughnut pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until the doughnuts are puffed up and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool slightly in pan and transfer to a wire rack. Bake up remaining batter. This should make about 8 doughnuts.
*While doughnuts are still slightly warm, stir together the ingredients for the glaze. Dip warm doughnuts into the glaze and transfer doughnuts to a wire rack to cool completely. Top with sprinkles before glaze has a chance to harden, if desired.

Happy Baking!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cookies

February 10, 2011

One last post before I unplug for the weekend. After work tomorrow I plan on spending the weekend with my Valentine. Fingers crossed that I’m able to fight off this cold that has been plaguing me all week so we can enjoy our time together.

There’s a little story behind these cookies…

One Valentine’s Day when I was 15 and a sophomore in high school I had a boyfriend who was a senior. We dated for almost two years, practically an eternity in high school, and for Valentine’s Day that year, he brought me a couple dozen heart-shaped, strawberry-flavored cookies. No, he didn’t make the cookies himself; his mom made them, and they were delicious. As fate would have it, we got out of school that V-Day at 10 a.m. for bad weather, leaving me majorly bummed but happy to keep two dozen cookies to myself.

I’m not sure why these cookies made such an impact on me, but every Valentine’s Day since then I have thought about those cookies. I convinced myself they were better in my memory. But when I made them this week, I realized I was wrong. The deliciousness was not in my imagination. It was real.

Disclaimer: These are not sophisticated, classy cookies. They are just down-home yummy in the simplest sense of the word. Based off a strawberry-flavored boxed cake mix, they couldn’t be easier. and since the cookies are very sweet, the cream cheese frosting is a perfect, tangy balance.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cookies

*1 box of strawberry-flavored cake mix
*1 large egg
*1/4 cup oil
*1/4 to 1/3 cup water (start with 1/4 cup and add the extra if needed)
*1 (8-oz.) container cream cheese at room temperature
*3 cups powdered sugar
*1/4 cup milk
*2 drops red food coloring
*Pink sprinkles or edible pearls (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a cookie sheet, line with parchment paper, or use a Silpat (what I did).
*In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg, oil and water. Stir by hand until ingredients are evenly combined. Scoop dough by tablespoon portions and roll between your hands to make a smooth ball. Set on a baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
*Bake for 13 to 16 minutes, until slightly crackled on top and just lightly golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
*Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer,  beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, milk and red food coloring. Continue to beat until smooth. Spread on top of cookies and beat until well combined.
*Spread frosting atop of cooled cookies and garnish with pink sprinkles and/or edible pearls, if desired.

Happy Baking!


White Chocolate Nutella Truffles

February 12, 2010

The more I listen to the people around me talk, I realize Valentine’s Day is a very polarizing holiday. There aren’t many people who don’t have strong feelings about the day designated above all others to celebrate love. People love it, people hate it, some people pretend it doesn’t exist, and while browsing the card isle at Target yesterday, I even saw “Anti-Val” cards for the ultimate cynics out there. Me personally? I love Valentine’s Day. Romantic valentine or not, it’s a great time to celebrate those you love – friends, parents, siblings, you get the idea.

But one thing I think we can all agree on is that Valentine’s Day is a great time to indulge your sweet tooth, no heart-shaped box filled with bad chocolate necessary. Why you ask? Because you can make your own box of chocolates in less than an hour for a whole lot less than you would spend at a chocolate shop, and they’re so easy. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the step-by-step photos below.

These little chocolate cups are filled with Europe’s gift to America – Nutella. If you have something against Nutella (or Europe?) you can swap about the Nutella for creamy peanut butter, but if you don’t like either, then maybe you need to seek medical help, because you’re seriously missing out. Likewise, milk or dark chocolate can easily be substituted for white chocolate. Finally, you will have extra Nutella filling leftover. I can think of a few ways to use that filling in baking, but the best option is probably eating it plain, with a spoon. Try to resist… or at least stop after a few spoonfulls. 🙂

White Chocolate Nutella Truffles 

*2 (12-oz) packages white chocolate chips
*2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
*1 package Golden Oreos or other vanilla sandwich cookie
*1 (8-0z.) package cream cheese, softened
*1/2 cup Nutella
*32 miniature paper baking cups
*Colored sprinkles, if desired

*In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 bag of white chocolate chips and 1 Tbsp. of the oil. Watch the chocolate carefully, stirring frequently, removing the chocolate from the heat when it is mostly smooth, but some lumps still remain. Once removed from the heat, continue to stir until the chocolate is completely smooth. (see photos above)
*Arrange 32 paper liners on a baking sheet or counter and spoon one teaspoon of the chocolate into each of the liners, making sure to cover the bottom of each. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly in the liners.
*Meanwhile, put the Golden Oreos in a food processor. Pulse for about 1 minute, until the Oreos are processed into fine crumbs and no lumps remain. Add in the cream cheese and Nutella. Blend until the mixture is well-combined. (You could do this all without a food processor, crunching the cookies by hand and then mixing the cream cheese and Nutella with a mixer, though it’s much easier to do with a food processor)
*Drop rounded 1/2 teaspoons of the Nutella dough into the center of each chocolate cup.
*Melt the second bag of chocolate and second tablespoon of oil, same as before. Top each chocolate cup with another teaspoon of the white chocolate.** Garnish with sprinkles, if desired. Allow the cups to cool completely before eating, at least 1 hour.

** To get the ‘swirled’ look for the tops of these cups, move your spoon in a circular motion as you add the second teaspoon of chocolate.

Happy Valentine’s Day!