Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

It is that time of the month and I’m craving chocolate. I just had to make these dense and rich cookies. They totally hit the spot!

Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies


2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time. Pour in vanilla. Slowly combine flour mixture alternately with milk. Stir in pecans and morsels.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating cookie sheet midway through baking. Cookies will still look soft. Cool for 2 minutes on pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Black Bottom Bourbon Pecan Pie

I might damage my Southern cred with this confession but I find the pecan pie recipe on the back of the Karo Syrup bottle a little too sweet. However, earlier this year, we had a delicious black bottom bourbon pecan pie at High Hat Cafe that wasn’t so sweet and had a deep flavor from the bourbon. So we took to the drawing board and started by altering the pecan filling. We switched the corn syrup with cane syrup and reduced the sugar. In the past, I have used a ganache with bittersweet chocolate and cream to coat the bottom of the pie crust before adding the filling but, after using all the cream in the Bourbon Vanilla ice cream, we had to stick with just morsels.  The idea for using cocoa in the pie crust came from Saving Room for Dessert. We also followed the America’s Test Kitchen tip and added vodka and water to the crust to make for a very tender crust that is also easier to roll out.

Look out, Thanksgiving! There is a new pie in town!

Black Bottom Bourbon Pecan Pie

Dark Chocolate Pie Crust

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons cold butter
ice water and vodka

Bourbon Pecan Pie

1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 eggs
1/2 cup cane syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup chopped pecans
a heaping cup of bittersweet chocolate chips
a handful of pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350F

First make the crust. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Break up the shortening and butter into smaller pieces and drop into the processor bowl. Pulse maybe 10 times more until the mixture is crumbly and the butter and shortening are well distributed.

While the machine is running, drizzle in the 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water and 1 1/2 tablespoon vodka (don’t worry, the alcohol cooks off), and stop just when the dough comes together. Stop the machine and feel the dough, if it comes together when pressed between your fingers, it’s ready. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and bring together with your hands into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll the dough out on a cocoa’d surface (instead of flour). Fit the dough into a 9″ pie pan that you have coated in shortening. Prettify the edges. Put the crust back in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

For the filling, whisk together the bourbon and the cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs, and then the corn syrup and sugar. Stir in the melted butter and the chopped pecans.

Take the pie crust out of the fridge and cover the bottom with the chocolate chips. Pour the filling over the chips. Arrange the remaining pecan halves over the entire top of the pie. Cover with aluminum foil so the pecans on top don’t get too dark.

Bake for about an hour until bubbling and puffed on top. Let the pie cool on a rack before cutting.

Gracious To Go

If you’re looking for good desserts (as well as other bakery items), Gracious bakery is the place to go. In fact, if I’m out and about in the morning around Earhart Blvd, I try to stop in a Gracious to Go. They are only open until 11am during the week here but, you are in and out fast, with fresh goodies to go.

Today, Michelle and I picket up a selection. We loved the deep, rich flavor of Valrhona chocolate in the chocolate croissant and chocolate pecan hand pie. The croissant was large, flakey and buttery and the hand pie almost had a cookie crust to go with the decadent interior.

We also some savory items, including a seasonal tart with sweet potato, Brussel sprouts and gruyere cheese and a spinach and goat cheese croissant.

The folks are super friendly and ready to make recommendations as well as encourage indulgences. Prices are reasonable and everything is fresh and creatively made. Try their two other locations for sandwiches and other items (one in Mid-city on Jeff Davis Pkwy and the other in the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue).

Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake

I cleaned out the gutters at Michelle’s house and my reward was a special cheesecake. The recipe is from John Besh and instead of making a two layer cake, we combined it all to make a very pretty lavender colored cheesecake that tastes even better than it looks. We replaced the vanilla with limoncello as well as using Michelle’s low and slow method of baking. His batter makes enough for a 10 inch cheesecake – glad we didn’t go with the 9 inch the original recipe listed.

Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake

3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 packages cream cheese
1½ cup sugar
¾ cup milk
eggs
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon limoncello (or vanilla extract)
1½ pints blackberries, divided
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter in a medium bowl. Press onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of the prepared pan.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. Blend in the milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in the sour cream, flour and limoncello (or vanilla) until smooth.

In a food processor or blender, purée 1 pint of the blackberries with the lemon zest and juice. Pour the purée into the cheese mixture along with the remaining 1⁄2 pint of whole blackberries and mix well.

Pour the filling on top of the prepared crust. Bake for 3 hours at 200 degrees F. Raise the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking for about 20 minutes or until the top is set. Allow to cool for 30 minutes on the counter. About 10 minutes into the cooling, run a knife along the inside edge, so that it doesn’t crack as it pulls from the side. Once cooled, move it to the refrigerator to finish chilling until ready to serve.

Brains! Milk Jelly Brains!!

Michelle’s nephew had a Plants vs Zombies themed birthday party at her house and they left behind the brain mold. I gave it a thorough scrubbing and then tossed a can of evaporated milk in the refrigerator so the next day I could make Milk Jelly Brains! Using the milk turns the gelatin wonderfully creamy and, when you use a flavor like blackberry, it becomes a thick pinkish and very brain-like!

2 boxes of flavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk, refrigerated overnight

Place gelatin into a large mixing bowl. Stir boiling water into the gelatin. Let stand on the counter to cool down a bit. You don’t want it to cool to setting; just until the water is close to room temperature. Shake the can of evaporated milk well and then pour into the gelatin. Whisk until totally combined. Pour into a lightly oiled mold. Let set for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To unmold, loosen top edge with a knife. Set the mold in warm water up to the rim for about 10 seconds. Cover with a serving plate and then invert the mold. Give it a jiggle and it should come right out.

Peanutty Chocolate Cheerio Clusters

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

Ovid

In honor of taking it easy on Labor Day, I’m making these no bake dessert clusters. I recommend using bar chocolate here as morsels have a stabilizer that means the finished candy will have a bit of a waxy texture. I used 3 oz unsweetened and 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate to come up with a cup of chopped but you can use any combination of chocolate (including milk and white) to come up with the level of chocolate intensity that you prefer.

Peanutty Chocolate Cheerios Clusters

1 cup chocolate, chopped
½ cup chunky peanut butter
3 cups Cheerios cereal
flake sea salt, optional

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Alternately, set out paper candy cups on a baking sheet for more contained servings.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and the peanut butter, stirring regularly until melted together and smooth.

Place the Cheerios in a large mixing bowl and pour the melted chocolate and peanut butter over them. Stir gently with a spatula, until the cereal is well-coated in chocolate and no dry spots remain.

Drop small spoonfuls of the candy onto the prepared baking sheet. While the chocolate is still wet, lightly sprinkle with flake salt, if desired.

After all of the candies are formed, refrigerate until the chocolate is completely set. Store the candies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month but they aren’t going to last that long!

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I may have figured out a way to improve chocolate chip cookies. Just add bacon! Salty, fatty bacon combines with dark chocolate morsels to make for a cookie that is decadently addictive. This recipe makes half the usual recipe of cookies, mainly because I was making smaller batches for my experiments but also because you need to eat these all up faster than non-baconated cookies.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped fine
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat until just blended. Add the dry ingredients; beat until everything is incorporated. Stir in the bacon, chocolate chips and pecans.

Drop by large tablespoons the cookie dough onto the baking sheet. They will spread, so put them 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. They will still be soft in the center. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.