Category Archives: Chocolate

Pecan Pie Brownies

Pecan Pie BrowniesIt’s Christmastime, y’all. I’ve got visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. And by sugarplums, I mostly mean these Pecan Pie Brownies.Pecan Pie BrowniesJust imagine a pan of rich, chocolaty Super Fudgy Brownies with a layer of pecan pie filling on top. That’s literally what these are. Look at those layers 😍Pecan Pie BrowniesDuring testing, I tried three different methods of adhering the pecan filling to the top of the brownies. The best, by far, is giving the filling a quick (3-5 minute) pre-cook on the stovetop to jumpstart the thickening. It’s very easy, but does require a sieve. Please don’t let that stop you though—I loathe sieving things, but this is pretty painless, and it beats the hell out of slicing up your brownies only to find scrambled egg bits or a thin layer of pecanless goo underneath. *shudder*Pecan Pie BrowniesOnce you’ve done the 15 seconds of sieving, you get to stir in toasted pecans and spoon it over some soft-set brownies and bake until…divine. Yes—that’s the only word for these. Chewy, fudgy, nutty and sticky-sweet without being cloying; let’s just say these are difficult to resist. I brought a box on my family vacation to D.C., and we chose them over fancy restaurant dessert for all but one night. That’s really saying something—we love fancy restaurant dessert.Pecan Pie BrowniesAs if these need more endorsement, Pecan Pie Brownies also happen to be gluten-free. There are no unusual flours or gums here—this recipe simply doesn’t require gluten-containing ingredients. Inclusive holiday treats for the win!Pecan Pie BrowniesPecan Pie Brownies would be wonderful as part of a cookie tin or holiday party spread, or for enjoying during a cozy Christmas movie night at home. I’m sure they’d work well left as a treat for Santa, too! I will say that, as a childless adult, they really hit the spot when eaten in PJs while watching The Crown and counting down the days until you head home for the holidays. You know, in case you were wondering.Pecan Pie Brownies

Pecan Pie Brownies
makes about 16-25 brownies

Pecan Pie Filling:
1 1/3 cup pecan halves
2/3 cup maple syrup or light corn syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

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- or 9-inch rimmed square baking pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for easy removal. Set aside.

Scatter pecans on a dry rimmed sheet pan. Roast 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.

Make the brownie batter. 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 15 minutes, until top has begun to set.

Make pecan pie filling. In a medium saucepan, whisk together maple syrup (or corn syrup), brown sugar, eggs, vinegar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Add butter. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until bubbles are beginning to form at the edges, about 3-5 minutes. Mixture will barely thicken.

Set a mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl. Pour filling mixture through to remove any bits of cooked egg. Fold pecans into filling.

Spoon pecan pie filling over partially-baked brownies. Bake an additional 30-35 minutes, or until the center barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Chill for 1-2 hours for clean slicing.

Use parchment overhang to remove brownies to a cutting board. Slice into 16-25 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.Pecan Pie BrowniesPecan Pie BrowniesPecan Pie Brownies

Pretzel Shortbread

Pretzel ShortbreadFor the third year in a row, my first Christmas cookies of the season are being posted as part of the Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange, in which food bloggers post festive goodies and donate money in support of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We believe in their mission to raise funds for pediatric cancer treatments and research through bake sales and cookie swaps. Many supporters (“Good Cookies”) do this throughout the year, and I always look forward to supporting them by participating in the Sweetest Season. Making cookies is my favorite thing in the world to do, and the fact that it might help someone this week makes it even better. I made my donation on Giving Tuesday, but if you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here.Pretzel ShortbreadLet’s talk about Pretzel Shortbread. Salty, sweet, crisp, pretzely (inside & out!) cookies, with or without a drizzle of dark chocolate. Oh my lord, y’all. These are absurdly good.Pretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadToday’s cookies are inspired by Philadelphia-favorite Lost Bread Co.’s Pretzel Shortbread. I first saw them when my friend, Claire, who co-owns Philly’s Root Market, posted about how quickly they were selling out. After that, I went down an internet rabbit hole and found out that they are made out of ground up stale soft pretzels, then brushed with lye before baking for maximum pretzelization.*

*I’m twisting the word “pretzel” a lot today and I will not apologize.Pretzel ShortbreadInstead of being a normal person and ordering from Lost Bread Co. online, I decided to figure out a version for the home baker…but without the lye because who keeps food-grade lye around?Pretzel ShortbreadTaking a cue from Lost Bread Co., my Pretzel Shortbread dough is made with a mix of flour and ground pretzels, and sweetened with dark brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar for both flavor and texture. The rest of the ingredients are butter, vanilla, and salt. It’s all mixed together in the span of a few minutes, then rolled and cut into shapes. I went with stars because that’s what I like.Pretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadNext up: the pretzeling! After the cookies are rolled and cut (and also briefly frozen a couple of times), they are dipped in a warm mix of water and baking soda, or as I call it, “pretzel wash.” This is simply a small batch of the solution traditional soft pretzels are boiled in to achieve their signature golden finish. It’s literally just water and baking soda (no lye!), but it’s the thing that takes these cookies over the top!Pretzel ShortbreadInstead of tossing the shortbread in boiling liquid, which would probably destroy them instantly, I let the pretzel wash cool until I can touch it, and then dip the frozen cookie dough stars into the mix. This is followed up by a swipe of egg wash and sprinkles of coarse salt and sugar before being baked to a brown, burnished, decidedly pretzelesque* finish.

*“Pretzelesque” is my new favorite made-up word.Pretzel ShortbreadFinish the Pretzel Shortbread off with a drizzle of chocolate, or not. I did a little of each—I like to have options.Pretzel ShortbreadSalty, sweet, pretzeled inside-and-out, chocolaty, Christmasy, delicious options.Pretzel Shortbread

Pretzel Shortbread
makes about 3.5 dozen cookies

Pretzel Wash:
2 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda

Shortbread Dough:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups ground pretzels (about 1 1/2 cups whole mini pretzels)

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Garnish:
coarse salt
coarse sugar (optional)

Chocolate Drizzle:
3 ounces pure dark chocolate, chopped
coarse salt, for garnish (optional)
coarse sugar, for garnish (optional)

Read this recipe in its entirety before beginning.

Make the pretzel wash. Pour water into a 3-4 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Wearing an oven mitt (or other protective hand gear), whisk in baking soda. Mixture will bubble and expand violently. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Place softened butter in a medium-large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add dark brown and confectioners sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. With the mixer on low, beat in flour and ground pretzels. Dough will be crumbly looking, but should hold together very well when pinched. Divide dough in two parts.

Working with one half at a time, sandwich dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll until 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to the freezer (on a baking sheet, if desired) for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. It is okay to stack the sheets of dough in the freezer.

While the dough is freezing, place racks in the center positions. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer. Peel on of the pieces of parchment off. Use a lightly floured 2-inch cookie cutter to cut cookies. Place them close together on prepared pans. Freeze for 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough sheet. Scraps can be re-rolled, frozen, and cut.

Dip cookies in pretzel wash. Remove frozen cut cookie dough from freezer. Wearing a latex glove (highly recommended), dip cookies into pretzel wash and place back on baking sheets. Freeze again for 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining cut cooking dough.

Make egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl, and use a fork to whisk until combined. Brush egg wash over the tops of the cookies, then sprinkling with coarse salt & coarse sugar.

Bake cookies for 23-25 minutes, or until burnished and brown. Let cool on the pans for 7 minutes. Use a thin spatula (not your fingers!) to remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

Line two baking sheets (or a large surface) with parchment. Place cooling racks over the top. Arrange cookies on racks.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave (30 second increments, stirring in between). Use a fork to drizzle chocolate over cookies. Scatter coarse salt & coarse sugar over the tops, if desired. Repeat with remaining cookies. Chocolate will set after a couple of hours at room temperature, or a few minutes in the freezer.

Shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.Pretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadPretzel ShortbreadPretzel Shortbread

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan PieI am all about this Chocolate Pecan Pie right now. I am into it. So into it, in fact, that I thought about it for a year and a half before I actually made it, and then I made it six times. Six times!Chocolate Pecan PieSome recipes take two or three tries. Some I even get on the first go. Both of this week’s took six rounds. What does that say about me? I don’t know, except that there has been A LOT of pie in my apartment lately.

(Not a bad thing.)

(Also, please come over for pie.)Chocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan Pie, y’all. It’s rich and fudgy and studded with toasted pecans—the sort of dessert that haunts my dreams. But the good kind of haunting. The kind where I get to eat pie.Chocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan PieBut I digress. The filling here is somewhere between traditional pecan pie, chocolate pie, and brownies. It’s soft, deeply chocolaty, and dense but somehow not heavy…and that’s to say nothing of the bevy of naturally caramelly pecans strewn throughout. Add to that that it’s all wrapped up in flaky All-Butter Pie Dough and…best pie ever?!Chocolate Pecan PieI cannot overstate how delicious this is, with or without whipped cream and shaved chocolate. It’s a guaranteed Turkey Day slam dunk! I mean, it’s also a slam dunk when you’re hovering over it at 1am on a random Tuesday, evening out edges and eating it with your fingers like a wild animal, but I somehow think your guests will prefer the former.Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

2 cups pecan halves, chopped + more for topping
1 unbaked pie crust (I used 1/2 recipe All-Butter Pie Dough)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup light corn syrup (or golden syrup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Egg wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

For serving:
whipped cream
shaved bittersweet chocolate

Place the oven rack in the bottom-third position. Preheat oven to 400F.

Scatter chopped pecans on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn.

On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. Fit in pie plate. Cut excess to 1/2-inch, and crimp as desired. Chill pie crust.

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, light brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until combined. Mix in corn syrup and vanilla.

Combine bittersweet chocolate and butter a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Allow to cool 2-3 minutes just so it’s not screaming hot.

Whisking constantly, add chocolate mixture to egg mixture.

Remove pie plate from the refrigerator and place it on top of a rimmed baking sheet (for ease of removal from the oven). Place chopped pecans in the bottom of the pie crust. Pour chocolate filling over the top. Scatter more pecan halves over the top, if desired.

Make egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Brush mixture over exposed crust.

Bake pie 15 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350F and continue to bake 30-40 minutes, loosely tenting with foil at the 15 minute mark. Pie is done when the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Chocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan Pie

Monster Cookies

Monster CookiesIf you’re keeping track, this is my third Monster recipe in 18 months, but I took the long way around, posting two spin-offs of this recipe before posting the real deal. Logic isn’t always my bag. Monster CookiesIf you missed my Monster Blondies and Monster Carmelitas and are wondering why I’m talking about monsters and if this is another Halloween thing, the short answers are

  1. Monster Cookies are peanut butter oatmeal cookies with M&Ms and chocolate chips.
  2. Nobody seems to know exactly where the name came from, but it has something to do with them being loaded with so many good things. A “Monster mash”-up, if you will.
  3. Not traditionally, but the name works. It’s Halloween food if you say it is. Or if you steal your kids’ Halloween candy and use it to make Monster Cookies.Monster CookiesMonster Cookies

When going about trying to make the best Monster Cookies I could muster, I started with my recipes for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Monster Blondies and went from there. After a few tweaks, like finding the right amount of peanut butter, reducing the oats and adding a chill, I’m happy to report that the results are pretty stellar.Monster CookiesWe’re talking puffy, chewy, peanut buttery cookies that have just the right amounts of oats, M&Ms and chocolate chips. I had every intention of pawning these off on friends and acquaintances, but they’re so delicious that I kept them all for myself. #sorrynotsorryMonster CookiesTo that point, Monster Cookies stay good for a whole week! Day after day, I kept waiting to bite into one and be disappointed, but the batch came and went and nary a sad cookie was eaten.

But, I mean, when cookies are this colorful and delectable, how could they ever be anything but delightful?Monster Cookies

Monster Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup M&Ms candy
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Combine butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring between, until melted and smooth. Transfer mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk brown sugar into the butter-peanut butter mixture. Add eggs one at a time, whisking to combine, followed by vanilla. Mix in flour mixture. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats, followed by M&Ms and chocolate chips. Cover cookie dough with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Set at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 10-11 minutes, rotating pans top-to-bottom and back-to-front at the 6 minute mark.

Let cookies cool on their pans for 7-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat dough rolling and baking until all dough is used.

Cookies will keep very well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.Monster CookiesMonster Cookies

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}