Category Archives: Chocolate

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsFor a short week, this one has seemed endless. There has been change and growth and letting go and construction and a migraine that began on Tuesday night and continued well into Wednesday afternoon.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsWhat I’m saying is that I could use a treat. Luckily, I have a refrigerator full of these Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars, which are the perfect chewy, gooey, crispy-edged, chocolate-studded sweet to counteract all the negative energy in my immediate vicinity.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsIn addition to being a perfect flavor and textural combination, these bars are super easy to make. The cookie layers are simply a chocolate chip cookie play on the crumb I used in my Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble. It comes together in five minutes and only requires one bowl—score!Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsA little more than half of the cookie mix gets pressed into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Then comes the salted caramel, which is simply a bag of soft caramel candies that are melted with salt and heavy cream.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsThe remaining cookie mix is scattered over the top of the caramel and then everything is baked until the edges are crisp and the caramel is starting to bubble up through the cookie crumble.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsLet your bars cool completely before slicing. If you try to cut them before they’re cool, you won’t get the satisfaction that comes with clean edges and beautiful layers (if not perfect evenness).Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsAnd that’s to say nothing of the buttery chocolate chip cookie layers and the gooey, salty caramel filling, which are a match made in dessert heaven. So, so delicious.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsI logically know that dessert is not going to change the world, but I can’t seem to look at these and see anything but goodness. Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars can’t solve my problems, but four bites of salty-sweet caramel sandwiched between layers of crisp cookie can certainly help soften the blow, am I right?!Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars
makes about 16 bars

Chocolate Chip Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 reaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Salted Caramel Filling:
1 11-ounce bag caramel candies, unwrapped
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make the chocolate chip dough. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add vanilla and melted butter and whisk until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in mini chocolate chips. Set aside. Dough may seem crumbly.

Make the salted caramel layer. Combine caramels, heavy cream, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Firmly press about 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chip dough into a thin, even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour caramel over the top and smooth to the edges. Scatter remaining dough mixture over the top. Try not to leave any huge areas of caramel uncovered, lest it burn.

Bake full pan for 23-26 minutes, or until turning golden at the edges. Caramel will be liquid straight out of the oven, but will set as bars cool. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Slice bars with a lightly greased chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Do not try to slice bars until they are completely room temperature.

Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Layer them with wax paper to keep them from sticking together.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

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Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic Bars

Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsLet me take this moment to express gratitude for the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. Did we need a remake of the 1961 classic? Probably not, but it’s enjoyable enough, and it introduced little 13 year-old me to one of the great duos—not Lindsay Lohan & Lindsay Lohan—peanut butter & Oreos!

I was already a big fan of peanut butter & chocolate (duh!), but Oreos were a game-changer. I’ve been finding ways to put them together ever since.Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsBesides the obvious dipping of Oreos directly into peanut butter, I’ve paired the two in homemade peanut butter, cupcakes and blondies, and now Magic Bars!Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsOreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsOreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsOreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsThey have just four ingredients–Oreos, peanut butter, butter & sweetened condensed milk–and come together in less than 45 minutes. Oh, and they’re ridiculously easy and far more delicious than any baked good with four (!) ingredients should be.Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsWe’re talking soft, chewy peanut butter filling and buttery Oreo crust here, people!Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsThose are two of my very favorite things. One of the great duos, if you will.Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic Bars

Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic Bars
makes 1 8- or 9-inch pan, about 12-16 bars

36 chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos), divided
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch square pan and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease again. Set aside.

Place 24 chocolate sandwich cookies the bowl of a food processor and process until pulverized. Add melted butter. Pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Press into an even layer. Bake for five minutes, until set. Set crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter.

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk mixture over crust. Use a silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to carefully spread into an even layer.

Break or chop remaining 12 chocolate sandwich cookies into pieces and scatter over sweetened condensed milk mixture. Bake for 25 minutes, tenting pan with foil at the 15 minute mark. Bars are done when the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice with a lightly-greased knife and serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.Oreo-Peanut Butter Magic BarsOreo-Peanut Butter Magic Bars

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBack in November, I made this Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake for a friend’s birthday. I thought it was cute, so I posted a picture of it on my social media with a #comingsoon…and then promptly forgot* about it because Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, my birthday, and so on and so forth.

*For the record, I did post a single-serve version.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBut I remembered now. Seven months later than anticipated, but I remembered. I promise you, Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake is worth the wait.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeWe’re talking about a rich, thick chocolate cookie studded with colorful candy and finished off with a flourish of chocolate buttercream. What’s not to love?!Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeIt’s easy too—it’s basically just a slightly smaller batch of my Double Chocolate Cookie dough with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBake it up in a cake pan, let it cool, and pipe on a buttercream border. In my opinion, that last step is the thing that takes this recipe from “giant cookie” to “cookie cake.” Not that there’s a thing in the world wrong with a giant cookie, am I right?!Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeSlice it up and share with people you love this weekend or for the Fourth of July (with holiday-appropriate M&Ms!) or pretty much any old time. Or, you know, follow my lead and completely forget about it for seven months and then wonder why you didn’t make it sooner.

(Don’t be like me.)Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup M&Ms candy

For decoration:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
M&Ms candy

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Combine butter, brown sugar, and cocoa powder in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until butter is melted. Mixture will be a bit grainy.

Let mixture cool a few minutes before transferring to a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in flour, baking soda and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in M&Ms candy.

Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 24-27 minutes, or until the top no longer appears shiny.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan before inverting the cake onto the rack. Revert onto a serving plate. Decorate with Chocolate Buttercream and M&Ms as desired.

Decorated cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Chocolate Buttercream
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here), or spread with an offset icing knife.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Hot Fudge

Hot FudgeAs far as I’m concerned, hot fudge is a perfect food. It’s the thing that takes sundaes, banana splits, ice cream cakes and, heck, any plain ol’ scoop of ice cream from good to outstanding. It’s like the fairy dust of frozen desserts—adding just a couple of spoonfuls can make anything magical, especially if whipped cream, nuts and a cherry are involved.Hot FudgeIt might surprise you to learn that hot fudge is incredibly easy to make. I grew up thinking of it as a shop-only item, along with caramel sauce and magic shell. Flash forward a few years and I have no fear making any of these classic ice cream toppings—they’re all crazy-easy to put together and much better from scratch!Hot FudgeHot fudge is a ten minute, one-pot operation, and requires just seven ingredients that you probably have on hand. I mean, how can you argue with smooth, sticky, shiny, sweet hot fudge where you know the amount and quality of every ingredient? It’ll take you less time, cash and energy to whip up a batch than it will to get to the store and back. I mean, that’s half the reason I do all this baking and cooking: because I can do it all from the comfort of my own kitchen in my most-mismatched pajamas.Hot FudgeAlso, because homemade almost always beats store-bought in terms of flavor, quality, and price. That goes double for this hot fudge, which gets its richness from both chopped dark chocolate and cocoa, has less sugar than anything you can purchase, and costs me a whopping $4 for 1 1/3 cups. And it’s delicious. And it doesn’t require putting on real pants or going outside. Yesssss.Hot FudgeMost hot fudge recipes I’ve seen are sweetened with sugar in addition to light corn syrup and chocolate, but I couldn’t determine a flavor-related or structural reason that it needed to be there, so I nixed it and nothing terrible happened. In fact, the resulting sauce is as rich and fudgy as any I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot), and I don’t find it to be lacking sweetness at all. If you’d like a sweeter hot fudge, or maybe know something I don’t,* feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of sugar when you whisk together the light corn syrup and cocoa.

*If you do, please tell me. I’d be interested to know.Hot FudgeThis hot fudge pours and puddles and takes nicely to the sundae treatment. And just in case you think it can’t get much better than that, you should know that it stays good for weeks in the refrigerator and reheats like a dream, so you can have hot fudge sundaes any day of the week all summer long.Hot FudgeI recommend you start with today.Hot Fudge

Hot Fudge
makes about 1 1/3 cups

1/3 cup light corn syrup (or mild honey or golden syrup)
1/3 cup cocoa powder (preferably dutch process)
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup (5 fl oz) evaporated milk (or heavy cream)
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small pot, whisk together light corn syrup, cocoa powder, and salt until combined. Whisk in evaporated milk. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it has simmered for 2 minutes and has an even color and consistency. Whisk in dark chocolate, followed by butter and vanilla.

Serve over ice cream, or any other desired item. Store leftovers in a microwave-safe container in the refrigerator.

To reheat, microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between, until pourable. Alternatively, heat in a pot on the stove over low heat, stirring very frequently, until pourable.Hot FudgeHot Fudge

Peanut Butter Marble Cake

Peanut Butter Marble CakeToday is my 34th birthday!Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakeIt’s been a really fun one so far: my little sister is visiting, I made this Sicilian pizza, went to dinner and to see Golden Girls Live! with a bunch of friends, did some vintage shopping, and saw Rocketman last night. Pretty great, right?!Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakeNow it’s time to talk birthday cake. I make many (many many many) throughout the year, but this one is mine: Peanut Butter Marble Cake, y’all!Peanut Butter Marble CakeWe’re talking thick layers made with my favorite peanut butter batter and swirled with dark chocolate a la Marble Bundt Cake. Yesssss.Peanut Butter Marble CakeThe cake is filled and frosted with a silky Chocolate-Peanut Butter Buttercream. This stuff is sweet-salty magic and it swoops like a dream!Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakeAll that, and I didn’t even mention all the chopped peanut butter cups in the middle! There are even more on top 😊 Peanut Butter Marble CakeIt’s a total showstopper—the ultimate chocolate-peanut butter cake, as far as I’m concerned.Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakeI can’t think of a more delicious way to start my 35th trip around the sun 🎉 Peanut Butter Marble Cake

Peanut Butter Marble Cake
makes one 2-layer 9-inch round layer cake

Cake Batter:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cup creamy-style peanut butter*
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 ounces dark chocolate

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Buttercream:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup creamy-style peanut butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream

For assembly:
12 miniature peanut butter cups + more for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and peanut butter until combined and fluffy. Beat in light brown and granulated sugars. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients followed by half the buttermilk. Add remaining dry ingredients, followed by remaining buttermilk. Set aside.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring in between, until melted. This may also be done in a double boiler.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups of batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate. Use a fork and/or silicone spatula to combine the two.

Divide remaining peanut butter batter among prepared pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Dollop chocolate batter over the tops and use a thin knife or skewer to lightly marble it in. Bake 40-42 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Make buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in peanut butter. Add in confectioner’s sugar in two installments, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla, followed by heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Place 12 miniature peanut butter cups on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to cut them into small pieces (I like to cut them into eighths).

Use a serrated knife to even out the tops of the cake layers. Place one cut-side-up on a serving plate or cake stand. Top with a thin layer of buttercream, followed by chopped peanut butter cups. Top with the second layer cut-side-down. Frost and decorate cake. Garnish with more peanut butter cups, if desired.

Slice and serve. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five. If storing in the refrigerator, let cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Cake is best served at room temperature.Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble Cake