Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesWhile I am all about the Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake I posted on Wednesday, I’ll be the first to admit that it might be intimidating. I sort of live for complex recipes, but I totally get that a recipe involving making your own toasted hazelnut meal and relying on whipped egg whites for structure might not be for everyone 😬

Today, let’s keep things simple. Really, really, really simple. Let’s make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesY’all, this recipe is about as simple as it gets. To make these seasonal sweets, you’ll only need a bowl, a whisk and a silicone spatula. No mixer required!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesThis recipe is just a pumpkined-up (<–let me have that one 🙏🏻 ) version of my regular blondie recipe. Adding pumpkin pie spice is a no-brainer, but how do I get pumpkin into these cute little bars?! Easy—just omit the egg white (but keep the yolk!) and add 1/4 cup of pumpkin purée in its place! This keeps our blondies chewy rather than cakey, as pumpkin baked goods are prone to be. If you want cake, make my Pumpkin Bundt Cake—yes, I’m still obsessed with it.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesThe batter for these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies comes together in about ten minutes and bakes up in twenty. By far the most time consuming part of this process is waiting for the blondies to cool…

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies…but it only takes an hour and it’s totally worth it. I mean, look at these clean edges 😍

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesYou’re going to love these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies! They’ve got all the chewy texture you expect from a great blondie, all the pumpkin flavor you want, and chocolate. Plus, you can practically make ‘em with your eyes closed!

But don’t, okay? 👀 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies
makes one 9-inch pan, about 9-16 blondies 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/4 cup pumpkin purée
1 large egg yolk, room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease the foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk in pumpkin purée and egg yolk, followed by vanilla. Add flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk to combine. Fold in 2/3 cup of the semisweet chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan. Dot the top with remaining 2 tablespoons of semisweet chocolate chips. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.

Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use the foil overhang to remove them to a cutting board. Remove foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice blondies. Serve.

Leftover blondies will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsI planned to post this recipe a year ago. I can’t tell you why it didn’t happen—I had written the recipe and a whole post. All I had to do was take some photos and hit “publish,” but instead I just let the file get buried in the digital depths of my iPad, never to be seen again…

Whole Grain Banana Muffins…until two weeks ago. I was searching for these Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars, but this recipe caught my eye instead. Long story short, I’ve made these Whole Grain Banana Muffins twice since rediscovering them, and let me tell you: they are freaking delicious. I mean, most banana baked goods are–mashed banana just has a way of making things wonderful–but these muffins have a little something extra.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsIt’s not some new product or anything. No, that’s not my style. There are no unusual ingredients in this recipe. Instead, its one little almost-no-effort step that makes these muffins truly spectacular:

Before you do anything else, spread the oats and walnuts out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsYep, that’s it. That one little step is the difference between good muffins and great ones.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsOther than that, this recipe is exactly what you’d expect. Mix together some dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and leaveners) and some wet ingredients (oil, eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and just 2/3 cup light brown sugar). Whisk it all together with exactly ten strokes of the bowl. Add the toasty oats and walnuts and use a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) to fold everything together for another 10 strokes. Throw in some chocolate chips if you like, and fold for another five strokes.Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Why do we need to count strokes of the batter? This keeps the gluten from over-developing and making the muffins tough. When the gluten in the flour meets the liquid ingredients, it’s activated, meaning it starts forming the bonds that give baked goods structure and texture. If we stir/fold too much, we’ll end up with tough, chewy muffins, and nobody wants that. For tender muffins, keep your mixing to a maximum of 25 strokes.

Divide the batter amongst about 16 prepared muffin cups and bake for 16-18 minutes. Then let them cool in the pans for about ten minutes before turning them out and digging in.

These Whole Grain Banana Muffins are much more than the sum of their parts, y’all. They’re soft, tender, not too sweet, and full of nutty whole grain goodness from the whole wheat flour and toasted oats. Oh, and of course there’s all sorts of good flavor from the mashed ripe bananas, toasted walnuts, and chocolate chips! That’s my kind of breakfast treat 💗Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Whole Grain Banana Muffins
makes about 16 standard muffins

1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a standard muffin tin or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Toast the oats and walnuts. Place oats and walnuts (if using) on a rimmed baking sheet and spread to cover the surface. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn. Place pan on a rack to cool a bit.

Make the muffin batter. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy (about 30-60 seconds). Whisk in light brown sugar, followed by oil, mashed bananas, and buttermilk. Add flour mixture and whisk 10 strokes. Add oats and nuts (which may still be warm) and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir an additional 10 strokes. Add optional chocolate chips and fold an additional 5 strokes. Batter may have a few small lumps.

Place about 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin cup; they should be about 2/3 full. Place full pan in the oven and bake 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let muffins cool in the pan for ten minutes until removing to a rack to cool completely.

Bake any remaining batter, filling any unused muffin cups halfway with water to keep the pan from warping.

Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Note:

If you do not have buttermilk, you may make your own. Place 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar (or fresh lemon juice) in a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk up to the 1/2 cup mark. Let mixture sit for five minutes, until curdled. Proceed with recipe as written.

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate CookiesI’m a vanilla person, but you sure wouldn’t know it by the way I wolfed down three of these cookies yesterday.

Double Chocolate CookiesDouble Chocolate Cookies have been a favorite of mine since childhood. When I was growing up, I was particularly fond of the version available in the bakery department of our local supermarket, but I haven’t had one of theirs in at least fifteen years, so I have no idea if they were actually any good (they probably weren’t). Regardless, I have many happy memories of snacking on them during our weekly grocery trips.

Double Chocolate CookiesIt’s tricky to make a good Double Chocolate Cookie. Add too much cocoa powder to the dough and you’ll end up with dry, crumbly results; don’t add enough and your cookies won’t have any flavor. Ugh. Since I am simply unwilling to resign myself to a life of subpar Double Chocolate Cookies, I take a note from Alice Medrich, arguably the queen of baking with chocolate.

Double Chocolate CookiesDouble Chocolate CookiesWhen she makes her Cocoa Brownies, Ms. Medrich begins by melting butter with cocoa powder and sugar. This technique is called blooming—it basically means infusing the butter with chocolate flavor. I’ve mentioned blooming before—it’s what makes my Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies so delicious. It does the same thing in these Double Chocolate Cookies, giving the dough a rich chocolate flavor from the very start. This simple process is a bit unusual in cookie-baking, but it yields unmatched depth of flavor.

Double Chocolate CookiesThe rest of the dough-making process is fairly straightforward, and since the butter is melted, it doesn’t require a mixer 🙌🏻🙌🏻 Whisk eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, and salt into the chocolaty butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips before covering and chilling the dough for at least a couple of hours. Don’t skip the chill unless you want sad, lacy cookies that run all over your baking sheets!

Double Chocolate CookiesAfter the dough has firmed up a bit, scoop it in two tablespoon increments and bake for just shy of ten minutes. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before moving them to a rack. Make sure to let the baking sheets come back to room temperature before baking the rest of the cookies.

Double Chocolate CookiesOnce all the dough has been baked, grab a cookie or two (or three!) and prepare to fall in love with a freaking baked good. These Double Chocolate Cookies have super dense, soft centers and crisp-chewy edges. Thanks to the blooming technique, they’re basically like eating a fudgy brownie in cookie form 😍😍😍 It goes without saying that I am totally obsessed. Coming from a vanilla person, that means a lot.Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen medium cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Combine butter, cocoa powder, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Let melt together, stirring frequently, until no pieces of butter remain. Mixture will be grainy. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Let cool 5-10 minutes.

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

Whisk eggs into liquid ingredients one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 9-10 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom at the 5 minute mark. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for five minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Allow the baking sheets to return to room temperature before baking the remaining dough.

Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter.

Chocolate Chip.

Cookie Cake.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeTake it from someone who has made three of these cakes since Saturday—this stuff is dangerous.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeIt’s basically one huge chocolate chip cookie that’s been amped up with brown butter. Oh, and the brown butter is melted rather than chilled and softened, so this is a no-waiting, no-mixer recipe. And there’s tons of deep caramel flavor from dark brown sugar. And chocolate chips.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeIt’s dangerous, I tell you.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeDid I mention the Chocolate Buttercream? It’s pretty important—I consider it one of the two things that makes this dessert a cake instead of just a gigantic cookie (the other is that it’s baked in a cake pan). This frosting is everything. Seriously. It’s sweet, buttery, and intensely chocolaty, but also almost ethereally light and fluffy. And easy. And difficult to stop eating with a spoon once you’ve finished using it for decoration 😬

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeSo basically what I’m saying is that you absolutely should make this Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, but don’t attempt it alone. You’ll need someone to keep you from eating the whole thing.

Luckily for all of us, it’s always more fun to share dessert.Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes 1 9-inch round cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For decoration:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
rainbow sprinkles

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

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk dark brown sugar into the brown butter, followed by egg and yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 20-22 minutes, 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 sprinkles 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 confectioners 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.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesA couple of months ago, my boss went on a weeklong health retreat. When she came back, she was totally crazy about some crisp-chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies she had while she was away, going so far as to bring a bag home with her. She insisted I try one before asking if I could replicate them. I agreed to try, but with some major reservations.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesMaking cookies without gluten meant I had to basically start from square one. You see, gluten-free baking is a lot different from standard baking. In recipe after recipe, I rely on the structural and textural qualities of regular all-purpose flour to keep my cookies soft and chewy. Gluten, a protein found in wheat (and a few other grains), is activated when the flour meets the wet ingredients. It develops as the dough mixes and allows cookies to bake up super chewy. Without it, I was lost.

I looked around online for the recipe from the retreat itself, but came up empty. I also checked a couple of well-regarded gluten-free baking blogs to see if they had anything that might be similar to those cookies, but I had no such luck. I finally went to the source, looking at the list of ingredients on the side of the bag and going from there. With that list and my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, I set out to recreate those cookies, figuring it would take two or three solid tries.

It took two months and ten batches. Oy.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesGluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesBut here they are, my Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re not exact replicas of the cookies my boss brought home (they’re definitely not crisp), but they are damn good. The base of these cookies is a combination of a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, almond meal, a touch of ground chia seed, and a little bit of leavener. Together with the wet ingredients, this combination bakes up into soft, tender cookies.

Since these cookies don’t have any gluten, they are not as chewy or puffy as the others you see on this site. I tried adding different quantities of almond meal and adjusting the leaveners in an attempt to get a chewier texture and a puffy shape, but those attempts resulted in cookies that puffed but didn’t spread, and were so crumbly that they practically disintegrated after one bite! My Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are a little on the thinner side, but the tender texture and hint of caramel-almond flavor more than make up for it.

I don’t know that I’ll ever fully understand gluten-free baking, but I am really happy with this recipe. My boss and her teenage son both loved these cookies, so I must be doing something right.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
3/4 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons ground chia (or ground flaxseed)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup turbinado sugar (or sucanat)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together gluten-free all-purpose flour, almond meal, ground chia, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add turbinado sugar and maple syrup, and mix to combine. Beat in egg and egg yolk, followed by vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing to combine completely. Mix in chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments (I use a medium cookie scoop), roll them into balls, and set them at least three inches apart on prepared pans. Use the heel of your hand to flatten them slightly. Bake cookies 8-10 minutes, until golden at the edges. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

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