Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaThe countdown to vacation is officially on! I am T-4 days away from driving up to Maine with my friends, VJ and Adam, and I. can’t. wait.

A lot of the appeal of this trip is that we can all be together while also doing our own things. VJ will be perfectly happy putting together puzzles all day long. I have big plans to spend at least a couple of days foraging and baking. This will be Adam’s first time to Swans Island, but I know he’ll settle in quickly. The great thing about this trip is that everyone can do exactly what they want to do—there are no definite plans or must-do activities. It’s positively blissful.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaThe only thing that’s difficult about being on Swans Island is figuring out the menu. There are no large grocery stores on-island, so all groceries have to be carted over from a market on the mainland. This means that we spent last Saturday night gathered around Adam’s kitchen table planning out every single meal and snack so that we can shop efficiently and thoroughly. Easy enough, right?

WRONG. While Adam and I basically eat everything, VJ is a gluten-free vegan. Granted, she is the least difficult gluten-free vegan ever (ever ever ever), but it’s still a challenge to plan meals that we can all enjoy together. Honestly, it’s simpler to just make two grocery lists and hope for some ingredient overlap. Regardless, I’ve taken it upon myself to make one thing we can all share and enjoy equally. This Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola is the result, and it’s freaking fabulous.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaLike most granola, Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola is super easy to make and infinitely more delicious than anything you’ll find in stores. It’s basically like crispy, crunchy Nutella-flavored magic…but gluten-free, vegan, and perfect for sharing with all my favorite people.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaSalted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaSalted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaSalted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaOats and chopped raw hazelnuts are coated in a mixture of oil, maple syrup, dark brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla, before being baked until crisp. Once the granola isn’t searing hot anymore, four ounces of dark chocolate are mixed in. This creates some seriously amazing clusters 😍 You could certainly enjoy your granola like that, but I like to wait until it reaches room temperature and stir in a bit more chocolate—textural diversity for the win. Also, all that chocolate 😊😳🍫🍫🍫

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaI’ve already made two quarts of this granola for our trip. That may seem like a lot for three people, but between breakfasts and snacks, I know it’ll disappear quickly. And how couldn’t it? With crispy oats, toasty hazelnuts, a double dose of chocolate, and a big hit of salt to balance it all out, it’s guaranteed to keep all of us coming back for more.Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola
makes about 5-6 cups

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (I used certified gluten-free oats)
1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) raw hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
6 ounces chopped dark chocolate, divided

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed quarter sheet pan with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats and chopped hazelnuts. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and brown sugar. Use a fork to whisk in cocoa powder and salt until mixture is smooth. Pour liquid ingredients over oats and hazelnuts. Fold everything together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 40 minutes, stirring at the 15 and 30 minute marks. Let cool in the pan on a rack for at least 20 minutes, until it’s warm but can be handled. Scatter 4 ounces of chopped chocolate over the top and stir in. Let cool completely. Stir in remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate.

Granola may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

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.

Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday Chocolate CakeDo you ever have Chocolate Cake Emergencies? Times when you’ve just had a string of bad days or worked too much, or are in an otherwise foul mood that can only be solved with a bit of chocolate cake?

Everyday Chocolate CakeThis week has just been one big Chocolate Cake Emergency for me. I’m making a couple of big changes and I am a walking, talking ball of stress. Logically, I know that sweets cannot (and will not) fix any of my problems, but on a week like this, they sure can’t hurt.

Everyday Chocolate CakeEveryday Chocolate CakeEnter this Everyday Chocolate Cake: a nine-ingredient one-bowl wonder with no need for layering, frosting, or anything else. There are no difficult-to-find ingredients, unusual methods, or long processes—this is an easy, straightforward recipe with spectacular results. Really, this soft, fluffy, deeply chocolaty dessert is just what I want when a Chocolate Cake Emergency arises.

Everyday Chocolate CakeAs I said before, this cake doesn’t need any sort of adornment; I prefer to eat it by its lonesome or with a light dusting of confectioners sugar. If you want to get a little fancy, I recommend topping a slice with a scoop of ice cream (current favorite: Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato) or drizzling the whole cake with ganache.

I’ll be real with you though—this cake really doesn’t need a thing. In fact, I think its less-is-more approach is what makes it so damn great.Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday Chocolate Cake
makes 1 9×5-inch loaf cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (I like Droste)
1 1/2 baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup milk (not skim or nonfat)
confectioners sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.

Sift in flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Mix just until combined. Add milk and mix on low until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap on counter to release any air bubbles. Bake 38-42 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Run a small, thin knife around the edge before inverting. Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired. Slice and serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesHave we talked about how much I love grocery shopping? Walking into Trader Joe’s is basically like going to Disneyland for me. Yes, I am a huge nerd. Ostensibly, I’m there to get basics–eggs, milk, a green vegetable so I don’t get scurvy from my insane flour consumption #bakerlife. But then, there’s the fun part: walking the aisles in search of new ingredients. There are so many possibilities in cooking and baking, and finding a new flour or cookie mix-in sparks my creative energy like nothing else.

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesMatcha Chocolate Chip CookiesThe problem with this habit is that when I unload my grocery bags and put my stuff away, I often forget about that new favorite ingredient for months. Exhibit A: this tub of matcha, a Japanese green tea that I positively adore. I bought it at the health food store months ago, put it in a cabinet and totally forgot about it. That’s a shame for two reasons:

  1. I love matcha’s earthy, bitter, ever-so-slightly savory green tea flavor. Sign me up for all of the matcha lattes and green tea ice cream.
  2. Matcha is pricey! That little tub was $20. (It’s less expensive online.)

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesSo today, let’s put that long-forgotten matcha powder to use and make some cookies! These Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies are crazy good, y’all. If you’ve got a matcha-lover in your life, make them a batch! They’ll adore the soft, green tea-spiked cookie and the hit of chocolate. Mmhmm.

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesNow, before I get to the recipe, I want to explain a few things. This dough, while simple to put together, doesn’t follow all the same rules as my usual cookie doughs. For one, it doesn’t require any softened butter, so this is a no-mixer recipe! The butter in these cookies is melted instead, but it’s not quite as easy as just adding sugar and eggs to melted butter. Don’t worry–it’s still simple.

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesMatcha Chocolate Chip CookiesThese cookies start with melting butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and matcha powder together on the stove. This technique is called blooming–it allows the flavor of the tea to infuse the butter, making for a richer-tasting cookie. I won’t lie to you, the bloomed matcha butter looks dark, sludgy (ew), and a little unappealing, but the flavor this process brings to the finished cookies is totally amazing.

The rest of the recipe is pretty standard–whisk a couple of eggs and some vanilla into the melted matcha mixture, fold in some dry ingredients and chocolate chips. Chill the dough for a few hours so the butter saturates the flour and the cookies don’t over-spread. Then scoop the dough into balls, bake on parchment-lined pans, and dig in!Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesMatcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies right here? They’re soft, chewy, chocolaty matcha heaven. Make them a part of your weekend 😊Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons matcha powder
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, combine butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and matcha powder. Melt together over low heat, whisking occasionally, until combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool slightly.

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

Whisk eggs into the melted matcha mixture one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix dry ingredients into wet in two installments. Carefully fold in chocolate chips–they may melt slightly. Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments (I use a medium cookie scoop) and roll into balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

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

Chocolate Malt Magic Bars

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsI’ve been into more complex recipes lately–recipes that require me to be fearless and willing to make mistakes and try again (and again, and again). Yeast doughs and layer cakes, y’all. They’re not for the faint of heart. I am (briefly) resisting the urge to make another today. As much fun as I have with these more involved recipes, I don’t know that I can handle another day like this past Saturday quite so soon.

So today, let’s keep it simple. Really, really simple. Like seven ingredients, no room temperature-ing, no mixer, no stress simple. But with a major chocolate payoff.

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsY’all, these Chocolate Malt Magic Bars are fantastic. They have all the flavors of your favorite fountain treat, plus a buttery chocolate cookie crust. Did I mention that they come together in less than 45 minutes start-to-finish?! Let me show you.

First, make a chocolate cookie crust. Simply place a couple of sleeves of chocolate sandwich cookies in a food processor and pulverize them. Drizzle in some melted butter and process until the mixture holds together like wet sand. Press that into the bottom of a foil-lined 8-inch pan and bake for five minutes, just to set.

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsChop a bunch of chocolate and scatter it over the crust. I used milk chocolate here, as I prefer its smooth flavor alongside that of the malted milk powder. If dark chocolate is more your style, feel free to use it. You could also throw in some chopped malted milk balls, if you happen to have them on hand.

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsHere’s where it all comes together. Whisk together a can of sweetened condensed milk, a tablespoon of melted butter, and a touch of vanilla. Add in a hefty dose of malted milk powder and a little bit of cocoa powder, and mix until smooth. Drizzle that over the chopped chocolate and tap the pan on the counter a few times to ensure even distribution. Bake it all for 30 minutes or so, until the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled. Let the bars cool completely before slicing and treating yourself to two 😊

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsI hope y’all are as obsessed with chocolate malt flavor as I am because these bars have A LOT of it. The jazzed-up condensed milk and chopped milk chocolate melt together as the bars bake, creating a soft, chewy, chocolaty, malty layer of amazingness. And underneath all of that, there’s that crunchy, buttery cookie crust. These bars are a texture-lover’s dream! Incredible texture, chocolate malt flavor, and they’re easy? If I were you, I’d be running to the kitchen right now.Chocolate Malt Magic Bars

Chocolate Malt Magic Bars
makes 1 8-inch pan, about 12-16 bars

24 chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup malted milk powder (I use Carnation)
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

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, and vanilla. Whisk in malted milk powder and cocoa powder. Mixture will be slightly grainy.

Scatter chopped milk chocolate over the crust. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk mixture over chocolate. Tap pan on the counter several times to distribute mixture and release any air bubbles. 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 overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice with a lightly-greased knife and serve.