7.21.2016

#96) Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies with Peanut Butter Chocolate Frosting

Move over "Plain Jane" brownies, there's a new "Queen B." in town!


I have professed, often and loudly, my love for brownies here on the blog and anyone who has perused my past recipes would've have picked up a somewhat blatantly obvious adoration for any possible chocolate and peanut butter combination.  What you probably wouldn't pick up on is that this pure love of brownies, chocolate, and peanut butter is a family thing, meaning my dad, my brother, and my son also love this addictive combination.  (My mom is on the fence about it, so we are on the fence about her... Joking mother!)  So it goes without saying that when we are all together there really is no other option for sweet treat flavor combos.  If you'd like to check out some of our past chocolate and peanut butter sweet treats, click here.

Now on to the details behind the new "Queen B." of the brownie world - a chewy brownie made with 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate filled with pockets of barely baked peanut butter cookies slathered in a dreamy peanut butter chocolate frosting and sprinkled with crushed salted peanuts!  Are you hooked yet?


There are a few steps involved and it takes great restraint to not eat the batter and lick every utensil you use along the way, but it will be well worth it when you take an all-encompassing bite of the finished product :) So dive in and give them a go, you'll be glad you did!



Peanut Butter Cookie Dough

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Steps

- Mix together butter, sugar, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Stir in peanut butter.
- Add flour and baking powder.  Mix until incorporated.  Cookie dough will be loose.
- Refrigerate 15-30 minutes, until firm and can be rolled into balls.
- Roll chilled dough into balls (1 tablespoon per ball); you should get 11 total.  Place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper and freeze for 30 minutes.

*While cookie dough balls are freezing, clean up those dishes and make the brownie batter :)


Chewy Brownies

Ingredients

1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp butter or margarine
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp flour

Steps

- Line 8"x8" baking pan with foil and coat with spray oil.  Preheat oven to 325°F. 
- Melt chocolate and butter together in microwave-safe bowl at 25 second increments, stirring well after each interval.  Set aside.
- Beat eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla with hand mixer until pale.  Stir in melted chocolate and butter.
- Gently fold in flour, mixing just until no white streaks remain.  Do not over mix.
- Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Remove peanut butter cookie dough balls from freezer and place 9 of the balls in the brownie batter, evenly spaced.  Cut the last two balls in half and fill any voids in the batter.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out with some sticky batter remaining.
- Let cool in pan for 5 minutes then, using the foil edges, lift the brownies out of the pan and let cool completely on cooling rack.

Now on to that frosting...


Peanut Butter Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

3 tbsp butter or margarine, softened
1 tbsp peanut butter
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp milk

Steps

- With hand mixer on low, mix together butter, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla.
- Add icing sugar gradually.
- Add milk until you reach the desired consistency - spreadable :)
- Spread evenly over top of cooled brownies
*To have a smooth surface to spread the frosting over I inverted the brownies onto a platter and spread the frosting over the "bottom" of the brownies.
- Sprinkle with 1/4 cup crushed, salted peanuts.

And there you have it, ladies and gentleman.  The "Queen B." of brownies...  or maybe that should be "Queen PB" :)





6.27.2016

#95) Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

A perfect dessert for any summer gathering...
or the cold winter days when all you want is a warm, sandy beach and palm trees :)


Pineapple Upside-Down Cake has been one of my favorite desserts since I was a kid.  It is a go-to recipe that I turn to whenever I need something easy, pretty, and delicious.  I don't remember the first time I made this cake on my own, but I am sure I was young and didn't have much in the way of baking know-how.  Since then I've picked up a thing or two and have been able to improve on my mother's "old faithful" recipe from an old Cream of the West cookbook. 


One problem I found with the original recipe was that no matter how gently I mixed in my eggs and no matter how patient I was in not opening the oven door, my cake would ALWAYS sink in the middle.  All that gooey caramel and beautiful pineapple would sink into a huge dip right in the middle of my cake :( The culprit?  Too much baking powder, I think.  So I lessened the amount of leavener and creamed the sugar with the butter to incorporate some air to work with.  Success :)

See that?  No dip ;)
Another little issue I had with the original recipe was that it called for shortening as the fat.  Now I am not against using shortening when needed, but why would I use this when there are many more flavorful options?  So naturally, I swapped it out for butter :)  I added a dash of vanilla and used buttermilk to help in this department as well.

Final little thing - the pineapple...  Pineapple slices are so pretty when they are arranged just so and you add those sweet little maraschino cherries for a pop of color.  But have you tried to take a bite of a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and the whole pineapple slice comes off with your first forkful?  I have and I wasn't happy about it. I want juicy pineapple in every single bite.  The fix - pineapple tidbits :)


Ingredients

3 tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar

1 can pineapple tidbits (19-ounce), drained  

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup butter milk (or mix 3/4 cup regular milk plus 1 tsp lemon juice; let stand 5 minutes)

Steps

-Preheat oven to 350°F.  (Mix together milk and lemon juice and let stand while preparing batter.) 
-Add melted butter and brown sugar to 9"x9" baking dish.  Arrange pineapple tidbits on top.
-Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
-In large bowl, cream together white sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
-Add eggs and vanilla, mixing gently just until incorporated.
-Add half the dry ingredients and half the milk.  Mix just until incorporated.
-Scrap sides and bottom of bowl.  Add reaming dry ingredients and milk.  Mix just until incorporated.
-Spoon batter over pineapple tidbits and carefully smooth top.  Bake for 40-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool 5 minutes in pan then carefully invert onto your serving platter.

*Garnish with strawberry preserve, toasted coconut, and crème chantilly (vanilla whipped cream).



6.18.2016

#94) My Favourite Banana Bread

Look no further because this is my favourite banana bread recipe :)
Moist, delicious banana bread that is a definite crowd pleaser!

I like bananas.  They're healthy, easy to pack in a lunch box, remind me of warmer climates when it feels a new ice age is beginning, and they are one of the most versatile baking ingredients you can get your hands on.  Seriously, everything from banana breads, to cookies, to cakes, to burritos and everything in between! 




I started out with a recipe from a great cookbook called "Bride & Groom: First and Forever Cookbook" and made a few little tweaks here and there.  After giving this recipe a few tries, adding in some small changes, and sending it out to different taste testers, I have to say that this recipe is a winner!  Give it a try and let me know how you like ;)




Ingredients

2 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp salt  
2 tsp cinnamon (less if you prefer a “hint” instead of a “kick”)

¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup butter, softened  

½ cup milk
½ tbsp vinegar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 cups mashed banana (about 5 small bananas)

*Don't be afraid to add some extras too, like a handful of chocolate chips or some toasted coconut :)

Steps

-Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix together milk and vinegar and let stand while preparing batter.  Grease two loaf pans.
-Sift together flour, salt, and cinnamon in medium bowl.  Set aside.
-In large bowl, mix together oil, brown sugar, and white sugar.
-Add eggs and vanilla, mixing gently until incorporated.
-Stir baking soda into soured milk.
-Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to the mixer, followed by ½ of the milk.  Mix gently until incorporated.  Repeat.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
-Add remaining dry ingredients and mashed banana.  Do not over mix.
-Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour.
-Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove and place on wire racks to cool.


Printable Recipe :)




6.06.2016

#93) Gingerbread Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache (for Gingerbread Day)

June 5th, 2016 - National Gingerbread Day
What better reason to dig out your ginger and molasses in June?

Did you know that yesterday was National Gingerbread Day in the US?  I had no idea until I stumbled upon Foodista's latest post.  But once I had this tid bit of info I was so happy!!!  Why?  Because it gave me an excellent reason to share one of our favourite recipes with you.  How else would I have found a legitimate reason to share a gingerbread cheesecake while the temperature is above freezing and Santa is nowhere in sight? ;)

This sweet and spicy cheesecake is full of deliciousness - gingersnap crust, spicy cheesecake filling, and sweet chocolate ganache.  It has been a hit every time I have made it and now that I've found some gluten-free gingersnaps at our local grocery store, hubby can once again enjoy one of his favourite desserts.  Give this recipe a try and let me know if it is a crowd pleaser for you :)



Crust

Ingredients 

1 1/4 cups crushed ginger snaps (*can be gluten-free)
1/4 cup melted butter

Steps

- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 9" springform pan.


Cheesecake Filling

Ingredients 

3 packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
3 eggs

Steps

- Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. 
- Add molasses, vanilla and spices; mix well. 
- Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
- Bake 45 to 50 min. or until centre is almost set. 
- Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake. Cool completely before removing rim. 

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

4 oz. Baker's semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream

Steps

-Microwave chocolate and whipping cream for 30 seconds; stir. 
- Repeat until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring every 30 sec. 
-Pour over cheesecake.



Printable Recipe :)




6.03.2016

Recipe Revisit: Bakeapple Blossoms (with White Chocolate and Maple Fleur de sel)

An update on a crowd favourite!
A simple shortbread cookie filled with a slightly tart bakeapple filling.


Every now and then I look through some of the older recipes here on my blog and I am a little disappointed with how underwhelming some of the photos are.  Many of these recipes were posted well before hubby and I had decent camera gear and good photo editing software, hence the poor lighting, bad colour, and unsharp images.  And every time I look through those old posts, the Type A personality (the one I try so poorly to hide) nags at me incessantly to redo the photos on nearly every single recipe posted before 2011.  But there are so many new and exciting recipes out there to play with, that I really can't see myself going back and pouring over all of those old ones.  That being said, there are some of those old recipes I go back to time and time again because they are crowd pleasers, old favourites, or just downright delicious :)

One of the most popular recipes on Sweet Treats by Dani is #51) Bakeapple Blossoms and its one I make over and over and over again.  I originally posted the recipe back in 2009 - before hubby was officially hubby, before our little cookie monster was even on our radar, before our first mortgage, and before decent camera gear and photo software.  It has always bothered me that such a unique and popular recipe had such mediocre pictures, so I gave Ms. Type A her own way this time.  I whipped up a new batch, put on some finishing touches, and snapped some new and improved pictures.  What do you think?

Then


Now


Bakeapple Filling

Ingredients

1 cup bakeapples
1/4 cup water
7 tbsp sugar (adjust according to the tartness of your berries)
2 tsp corn starch


Steps

-Boil berries with 3/4 of the water. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
-Push the cooked berries through a fine sieve, discarding the seeds.
-Whisk corn starch into remaining water. Add cornstarch mixture and sugar to berries.
-Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Let cool completely.


Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients


1 1/8 cup butter, softened 
2/3 cup sugar 
1 tsp vanilla 
2 cups flour 


Steps

- Combine butter, sugar and extract in mixer bowl and beat until creamy. 
- Add the flour, scraping often until well mixed. 
- Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Work together with hands upon removing from refrigerator.
- Heat oven to 350°F. 
- Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place them on silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. 
- Use a tsp measure to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
- Fill the indentation with a small dollop of your fruit filling.
- Bake for 14 - 18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. 
- Place cookies in wire rack and cool completely.


*Drizzle with melted white chocolate and add a sprinkle of maple fleur de sel, if desired.



Printable Recipe :)



5.29.2016

#92) Flourless Chocolate Cake with Homemade Mint Ice Cream

Chocolate lovers unite!  
This is the desert to please any and all chocolate lovers worldwide :)

Although this cake is called "Flourless Chocolate Cake" it would be better named "Chocolate Truffle Cake" because it is like sitting down with your favourite, delectable chocolate truffle and a fork.  Rich, dense, creamy, and chocolatey.  And the mint ice cream on the side is the perfect pairing, with its light mint flavour from fresh mint leaves and peppermint tea.  It helps to cleanse the palette between the heavenly bites of creamy chocolate cake.


The cake itself is simply divine and I support all the claims made by the author in terms of ingredients, methods, etcetera.  My only complaint is removing the cake from the springform pan.  The book (Cook's Illustrated: All-Time Best Chocolate Recipes) made it sound so easy - flip it over on some parchment, peel off the bottom of the pan and the parchment round, flip over on to your cake stand.  Well, my cake did not want to let go of the bottom of the pan or the parchment round...  I had to cut out two slices of cake and gingerly remove them, with minor damage to the slices, before I could get my spatula under the parchment round to release the rest of the bake.  In hindsight, maybe I should have left a lip of parchment outside of the springform pan to give me something to hold on to when removing the cake, but I am not sure if that would cause issues with the water bath and possible water seeping into the springform pan.  Anyone out there have any tips on that?


Now let's talk ice cream!  Is there any better treat for a lazy almost-summer day?  I think not ;)  And what possible flavour could go with this decadent chocolate truffle cake than mint?  A perfect match, if I do say so myself. 


I am very new to the world of ice cream making - this is just my third batch.  However, I have learnt some valuable lessons is researching recipes and making a few of my own.

Lesson #1 - the type of dairy you use is crucial, as it will be the deciding factor when it comes to the texture of your ice cream.  Long story short, the higher the fat content, the creamier the ice cream.  I stick to whipping cream as it really does lend that stick-to-your-tongue creaminess I crave from ice cream.  But if you are looking to lighten things up a little you can certainly use half-and-half or even 2% milk, but it will make for an icier ice cream.


 Lesson # 2 - Do NOT walk away from simmering cream or cooking custard!  Unless you want ice cream à la scorched cream or scrambled eggs, stay next to those pots while they are on the stove.  Dairy is a bit of a diva and will go form a nice simmer to burnt in 60 seconds flat.  (And I am convinced it knows when you're not watching!)  And those eggs you just added to your simmering dairy?  I am confident their goal in life is to grow up and become scrambled eggs.  Keep your burner on low-medium heat and constantly stir your custard.  (And when in doubt, strain the cooked custard before you put it in to chill.)


Lesson # 3 - Patience is key.  Just like you want your dairy to come to a nice simmer in the beginning, you also want your nicely cooked custard to chill adequately before throwing it into the ice cream maker.  4 hours minimum seems to be the rule of thumb, but I always chill it in the fridge overnight to be safe.


Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

8 eggs, chilled
1 pound (16 ounces) bittersweet of semisweet chocolate (I used semisweet)
1 cup butter (16 tablespoons), softened (use REAL butter, not margarine)
1/4 strong brewed coffee, room temperature

Steps

Preheat oven to 325°F.  

Grease bottom and sides of 8" springform pan.  Line bottom with parchment.  (I would likely add a collar of parchment around the sides of the springform pan next time as well.)

Wrap outside of springform pan with two large pieces of aluminum foil.  Set in roasting pan.  

Boil full kettle of water.

Whip all 8 eggs together on medium speed until doubled in volume; about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine chocolate, butter, and coffee in top of double boiler.  Over simmering water, allow chocolate, butter, and coffee to melt together, stirring occasionally.  Do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.

Remove chocolate mixture from heat and fold in 1/3 of the whipped eggs until few streaks are visible.  Add remaining whipped eggs in two additions, mixing until homogenous.

Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Set roasting rack on oven rack and fill with  enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake 22-25 minutes or until cake registers 140°F (mine took the full 25 minutes).  Edges will be just set and the centre may look underdone.  Don't worry, it will continue to firm up as it cools.

Cool completely in pan.  Wrap pain in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Before removing from the pan, run a knife around edges to loosen the cake form the sides of the pan.  Invert cake onto a sheet of parchment and remove the bottom of the pan and parchment round.  Reinvent cake on to your cake stand.  (Like I said, this method was problematic for me and if anyone has any tips I am all ears!)


Mint Ice Cream

Ingredients

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
Mint leaves (I used one small bunch from our mint plant and about 1 tbsp of peppermint tea leaves)
6 eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar (could be reduced, in my opinion)
*a pinch of salt could be used here as well to round out the sweetness

Steps

In a saucepan (preferably not non-stick) , bring cream and milk to a simmer.  Remove from heat and add your mint and/or tea leaves.  Cover and let steep for 2 hours.  (I've done some reading on the topic of flavouring ice creams with tea leaves and 2 hours seems to be enough time to let the flavours marinate and it won't take you all day to get the custard finished.)

In another saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar.  Strain your flavoured dairy mixture into the yolk mixture.  Whisk until combined and set over low-medium heat.  Cook, whisking frequently, until custard forms (run your finger through the custard left on the back of your spoon - if a clean line remains, its custard).

Strain custard into an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

Churn ice cream according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions.  Freeze to harden (I had mine in the freezer for about 3 hours.)

*Hubby and I found the mint flavour a little grassy for our tastebuds.  We found it was very enjoyable with the cake, but not so much on its own.


Printable Recipes :)