Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Black Bottom Key Lime PieIn my short but very intense baking career, I’ve come to think that whoever coined “Easy as pie,” was making a very cruel joke.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Pie takes time and energy and the patience to scrape up the layer of flour that’s adhered itself to your best rolling surface, and unless you make it all the time (those late-November pies are always the easiest ones, aren’t they?), it can seem like a culinary Mount Everest. It’s not—anyone can make a pie—but I understand why it can be perceived as intimidating. Pie is simple, straightforward stuff, but it definitely isn’t easy.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Except for this Black Bottom Key Lime Pie, that is. It’s very easy and guaranteed to impress. I mean, look at those delicious layers!

Black Bottom Key Lime PieBlack Bottom Key Lime PieIf you want to make one of these magnificent pies for yourself, start by blitzing Oreos and butter together until they are sandy. Press the mixture into a pie plate to make a crust. Bake that for 8 minutes, just to set.Black Bottom Key Lime PieBlack Bottom Key Lime Pie

Warm some chopped dark chocolate and heavy cream together and stir to make a ganache. Carefully spread it onto the crust, and then give it a brief chill to set the layer. This magical puddle of ganache is the titular “Black Bottom.”

Black Bottom Key Lime PieBlack Bottom Key Lime PieWhisk together the key lime filling. This iconic pie filling is one of the easiest to make. Just whisk together a can of sweetened condensed milk, some egg yolks, some lime zest and key lime juice. I like to add 1/4 cup of sour cream, just to keep everything extra dreamy. If you’re a key lime pie purist, you can leave it out.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Pour the filling over the ganache layer and bake the pie for 20 minutes. It should be ever-so-slightly jiggly when it’s done. It’ll firm up as it cools.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Chill the pie well (nobody likes warm Key Lime Pie!) and then top it with some whipped cream. You can pipe this layer if you are so inclined. I am not, mostly because I would like to eat pie sooner rather than later.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Oh, y’all. This is the way to get your key lime fix. The tartness of the filling pairs beautifully and deliciously with the dark chocolate and the whipped cream, and the crunchy Oreo crust…well, it’ll keep you coming back for more.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Make this pie this weekend, or next Wednesday, 3/14. It’s Pi(e) Day, after all ❤Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Black Bottom Key Lime Pie
makes one 9-inch pie

25 whole Oreos
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Key Lime Pie Filling:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon lime zest (or key lime zest)
1/2 cup key lime juice

Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup heavy cream, cold
2-3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
chocolate shavings (optional)
lime zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.

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 the pie plate (I find that a 1/4 cup measuring cup works wonders for this). Bake the crust for 8 minutes and then let it cool for 20 (or until you can handle the pie plate).

Make the ganache. Combine chopped chocolate and heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until a smooth even ganache forms (about 45 seconds total). Pour it into the crust and use the back of a spoon to carefully spread it into an even layer on the bottom. Freeze crust and ganache while you prepare the key lime pie filling.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and sour cream. Whisk in eggs, followed by lime zest and key lime juice. Remove pie plate from freezer and pour filling mixture over the ganache. Pop any air bubbles with a toothpick or the tines of a fork. Bake pie 20 minutes, or until just barely jiggly. It will set as it cools.

Let pie cool on a rack before chilling in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Make whipped cream topping. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream. Scatter with chocolate shavings and lime zest, if desired.

Serve immediately. Leftover pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days.

Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Almond Joy Shortbread Bars

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsI don’t want to write about baking today—I want to write about how much I love the Olympics. I’ve watched the coverage every night and had it on in the background while I’ve baked during the day. This isn’t a recent habit—I grew up in a family that gathered to watch the games (summer or winter) every night they were on, and I even once had a wall of my teenage bedroom dedicated to the decorated short track speedskater Apolo Ohno.

Yeah…when it comes to the Olympics, I’m a real big nerd. I’m also a baseball nerd and an Oscars nerd, so…well, maybe I just watch too much TV. That’s probably it.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsAnyway, this isn’t an Olympics blog. It’s a baking blog. So, let’s talk about baked goods, specifically Almond Joy Shortbread Bars.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsIf you’re going to try to improve on the practically perfect combination of chocolate, almonds, and sweet coconut filling, layering it all onto a buttery chocolate shortbread crust is a pretty good way to start.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsAll the layers in these bars make them look like they take hours to prepare, but in reality, they take about 90 minutes from start to finish and are nearly no-bake. That easy chocolate shortbread crust is the only layer that has to spend time in the oven.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsIt’s topped with a thick layer of coconut filling and dotted with whole roasted almonds…Almond Joy Shortbread BarsAlmond Joy Shortbread Bars

…and a layer of milk chocolate. You can use dark chocolate if you like, but apparently Almond Joys are made with milk chocolate. I’ve been wrong for two years. Oh well.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsAlmond Joy Shortbread BarsBut back to the bars. Slice ‘em up and admire your handiwork. #thoselayerstho

The flavor is everything you love about sweet, chewy, crunchy Almond Joys, but better because they’re homemade. Oh, and because they have a crispy layer of chocolate shortbread offsetting all their sweetness. After sinking your teeth into one of these, you’ll never be able to go back to the mass-produced candy bar.

Y’all, these are seriously good. I know I say that about everything on this blog, but I really mean it today. These are a gold medal recipe for sure.Almond Joy Shortbread Bars

Almond Joy Shortbread Bars
makes one 9-inch square pan, about 16 bars

Chocolate Shortbread Crust:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

Coconut Filling:
1/2 cup whole raw almonds
5 fluid ounces (10 tablespoons) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Chocolate Topping:
6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil and grease well with butter. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, light brown sugar, and salt. Use your fingertips to rub butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Bake 14-15 minutes, until no longer wet-looking. Let shortbread crust cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Make the filling. Place almonds on a dry baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in coconut. Mixture will be very thick. Drop filling in spoonfuls over the cooled crust and spread across the entire surface. Arrange almonds in lines (or as desired) over the top of the coconut and press down to adhere. Freeze full pan for 15 minutes.

Make the chocolate topping. Combine chopped milk chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, just until melted. Drop chocolate over filling one spoonful at a time. Use a small offset icing knife (or a silicone spatula) to carefully spread it over a section of the filling. Continue dropping and spreading chocolate until it’s all used and the almonds are covered. Freeze until chocolate has hardened, about 15 minutes.

Use foil overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Carefully peel foil down the sides. Use a lightly-greased sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Lift bars from foil with a thin spatula. Serve.

Bars may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. Layer them with wax paper if they are to be stacked.

Almond Joy Shortbread Bars

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadAs with everything else in life, patience is a huge part of being a food blogger. For instance, I first made a version of these cookies for an order last April and knew immediately that I wanted to put them on the blog…but who eats shortbread in April?

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadI’m sure someone does, but most everybody I know reserves it for Christmas, so I waited. And then December came and went, and nary a shortbread made an appearance on this blog. I suppose I could have held out for the end of the year, but instead I’m making shortbread for Valentine’s Day and you should too.

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadI mean, all shortbread is good—it’s basically a vehicle for eating copious amounts of butter and sugar in polite company. But this isn’t just any shortbread.

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadThis version is made with brown butter. It’s one of my very favorite ingredients (see here, here, and here), producing baked goods with a nutty aroma and incomparable depth of flavor.

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadBrown butter is good in basically everything, but it really shines in these simple six-ingredient cookies. See those dark specks? Those are browned milk solids—tiny bits of flavor alllllll over the place, y’all!

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadAnd then, as if things could possibly get better, the baked shortbread are dipped in melted dark chocolate.

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadTender, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth brown butter shortbread dipped. in. chocolate.

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadOh my word.

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadYou could certainly leave the chocolate half plain, but I am not the sort of baker who leaves things plain. I used my fanciest chocolate sprinkles here (they’re called hagelslag—try ‘em on buttered toast). Coarse salt works too, if you didn’t run out over Christmas and then totally forget to replenish your stash for two months. I wouldn’t know anything about that though. Nope.Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter ShortbreadThere’s something luxurious about the name of this recipe, and they certainly look fancy, but I assure you that these Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread are as easy as they are delicious. I made them five times this week (and in multiple shapes!), so I know.

Another thing I know? If someone presented me with a batch of these, I’d definitely feel loved.Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread
makes about 36 2-inch cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Chocolate Dip:
8 ounces pure dark chocolate, chopped
chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag) or coarse salt, for garnish (optional)

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 small bowl. Let it cool a bit before refrigerating until solid (a few hours or overnight). When you are ready to bake, soften the solid brown butter to room temperature

Place softened brown 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. 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 300F. 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. Repeat with remaining dough. Scraps can be re-rolled, frozen, and cut.

Bake cookies for 21-23 minutes, or until no longer shiny. 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 with parchment.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave (30 second increments, stirring in between). Dip each cookie halfway and place on prepared pans. Scatter sprinkles or coarse salt over the top. 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 several days.

Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerOn any other day, I would probably go on and on about how how I prefer my chocolate desserts to be all chocolate and my fruit desserts to be just fruit, but for right now, I must say otherwise. And even if I were feeling that way this particular Wednesday, I’d be hard-pressed to get the words out, what with shoveling bites of warm Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger into my face.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerAs far as late-January desserts go, this is about as good as it gets. I mean, when it comes to warm, soft pieces of pear, bits of melty chocolate and crunchy oat topping with two kinds of ginger, what’s not to love?!

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerBeyond being delicious, this crisp is wonderfully easy to make. If you are at all intimidated by making pie from scratch, this is the dessert for you. There’s no finicky dough or chilling or crimping, and definitely no lengthy cooling time. In fact, the whole process of making a crisp takes one hour, as opposed to the three or four (or more!) that it takes to make and cool a fruit pie.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerTo start, pears are peeled, diced, and tossed with sugar, cornstarch, ground ginger, and lemon.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerChocolate chips are scattered over the top.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerThe crisp topping is made from oats, flour, light brown sugar, chopped almonds, and both ground and candied ginger. Oh, and butter.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerScatter the topping over the fruit, being careful to cover most of the chocolate. This will keep it from overcooking.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerBake the crisp for half an hour and let it cool for ten minutes.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerWhile it’s warm, scoop it into bowls and top it with vanilla ice cream. The recipe says this addition is only “if desired,” but I like to think of it as mandatory.Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

It really should be.Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger
makes one 8-inch dish, about 6 servings

4 medium firm-ripe Bosc pears
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons candied ginger, minced
3 tablespoons chopped raw almonds (optional)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Serving:
vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch casserole dish with butter. Set aside.

Peel and core pears. Cut them into 1-inch chunks and place in a medium-large mixing bowl. add sugar, cornstarch, ginger, salt, and lemon juice. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and scatter chocolate chips over the top.

Make the topping. In a medium mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, light brown sugar, ground ginger, salt, minced candies ginger, and chopped raw almonds. Stir together with a fork. Add melted butter and stir until everything is saturated and clumps form. Scatter topping onto the pears and chocolate.

Bake 28-30 minutes, until topping is browned and pears are tender. Tent with foil if anything browns too quickly.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving in bowls with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate any leftovers, reheating before serving.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

Chocolate Mint Magic Bars

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsSo far this season, I’ve posted Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies, Peppermint Mocha Buttercreams, Pecan Florentines, an Eggnog Puff Pancake, Maple Spice Stars, gluten-free Mexican Hot Chocolate Crinkles, and my mom’s recipe for Wassail. If none of those strike your holiday fancy, there are at least twenty more Christmas-appropriate recipes in the archives.

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsWhat can I say? I love holiday baking ❤️💚❤️💚❤️💚❤️💚❤️💚

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsToday’s recipe–the last one before Christmas–is everything you could want this close to the 25th. Chocolate Mint Magic Bars come together quickly and easily, don’t require a mixer or any unfamiliar techniques, and are so. freaking. good. If you love chocolate and mint, this is your lucky day 😊

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsI mean, who can resist chewy, chocolaty Andes mint-studded filling and a buttery chocolate cookie crust?!

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsChocolate Mint Magic BarsTo make the bars, start by blitzing two sleeves of chocolate sandwich cookies into crumbs. Add some butter and then press the mixture into a foil-lined pan. Bake the crust for five minutes, just to set.

Chop up some Andes Creme de Menthe candies…

Chocolate Mint Magic Bars…and whisk together a can of sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, vanilla, peppermint extract, and a tablespoon of melted butter.

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsChocolate Mint Magic BarsPour that mixture over the crust and top it with the chopped candy. I like to add some chocolate chips, too. Bake the bars for half an hour, until they’re still a little jiggly–they’ll set as they cool. Once they reach room temperature, slice ‘em up.

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsLook at those streaks of candy in the filling 😍😍😍

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsThese bars, y’all. They’re so delicious. The filling is chocolaty and minty without being too rich, and has a fudgy brownie-like quality that I absolutely love! And then there’s that crumbly, buttery chocolate cookie layer. Seriously, what’s not to love?!

Merry Christmas, y’all!Chocolate Mint Magic Bars

Chocolate Mint Magic Bars
makes 1 9-inch square pan, about 16 bars

24 chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not fat free)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (not mint extract)
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
30 Andes Creme de Menthe candies (1 9.5 ounce package), chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

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

Place chocolate sandwich cookies the bowl of a food processor and process until pulverized. Add 5 tablespoons of 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, 1 tablespoon melted butter, vanilla and peppermint extracts. Whisk in cocoa powder.

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk mixture over the crust. Scatter chopped Andes Creme de Menthe candies and chocolate chips over the top. Bake for 30-32 minutes, tenting pan with foil at the 10 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 foil overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice with a lightly-greased knife and serve.

Chocolate Mint Magic Bars