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.

Oaty, Chocolately, Peanut Buttery Bars

I wanted to munch on something with chocolate and peanut butter but Dad is trying to eat healthy so I looked for a recipe that could qualify. These no-bake oat bars were just the ticket! Okay, so maybe they aren’t actually good for you on any measurable scale but they sure are rich and tasty.

You want to use quick cooking oats or the old fashioned that only need 5 minutes. This is not the recipe to try out steel cut or instant!

These are yummy with lots of chocolate – a great recipe with which to start the new year.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oat Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
½ cup brown sugar, packed
3 cups oats
1 cup bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips

Butter an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan.

In a large saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar. Add oats. As these are no-bake bars, you need to soften the oats. Stir for the amount of time recommended on the container (1 to 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

Place two cups of the oat butter mixture into the prepared pan and use a piece of wax paper or a spatula to press down.

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter. Once melted, pour over oat layer and smooth out. By spoonfuls place the remaining oats on top. Place the saucepan back on the stove and melt remaining chocolate chips. Drizzle the chocolate over the top.

Place pan in refrigerator to solidify for at least 4 hours. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.

Bars are best when brought back to room temperature before eating.

Pecan Pie Brownies

As a Southerner, it is required to have pecan pie for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it is so very sweet, I can only eat a small sliver at a time. Hardly my modus operandi when it comes to desserting, especially around the holidays. I’m always looking for ways to enjoy it more by adding things (see here, here and here) to reduce the cloying nature of it.

This year, I decided to add pecan pie as a topping to a decadent chocolate brownie recipe. The dark chocolate balances the sweet pecan layer and this will definitely be something I’ll make again.

I toast the pecans, as I believe it enhances their flavor and texture.

As far as pans go – don’t worry if you don’t have a 9×9. I ended up baking this in a 7×11 pan as I’m staying at a place without my usual assortment of pots and pans. It overflowed a little but I had placed it on a baking sheet so I didn’t make a mess in the oven. The smaller the pan, the thicker the layers.

Pecan Pie Brownies

Brownies:

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pecan Pie Topping:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
½ cup Karo corn syrup
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups pecan halves, toasted
pinch of salt

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

Sift together flour and cocoa powder.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in the microwave until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla and mix well with a spatula. Add the sifted flour and cocoa mixture and stir to combine. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

While brownies are baking, in a medium saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in corn syrup, egg, vanilla extract, pecans and a pinch of salt. After the brownies have spent 15 minutes in the oven, spoon pecan pie filling over them in an even layer, then bake until topping is just set, about 30 minutes more.

Let cool to room temperature, then cut into squares to serve.

As it is Thanksgiving, I want to express my gratitude to all my readers. Thank you so much for tuning in and, especially, for letting me know when you used my recipe and any suggestions you had for improving them. Thank you all and I hope you have a safe and happy holiday.

Chocolate Pistachio Slice and Bake Cookies

I found a bag of pistachio nuts in my parents’ pantry and, with my current chocolate craving, decided I just had to make cookies.

Whenever I make these, I divide the dough into two rolls and freeze one for later slicing, baking and eating.

Big pistachio and deep chocolate flavor. So very yummy.

Chocolate Pistachio Slice and Bake Cookies

1 ½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup shelled, chopped roasted pistachio nuts
coarse salt for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixing, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla and then scrape down the bowl. Add in the flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in the pistachios.

Divide the dough in half and place on plastic wrap and then wrap into logs. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or place in the freezer until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from refrigerator. If you are taking it from the freezer, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Unwrap the dough and cut into ½ inch rounds. Set on baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with coarse salt.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the centers appear set. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

 

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake with Fudge Frosting

I had the end of a bag of powdered sugar and a little less than a cup of buttermilk. All I could think of to use them both was frosting but what to frost? I didn’t want to fuss with cake pans or layers so I went with a super easy chocolate sheet pan recipe.

The coffee makes it seem even more chocolately. By adding a full cup, the cake is super moist and tender.

The creme de cacao reduces the sweetness of the frosting. Be sure and add it after you’ve pulled the frosting from the heat as you don’t want to burn it all off.

An easy and delicious cake recipe. I definitely recommend it!

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
1 cup hot coffee
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Melt the butter in a double boiler. Stir in the cocoa and hot coffee.

Sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Place in the bowl of stand mixer with the sugar.

Pour the cocoa butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix on low until combined. Beat in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick. When done, the cake will begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a rack.

I use a tall sided pan for baking the cake so that when I pour over the warm frosting, it doesn’t make a mess.

Fudge Frosting

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
6 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon creme de cacoa

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and buttermilk.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat and mix in the confectioners’ sugar and creme de cacoa, beating until smooth.

Pour the frosting over the cake while the frosting is still warm. Serve the cake right from the pan.

Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

I was really craving chocolate and was happily munching on a Fun-sized Snickers when my hind brain went, “Wait just a minute! Why don’t you put one of those in a chocolate chip cookie?”

I love my brain.

I cut each fun size I could rescue from the maw of my parents into 6 pieces. I ended up with a cup of Snickers pieces.

Definitely refrigerate the dough, as it will spread a bit more when it isn’t cold, making for thinner, less chewy cookies.

The cookies are really good – the caramel and nuts was a lovely addition.

Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels
1 cup fun-sized Snickers, each candy cut into 6 pieces

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and Snickers.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour. It can be stored for up to 3 days before use.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drop rounded tablespoon of cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

Reimagining Joy (With Pecans)

I’m not above scarfing down many of the candy bars that populate the displays near cash registers. Including Almond Joy. However, I’m a southern girl who prefers pecans over every other nut and so, when I made these at home, I used toasted pecans instead.

I looked up several recipes on the internet but went with the one my friend, Conan, sent to me. This one didn’t enrobed them in chocolate – just put everything together and let the morsels work their magic with the pecans, coconut and sweetened condenses milk.

A quick and easy recipe that is very addicting.

Pecan Joy

14 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups bittersweet chocolate morsels
1 cup toasted and salted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and pecans. Stir until combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop, press together portions of the mix onto the parchment covered baking sheets. Use damp fingers to push everything together into a tidy round.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking. The pecan joys will be done when the edges and bottom turn golden brown.

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.