Monday, February 25, 2019

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cookies

  Ok, I know I've said this before, but I have to say it again. I've never met a salted caramel ANYTHING that I didn't like. There's just simply nothing better than the combination of salty and sweet that you get from the simple addition of salt to a rich creamy gooey caramel. So when I was looking for chocolate desserts and happened to find this one on a blog called Gimme Some Oven, I knew I had to try it. (Full disclosure, I love that name and I wish I had thought of it! haha)
 These cookies taste as rich and delicious as a gooey caramel brownie. And that little pinch of salt over the top just sets everything off in the most perfect way. Enjoy them with a tall glass of ice-cold milk, and you'll be living your best life. I'm not even kidding. Bake up a batch or two, and I PROMISE you'll be a hit!

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or dark chocolate cocoa powder)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (11 oz.) bag Kraft caramel bits
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the caramel bits and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Press each cookie down slightly to flatten, then sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Very often when baking cookies or a cake, the first step is to beat the butter and sugar together. I always make sure to let it go for much longer than you'd think, just so that it really comes together to make a creamy texture. It's been my experience that letting it go for at least 5 minutes is a complete game changer in all of my baking!
Instead of greasing the cookie sheet, I just lined it with a sheet of parchment paper. It's seriously a cookie baker's best friend. And you don't have to use a new piece every time you go into the oven. You can reuse a sheet many times!
Oh, one other thing...I didn't press mine down to flatten before baking as the recipe directs. TBH, every time I bake cookies they wind up being a little on the flat side, so I was happy that these came out perfectly just by dropping them with a cookie scooper.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Hershey's Scrumptious Chocolate Layer Bars

 Whenever you want a rich and delicious chocolate dessert, you will absolutely never go wrong with a Hershey recipe. I have several Hershey's cookbooks, and I'm not even kidding when I tell you that every single recipe I've ever made from them has been fabulous. They're well tested, straight forward, and they never disappoint. So, since I wanted to try a new chocolate something, of course I turned to my Hershey's Chocolate Treasures cookbook, and here we are!
 At first, I wasn't thinking of doing any kind of bars or squares because I already have so many brownie recipes (not that there's anything wrong with having new brownie recipes, but I was looking for something different.) Then I saw this recipe, and knew this was the one! I love that the top and bottom layers are not chocolate, so it looks like pretty stripes when you cut into it. I also love that it has almond extract in it, since I recently discovered that my niece, Terri, is a big fan of almond flavoring. The technique was also easy, tried and true. You make one dough, which serves as both the top and bottom layers, and then add a fabulous filling. In this case, the filling is cream cheese and melted chocolate chips. Are you kidding? Seriously? They had me at cream cheese! 
 So if you're looking to try a new chocolate something, try this one! It hits every single note and it will absolutely satisfy every single chocolate craving!

12 ounces pkg. Hershey's semisweet chocolate chips or mini chips
1 package (8 ounce size) cream cheese
1 can (5.3 ounce size) evaporated milk
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/3 cup sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

 Combine chocolate chips, cream cheese and evaporated milk in medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in walnuts, sesame seeds (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Blend well; set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in large mixer bowl. Blend well with mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press half of mixture in greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Spread with chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with rest of crumbs over filling; bake at 375 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. 

I didn't not include walnuts or sesame seeds in my filling. Tbh, if I were to add nuts to it, I think I would prefer almonds (to continue the almond theme) or pecans (since walnuts are not really my favorite).
The dough was a little more gooey than I had anticipated, so I just chilled it for a bit which made it easier to cut in half, and also to crumble over the top.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Slow Cooker Chocolate Strawberry Cobbler

 Are you looking for a rich, decadent, chocolate something to share with your special someone? THIS is the dessert you've been looking for! It's seriously one of the easiest and most delicious recipes you'll ever make, and I swear it will satisfy all of your chocolate cravings! Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you have the perfect date night dessert!
 Wait..  actually, come to think of it, it makes quite a lot.. so guess what.. to hell with date night! Make it for your next party of chocolate lovers! I promise you'll get rave reviews!!! That's really all I have to say about it. ANYONE can make this!! So, what are you waiting for?? And if you don't have a slow cooker, then you need to get one ASAP!!

2 cans strawberry pie filling
1 chocolate fudge cake mix
1 stick butter
vanilla ice cream

Ok here we go. This is about as easy as it gets. Dump the pie filling into the bottom of your slow cooker in one even layer. Now pour the dry cake mix over the pie filling. Slice the stick of butter into small pats, and place them all over the top of the cake mix. Place the cover on your slow cooker and cook it on high for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. That's all there is to it!
Serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Of course you can do any kind of pie filling or any kind of cake mix you like. Mix and match different flavors! The technique remains the same!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mint Chocolate Cookie Crunch Brownies

 Ok, lemme just say this right from the start, I'm am not the biggest fan of MINT. There. I said it. I mean, yeah, it's ok, but just not as the MAIN flavor of something. Otherwise, all I can think of is Altoids or toothpaste. The one mint thing I DO happen to love, however, is Girl Scouts' Thin Mint Cookies. I guess it's because the mint isn't so overpowering, and they are the perfect blend of chocolate and mint flavor. So I thought, well, lets put them into a brownie! Not an original thought, I know, but still a good one, and worth further research. Yes, yes, I know I could just buy a brownie mix, throw in some chopped cookies, and call it a day, but I usually don't like to use a boxed mix. That would take all the fun out of it!
  So I started looking for Thin Mint Brownie recipes. I found a TON of them, but many of them go VERY far with the whole mint thing. Adding mint extract to chocolate ganache, adding Andes Candies to buttercream, and on and on. Altoids, again. Sorry. Is it so much to ask for just the right brownie recipe with a thin mint crunch? I actually started to think, well, maybe what I really do want is a boxed mix and some chopped cookies.
 But then I found this fabulous recipe from a website called The Daily Meal, and it's exactly what I wanted. A scratch brownie with the thin mint crunch. Simple, easy, not complicated, and no Altoids. Could I still just do a boxed brownie mix and stir in some cookies? Of course, but I'll always go from scratch if I can help it!!

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c butter  
2 c sugar  
4 eggs 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract  
1 c flour  
1/4 tsp salt 
2 c Thin Mint cookies, chopped

 Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Brush a 13- by 9-inch pan with butter. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large bowl over a double boiler. Transfer the melted chocolate to a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time being careful to incorporate each egg. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt at once. Stir to combine. Fold in half of the chopped cookies. Spread the brownie batter evenly in the pan, and top with the remaining chopped cookies. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool completely before slicing and serving.

 Instead of unsweetened chocolate, I used dark chocolate chips. Use what you have!
If Girl Scout Cookies aren't available, add any other kind of cookie you like! If you're still feeling the mint thing, use Mint Oreos!
 Btw, I didn't even measure 2 cups of cookies. I just used an entire box!