Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}

Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Sometimes it takes years of thinking and testing and cursing and problem-solving—or, to be brief, “general creative agony”—to formulate a recipe. Other times, the recipe comes up and metaphorically slaps you in your dessert-obsessed face.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}You can guess which sort of recipe this Chocolate Mousse Pie is.

(It’s the second one.)Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Y’all! How did I not make a Chocolate Mousse Pie sooner? How did it never cross my mind? I’ve had a magnificent Chocolate Mousse Cake in my recipe index for two years and a no-bake Oreo pie crust in there for a year and a half, and yet combining them never even occurred to me until a couple of weeks ago. Not even a fleeting thought!

Just…WHAT?! Who am I? What day is it? Who’s running this thing?Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}This is exactly the sort of recipe I love to have in my back pocket. It’s super simple to make and a universal crowd-pleaser. Who can resist fluffy homemade chocolate mousse, whipped cream, and Oreo crumb crust? Not this baker.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}…or should I say “no”-baker? This is a no-bake pie, after all! There are a couple of chilling steps in the recipe, but no need to crank up your oven. I’ve got a few pies coming your way in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, but if you’re looking for one that won’t take up valuable holiday oven space, this is it.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}But! But. It’s not even Halloween yet, so maybe let’s keep the discussion of oven space off the table for like…twelve more days. Until then though, let’s talk creamy, wonderful Chocolate Mousse Pie, or better yet, eat it.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}

Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}
makes one 9-inch pie

Crust:
25 whole Oreos
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mousse:
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
3 tablespoons hot tap water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Whipped Cream & Garnish:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
chocolate curls, for garnish (optional)

This recipe requires a 3 hour chill to set the mousse. Plan accordingly.

Make the crust. Place Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set.

Make the mousse. In a double boiler or the microwave, melt dark chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot tap water.

In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, and salt. Use an electric mixer to whip the mixture on low for 30 seconds before whipping on high for 1-2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

Transfer melted chocolate to a medium-large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir the cocoa powder mixture and 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Gently fold the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate until no white streaks remain.

Pile the mousse into the crust. Spread it into an even layer and tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any large air bubbles. Gently press a layer of plastic wrap onto the surface of the mousse. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove pie from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature while you make the whipped cream.

Combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip the mixture on low for 30 seconds before whipping on high for 1-2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

Pile whipped cream onto the cake before spreading it into an even layer. Use a knife dipped in warm water to smooth the outer edge of the cake. Garnish with chocolate curls, if desired.

Serve pie immediately or refrigerate. For clean slices, dip the knife in warm water and wipe dry between cuts.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}

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Maple Drizzle Cakes

Maple Drizzle CakesI feel like this fall is all about maple syrup. But based on last Friday’s round-up, I feel like every fall for the last four years has been about maple syrup.

What can I say? I am a maple syrup fangirl. I love its sweetness and nuance and amber color and near-undeniable deliciousness and I don’t think I’ll ever stop finding ways to spotlight it in my baking.Maple Drizzle CakesI mean, have you tried my Maple Thumbprints yet? Or my crowd-favorite Salty Maple Caramel Corn? Or the Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies I posted when I was a little baby blogger and just re-photographed last week? Because you should. But maybe start your autumnal maple-mania off with these Maple Drizzle Cakes. I’d love to give you a sentence qualifying why these cakes are somehow superior to all my other maple baked goods, but

  1. That’s silly. I love all maple baked goods with the same reckless abandon that I reserve for a holiday cookie platter or a puff pancake on a Saturday morning.
  2. Maple. Drizzle. Cakes. Need I say more???

Maple Drizzle CakesAs you may have guessed, these are an autumnal take on classic Lemon Drizzle Cakes. Like those cakes, these are rich and buttery, but instead of being flavored with three hits of citrus, these have three doses of pure maple syrup! You’ll find it in the cake batter, soaked into the baked cakes, and mixed into a thick icing that’s poured over the tops.Maple Drizzle Cakes

Oh, and these are easy to make. So, so easy. Just dump all the cake batter ingredients in one bowl and mix them for 3.5 minutes before dividing it among a couple of loaf pans and baking. Boom. Done.Maple Drizzle CakesAfter baking, tiny holes are poked in the warm cakes and maple syrup is brushed over the tops and allowed to soak in. Alternatively, you can cool the cakes and then brush on warmed maple syrup. No matter which method you choose, this will add extra moisture and flavor, and make your cakes extra delicious.Maple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle CakesThe icing is made primarily of maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar, melted butter and water. It goes on as a liquid, cascading down the sides of the cake before drying to a set finish. I like the icing recipe as written, but you could add another layer of flavor by browning the butter. You know, if you’re into things like that.Maple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle Cakes are great for any occasion. You could use them as hostess gifts, pack them carefully and mail them overnight to someone you love, leave one in the office break room, or even serve one as a non-pie Thanksgiving dessert (we all know a pie hater).

Or you can eat a thick slice with your fingers while you’re wearing your best/softest/oldest/most hideous pajamas and binging The Righteous Gemstones, and marvel at how great it is to live a life where you have both excellent cake and quality television. Or something.Maple Drizzle Cakes

Maple Drizzle Cakes
makes 2 9×5-inch loaf cakes

Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature

Syrup:
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Icing Drizzle:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoon water
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on the two long sides, and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to prepared pans and smooth the tops with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

Stab warm cakes (still in their pans) several times with a thin, flexible knife or skewer, making sure to poke all the way to the bottom. Brush syrup evenly over the cakes, about 1/4 cup each. Let cakes soak in the syrup until they are completely cool.*

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set a cooling rack over the top. Use parchment overhang to remove soaked cakes from pans. Discard used parchment and place cakes on prepared cooling rack.

Make the icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, maple syrup, butter, water, and salt. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more water by the teaspoon. Pour over the centers of the cakes—the icing should “spread” itself, but you can coax it a bit with the back of a spoon. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cakes to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five. Maple flavor will intensify over time.

Note:

You may also let the cakes cool before brushing on the maple syrup. Simply let them cool in their pans before lifting them out onto a rack that has been set over a piece of parchment (exactly as it’s written in the icing step). Poke them with a skewer. Warm the maple syrup slightly (10-15 seconds in the microwave will do the trick) before brushing it onto the cakes. Let soak 30 minutes before applying the icing.Maple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle Cakes

Friday Favorites: Maple Syrup

Hello from San Francisco! I’m visiting to celebrate my best friend, Tad’s 35th birthday (it’s today!) and do whatever people do in San Francisco. I’ve never been here before, so I’m excited to find out what that is. So far, it’s seeing Hamilton (again!) on tour and going to Sausalito.

What all this has to do with maple syrup and baking, I don’t know. What I do know is that I love to cook and bake with maple syrup, especially this time of year. It’s so delicate, but has incredible depth and versatility. I love it on pancakes and waffles, of course, but I’ve used it in everything from cookies to cake to nut butter to popcorn to pie! I’ve even got a new maple-centric recipe coming at you next week. But first, here are five of my favorite maple recipes from the archives.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple Creme Sandwich Cookies

This is the first maple-based recipe ever to appear on this blog, and one of the first recipes to appear on this blog, period. I hated the photos, and so have sort of buried it in the archives…but no more! I re-baked the recipe this week, so now the photos reflect how delicious these chewy, creme-filled sandwich cookies actually are. Oh, they are goooood. I’ve had more than a few people claim these are the best cookies they’ve ever eaten. I don’t know about that, but I mean…they’re not not the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple Layer Cake

I made this cake on a whim last fall and it’s still one of my favorite recipes on this site! It’s easy to see why. There’s plenty of pure maple syrup baked into and brushed onto the cake layers, and plenty more whipped into buttercream! This would make a great fall birthday cake or non-pie Thanksgiving dessert.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple Pecan Pie

I made this pie nearly three years ago when this blog turned one! It’s got all the sweet, sticky, gooey nuttiness you want in a pecan pie, but it’s made with pure maple syrup instead of the usual dark corn syrup.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple-Roasted Pecan Butter

If you’ve never made homemade pecan butter, go do it right now. Don’t forget to add a little maple syrup and spice and to spread it on every piece of bread and fruit in your house.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupSalty Maple Caramel Corn

Y’all, storebought caramel corn has nothing on this salty, maple-spiked homemade version. Not. A. Thing. Sweet & salty with a crisp, glass-like exterior—good luck not eating the entire batch yourself!Friday Favorites: Maple Syrup

Have you made these or any of my other maple treats? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Super Fudgy Brownies

Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}The world doesn’t need another brownie recipe, but I do. Sure, I already have two base brownie recipes in my archives and a few variations on them (Brownie Truffles!), but I was disappointed to realize a few weeks ago that neither has the shiny, crackly top that seems to always come with a boxed mix brownie.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}It hadn’t occurred to me that I cared about this until I was talking to a couple of friends about what makes a good brownie. Our notes were similar: fudgy, not cakey at all, not too sweet or light in color. But then they started talking about the paper-thin crinkly top on their favorite boxed mix brownies and I realized I had forgotten about that altogether.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}In my defense, I haven’t made boxed mix brownies in at least seven years—probably more like ten. But I’ve also probably eaten thousands of them, all lovingly mixed together and topped with pecan mosaics by my dad. Every last one of them has had a shiny top, and yet that has never factored into my from-scratch brownie-making. Truly, it’s never even crossed my mind! That is, until this brownie-centric conversation, after which I was consumed with the idea, as evidenced by the 60+ brownies in various states of shiny-crackliness currently taking up space in my freezer, and this pictured super fudgy, crinkled deliciousness.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}So, what produces that perfect top? Cooking/baking science wiz Shirley O. Corriher says it’s a thin layer of meringue migrating to the top during baking. Yes, meringue like in pie…but also not…?

I just confused myself. Let’s try this again.

Basically, meringue is a combination of egg whites and sugar. This combination is whipped to stiff peaks and use as a topper or made into cookies or used to make silky frosting. But that’s not the sort of meringue we’re talking about today.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Here, meringue is more…deconstructed. Essentially, sugar is whisked into butter and chocolate that have been melted together. This suspends the sugar in the flavor/texture base of our brownies. Dry ingredients are whisked in, followed by vanilla and a couple of eggs that have been beaten just until they’re starting to get bubbly. The batter is spread into a pan and baked for nearly half an hour, until just set.

Now, here’s where the magic (ahem, chemistry) happens. The air that’s beaten into those eggs? It’s super important, even though it just looks like a few bubbles. That incorporated air pushes a thin layer of egg whites (protein) upward during baking. That, in turn, lifts some of the sugar that’s been mixed into the fat, producing a thin layer of meringue or, as we think of it, a crackly top!Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Did that make sense? I think it sort of made sense. I am a C+ chemistry student, y’all. If I had known I’d spend so much time thinking about chemical reactions, I may have paid more attention.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}When you look at the recipe, you may notice that I use bittersweet chocolate in these brownies instead of the usual unsweetened chocolate. This is simply because I almost always have bittersweet chocolate (Trader Joe’s PoundPlus Dark Chocolate is my go-to) and almost never have unsweetened. When I want brownies, I want to be able to make them without having to go to the grocery store, you know?! I have reduced the added sugar in this recipe to reflect using sweetened chocolate. If you have (or prefer) unsweetened, just up the sugar to 1 cup.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Did I mention that these brownies just happen to be gluten-free? Where many recipes call for flour, the dry ingredients here are a combination of cocoa powder and cornstarch. The cocoa powder provides a little structure and an extra hit of chocolate flavor—yum. As for the cornstarch, you could definitely use an equal volume of flour in its place, but I like the smooth texture it provides here, the same way it does in cakes and cookies. Plus, it means more friends can enjoy these brownies. Yesssss 😊 Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}One last thing: this recipe is easy and requires just eight ingredients! I felt this warranted a mention because there is a lot of technical jargon in this post. But I promise these are easy. They’re soooo easy. And super dense and fudgy and delicious. And they have that perfect crackly top. And perhaps you too will soon have a freezer full of brownies. It’s a very good problem to have.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}

Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}
makes 1 8-inch pan, 16 brownies

2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8″ rimmed square baking pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for easy removal. Set aside.

Combine cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl, and use a fork to combine. Set aside.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

Place butter and chocolate in heatproof bowl. When water comes to a simmer, turn heat to low and place heatproof bowl over the top. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir frequently until melted and smooth. Add sugar and whisk for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in dry ingredients.

Combine eggs and vanilla in a small mixing bowl. Use a whisk or fork to beat until a bit bubbly, about 1 minute. Whisk into chocolate mixture until smooth.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap full pan five times on the countertop to release air bubbles. Bake 25-30 minutes (mine took 28), until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not soupy batter).

Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Use parchment overhang to remove to a cutting board. Slice into 16 pieces and serve.

Leftovers will keep an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. These may also be layered with wax paper or parchment and frozen.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}

Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread

Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadHas anyone else’s week been five years long? Mine started with two babkas, three layer cakes and a Rosh Hashanah dinner, continued with some early morning construction in my apartment, and was followed up with a neck-ache and a midweek heatwave.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadThe good news is that NYC weather is finally starting to get with the autumnal program (I am so tired of summer clothes) and that my only plans for this weekend are to take my visiting godparents out for lunch and watch postseason baseball. Then two more work days before going on vacation next Wednesday—it can’t get here soon enough! But more on that later. For now, let’s talk about Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake. Swirled. Pumpkin. Bread.

Perfectly spiced pumpkin bread with a tunnel of creamy cheesecake running through it.

The easy autumnal quickbread/loaf cake/whatever of my dreams. Call me “basic” all you want. This stuff is delicious.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread begins with a half-recipe of my Pumpkin Bundt Cake. I went back and forth trying to determine if I should call this a pumpkin cake or a pumpkin bread, eventually determining that my Pumpkin Bundt batter is what many bakers would use for a pumpkin quickbread and ohmygawdthisexplanationissodull.

Anyway, the batter is from a cake recipe, but it’s baked in a loaf pan and I’m calling it a quickbread, okay? Okay.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadTo assemble, you’ll need the pumpkin batter and a small batch of cheesecake—don’t worry, they’re both easy to make. Set aside a cup of the pumpkin batter and put the rest in your loaf pan. Top it with the cheesecake, followed by the remaining batter. Swirl it all with a thin knife or skewer before baking for the better part of an hour. The bread will be puffed when it comes out of the oven, but sink a bit as it cools. This is just the cheesecake buckling a bit—not a bad thing.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadThis bread needs to be cooled at room temperature and then chilled in the refrigerator, making it an ideal make-ahead treat. Don’t rush to serve this. Pumpkin is a flavor that blooms over time and nobody loves room temperature (or warm 😬) cheesecake. Good things come to those who wait.

This is a very good thing.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread

Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread
makes one 9×5-inch loaf, about 10-12 servings

Cheesecake:
8 ounces (1 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pumpkin Batter:
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1 cup pure pumpkin purée (I like Libby’s)

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on the two long sides for ease of removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cheesecake. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Set aside.

Make the pumpkin batter. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Whisk in light brown and granulated sugars followed by oil, vanilla, and pumpkin purée. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Set aside 1 cup of batter.

Pour remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth with a spatula or wooden spoon. Dollop cheesecake over the top and smooth again. Spoon reserved batter over the top and smooth again. Use a skewer or long, thin knife to swirl the batter a bit.

Tap the full pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a few spots comes out with just a few moist crumbs (not soupy batter).

Let cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight, until chilled through. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan and use the parchment overhang to lift out the bread. Discard parchment. Slice and serve.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread