Nestle’s Whole-Wheat Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Where I found it:  AllRecipes.com

Yield:  One 9-inch square pan053

These brownies are like a cross between zucchini bread and a rich, fudgy cake.  I had to try this recipe because anything with “dark chocolate” in the title immediately catches my attention.  Plus “whole wheat” and “zucchini” sound interesting and healthy, terms that I usually don’t need to use with brownies!  Well, technically, these brownies aren’t exactly “healthy”…they’re still rich and chocolatey, after all!  But that’s okay…I thought they were pretty awesome.  Yes, I could taste the zucchini a little, but I love zucchini bread (especially with chocolate chips!), so these were great!  The dark fudginess itself is enough to keep me going back for more!

What you need:

1 cup white whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup dark (bittersweet) chocolate chips, divided

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg whites (I used one whole egg)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

What to do:

  1. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.
  2. Melt 3/4 cup morsels in large, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH power for 1 minute; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Stir in oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg whites and vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture; fold in zucchini. Spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup morsels over top.
  3. Pour batter into greased 9-inch pan.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Store in airtight container for up to 5 days.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

Where I found it:  Based on two recipes, one from my grandma and one from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (Under the title, “Brownie Pudding Cake”)

Yield:  One 8″ or 9″ square pan100_4280

This is a classic, super easy dessert, and you can probably find similar recipes just about anywhere, but I have to include it because it is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite desserts!  You top a rich, chocolate cake batter with hot water, sugar, and cocoa, and as it bakes, a gooey, fudgy sauce “magically” forms underneath the chocolate cake.  No need for frosting on this cake!  Just serve with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream…yum!

What you need:

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. cocoa powder100_4277

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup milk

2 Tbsp. melted butter or vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla

½-1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 ¾ cups hot water

What to do:

  1. Combine flour, sugar, 2 Tbsp. cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla.  Stir in walnuts (optional).  Pour batter into a greased 8- or 9-inch baking pan.
  2. Combine brown sugar and ¼ cup cocoa.  Sprinkle evenly over cake batter in pan.  Pour hot water over everything.
  3. Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes.  Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Applesauce-Carrot Oat Muffins

Where I found it:  Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

Yield:  12 muffins100_4297

These muffins turned out so moist and delicious, I can’t wait to make them again.  You can’t taste the veggies in them (bonus!).  My young son will often eat a healthy muffin for breakfast, and he loved these!  I subbed whole wheat flour in for some the the all-purpose called for in the original recipe, plus I omitted the streusel topping, but I will include it here just in case you want it. 

What you need:

For the Muffins:

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup milk or water

½ cup carrot puree (or butternut squash puree)

½ cup brown sugar

¼ vegetable oil

1 large egg

For the Streusel:

2/3 cup old-fashioned oats

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

What to do:

  1. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine applesauce, milk, veggie puree, sugar, oil, and egg.  Add the flour mixture slowly, stirring until just moistened.  Do not overmix–the batter is supposed to me lumpy.
  3. For streusel, stir together oats, sugar, and cinnamon.  Stir in melted butter.
  4. Pour batter into greased or paper-lined muffins cups and sprinkle tops with streusel.
  5. Bake at 400°F for 18-20 minutes.  Turn muffins onto wire rack to cool.

Breakfast Crepes (Nutella, Strawberries, and Bananas, OH MY!)

Where I found it:  Extending the Table by Joetta handrich Schlabach

100_4281

Left: Nutella, strawberries, and bananas
Center: cottage cheese and strawberries
Right: Peanut Butter, jam and blueberries

So, the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, my son, husband, and I all got sick–really sick–no fun, especially for one who loves to cook and bake for special occasions.  So, as it turned out, most of my “Valentine-y” meals and treats were postponed to the days following Valentine’s Day, rather then the days leading up to it, as I had originally planned.

I had been craving breakfast crepes for a few weeks.  I usually like to cook breakfast on Saturdays, since weekdays are busier and we usually resort to cereal or other easy stuff.  I was really looking forward to making my favorites…crepes filled with Nutella, strawberries, and bananas, the Saturday before Valentine’s, but consequently, it got pushed to the following weekend.  That was fine, except that I didn’t have the energy to leave the house until Valentine’s, and since I still needed strawberries, went looking for them–at 3 or 4 different stores!!  Apparently everybody is out of strawberries on Valentine’s Day (go figure!! :)  I finally tried Costco, and lo and behold, they had plenty (love you Costco!–why didn’t I go to you first?)

So I got my yummy crepes that weekend after all.  Here is the recipe that I like to use, along with some tasty filling options:

What you need:

2 cup flour

2 cup milk

2 eggs

½ cup water

pinch salt

1 T. oil

What to do:

  1. Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth, adding additional water to lighten if necessary.
  2. Pour a small amount of batter into a hot, lightly oiled nonstick skillet (I like to use ¼ cup batter in an 8-inch skillet)
  3. Rotate pan quickly until batter is evenly distributed around the pan, forming 1 large thin pancake.
  4. Fry until slightly brown; turn and fry briefly on the other side.  Serve immediately.
  5. Leftover crepes may be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days; or stack between layers of parchment paper, wrap, and freeze.  To reheat, warm briefly in an un-oiled nonstick skillet.

Filling options:

Nutella with sliced fruit (strawberries and bananas are wonderful!)

Peanut Butter with jam and/or sliced fruit

Cottage Cheese with sliced fruit

Chocolate Greek Yogurt Dip/Pudding

Where I found it:  EdiblePerspective.com

Yield:  About 1 cup

I love this dip!  I love that it is very chocolatey, without being sickeningly sweet (unless you eat too much!), and is also loaded with protein and calcium from the Greek yogurt.  You can adjust the sweetness based on how much syrup/honey and chocolate chips you use.  I think it’s an awesome, healthier alternative to plain ‘ol chocolate pudding.  Or you can dip fruit in it for a yummy fondue! 

100_4245

What you need:

6 oz. nonfat plain Greek yogurt (about ½ cup)

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

½-1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey (adjust to taste)

1/8 tsp. vanilla

1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Assorted fruit, cut in chunks, (try apples, strawberries, and bananas!)

What to do:

  1. Mix first four ingredients together until there are no lumps from the cocoa powder; add more maple syrup/honey if desired.
  2. Chill covered in the fridge until ready to serve (but it CAN be eaten right away!)
  3. Top with chocolate chips before serving
  4. Eat alone with a spoon, or use as a dip for fruit.

Easy Dressed-Up Party Sugar Cookies

Where I found it:  Inspired by the back of Valentine milk chocolate M&M’s package :)

Yield:  About 2-3 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie cutters100_4285

These cookies are so fun to make; they are easy, delicious, and they make a perfect treat for all ages, whether you need to bake something sweet for a crowd, or just want to give someone a yummy gift!

I just made these fun cookies when my nieces were visiting around Valentine’s this month.  But the first time I made these was for my husband (then boyfriend) 5 years ago for our first Valentine’s together.  He loved them and so did I (I kept a few for myself ;)  But I don’t think they have to be reserved for Valentine’s Day.  You could make these for just about any holiday by picking cookie cutter shapes and M&M colors that suit the occasion.  And, of course, if you prefer, you could always make a sugar cookie dough from scratch instead of using a mix like I did!  The possibilities are vast!

I have to warn you:  I used chocolate chips for melting, and it came out very dense, which coated the cookies very thickly…this makes for an extremely rich cookie!  When I first brought these out, everyone ate two, but we soon regretted it, as one would have been plenty.  Next time I make these I will attempt to make a genuine (and hopefully thinner) “dipping chocolate”, such as this one.

What you need:

1 (18 0z) package sugar cookie mix, plus ingredients called for on the package, OR a homemade sugar cookie dough

Cookie cutters

3 cups (about 18 oz.) chocolate chips (milk, semi-sweet, or dark) OR any  solid chocolate candy, such as Dove® brand; OR use any dipping chocolate of your choice.

About 1 cup M&M’s

What to do:

  1. Prepare cookie dough, cut into shapes, and bake as directed by your chosen package or recipe.
  2. Once cookies are cool, melt chocolate chips (this can be done in the microwave or on the stove.)
  3. Dip one side of each cookie into melted chocolate, then place on parchment paper (You could also “paint” the chocolate on with a knife or pastry brush.) Sprinkle a few M&M’s over the melted chocolate on each cookie.
  4. Place cookies on parchment paper to allow chocolate to harden.

Time to Bake the Chocolate (Anniversary) Cake: My 100th Post

Where I found it:  Cuisine at Home magazine (I was unable to determine the date, but I believe it was from 2012)

Yield:  One 2-layer, 8- or 9- inch cake (12-16 servings)100_4271

Today is my blog’s 1st anniversary AND this is my 100th post!  I have had so much fun with this blog and felt that I needed a really special dessert to celebrate this occasion.  It had to be something chocolatey (of course!); something not over-top–simple, but decadent.  When I first saw this recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake, I just knew that it was what I’d been looking for!100_4276

There is a third reason that I wanted to bake this chocolate cake.  I am an avid cross-stitcher (a type of needlework where almost everything is stitched with little “x’s”)  Back in June of last year, I began to cross-stitch a fun chocolate cake-themed piece destined for my kitchen wall.  It is not an exceptionally large or difficult piece, but I had to postpone my work because several other pieces took precedence.  Last year was a busy stitching year for me–I stitched 3 wedding records for friends, 2 additional pieces for Christmas gifts, plus several small gifts (bookmarks, baby shower gift, Christmas ornaments).  Whew!  But I got all those done and still managed to finish my “chocolate cake” before New Year’s!  I think it is just adorable, suits my kitchen perfectly, and all that work entitled me to my very own real chocolate cake.

There are so many chocolate cake recipes out there.  Many of them have unique or secret ingredients or special fillings to make you feel like you are getting something really fancy.  This one is not like that.  It is simply a chocolate cake with chocolate icing.  It is so simple, but it will blow your socks off because it is absolutely dark, rich, and moist.  Up until now my favorite chocolate cake has been this Devil’s Food Cake (and I still love it!), but oh my!  This one is ten times more dark and moist.

 

What you need:

For the Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

½ cup cocoa powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 cups hot water

¾ cups vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar

1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules

1 Tbsp. vanilla

For the Glossy Chocolate Frosting:

½ cup unsalted butter

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ¼ cups cocoa powder

Pinch salt

1 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream (do not substitute)

¼ cup sour cream

1 tsp. instant coffee granules

2 tsp. vanilla

What to do:

For the Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake:

  1. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee, and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined–a few lumps are okay.
  3. Divide batter between two greased and floured 8- or 9- inch cake pans.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool cakes in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert them onto the rack.  Leave cakes upside down (this flattens domed cakes) to cool completely.

For the Glossy Chocolate Frosting:

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in sugar, cocoa, and salt.  Mixture will be thick and grainy.
  2. Combine cream, sour cream, and instant coffee in small bowl, mixing until smooth.  Gradually add cream mixture to chocolate until blended and smooth.
  3. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch, 6-8 minutes.  Do not boil.
  4. Remove frosting from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Cool at room temperature* until spreadable, 2-3 hours (Icing may be chilled until completely cold, then warmed gently in the microwave until spreadable.  Heat at high power in 20-second intervals, stirring well after each interval.)

*Note:  I cooled my frosting at room temperature for 2 hours and it was still too runny, so I chilled it in the fridge for another hour.  Unfortunately, it was still pretty runny after that.  Next time I will cook it a little longer and refrigerate for a few hours to get it as thick as possible.  Even runny-ish, it was the most delicious frosting I have ever had–very ganache-like.