Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Bars

Hi everyone! Happy November! I love the fall. It’s my middle sister’s birth month, the air has that crisp autumnal smell, and Thanksgiving is approaching! What a nice way to celebrate the fall and our gratitude for #pumpkinspiceseason than with family, friends, and lots of food? Do you know what you’re baking/cooking/eating for Thanksgiving? In addition to a more traditional apple crumb pie, I’m also making these peanut butter chocolate cake bars. Are you surprised by this unorthodox addition? One taste and you won’t be.

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These bars are absolutely divine. The chewy chocolate cake bottom is layered with a creamy peanut butter layer and chocolate ganache. I top them with Reese’s pieces and fall sprinkles, and they’re pretty hard to beat. The chocolate-peanut butter combo is a winner and these have several elements of each flavor 🙂 And they’re easy to make too! The cake layer uses cake mix, you mix a handful of ingredients for the PB layer, and to make the ganache, you simply microwave your chocolate and cream. An easy-to-make and especially delicious showstopper? Sign me up!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Bars

Recipe slightly modified from Something Swanky

Serving Size: 12-16

Ingredients

  • 1 Devil’s Food Cake mix (ONLY the powder mix, not the other ingredients listed on the box)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • optional: 2 tablespoons of milk for thinning if necessary
  • 2 cups chocolate (chocolate melts or chocolate chips)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Reese’s pieces and fall-colored sprinkles (optional)

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment (foil is ok too, but it will stick slightly to the bottom of the bars) and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
    2. In a very large bowl mix together cake mix, melted butter, and egg until a dough forms.
    3. Press dough evenly into the prepared dish. Bake for 12 minutes.
    4. Cool completely in pan.
Meanwhile:
  1. In a large bowl combine peanut butter and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar and whipping cream and beat until smooth (with the exception of crunchy peanut butter chunks), scraping bowl occasionally. If mixture is too thick, add 1-2 tbsp of additional milk to thin it.
  2. Spread mixture evenly over the cooled cake mix crust.
  3. Place bars in the refrigerator while preparing the ganache.
  4. For the ganache, mix cream and chocolate in a bowl.
  5. Microwave for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache cool.
  6. Spread the ganache or frosting over the peanut butter layer. Decorate with sprinkles and Reese’s pieces if using. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or until ganache is set and peanut butter layer is chilled.
  7. Cut into bars and serve!

Let me know if you end up making these for Thanksgiving too! These are definitely something to be thankful for.

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Magnolia’s Banana Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

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For my birthday a few weeks ago, my good friend Jill got me Magnolia bakery’s classic cookbook (along with some really pretty sprinkles.) I was so happy to have received it (and super impressed that somehow she knew that I wanted it before I even knew myself.) Magnolia’s is a fantastic bakery in New York with several locations. Their signature items are their cupcakes and their banana pudding. I’ve enjoyed baking my way through the cookbook. This cake is the best new-to-me recipe that I’ve baked using the cookbook.

The cake is a fantastic use of bananas and the sweet tender cake complements the frosting perfectly. It brings bananas back to life in a confection that is a lot more exciting and satisfying than your average banana bread. The frosting is unique (and easy to make!) in that it’s mostly cream cheese and white chocolate.The frosting’s tangy-sweet flavor is a great match for the sweet cake. The cake ages well-it was sublime one day and two days after I made it–since the flavor improves over time.

This is one of the best cakes that I’ve had, and although it’s not available in Magnolia’s bakeries in NYC, it can be available in your kitchen!

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Banana Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

from Magnolia Bakery

Cake:

3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas

6 tablespoons buttermilk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting

1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

8 oz white chocolate (such as Lindt–do not use baking chocolate like Callebaut), melted and cooled to lukewarm temperature

For garnish:

3/4 cup chopped walnuts or walnut halves

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Grease and lightly flour two 9x 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the bananas. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until well incorporated, then add the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the second half of the dry ingredients, mixing well. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let the layers cool in their pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cake has cooled, apply the frosting between the layers, and then on the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with walnuts as desired. Enjoy! 🙂

For the frosting:

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well. Add the melted chocolate and beat well. Use immediately or store, covered, at room temperature for up to 4 hours.

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Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecakes

Hello and thanks for visiting! How is your summer so far? I hope that you are enjoying it and staying cool. This is my first blog post in a while and it feels great to be back! I’m here because I have a delicious recipe that I’m excited to share with you.

Do you ever see or find out about something and find it hard to stop thinking about it? I saw a recipe for these cheesecakes about two weeks ago and thought about them very often and told lots of people about them before I took the plunge and baked them last weekend. The great thing about these cheesecakes, other than their delicious taste and good looks, is that they are so easy to make!

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The cheesecakes are smooth and creamy with a healthy  dose of peanut butter flavor. The chunks of Butterfinger are delicious too. These are like Butterfinger cakes, with the winning combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

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I hope that you enjoy these as much as I did!

Butterfinger Cheesecake Cupcakes

from Baker by Nature

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 24 minutes

Total Time: 44 minutes

Yield: 1 dozen cheesecake cupcakes

Serving Size: 1 cheesecake cupcake

Mini Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecakes! These tiny treats pack a TON of flavor!

Ingredients

  • For the Oreo Crust:
  • 14 Oreo cookies
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • For the Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecake Filling:
  • 12 ounces Full-Fat Cream Cheese, very soft (use brick-style cream cheese for best results)
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs plus 1 Egg Yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 2 full-size Butterfinger candy bars, chopped into bits
  • For the Peanut Butter Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • Garnish:
  • 1 full-size Butterfinger candy bar, chopped into bits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, lightly spray liners with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. For the Oreo Crust:
  3. Add the Oreo cookies to the body of a small food processor or blender and pulse until the cookies are fine crumbs. Stir in the melted butter, mixing well to combine. Add 1 tablespoonful to each lined muffin cup. Press the crust firmly into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes then remove from oven and set aside to cool. In the meantime, make your filling.
  4. For the Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecake Filling:
  5. In the body of a high power blender, food processor, stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand held mixer, beat the softened cream cheese, sour cream, and peanut butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Add in the eggs and yolk and beat until combined. Turn the mixer off and, using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the flour, mixing just until combined. Stir in the Butterfinger bits until they’re incorporated in the batter. Divide the filling evenly among cups – pouring it on top of the prepared crust layer – adding about 1/4 cup of batter to each mold. The molds should be very full but not overflowing. Gently wiggle the pan back and forth to level the cheesecake filling. Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 24 minutes, or until cupcakes are puffed, set at the edges, and just a little jiggly in the center. Remove from oven and cool mini cheesecakes in the pan, placed on top of a cooling rack, completely, before transferring them to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. Once cool, top each cheesecake cupcake with a teaspoon of peanut butter glaze and garnish with chopped butterfingers. Store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, until needed. Cheesecakes will keep, without the glaze, for 5 days.
  6. For the peanut butter glaze:
  7. Place the peanut butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until completely melted. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar.

Notes

Recipe may be doubled. Cheesecake can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days WITHOUT the peanut butter glaze. Make and add glaze and garnish right before serving.

I had a lot of extra peanut butter glaze, which isn’t a problem, but if you don’t want leftovers, I’d recommend using a lot less–maybe 1/4 of the measurements called for above.

 

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Favorite Vanilla Cake with Magnolia’s Buttercream

You know how some people don’t have any time for desserts that are not chocolate? Are you like that? If so, this cake might change your mind. Sure, fudgy chocolate things can be life changing. There is also something very satisfying about a rich, buttery, vanilla confection. This cake is a perfect example of such a treat.

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I decided to use the cake recipe on a bag of Foodtown flour along with the famous Magnolia bakery’s buttercream frosting. Magnolia’s cake recipe uses self-rising flour and more butter than the cake recipe that I chose. This cake recipe uses all-purpose flour, which I had on hand. More importantly, it complemented the frosting well because the frosting is so rich and sweet. And both cake and frosting are easy to make!

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I’ve been making this frosting since high school. It’s the best buttercream that I’ve ever made. I can’t imagine a vanilla frosting that has a more wholesome flavor than this one. It’s like heaven in frosting form. It is full of butter and sugar with a hint of vanilla and, when created well, is silky and thick.

I first made this cake and frosting combination for Valentine’s Day. My boyfriend liked it so much that after inhaling the first piece that we cut, he quickly cut this piece and slathered on extra frosting. It’s that kind of cake.

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Loving Yellow Cake

from Foodtown

Makes Two 8-in layers

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

2 eggs (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup milk (I used skim)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Mix together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat eggs in one at a time. Add vanilla to milk and add alternately with flour, mixing enough to blend. *Do not overmix. Pour into two greased 8-in pans. Bake in oven for 25-30 min. Cool and frost. Serve with joy!

Magnolia’s Buttercream Frosting

via Food.com

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), very soft
  • 8 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1cup milk (I used skim)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter and 4 cups of the sugar in large mixing bowl and add the milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (you may very well not need all of the sugar).* If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. Use and store frosting at room temperature, as it will set if chilled.

Can store in an airtight container for up to three days.

*Since I don’t have a food processor or electric beater, I mixed using a fork and the frosting was kind of lumpy. I blended it in the Nutribullet and was rewarded with a great smooth texture! So I recommend using an appliance like that.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans-Recommendations

Hi everyone and welcome to my first travel post! I went to New Orleans with my family last week to tour Tulane, since my sister was accepted to college there. It was so beautiful!

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And the food wasn’t bad either 😉 We’re kosher-style so we don’t eat pork or shellfish. Thus, we couldn’t eat many of the favorite dishes (mufaletta, gumbo, jumbalaya, etc..) That being said, we certainly didn’t go hungry. We ate very well and my meals there were some of my favorite parts (not that I’m surprised.)

Here are my recommendations:

Seed

This was hands-down my favorite meal in NOLA. I was so happy about it that I literally couldn’t sleep after eating there. I heard about this restaurant from one of my favorite bloggers. Since my family loves to hate on vegan restaurants, I knew that I wouldn’t have a good chance at getting them there, but we met an old neighbor and she happened to suggest it! It worked out perfectly.

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This restaurant had awesome vibes. It had sweet quotes like the one above posted on the walls, it was bright, and the service was excellent. I ordered the Carrot and Avocado salad and the side of mac and cheese for my meal. I originally thought I’d order the salad and the lentil soup but the mac and cheese was calling me so I answered 🙂 The salad dressing was a bit sweeter than expected. I got used to it though. I loved that it was full of veggies and had no problem finishing it. The mac and cheese was fantastic. I don’t think it’d be distinguishable from regular mac in a blind taste test. (If you try that, let me know.) IMG_1990

But the best part was the chocolate mousse. It was generously portioned,  rich and chocolatey, topped with a fantastic fluffy whipped cream that didn’t melt. What else would you want? Note that the photo below was taken after several bites (we were sharing the dessert so I didn’t want to snap a pic right away.) I wouldn’t recommend the carrot cake cupcake (also pictured)- it was a little mushy and gingery for my taste. IMG_1992

The American Sector (at the WWII Museum)

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We also went to the WWII Museum. I didn’t really connect with it as my parents did-it focused on the details of the battles too much for my taste. But I did appreciate the museum restaurant. I got the salmon BLT without the bacon with a side of vegetables instead of fries. This was very satisfying. The veggies were seasoned well and the sandwich was perfect-the waiter said that it’s the best one on the menu! The salmon was cooked well with a nice spice rub and complemented the toasted wheat bread and aioli. We sat outside and appreciated the sunny weather and beautiful setting.

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Surrey’s

I had heard about this place from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. It was near our hotel so I walked over with my dad one morning.I loved my breakfast there. I got the Costa Rican breakfast. The black beans were delicious. The dish was balanced with healthy protein, carbs, and fat, and was hearty but not heavy. I liked the atmosphere, although it was a little divey. The service was good too. IMG_1928

I loved the juice also. I got the special-a blend of orange, mango, and pineapple. It was fresh and I could taste each of the fruits. I insisted on taking the leftover juice home with me so the rest of my family could enjoy it.

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My dad raved about the fruit bowl.

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Satsuma Cafe

My dad and I went to this cafe on our last morning in New Orleans. We wanted to go to Audobon Park, which was beautiful, near Tulane, so we went for breakfast at Satsuma first and shared the Mexican breakfast and biscuit. It was very good. Notice how this breakfast looks similar to the earlier one?  (I know what I like and also couldn’t eat a lot of their shellfish/pork options.) The dish worked together well and was satisfying but not heavy. The biscuit had a nice texture but was a little salty.

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Satsuma had a great atmosphere and was very bright because of its large windows. They have tables on the sidewalk which are perfect when it’s sunny and warm as it was when we were there. It felt like a local favorite.

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I’ll leave you with a photo of Audobon Park. If you go to New Orleans, I hope that you have good weather. It was magically beautiful when I visited. The slower pace of life and the kindness of the people there didn’t hurt either. 🙂 Enjoy!

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Baked Red Velvet Donuts

As you might have guessed, I love dessert- baking it and eating it. I’ve recently enjoyed baking breakfast treats on weekends. It’s a great way to savor our weekend mornings (and to occupy myself when I wake up at 7AM and I’m the only one awake ;). I’ve loved making baked donuts, which are really just donut shaped cakes with frosting.  These donuts are possibly the best I’ve eaten. They’re sublime. The cake has a subtle chocolate flavor that complements the cream cheese frosting perfectly. The frosting has the optimal ratio of cream cheese to butter: 1:1-so it doesn’t taste like straight cream cheese like lesser frostings.

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They are super easy to make and truly lovely to eat. My boyfriend ate two in a row! (That never happens.)

Red Velvet Donuts

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 baked donuts

Serving Size: 1 baked donut

Baked red velvet donuts topped with cream cheese frosting! Ready in just 20 minutes.

Ingredients

For the red velvet donuts:

  • 1 cup all-purpose baking flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I mixed sour cream with skim milk)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, VERY soft
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, VERY soft
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk (I used skim)

Instructions

  1. For the red velvet donuts:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Generously grease a doughnut pan and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla, and egg. Gently fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture – don’t over mix! Fold in red food coloring and stir until combined.
  4. Spoon mixture into prepared doughnut pan, and bake for 10 minutes, or until the doughnuts spring back when lightly pressed. Allow doughnuts to cool a few minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire wrack to cool for a few more minutes.
  5. For the cream cheese frosting:
  6. In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric handheld mixer (or fork), beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until completely smooth; about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted confectioners’ sugar. Add in the milk. Once the milk is combined beat frosting on high-speed for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Spread frosting on cooled donuts.

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Whole Wheat Pizza Dough with White Pizza Variation

Welcome to the first savory recipe post on this blog!  (Unless you count cornbread as savory, which I don’t 🙂 As usual, I ended up deciding what to bake because of the ingredients that I wanted to use. I had a lot of whole wheat flour left and I had dozens of Morning Glory muffins sitting pretty in my freezer. So I chose to to make this pizza. This dough is fantastic. It bakes beautifully and is soft and dense. It has a great earthy, hearty flavor.

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I felt so accomplished after making this pizza. And it’s not hard to make! It just needs a little love and time for the yeast to work their (its?) magic. A cool thing happened with these yeast- I witnessed them reacting!

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Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

from Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. *I did the “thin” crust and it was perfect. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables.
  5. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.

I made four pizzas using this dough- two more classic ones with marinara sauce and mozzarella, one with a black truffle sauce, and one with cheese and eggs.

My favorite variation was the cheese and eggs one.

White Pizza with Pecorino, Scallions and Eggs

Adapted from A Couple Cooks

Ingredients:

4 scallions (green onions)

¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese

2 eggs

1 pizza dough (I used 1 thin dough from the recipe above)

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Instructions:

1.Prepare the dough and place on baking sheet per the instructions above. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Prepare the toppings: Slice the green parts off of the scallions so they form long ribbons. In a small skillet, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil. Add the scallions and sauté until slightly tender, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

3.  Assemble the pizza: Brush olive oil over the dough and sprinkle with kosher salt. Sprinkle ¾ cup mozzarella cheese, then ½ cup Pecorino cheese. Top with scallions. Carefully crack two eggs on top and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt.

4. Bake the pizza for 13 or so minutes so that the egg yolks remain runny.

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I wouldn’t recommend freezing the dough. It was less pliable and easy to work with, and didn’t rise again. Here’s what the pizza looked like after freezing the dough:

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It kind of looks like the shape of the USA, right?  Or maybe a butterfly?

Enjoy and happy baking!

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

I’m so glad to share these bars with you today. I’ve been making them for a few years and I love them. Do you know who loves them more than me? My little cousin who lives nearby. I brought these for her last year and whenever I make anything else, she or my aunt mentions that these really are her favorite. I made these on Saturday morning when I wanted to bake something and eat oatmeal for breakfast. They come together so easily and are rich and satisfying. They pair perfectly with a glass of milk.IMG_0410IMG_0372

For all of you Oreo lovers out there, these bars are fantastic. They are chock full of Oreos-they have an Oreo crust and the creamy cheesecake layer has a healthy amount of Oreos too. They taste like Oreo bars with a creamy filling. The cheesecake is sweet and has a subtle tang that pairs perfectly with the cookie crust.

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They’re easy to make. Since they’re cheesecake bars, they don’t have any of the fuss of a regular cheesecake-no wrapping the pan in foil, no water bath. After crumbling the Oreos for the crust, you simply cream the ingredients for the cheesecake layer along with some chopped Oreos.

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Since I don’t have a food processor, I used the Nutribullet to grind up the Oreos. The Nutribullet is perfect for processing cookies. I should know. Ever since my grandmother bought it for me a few years ago, probably thinking that I’d use it for healthy ends, such as smoothies or soups, I’ve used it only for crumbling cookies and graham crackers. It does an excellent job and I find it a little less intimidating than a food processor.

Enjoy!

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OREO CHEESECAKE BARS

from Brown Eyed Baker

yield: 16 bars

prep time: 20 minutes

cook time: 50 minutes

total time: 6 hours

A bar version of the fabulous Oreo Cheesecake, complete with an Oreo crumb crust and a creamy cheesecake loaded with chopped Oreo cookies!

INGREDIENTS:

For the Crust:
23 Oreo cookies (store-bought or homemade)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sour cream
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
12 Oreo cookies (store-bought or homemade), coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing it to hang over two of the sides.

2. Make the Crust: Process the Oreo cookies in a food processor until they are turned into fine crumbs. Drizzle the melted butter over top and pulse a handful of times until the butter is evenly distributed and all of the crumbs are moist. Dump the crumbs into the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes (leave the oven on).

3. Make the Cheesecake: Beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until incorporated.

4. Slowly add the eggs, beating well after each addition, and mix until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the sour cream and vanilla, beating until incorporated.

5. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos, then pour the batter over the prepared crust, smoothing it into an even layer. Bake until the edges are set but the middle still jiggles slightly, about 40 to 50 minutes.

6. Place the pan on a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (or up to 24 hours) before serving.

7. To serve, lift the cheesecake out of the pan using the parchment or foil handles. Slice into bars and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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Three Ingredient Truffles

IMG_1771These truffles might look familiar. (They’re kind of like doppelgangers to these.) But these are different. They require only three ingredients and have a great doughy chocolate center. They’re perfect for Valentine’s Day!

I  first made these truffles around New Year’s and loved them. I had wanted to make Hungry Girl’s brownies for a while and finally took the plunge. They call for just two ingredients and couldn’t be easier to make. The brownies were good but I had a feeling that making them into truffles would make them “sell” better with my family. I was right. I love transforming brownies and cookies into truffles (trufflizing?)- they’re delicious, and that perfect combination of impressive to others while super easy to make.

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I bought the sprinkles while on vacation in December and waited to use them until last week when I made those peanut butter truffles. I love sprinkles. They jazz up desserts, and help us get into the holiday spirit. They elicit smiles.

These truffles are healthier than most because their brownie base uses pumpkin instead of fat (oil/cream cheese/butter/shortening etc.) However, they aren’t short on flavor! The main flavor that you’ll taste is the chocolate coating. I have a newfound appreciation for semisweet chocolate chips. Even relatively cheap brands like Nestle melt so beautifully (just make sure that your bowl doesn’t have moisture in it before microwaving.) Even though these are healthy, I didn’t want to title them as such because I think people tend to shy away from desserts labeled as healthy for fear that they’ll be less good than others. Not these. These are hands down excellent. They have a fudgy yet light center enrobed in chocolate. None of the people who tried one (and there were several) could tell that they were healthier than most or contained pumpkin at all! It’ll be our little secret 🙂

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Three Ingredient* Chocolate Truffles

Brownies from Hungry Girl via Redbook 

Ingredients:

15 oz can pure pumpkin

1 box devil’s food cake mix

Chocolate for melting (I used ~14 oz semisweet chocolate: a mix of chips and baking chocolate)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix the pumpkin with the cake mix. The batter will be thick, but that’s OK!
  3. In a 9 x 13-in. pan lined with parchment paper or sprayed with nonstick spray bake for 18-25 minutes.
  4. When the brownies are cool, break them up and roll the pieces into balls. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  5. Melt the chocolate (I microwaved.) Dip the brownie balls into the chocolate. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the truffles on the baking sheet and apply sprinkles if using. Refrigerate until set. Enjoy!

*sprinkles recommended but optional 🙂

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Peanut Butter Truffles

IMG_1725I love making truffles. They’re easy to make and even easier to eat 🙂

These were a great use of my Nutribullet. My grandmother bought me one a few years ago, perhaps thinking that I would use it to make smoothies, soups, or other healthy fare. I’ve used it only for baking so far! It’s great for crumbling Oreos and in this case, graham crackers.

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These truffles are fantastic. I would compare them to Reese’s peanut butter cups but they’re so much better. They’re more akin to Buckeyes, the Ohio confection. (Sampling some was a highlight of my trip to the state a few years ago.) The chocolate exterior provides a nice contrast to a creamy, sweet, peanut buttery filling.  The flavors are on point- chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven- and the graham cracker is a perfect complement to them both. They’re perfect for Valentine’s Day- to share with your friends, significant other, family, or even your colleagues. (My colleagues are the primary beneficiaries of most of my culinary efforts #insurancejargon 🙂

Peanut Butter Truffles

adapted from Something Swanky

Yield: 3 dozen*

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1/2 pound powdered sugar (~2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  • 5 whole graham crackers
  • 10 oz chocolate chips/chunks (I used semi sweet Trader Joe’s chocolate chunks**)

Instructions

  1. Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a large food processor or Nutribullet. Pulse until the crackers are fine crumbs.
  2. Add the butter and peanut butter. Blend until combined.
  3. Add the powdered sugar, and blend until combined. You may need to stop occasionally to scrape down the sides or transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl to finish mixing.
  4. Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave.
  6. Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer, and (if desired, not necessary) roll each ball until smooth. Dip the balls in chocolate and replace on the parchment lined cookie sheet to cool and harden.
  7. Refrigerate. Let set completely before serving or packaging

*Depending on how much dough you eat 😉

**I love Trader Joe’s chocolate chips/chunks: they’re delicious, they melt well, and they’re relatively cheap!