homemade almond joy and mounds bars

homemade almond joy and mounds bars

homemade almond joy and mounds barsI teased some of you late this summer on Instagram and Facebook with photos of these homemade Almond Joy and Mounds bars.  Many of you were asking for the recipe like NOW, but I couldn’t give it out just then because I was photographing and getting it ready for Marin Magazine.  Well, the magazine called me this afternoon and told me that the issue is out digitally and going to be in stores tomorrow!  Yippee!  So that means that I can finally share this recipe with you all.  Double Yippee!  How cool is it that Marin Mama is in the Marin Magazine?  I think it’s pretty cool!  You can check out the article here or pick up a magazine at your local Marin store!

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chocolate Oreo ice cream

chocolate Oreo ice cream

chocolate Oreo ice creamThis chocolate Oreo ice cream tastes like my favorite ice cream from Sebastian Joe’s in Minneapolis. It’s pure, creamy, full of big chunks of Oreo cookie, and it’s oh so chocolaty.  It’s not too rich tasting nor too bland, it’s just perfect.  I know some of you are intimated by the thought of making homemade ice cream, but please don’t be, it’s seriously one of the easiest desserts to make. You just stir a few simple ingredients together over the stove top, let it come to a boil and then whisk in the rest, throw it in a blender for 30 seconds, let it chill for a bit and then let your ice cream maker churn it into ice cream.  You can’t go wrong.  The hardest and longest part is waiting for the ice cream to freeze up, so this is not one of those make it and eat it right away desserts. This is one of those make it in the morning and then eat it after dinner desserts.

chocolate Oreo ice cream

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frozen s’mores

frozen s'mores (1 of 1)

frozen s'mores (1 of 1)I was going to post these bad boys next week, but I received so many emails and comments from friends wanting the recipe for these, that I decided to post the recipe a bit early. See, I really do listen to you all!  Here’s the perfect summer s’more for those hot summer nights. These s’mores are a twist from the traditional s’mores because the chocolate is on the outside and they’re frozen. Yes, they’re frozen, am I tempting you yet? The best part is that they can be made year round, as they are cooked under a broiler instead of roasted over a campfire. So for those of you that don’t have a backyard fire pit, you’re in luck. These s’mores can be made up in your kitchen and ready in under 30 minutes (they take 5 minutes to assemble, the freezing time is the longest part).  How awesome is that? It’s the perfect after dinner no fuss summer (or anytime of year) dessert.  You can eat them as is, (which is John’s, Zoe’s and my favorite way) or break them into smaller bite-sized pieces and top them on your favorite ice-cream (which is Eli’s favorite way).  Your friends will be impressed when you pull out these bad boys for dessert, because they’re a pretty unique twist on the old fashioned s’more. I will warn you that these are super addicting and you can’t just stop at one piece, you will find yourself breaking off another piece and then another, until you just have to walk away and commit to being done.  Life is about moderation folks, so it’s ok to have a sweet here and there.

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salted caramel brownies

salted caramel brownies

DSC_0036What do you get when you take your absolute favorite brownie recipe and add caramel and sea salt to it?

IMG_3287You get a masterpiece, I’m saying a brownie lovers dream. These brownies are not your typical cake-like brownies, they’re more fudge-like in consistency, but fudge-like in a good way, like mouthwatering lick your fingers and plate sort of way.  I absolutely love these brownies, hence the name, Robert’s absolute best brownies.  Zoe and I have been talking about making caramel and sea salt brownies for sometime, so I decided to surprise her one day after school. I didn’t research another brownie recipe because these are our family’s favorite recipe, so why re-invent the wheel, right? I’m so glad that I added the caramel and sea salt, because not only do we have one favorite brownie recipe, but we now have two. I must warn you that these brownies are not low in calories and they’re not for the faint of heart.  These brownies are decedent, rich, and oh so fudgey, but so worth the indulgence. You will be licking your fingers, plate and fork after eating not one, but possibly two of these brownies.

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chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (1 of 1)I sincerely apologize for all of those crazy emails you received yesterday. I did an update on word press (still getting use to word press) and at the same time I was working on the draft to this post. For some strange reason the post then got published and thus the emails instantly went out to you all. I’m glad that my email notification is so efficient, but at the same time, it’s a bit too efficient.  The post was obviously not fit to be published, as it was in total draft form, but now at last it’s all ready, so here it is.

So, lets move away from the hassles of computers and technology and onto these cupcakes or should I say happy cakes.  Zoe used to call cupcakes happy cakes when she was little, and I really think it’s a fitting name, don’t you? Cupcakes make people happy, at least everyone I know. I can still her cute little raspy voice and see her big grin every time we went to a birthday party and she saw cupcakes.  She would jump and down saying, “happy cakes, happy cakes.”

These are the ideal party or celebration cupcakes. They’re moist and chock-full of rich chocolate flavor.  The cream cheese frosting is the perfect accompaniment to the cupcakes, making them not too sweet.  I took my family’s favorite chocolate cake recipe and transformed it into cupcakes.

chocolate cake with cream cheese frostingI initially made the cupcakes using the whole cake recipe and ended up with 24 cupcakes. Ummm, 24 cupcakes are perfect for a party or event, but a bit too much to pawn off on the family, so I decided to cut the recipe in half, and now it’s perfect. I was worried that the cupcakes would be a bit dry or loose some of their moistness (I know, I hate that word) being reduced down to cupcake size, but they didn’t loose either of those qualities. They honestly taste like mini versions of my cake.

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chocolate chip pumpkin bundt cake with chocolate ganache

chocolate chip pumpkin bundt cake with ganache

chocolate chip pumpkin bundt cake with ganacheHappy Holidays everyone! I’m not doing my normal weekly menu post this week because it’s a holiday week, so I’m taking a holiday.  I’m actually going to take an extended 2 week blogging holiday so I can just “be” and enjoy time with my family and friends.  I plan on hiking, skiing, reading and cooking tons with the kids.

I didn’t want to leave you all high and dry so I’m finally posting this recipe from my friend Averie, that I have made at least 5 times.  Averie did an amazing update on the chocolate chip pumpkin bunt bread.  She took the bundt bread recipe and turned it into a bunt cake. This is dessert guys, no longer an afterschool snack.  If you haven’t checked out Averie’s site, Averie Cooks, you must.  Averie has been blogging for years and she has it down. If you have a sweet tooth, then she’s your gal. She has over a million desserts on her blog as well as some great bread recipes that I can’t wait to try. Over the past year she has become a great blogging friend, and she’s taught me so much about blogging, so thanks Averie!

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chocolate coconut pie

chocolatepie

chocolate coconut pieOk, if you like coconut and dark chocolate, then this is the pie for you.  It’s seriously like eating a chocolate covered macaroon.  This is my new Thanksgiving pie. I’ve been making it each year for Thanksgiving, and honestly it’s the first pie to get devoured, so move over pumpkin and apple pie, because there’s a new pie in town and it’s rich and oh so chocolatey! This is a great Holiday or party pie because it serves a crowd and looks fancy with the shiny gnache filling and the crispy coconut crust.  People will be impressed thinking you spent hours slaving over this pie, when in reality you didn’t. It’s an easy pie to throw together and requires only 4 simple ingredients, plus its gluten-free to boot.

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easy chocolate mousse – cooking with kids

potsofchocolate

Hi everyone!  Zoe here!  Now, I know you’re used to my wonderful mom writing these posts, but today I’m posting on her blog.  This post if for all of you kids out there that want to start cooking. I’m going to show you how to make the best, and easiest chocolate mousse ever.

I remember how I found this recipe. We were down in Carmel at this restaurant and for dessert we all split a chocolate mousse pie. It was one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten. I decided then and there, that I needed to make this recipe. So about a week or two later we were in the library, and I saw this kid’s cookbook from William and Somona.  For fun I flipped through the pages, but then something caught my eye. It was their chocolate mousse recipe. Immediately, I checked out the book solely for the mousse recipe. I went home and whipped it up that same afternoon. Everyone in the family loved it and I have been making it ever since.

This recipe is so easy. It only requires two ingredients; semisweet chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream. Really, almost anyone can make this delectable treat, even my brother Eli.

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homemade dark chocolate magic shell – cooking with kids

hardshell

I‘m starting a new series on my blog called, cooking with kids.  I have a lot of families that read my blog, therefore a lot of kids. Some of my readers are actually kids, believe it or not.  Moms come up to me and tell me their children look at my blog, and then come up to them with dinner and dessert requests.  I love that!  Zoe and I decided that it would be fun to have a kid’s series of posts for this blog, recipes that Zoe loves to make with her friends and by herself.  We want to inspire kids to get in the kitchen and cook more.  All the recipes are things that any child over a certain age (with adult supervision) can handle.  We hope you enjoy this new series.  

Here’s a super simple, 2 ingredient (yes only 2 ingredients are required) classic summer dessert idea. Remember the chocolate magic shell that you would buy and squeeze over your ice cream, and it would instantly harden? Remember how fascinating that was? Well, I have figured out how to make a homemade version that is a bit healthier than the squeeze bottle variety. All you need is dark chocolate, coconut oil, oh, and some ice cream to slather it over.

dark chocolate magic shell:

recipe from NY Times 
serves 6-8 scoops
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 7oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • your favorite ice cream
  • optional – toppings and cones 

Below are some of the ingredients that you will need to make a killer ice cream treat.  You’ve got your ice cream of course, some cones, sprinkles and the two main ingredients for this recipe; virgin coconut oil and bittersweet chocolate chips. 
Now that you have all the ingredients, go grab your kids and lets get started. 
Meet Zoe and her buddy Madelaine.  They are today’s chefs.
Measure out 7oz of chocolate chips.
Pour the chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Note: You can also throw the chocolate chips and coconut oil into a microwavable heatproof bowl and microwave them for 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until they are melted.
Melt your chocolate chips, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula to prevent burning.
When the chocolate chips are almost melted, add the 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
Stir in the coconut oil until its dissolved.
Turn off the heat.
Pour your sprinkles into a small bowl.  
Now its time for the magic to begin.
Get out your ice cream and your favorite ice cream scooper, and scoop the ice cream into a bowl or onto a cone.  It’s your choice!
Zoe will demonstrate how to put the magic shell onto an ice cream cone.  
Take the ice cream cone and tip it to its side over the pan.  Take a large spoon or small ladle and dip it in the chocolate.  Pour the chocolate over the ice cream and keep turning the ice cream cone until you have covered the whole scoop of ice cream.
 The chocolate will harden into a shell within a few seconds when spooned over ice cream.
That is the magical part!
Dip the cone into the sprinkles before the chocolate fully hardens.
Madelaine is demonstrating how to pour the magic shell onto a bowl of ice cream.  
Take your spoon and pour the chocolate sauce over the ice cream.  
Top it with some sprinkles before it hardens. 
Be sure to make one for the rest of your family, and then go out and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

There’s nothing better on a hot summer day than ice cream.  This was such a fun way to spend a hot summer afternoon, and the kids were so proud of themselves that they whipped up this treat.  The kids were amazed at how instantly the chocolate sauce hardened.  It was a math and science experiment all in one.  
If you have extra sauce, (and you will if your just serving up the family) just put the leftover sauce into a microwaveable small container with a lid, and refrigerate till needed.  All you have to do is microwave it briefly till it melts, (stirring between intervals) and then you can recreate the magic again!
My kids start school on the 22nd, so I’m going to take a small blogging vacation, so I can be present with the family and enjoy our last week of summer.
 I’ll see you all soon.

no campfire s’mores

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photo[1]

Everyone loves a good old s’more. S’mores and summer go together like peanut butter and jelly. There’s nothing better then roasting a marshmallow over a campfire till it’s browned and crisp, and then mashing it between two graham crackers and a hunk of chocolate. The marshmallow and chocolate ooze out over the sides, and you just have to get in there and devour it before it spills out all over the place. Am I enticing you? Do you want a s’more?

S’more’s are not just for camping anymore. They can be made at a moments notice in the comfort of your kitchen (though it’s not as fun as roasting them over a campfire). The hardest part is coming up with a clever name to call these favorite childhood treats. I am calling them no campfire s’mores, but I’m willing to create a merit badge for all you Boy and Girl Scouts out there who can come up with a better name. Send me your suggestions, and I will change the name. I would call them homemade s’mores, but I’ve already done a post on that where I actually made the graham crackers from scratch (Ok, I love s’mores!). I reserved that recipe for the fall and winter because honestly, I’m not much of a cookie baking gal in the summer. I would rather be out enjoying the outdoors than baking away in the kitchen.

All you need for this recipe is a broiler, a box of graham crackers, chocolate and some marshmallows. I keep these ingredients on hand for those last minute dessert ideas which come in handy for those last minute sleepovers.

no campfire s’mores:

  • your favorite brand of graham crackers
  • your favorite brand of marshmallows
  • chocolate – we prefer the dark chocolate carmel squares from Ghirardelli

Below are your run of the mill s’more ingredients but with a slight twist. We chose to use these Ghirardelli dark chocolate carmel squares. They take your basic s’more to a whole new level. The melted chocolate and carmel oozing together with the marshmallow is pure bliss to your tastebuds.

DSC_0118Turn on your broiler.  

Get out a baking sheet, and top one half of the graham cracker with the chocolate and marshmallow.
Put the s’mores under the broiler, and broil till the marshmallow browns and the chocolate starts to melt.
Take the s’mores out of the oven and top them with the other graham cracker half.  
That’s all there is to it. 
No stick or campfire needed for these s’mores and the clean up is a cinch!

These could also be called the lazy mama or city mama s’mores.
Got a better name? Let me know!

Like s’mores, then you have to try my frozen s’mores.

frozen s'mores (1 of 1)

pots de creme

potsdecream
TGIM (thank goodness it’s Monday), I know people are use to TGIF, but I wanted to change things up here a bit.  I’m so happy that it’s Monday and also so very happy that my kids are back in school.  Yippee!  I really enjoyed having them at home last week, but honestly I didn’t accomplish a single thing.  I didn’t cook anything new or get any work done on my blog.  It was a nice and much needed vacation for all of us, but I am ready to get back to work and ready to cook again!  Routine works best for me as I’m a creature of habit.
 
I honestly missed cooking for my family and I missed my “mommy” healthy lunches.  We were on-the-go so much last week that I either crammed a PB& J in my mouth for lunch or we ate out.  I can only eat out so many times before it gets old and I really like eating at home.  Home cooked meals are usually healthier and the portions are smaller.  I find that we eat way more when we go out to dinner as opposed to eating in.  The portions that these restaurants serve these days are enormous.  What’s up with that?  
 
Anyway, here I am talking about portions and healthy eating as I am showcasing this utterly decadent and chocolaty dessert.  Doesn’t make much sense does it? 

This is definitely the easiest dessert in my recipe book. Now, it does need to chill for 2 to 3 hours before serving, so it does require a tiny bit of planning, but the preparation couldn’t be easier, so easy in fact that your child could make this entire dessert!  You might have to supervise on the coffee pouring part, but otherwise it’s easy-peasey-lemon-squeezey (that is another one of my favorite sayings)!  

 
Serve this dessert up at your next dinner party and your guests will be impressed.  They will think you spent all day slaving over this dessert, when all you actually did was throw 5 ingredients into a blender and blend away (shhhh… they never have to know how easy it was). This dessert is very rich so you will definitely want to add some fresh whipped cream to the top.


pots de creme:

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman 
Makes 7 to 8 desserts

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup (8oz) very hot and strong coffee - You can always use a good strong decaf  if your worried about the caffeine, especially if you have kids
Place the chocolate chips in the blender.  Crack in the 4 eggs and then add the pinch of salt and the 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  
 Blend all the ingredients together till combined.  
Grab some very hot freshly brewed coffee—as in, hot-hot—and slowly drizzle it through the hole in the blender lid while the blender’s on. The mixture will slowly expand and rise in the blender, but do not fret, just keep the blender on a low speed while adding the coffee.  Once the coffee is added, put the top back on the lid and blend away until the mixture is pureed and smooth.  
Note: The coffee will heat the eggs so you will not be eating a raw egg dessert.  
Pour the mixture into some glasses, small mason jars or ramekins.  You can use whatever you desire.  I actually used some 9oz glasses and some recycled jam jars.  I actually loved the way they looked in the recycled jam jars.  
Place the glasses and jars in the refrigerator and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm.  
 
Now you just need to add some whipped cream to top these off.  This whipped cream is the perfect topping for any dessert from chocolate mousse to pumpkin pie.  I even use it to top ice-cream sundaes!  
 

sweetened whipped cream: 

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Note:  Whipped cream is best served fresh, so if you’re just serving dessert for your family then you may want to cut the above recipe in half. 
Beat the cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until it becomes frothy.  
Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until the cream holds soft peaks.
Do not overbeat.
When you’re ready to serve up the pots de creme just place a fresh dollop of whipped cream on each one!  You could also be fancy and add some chocolate shavings on top.
These are rich little desserts so don’t make your portions too big.  I actually had to cover and refrigerate mine for the next day as I was stuffed halfway through eating it.
 My kids devoured theirs though!  Eli was even licking his glass.  
Here’s to a fancy no fuss dessert!

homemade s’mores

smores
 
Who says you can’t have s’mores in the winter?  Marin mama is saying you can!  These s’mores are are a bit more fancier than their campfire cousins but just as rich and delicious.  The only thing missing from here is the campfire and the mosquitos.  
 
The kids and I recently visited Modern Cookie Company, a local cookie shop in Larkspur, where we ordered these decadent s’mores on homemade graham crackers and we just about flipped out of our seats they were zoo good.  The s’mores were so amazing that I wanted to turn this experience into something I could replicate at home, so I challenged myself to creating a version of my own.
 
I already made and posted the recipe for homemade graham crackers.  If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making your own graham crackers, then check out my no campfire s’mores. 
It’s really an easy recipe and worth making.  These graham crackers are more buttery and cookie-like than the store-bought variety.  They are sweet but not to sweet.  Once you try this homemade cracker you may never go back to the store bought variety again.
 
Now it’s time to assemble the s’mores.   There is a secret ingredient to these that makes them so special and rich and that ingredient is, (drum roll please)
Ghiradelli dark chocolate caramel squares.
 
The combination of the homemade graham cracker cookie, topped with the dark chocolate carmel and homemade marshmallow (homemade by Whole Foods that is) is what makes this s’more like nothing you have ever tasted.  
I used these marshmallows below from Whole Foods.
Are you ready to get started?  Well, lets go….  
First off, get a baking sheet out and build your s’more like the photo below.
The marshmallows were huge so I cut them up in thirds.
 Maybe you should make up 2 s’mores while your at it.
Turn on your broiler and place the s’mores underneath until the marshmallows brown and the chocolate melts.
 
 Let it cool for just 1 minute and then I give your permission to devour!  
One bite, two bites, gone!  
These are just to good for words and something that I will be making over and over!  You can use other types of chocolate as well like milk chocolate caramels or regular milk or dark chocolate.
 
Want a bit of summer, then try these s’mores :)

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies

Robert's Absolute Best Brownies (1 of 1)-3
Robert's Absolute Best Brownies
I have searched high and low for a homemade brownie recipe that I like as much as the boxed Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix.  I have tried all sorts of homemade recipes for years and they have never lived up to those boxed brownies.  That is until today!  I found the BEST from scratch recipe thanks to David Lebovitz!  These brownies are dark, oh so dark, rich, moist, and chocolaty.  They are literally a chocolate lovers dream. Be forewarned, they are not your standard cake-like brownie, these are more fudge-like in consistency, but fudge-like in a good way, like a mouthwatering lick your fingers and plate sort of way.

Robert’s absolute best brownies:

Recipe from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert

Printer friendly recipe at bottom of post

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped – I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet cacao   
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large (or extra large eggs), at room temperature – FYI, I always use extra large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose-flour
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips – I used my favorite 60% bittersweet chocolate chips from Ghirardelli 
  • You can also add in chopped walnuts or any nut of your choice – we tend not to add nuts to our sweets as my kiddos are not fans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line the inside of an 8-inch (I used my 8-inch glass baking dish) or 9-inch square baking pan with 2 lengths of foil or parchment paper, positioning the sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan.  Then lightly butter the foil or parchment paper.  I always butter the bottom piece so that the top piece sticks to it.  
DSC_0006
Chop up and measure out your dark chocolate.  I love using these Ghirardelli bars because they are each 4oz (8oz total) so I do not have to measure anything.
These bars are also thin enough to break apart with my hand so I don’t have to actually chop them up with a knife. I break them apart in little pieces (I’m strong like bull) right over the heatproof bowl that I’m going to melt the butter and chocolate in (I do this before I set the bowl over the simmering water). It saves me a cutting board and knife to clean up. If you don’t have thin chocolate bars like these, then chop up your chocolate using a serrated knife. 
Tip: I always place some parchment paper on top of my cutting board when chopping up chocolate as it helps make clean up easier and you can always just lift and pour those small pieces of chocolate into your pan.  It’s easiest to chop chocolate with a serrated knife.
 Placed the chopped chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl.  Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, (make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until melted and smooth.
DSC_0009
DSC_0010Immediately remove the chocolate from the heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl (unless the bowl you’re using to melt the chocolate in is large).  Make sure you use a spatula here so you can get all the chocolate goodness into the bowl.
Add the 3/4 cup sugar and the 1 teaspoon vanilla to the melted chocolate and mix until combined.
 Using a whisk, add in the eggs 1 at a time until combined.
Add the flour and stir the batter energetically for 1 minute until the batter loses it graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the bowl. The batter will also lighten up a bit in color.
Note: This is a very important step!!  Make sure that your stir vigorously for 1 full minute or a bit more.  I suggest timing yourself as I did (see photo below).  By doing this step you will end up with a batter that’s rich, thick, satiny smooth, and glossy as can be and brownies that are rich and fudge-like.  
See, I really timed myself.  I’m going to warn you that you are going to have one tired arm after stirring vigorously for a minute, believe me!
DSC_0014
Using a spatula, gently fold in your chocolate chips.
DSC_0016
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan using a spatula to make it even.
DSC_0025
Bake until the center feels almost set and the edges are a bit firm, about 30-35 minutes.  Do not over bake.  In my oven, my brownies are done around 32-33 minutes. Note:  Ovens vary in temperature and baking times, so get to know your oven and know how long it takes to bake things.  If your oven tends to cook things faster, then check it before 30 minutes etc. 
 The first time I baked these, I honestly thought they were underdone, but that is the way they are supposed to be. They’re truly more of a fudge-like brownie than cake-like one.  They will also firm up as they sit and cool.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan (about an hour or so) before lifting the foil or parchment paper and the block of brownies out of the pan. Peel the parchment paper and cut the brownies into squares and store them in a sealed container.See how rich and gooey they are?  Serve these up with a tall glass of milk and make sure you have a napkin handy.These brownies are finger and plate licking good!

I’ve made these brownies better by adding carmel and sea salt.  You have to try these salted caramel brownies.

salted caramel brownies

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped - I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet cacao
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large (or extra large eggs), at room temperature - FYI, I always use extra large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose-flour
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips - I used my favorite 60% bittersweet chocolate chips from Ghirardelli
  • You can also add in chopped walnuts or any nut of your choice - we tend not to add nuts to our sweets as my kiddos are not fans

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the inside of an 8-inch (I used my 8-inch glass baking dish) or 9-inch square baking pan with 2 lengths of foil or parchment paper, positioning the sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan. Then lightly butter the foil or parchment paper. I always butter the bottom piece so that the top piece sticks to it.

Chop up and measure out your dark chocolate. I love using these Ghirardelli bars because they are each 4oz (8oz total) so I do not have to measure anything.

These bars are also thin enough to break apart with my hand so I don’t have to actually chop them up with a knife. I break them apart in little pieces right over the heatproof bowl that I’m going to melt the butter and chocolate in (I do this before I set the bowl over the simmering water). It saves me a cutting board and knife to clean up. If you don’t have thin chocolate bars like these, then chop up your chocolate using a serrated knife.

Tip: I always place some parchment paper on top of my cutting board when chopping up chocolate as it helps make clean up easier and you can always just lift and pour those small pieces of chocolate into your pan. It's easiest to chop chocolate with a serrated knife.

Placed the chopped chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, (make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until melted and smooth.

Immediately remove the chocolate from the heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl (unless the bowl you're using to melt the chocolate in is large enough). Make sure you use a spatula here so you can get all the chocolate goodness into the bowl.

Add the 3/4 cup sugar and the 1 teaspoon vanilla to the melted chocolate and mix until combined.

Using a whisk, add in the eggs 1 at a time until combined.

Add the flour and stir the batter energetically for 1 minute until the batter loses it graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the bowl. The batter will also lighten up a bit in color.

Note: This is a very important step!! Make sure that your stir vigorously for 1 full minute or a bit more. I suggest timing yourself. By doing this step you will end up with a batter that's rich, thick, satiny smooth, and glossy as can be and brownies that are rich and fudge-like. I'm going to warn you that you are going to have one tired arm after stirring vigorously for a minute, believe me!

Using a spatula, gently fold in your chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan using a spatula to make it even.Bake until the center feels almost set and the edges are a bit firm, about 30-35 minutes. In my oven, my brownies are done around 32-33 minutes. Do not over bake.

Note: Ovens vary in temperature and baking times, so get to know your oven and know how long it takes to bake things. If your oven tends to cook things faster, then check it before 30 minutes etc.

The first time I baked these, I honestly thought they were underdone, but that is the way they are supposed to be. They're truly more of a fudge-like brownie than cake-like one. They will also firm up as they sit and cool.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan (about an hour or so) before lifting the foil or parchment paper and the block of brownies out of the pan.

Peel down the parchment paper and cut the brownies into squares and store them in a sealed container.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/12/roberts-absolute-best-brownies/

dark chocolate chip cookies

darkchocolate

Are you a dark chocolate fan like me?  I mean, do you crave chocolate?  I adore anything chocolate.  Bring on the chocolate layer cake, chocolate ice cream and chocolate mousse.  Can you see a pattern here?  I was sick of the Thanksgiving fare of pies and more pies so I decided to bake one of my favorite cookie recipes.  

This is not a recipe for the vanilla loving person, this is for the chocoholic.  This cookie is sinful, dark and gooey.  My mouth is watering just saying those words, so I’m going to get myself a glass of milk and chow down. 

Oh, and this cookie is family, kid and friend approved.  I made these for Zoe’s class party one year, and they were the hit of the party.  I get requests all the time to make these along with my chocolate chip cookies.  You can’t go wrong with either of these cookies.

Black Forest Cookies:

Makes about 22 cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped – I used Ghirardelli semisweet 60% cacao bars
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 package semisweet chocolate chips or chunks – I used Ghirardelli bittersweet 60% cacao chips
Preheat your oven/ovens to 350 degrees.  Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Chop up and measure out your dark chocolate.  I love using these Ghirardelli bars because they are each 4oz (8oz total) so I do not have to measure anything. 
In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a larger bowl, whisk together your granulated and dark brown sugar; set aside.

Placed chopped chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Stir chocolate and butter until melted and smooth. 

Remove from heat and pour chocolate into the bowl containing the sugars. 

Whisk together the sugars and chocolate and then whisk in your 2 eggs until smooth.
 Whisk in dry ingredients until just combined (do not over mix).Fold in your chocolate chips.  I used a spatula to fold in the chips here at the batter was thick.
Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of dough, and refrigerate until firm, 30 to 45 minutes.
Drop mounds of dough onto your prepared baking sheets.  I used my ice-cream scooper here to measure out the cookie balls.  I ended up with about 8 for 2 baking sheets and 6 for the other sheet.  Make sure you set the cookies apart to give each cookie room to grow when baking.
Pop the cookies in the oven and bake just until edges are firm (but not darkening), 11 to 13 minutes.  
Note:  I always bake one sheet at a time in the oven.   
Cool cookies on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
These cookies are extremely rich, so don’t forget your milk!

Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Sea Salt

chocolatebark
Here’s a dessert that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating. It’s dark chocolate bark, and it’s as amazing as it looks, but yet so simple to whip up.  You can mix up a batch in literally 5 minutes before chilling it in the fridge.  You may even have all the ingredients at home, I did.  
 
Pair this up with a nice glass of red wine and you have the perfect after dinner dessert.  Wrap or box some up, and you have the perfect Holiday hostess gift. 
 

Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Sea Salt:

Recipe from Whole Living Magazine

  • Vegetable or olive oil cooking spray
  • 9oz dark chocolate (70 percent cacao), melted
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Lightly coat at 8-inch pan with cooking spray.  Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a small overhang.  Chop up your pistachios.
Melt your chocolate over a double boiler.
Pour melted chocolate into your prepared pan and smooth with a spatula into an even layer.  Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and coarse sea salt.  
Chill in refrigerator until completely set, about 30 minutes.  Pull cooled chocolate out of the refrigerator and peel off parchment paper.  
Rest on plate or cutting board and cut it up into pieces or just break it apart into random pieces.

There are so many different combinations of toppings you can try.  I am going to try almonds and coconut next.  I am also thinking of adding some chopped peppermint for the Holidays.