pumpkin sheet cake with cream cheese frosting

pumpkin sheet cake with cream cheese frosting

pumpkin sheet cake with cream cheese frostingThanks to everyone for voting this week on which recipe you wanted to see posted next.  As you can see from the comments, this pumpkin cake won hands down.  I’m totally not surprised because it’s fall and everyone has pumpkin and cake on their minds. It really wasn’t a fair competition, was it?  I mean salad vs cake?  I knew who the winner was before I finished the post, but I just wanted to double-check and make sure that’s what you all wanted.  So thanks :)

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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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the best chocolate chip skillet cookie

the best chocolate chip skillet cookie

the best chocolate chip skillet cookieWhy am I calling this the best chocolate chip skillet cookie? I mean thats a pretty bold statement, right? Well, I have tested this cookie out on my family and friends and we think this cookie rocks. I took my absolute favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, threw it in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, topped it with a bit of sea salt, and oh my,  it turned into this delicious PARTY cookie. Yes, you heard me right, party cookie, because you will want to throw a party when you make this cookie. The chips are all gooey and melty and you feel like you’re eating a slice of the best cookie pie. Top it off with a scoop of ice-cream and some hot fudge, and you have the best cookie sundae ever!

the best chocolate chip skillet cookieThis is now one of the most requested desserts in the house and I’m happy to make it at anytime because it’s super simple to throw together. What I love most is that you can throw it together at the last minute because you don’t have to bring any of the ingredients to room temperature first. Just grab everything out of the pantry and fridge, mix it together and throw it into a skillet to cook, easy peasy.

This cookie is the perfect and unique dessert for your next potluck, summer picnic, birthday or school party or summer sleepover, as it serves a crowd and then some. People are always impressed with a big cookie. Bring this to a party and your friends will think you’re the bomb. If  you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you have to get one because it will become one of the most used pans in your house. You can get a pre-seasoned 12-inch skillet for under $20. I seriously use this pan all of the time from cooking eggs, to sautéing chicken and pastas to making cookies. So what’s holding you back?  Go out and purchase one or take yours out from the cupboard and make this cookie!

the best chocolate chip skillet cookie

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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 John’s new favorite dessert.  He saw it in the Martha Stewart’s New Pie and Tarts cookbook and asked me to please make it for him (he asked me to make the pie this summer, but I finally got around to making  it in November, oops).  One thing about John is that he is a HUGE fan of coconut.  His birthday cake request every year is Barefoot Contessa’s coconut cake.  I have made this pie 3 times in the past month and he still gets super excited when I place a slice in front of him for dessert.  I have never gotten a bigger compliment from him than when I made this pie, seriously.

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Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies

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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/

the best chocolate chip cookies

The best chocolate chip cookies
The best chocolate chip cookies
These are the best chocolate chip cookies folks, seriously, you do not need to look any further. This recipe came from Cooks Illustrated so you know it has been tried, tested and approved. These cookies have also been tried, tested and approved in my house as well as many of my friend’s houses, and they are always declared by all as the “best chocolate chip cookie.” I bake these up all the time for bake sales, classroom birthday parties, but I mostly bake them for pure pleasure because they are just so darn good.  These cookies have crunchy edges, chewy centers and there are chips in every bite. They’re the perfect afternoon craving throw together at the last minute cookie because you don’t have to plan ahead and bring any of the ingredients to room temperature first. Just grab everything out of the pantry and fridge, mix it together, drop some cookies on a baking sheet and bake away. There’s no need to write more, you just have to trust me and make some up.
the best chocolate chip cookies

the best chocolate chip cookies:

Recipe from Cooks Illustrated
Makes 21-24 cookies using a 1 3/4″ ice cream scooper

  • 1  3/4 cups all purpose flour – I use King Arthur’s unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (dark brown sugar adds more flavor) – Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry.  I like and use the brand, Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Dark Brown Sugar, as well as the Whole Food’s organic brown sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg – The recipe doesn’t call for the eggs to be at room temp, but if I know I’m making them up ahead of time, I will take them out a bit beforehand.
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 bag (10-ounces) of chocolate chips or chunks (preferably 60% cacao) – I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips.

 I like to prep all my ingredients ahead of time so when I have to add them they are ready to go.

Adjust rack (or racks if you have 2 ovens) to middle position and preheat oven/ovens to 375 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Crack your egg over a small bowl using an egg separator or your hand to separate the egg yolk.  Put the egg yolk in a small bowl and set aside.  Whisk 1 3/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk the 1/2 cup sugar, the 3/4 cup brown sugar and the teaspoon salt together in small bowl and set aside.  Divide up the butter, put 10 tablespoons into a 10-inch skillet.

 Note:  Avoid using a non-stick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gage when the butter is browned. Put the remaining 4 tablespoons butter into a large heatproof bowl.

I recommend cutting up the butter once its divided, so it melts easier.
DSC_0020
 Heat the 10 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to the heatproof bowl that holds the 4 tablespoons of butter.  Stir the butter together until completely melted.
DSC_0022Add the sugar and salt mixture plus the 2 teaspoons vanilla to the bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.
DSC_0025Add in the egg and the yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.  Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.
*Chocolate lovers addition! I wanted to share with you all an adaption that my little 8-year old friend Tatum did!  Tatum is a chocolate lover, so she decided to add 1/4 cup of melted chocolate chips to the batter at this point.  She just melted 1/4 semi-sweet chips (or you can use bittersweet chips) and added it to the batter, making an even more chocolately cookie!   I sampled a few of her cookies, and they were super yummy!  Thanks Tate, you’re truly a chef in the making!  
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Repeat process of resting and whisking 2-3 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.  NOTE: This whisking and waiting time is an important step and really makes a difference with the texture of the cookies.
The brown sugar mixture will thicken and lighten up as you whisk it and let it rest.
Note:  Your batter may not look as thick as my batter in the below photo, but it should still thicken up.
DSC_0029Using rubber spatula or whisk, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips, (you can even be sneaky and add in a couple handfuls of M&M’s as my little friend Mattie likes to) giving dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.  At this point, I  put my batter into the refrigerator for about 5 minutes, as it can sometimes be too soft to handle.  A note about chocolate chips, my family prefers dark chocolate to milk chocolate, so we use these Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips.  They are amazing, and they do say that dark chocolate is good for you, so that may help take some of the guilt away.  Try them in your next recipe that calls for chocolate chips. Divide dough into 8 portions per cookie sheet.  I use my handy dandy ice-cream scooper here.

The ice cream scooper I used is 1 3/4″.  If I use my 2″ scooper than I get 16 cookies per batch.  Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. You will have 8 dough balls per sheet. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time (or both trays if you have a double oven) until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes.  You will want to rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking (after 5 minutes).

In my oven the total cooking time is about 10 minutes.

Note:  They may look under baked in the center but don’t fret, they will brown and firm up once they are out of the oven.Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. We always have a cookie when they are still warm and the chocolate chips are gooey!  Pair it up with a tall glass of milk and you have the perfect dessert or snack!

The best chocolate chip cookiesI just recently took this recipe and threw it all into a 12-inch cast iron skillet to make the best chocolate chip skillet cookie.  So, if you’re looking to make up a “big” cookie then give this skillet cookie a try.

the best chocolate chip skillet cookie

the best chocolate chip cookies

Rating: 51

Yield: makes 21-24 cookies

the best chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour - I use King Arthur's unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (dark brown sugar adds more flavor) - Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. I like and use the brand, Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Dark Brown Sugar, as well as the Whole Food's organic brown sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg - The recipe doesn't call for the eggs to be at room temp, but if I know I'm making them up ahead of time, I will take them out a bit beforehand.
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 bag (10-ounces) of chocolate chips or chunks (preferably 60% cacao) - I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips

Instructions

I like to prep all my ingredients ahead of time so when I have to add them they are ready to go.

Adjust rack (or racks if you have 2 ovens) to middle position and preheat oven/ovens to 375 degrees.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Crack your egg over a small bowl using an egg separator or your hand to separate the egg yolk. Put the egg yolk in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk 1 3/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk the 1/2 cup sugar, the 3/4 cup brown sugar and the teaspoon salt together in small bowl and set aside.

Divide up the butter, put 10 tablespoons into a 10-inch skillet.

Note: Avoid using a non-stick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gage when the butter is browned.

Put the remaining 4 tablespoons butter into a large heatproof bowl. I recommend cutting up the butter once its divided, so it melts easier.

Heat the 10 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to the heatproof bowl that holds the 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir the butter together until completely melted.

Add the sugar and salt mixture plus the 2 teaspoons vanilla to the bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.

Add in the egg and the yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.

Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2-3 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. NOTE: This whisking and waiting time is an important step and really makes a difference with the texture of the cookies.

Note: The brown sugar mixture will lighten up and thicken as you whisk it and let it rest.

Using rubber spatula or whisk, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips, giving dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain. At this point, I put my batter into the refrigerator for about 5 minutes, as it can sometimes be too soft to handle.

Divide dough into 8 portions per cookie sheet. I use my handy dandy ice-cream scooper here.

The ice cream scooper I used is 1 3/4". If I use my 2" scooper than I get 16 cookies per batch. Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. You will have 8 dough balls per sheet.

Bake cookies 1 tray at a time (or both trays if you have a double oven) until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes. You will want to rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking (after 5 minutes).

In my oven the total cooking time is about 10 minutes.

Note: They may look under baked in the center but don't fret, they will brown and firm up once they are out of the oven.

Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. We always have a cookie when they are still warm and the chocolate chips are gooey! Pair it up with a tall glass of milk and you have the perfect dessert or snack!

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/11/the-best-chocolate-chip-cookies/