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.

Advertisement

Pecan Pie Kahlúa Cheesecake

We decided not to make a traditional pecan pie for Thanksgiving. Instead, Michelle made her wonderful Greek yogurt cheesecake with some Kahlúa coffee liqueur. While that was absolutely delicious, we topped it with a pecan pie topping (that I’ve used before on brownies) which also had Kahlua in it.

We reduced the sugar (none in the crust and down in both the cheesecake and topping and eliminated the corn syrup) so I’m hoping my diabetic sister and pre-diabetic brother-in-law will have eaten enough protein to be able to have a generous slice. Otherwise, more for me!

Pretty and so very good!

Pecan Pie Cheesecake

Crust:

10 tablespoons melted butter
3 cups graham cracker crumbs

Filling:

4 packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur

Topping:

2 ¼ cups whole pecans
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or Kahlua Coffee Liqueur)

In a food processor, mix together butter and graham cracker crumbs for the crust. Press into a 10 inch springform pan, coming a little up the sides. Bake 10 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

Lower oven temperature to 200 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and whip together until fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the Greek yogurt, vanilla extract and Kahlua Coffee Liqueur .

Pour into pan and tap against the counter to bring up any bubbles.

Bake for 2 ½ hours. If it still jiggles, cook for 30 minutes more. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with door cracked open for fifteen minutes. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edge, about an inch deep to loosen. Leave on the counter to cool for thirty minutes to an hour. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight before topping.

Make the pecan pie topping:

Coarsely chop about 1 cup of the toasted pecans. Leave the remaining ½ cup whole.

Place butter, brown sugar and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, whisking frequently, until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is completely smooth and bubbling all over, about 10 minutes. Whisk in ½ cup heavy cream until completely combined and bubbling again.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped and whole pecans and vanilla extract (or liqueur, if using). Set aside to cool to room temperature, 30 to 45 minutes.

Unmold the cheesecake from the springform pan and pour over the pecan pie topping. Refrigerate until ready to slice and serve.

It was so beautiful and tasted so good plain, I had to post a picture of that, too.

Yummy!

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.

Amaretto Cheesecake

Michelle has once again outdone herself with making a cheesecake for my birthday. I happened upon a package of Amaretto cookies and thought they would make a terrific crust. I brought the idea to her and she did the rest.

So good! Rich and creamy and very flavorful. I couldn’t get my parent’s to stop eating on it, until I shoved it in the freezer!

Amaretto Cheesecake

2 ½ cups ground amaretto cookies (about 1 and half 7.5 ounce packages)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
4 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt (we used 2 % Fage plain)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup amaretto liqueur (we used di Amore Amaretto)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

In a food processor, mix together butter and ground cookies for the crust. Press into a 10 inch springform pan, coming a little up the sides.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together cream cheese and sugar. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the Greek yogurt, vanilla extract and liqueur.

Pour into pan and tap against the counter to bring up any bubbles.

Bake for 2 ½ hours. If it still jiggles, cook for 30 minutes more.

Remove from oven and bring oven temperature up to 500 degrees F. Brown top, about 10-15 minutes.

Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with door cracked open for thirty minutes. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edge, about an inch deep to loosen. Leave on the counter to cool for thirty minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before slicing.

Apple Hand Pies for Pi Day

This year for Pi Day I decided to go for apple pie. But not just one – no, I wanted lots of pie so I went for individual ones using my handy, dandy empanada maker to cut and mold them.

I’ve made Apple Jacks before I didn’t want fried pies this time so I went with baking them instead. With a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on the top, these are perfect little snacks and are crispy not heavy.

Flakey and overflowing with apple goodness, these allow me to have my pie and eat it anywhere. I ate several hot out of the oven, still more after they cooled and some cold out of the fridge.

Apple Hand Pies

1 recipe of sourdough pie crusts or a package of Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts

1 (6 ounce) packages dried, sliced Granny Smith apples
2 cups water
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt

Cover dried apple slices with water and cook on top of the stove over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes until water is almost all absorbed by the apples. Add the sugars, butter and spices. Continue cooking another fifteen minutes. Mash the apples until they look like pie filling. Remove and set aside to cool.

Turn out the dough rounds onto a floured surface and roll to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into circles about 5 inches across. Chill dough until filling is room temperature. Fill each circle with about 2 tablespoons of the apple filling. Moisten the edges of the circle with some water on your fingers. Fold over and crimp the edges of the pies together. Place on parchment covered baking sheets.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

While the oven is preheating, freeze the pies (at least 10 minutes) or put in the fridge (at least 30 minutes) before baking. The colder the pies are going into the oven, the better they’ll hold their shape.

Scramble an egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the top of each pie with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut a slit in the top for venting.

Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. They’re done when the pies are golden brown on top and around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool until ready to handle.

Serve warm or at room temperature or even cold out of the refrigerator. Baked pies can be frozen. Allow to thaw in the fridge before serving.

Vanilla Cookies with Chocolate

Some lovely friends of mine gave me a bottle of homemade vanilla for the holidays and it smells so good I want to use it as perfume. I restrained myself and just made cookies that highlight the wonderful vanilla flavor.

These are super basic vanilla cookies into which I chopped some bittersweet chocolate very fine because, why not? Use a baking bar as it will shave a little as you chop so that there are small bits of chocolate distributed throughout.

Crispy outside but still chewy and just enough chocolate to satisfy. The vanilla flavor comes through to make one delicious cookie.

Vanilla Cookies with Grated Chocolate

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 oz bittersweet chocolate baking bar, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate just until combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and place 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Satsuma Creole Cream Cheese Cheesecake

Michelle picked up a whole crate of satsuma’s for me and so I took her some Creole cream cheese I picked up from Dorignac’s for her to make me a cheesecake. I’m super helpful like that!

I had this cheesecake several years ago at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House but they added a bunch of other fruit to the compote topping and it was super distracting. I figured doing it with only satsumas would be better and it was. Segment the satsuma’s over a bowl to catch all the juice as you need a ½ cup for the glaze. I plan on using the delicious compote over other things, so I doubled the recipe.

If you don’t have satsumas where you live, you could move or, easier still, use mandarin oranges or tangerines.

If you don’t have the Creole cream cheese you can make your own or substitute sour cream.

The cheesecake is super silky with crunchy crust and a hint of orange. The addition of the compote really takes it to the next level.

Satsuma Creole Cream Cheese Cheesecake

Crust
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup pecans, chopped fine
½ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Filling
5 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1¼ cups sugar
1 cup Creole cream cheese
2 teaspoons satsuma zest
1/4 cup satsuma juice
3 medium eggs

Make the crust

In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, sugar and melted butter. Press into a 9 x 13-inch spring-form pan. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

Make the filling

Preheat oven to 250˚F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer whip the cream cheese. Add the sugar and mix until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides with a spatula. Add the Creole cream cheese, zest and juice and mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add one egg at a time and mix well after each egg. Pour the batter into the prepared crust and tap the pan several times on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 2 hours, until the center of the cake is firm to the touch. Let cool at room temperature for fifteen minutes before running a knife around the outside edge to help keep the top from cracking. Let it continue to cool before refrigerating until ready to serve.

Optional Topping of Satsuma Compote
8 satsumas
½ cup satsuma juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 ounce Grand Marnier liqueur

Peel and segment satsumas to remove the membrane. Heat the juice, sugar and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid becomes syrupy, approximately 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and fold in the satsuma segments. Add Grand Marnier and pour over the cheesecake slices.

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.