Chocolate Cherry Scones

I’ve posted my recipe for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Scones but, as I left my starter at home this trip, I needed to make my original version for breakfast New Year’s Eve.

The recipe makes 8 beautiful, large scones. You could do an egg wash on them but I like the melted butter.

scones

They are moist and well flavored with the bittersweet chocolate and cherries. By roughly chopping the chips and cherries, you make sure there is a bit of each in every bite.

scone

So very delicious!

Chocolate Cherry Scones

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped
1 egg
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons melted butter
8 tablespoons sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add cherries and mix well.

Whisk together egg, milk and vanilla. Make a well in center of mixture and pour in milk mixture. Add this to the flour mixture and mix. Add in the chocolate chips and mix until just combined.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. With your hands, shape into a loose ball. Cut the dough ball in half. Flatten each half into a round about 6 to 8 inches and cut into 4 wedges. Place wedges on a baking sheet, being sure to separate each wedge so there is at least an inch between wedges. Generously brush with melted butter and sprinkle each scone with about a teaspoon of the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.

To freeze baked scones, let them cool completely and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze up to 3 months. When ready to eat, let thaw at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. Heat them up in the microwave for about 30 seconds to eat them warm.

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Chocolate Pecan Brittle

Peanut brittle is good and all but, if you feel like kicking things up a notch make pecan brittle instead. To make that even better, add some cocoa and you’ve got a treat that will knock your socks off.

I make my brittle with cane syrup, not corn syrup, as my sweetie reacts to the high fructose in corn syrup. The Steen’s website has a recipe for mixed nut brittle that I used as a jumping off point.

Chocolate Pecan Brittle

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup Steen’s Cane Syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
1 cup toasted pecans
Flake salt

Butter a baking sheet and set aside.

Sift together cocoa and baking soda to remove any lumps. Set aside. Chop pecans – you want tiny pieces, small pieces, medium pieces and even some whole pecans to make sure every bite has nutty goodness. Set aside.

In a large heavy pot, melt the butter. Add syrup and sugar. Stir to blend well over medium heat. Continue to stir once it begins to boil to keep it from overflowing the pot. When the mixture reaches 270 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft crack stage), remove from heat. Quickly stir in cocoa mix and nuts until cocoa is incorporated.

Pour the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading the nuts quickly and evenly with a silicone spatula. Sprinkle with flake salt. Allow the mixture to cool completely. Surface will be shiny. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Brunette Bars

I don’t normally make blondies as I love the chocolate of brownies. However, I’m at the point in my cycle where I don’t need a lot of chocolate to satisfy my cravings. The one cup of morsels hit the spot beautifully. Because this recipe has dark brown sugar and a lot of cinnamon it makes them dark enough to fall into a class all to themselves so I’m going to call them brunettes.

To increase the moisture, I added a tablespoon of pure cane syrup. Steen’s is dark and luscious. If you don’t have access to that, molasses can be substituted. I used a high quality Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzeys and I used a Mexican vanilla extract to up the cinnamon flavor just a little more.

Diamonds aren’t a girls best friend – these bars are! Rich and flavorful, they satisfy both the sweet and chocolate cravings.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Brunette Bars

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Steen’s Cane Syrup or molasses
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels

Butter an 8×8 baking pan.

Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in the cane syrup or molasses. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Once the butter brown sugar mixture has cooled, combine it into the flour mixture. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add in vanilla extract and stir just until incorporated. Fold in bittersweet morsels.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Optional topping: Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush the top of the brunettes after they’ve been cooling for ten minutes. Sprinkle over 3 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar. Allow to finish cooling before slicing.

Double Chocolate Chip Brownies

I was craving chocolate and went with my old stand-by brownies that I use a hand mixer and mix in the double boiler. Not a lot of mess and comes together very quickly so you can get to eating!

Darkly chocolatey and with a dense, fudgy texture.

Double Chocolate Chip Brownies

2 cups (12-oz. package) Bittersweet Chocolate Morsels, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped nuts (I went with pecans I had lightly toasted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Melt 1 cup morsels and the stick of butter in large, heavy-duty saucepan or a double-boiler over low heat; stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Mix in eggs. Stir in flour, sugar, vanilla extract and baking soda. Stir in remaining morsels and nuts. Spread into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack before slicing and consuming.

Triple Chocolate Pudding Cupcakes

Its that time of the month when all my thoughts turn toward chocolate and I had a cupcake recipe I wanted to try. The last time I made it, I used instant chocolate pudding mix. I find that the instant (vs cook and serve) pudding doesn’t have as much flavor and, since Michelle makes an awesome Cook and Serve Chocolate Pudding Mix, I used a half cup of that instead.

The resulting cupcakes are a little denser than those made with the instant but the chocolate flavor was amazing.

I did a mint chocolate frosting to use the bag of Bailey’s Irish Cream Baking Chips I had gotten at Easter and never used. As the frosting only called for half a bag, I put the other half in the cupcakes along with ½ cup of bittersweet chocolate chips.

Super delicious with just a hint of hint. The mint and bittersweet baking chips give an extra umph of chocolate, making these incredibly satisfying.

Cupcakes
1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 package chocolate pudding mix (½ cup)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (2 cups)

Mint Chocolate Frosting

½ cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons peppermint schnapps (I used Leroux)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups powdered sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup Bailey’s mint baking chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12 cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pudding mix.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar for 1-2 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth.

Add half of the cocoa mixture to the butter mixture and combine. Pour in milk and mix until incorporated. Add the other half of the cocoa mixture and beat until combined and smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the chocolate chips to the batter and mix in by hand.

Fill each cup about 2/3 full with batter. I used a ¼ cup measuring cup to portion out the batter.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully remove cupcakes from the oven. Let cool in the muffin tin for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes are cooling, beat butter, schnapps, vanilla and salt at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition. Beat cocoa and, once that is combined, stir in mint baking chips.

If frosting stiffens up too much before using, add in another teaspoon of milk and stir to loosen it back up.

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

It was Michelle’s birthday on Saturday and she requested a flourless chocolate cake. I decided to try doing cupcakes instead and they came out pretty well. Dense, dark and very, very chocolate!

Most of the baking bars for chocolate come in 4 ounces. After you’ve gotten the 5 ounces needed for melting, break the remaining bar into small chunks to go into the cupcakes at the end of baking.

I usually buy a pint of cream and whip the other cup with a teaspoon of creme de menthe liquor or Grand Marnier (or vanilla, if you’d rather). I put that on half the cupcakes and powdered sugar on the rest.

Served warm, the extra chocolate is like delicious molten lava. As the cupcakes cool, the chocolate chips and chunks are intense chewy nuggets of goodness.

Flourless Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 ⅓ cups sugar
½ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (I use Fage)
½ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

Break 5 ounces of chocolate and put the pieces into a bowl.

Combine the butter and cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When the cream mixture comes to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate and let stand 1 minute. Stir gently to mix the melting chocolate into the cream. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, yogurt or sourcream, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt just until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in chocolate morsels. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and fold together until combined. (Mixing too much will prevent the eggs from rising in the oven.)

Place about 1/4 cup of the batter into each mold, it should come about 3/4 of the way up the sides. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Do not over bake. Immediately while hot, add a chunk of the remaining chocolate in the center of each, by gently pushing it through the top of the cupcake in the center. Cool the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then unmold them. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

Michelle hasn’t been using as many bananas in making smoothies lately so she had a surfeit of ripe bananas in her freezer. I suggested a banana bread recipe I’d seen where the chef chopped a chocolate bar instead of using chocolate chips so there are small bits of shavings and larger, gooey chunks. She agreed and this is the converted recipe she made.

Recipe without nuts

She made one double batch without pecans and one with as some of her holiday visitors have nut allergies. I’m taking one with nuts to my sister and keeping one for myself.

Slice with nuts

This is definitely a recipe you’ll want to double as there is chocolate banana goodness in every bite and it will disappear very fast.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
4 bananas (ripe and mashed)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Mix the butter, sugar, banana, eggs, vanilla extract, chocolate chunks and chopped pecans in a separate bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine, being careful not to over mix.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased and floured, 8×5 loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. The bread is cooked when tested with a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Makes 8 to 10 slices.

Cinnamon Chocolate Stars

I was in a cookie making mood on Sunday. I started by baking some Toll House chocolate chip cookies (thank you, Ruth Wakefield!). I only baked half the batch and proceeded to eat the other half of dough raw, ’cause the Saints playing against the Titans drove me to it!

I then went on to make some very chocolate cookies with just a hint of heat and a punch of cinnamon. I used my Mexican vanilla to add even more cinnamon flavor.

These are crisp and light cookies with a lot of chocolate flavor. The tiny bit of cayenne just enhances the chocolate. Perfect for the chocoholics in your life!

Cinnamon Chocolate Stars

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together the flour, coca, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cayenne (if using). Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugars. Add in egg and vanilla, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

Dived the dough in half and place on plastic wrap. Shape into a disc and then refrigerate for an hour.

Place the cooled dough between sheets of parchment paper and roll out to ¼ inch thickness. Use cookie cutter to cut into desired shape – I like stars. Place cut shapes on baking trays and reroll scraps until all the dough has been cut into cookies.

Place back in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Cover if you aren’t going to bake them right away.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, rotating the pans midway through cooking. Let cool for 10 minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies before baking:

Stars fell on New Orleans last night

Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake

I wanted a quick and easy dessert for dinner. I had a box of Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake mix and a large jar of cherry pie filling. Perfect, especially with me adding in a half cup of dried cherries to increase the umph!

I’ve done this before with blueberries and a box of yellow cake mix (Khaki’s Blueberry Crunch). The final result from today’s is a delicious cross between a cherry cobbler and a black forrest cake.

This style of dump cake is pretty darn versatile – anything that can be made into pie filling can be the base and nearly every kind of cake mix will work. The only limitation is your imagination!

Just pour the pie filling (if using canned, two cans) into the bottom of a buttered 9X13 baking dish. Spread the contents of a box of cake mix evenly over the top and then pour a stick of melted butter on the top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until it is dry on top and bubbly around the edges. Serve with ice cream.

Yum!

Fudgy Nutella Sourdough Brownies

I was looking for alternatives to bread making to use some of my sourdough starter discard when I rediscovered a sourdough brownie recipe in my files. As I wanted to take it a step further, I decided to add some Nutella hazelnut spread to the batter.

It was a delicious idea. The hazelnut spread adds fudgy, nutty richness. The sourdough starter makes sure it isn’t too sweet.

Be sure and let the pan cool completely before cutting or you’ll be spooning out brownies (which isn’t a bad idea either).

Fudgy Nutella Sourdough Brownies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate baking bars (I use Ghirardelli), broken into pieces
½ cup Nutella hazelnut spread

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup sourdough starter discard
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and butter a square (8×8 or 9×9) baking pan.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate pieces and hazelnut spread. Stir the ingredients until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool down.

Stir the vanilla extract with the sourdough starter.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until well blended, at least 5 minutes. Add the sourdough starter and beat on low. Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl and beat on low until mixed. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan after they come out of the oven.  Cut into squares.
Store in an airtight container or bag.