Tag Archives: easy recipes

Potato Chip Clusters

Potato Chip ClustersWhen thinking up recipes for the week between Christmas and the New Year—a time when I have tons of leftovers, don’t want to take on any intense kitchen projects, and mostly just need a nap—I knew it had to be easy.Potato Chip ClustersEeeeeeeaaaaasy. E-A-S-Y. No chill, one bowl, no mixer, limited ingredients—easy!Potato Chip ClustersPotato Chip ClustersPotato Chip ClustersPotato Chip ClustersThat’s exactly what these Potato Chip Clusters are: golden, salty-sweet, lightly-candied morsels that require four ingredients, come together in five minutes and bake in seventeen.Potato Chip ClustersThey’re brown at the edges and crispy throughout, and stay that way for days. You won’t have to worry too much about softening since their primary structural component is a single egg white.Potato Chip ClustersI envision these as the perfect thing to go alongside a cocktail, mocktail or glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve, but I also think they’d be great for Super Bowl Sunday, drizzled with chocolate and tucked into a cookie tin next Christmas, or whipped together any old time you need to knock out the last of a bag of potato chips.Potato Chip Clusters

Potato Chip Clusters
makes 12-16 clusters

1 large egg white
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups crushed potato chips (about 40-45 chips)
coarse or flaky sea salt

Place oven racks in the top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 325F.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together egg white and sugar until bubbly, about 1 minute. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in crushed potato chips until all pieces are coated.

Scoop by the tablespoon and drop 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Flatten out slightly with the back of a fork. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake 10 minutes. Rotate top-to-bottom and front-to-back and bake another 7-8 minutes, until deep golden.

Let cool on the pans. Serve. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.Potato Chip Clusters Potato Chip Clusters

Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}

Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}Hello! I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. I’m still in D.C., but am looking forward to getting back to NYC to put my Christmas tree up and really get into the swing of holiday baking—look out for my first Christmas cookies of the season next Wednesday!Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}Today’s recipe is hardly a recipe at all. When I was visiting my friend, Tad, in San Francisco last month, we stopped for an ice cream cone at The Castro Fountain. While I was waiting for my order, I spotted a sign for Hot Butterscotch. I initially assumed they meant the sauce, but on further inspection, I saw it was a beverage akin to Hot Chocolate. But, you know, with butterscotch. I decided then and there that I would figure out a Hot Butterscotch recipe by Thanksgiving, and lo and behold, here it is. Rocket science, this is not, but those Castro Fountain guys are on to something!Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}Simply whisk a cup of butterscotch and some vanilla into a quart of whole milk. Heat that to a simmer, divide it among a few mugs, and top ‘em off with whipped cream, marshmallows and a drizzle of butterscotch. That’s it!Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}Hot Butterscotch is creamy and comforting with plenty of buttery brown sugar and vanilla flavor. I like it as written, but if you want something a little more decadent, feel free to swap half & half or heavy cream for some of the milk.Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}No matter how you mix it up, this is the perfect low-maintenance treat to make this Thanksgiving weekend. You could even give jars of homemade butterscotch as food gifts and attach a label with the recipe. But then again, I may be getting ahead of myself.

Have a great weekend, y’all!Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}

Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}
makes 4-6 servings

1 cup prepared butterscotch sauce
1 quart whole milk (or a mix of whole milk and half & half or heavy cream)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For serving:
whipped cream
miniature marshmallows
butterscotch sauce, for drizzling

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine butterscotch, whole milk, and vanilla. Set over medium heat. Continue to whisk near-constantly (to prevent scorching) until mixture is steaming and bubbles are forming at the edges. Do not boil. Remove from heat.

Ladle mixture into mugs. Top with whipped cream, miniature marshmallows, and/or a drizzle of butterscotch sauce, if desired. Serve immediately.Hot Butterscotch {Seasonal Beverage}

Easy Popcorn Balls

Easy Popcorn BallsIf you’ve been around here a while, you know I loathe Halloween. Biggest Halloween Scrooge there is, right here.

That said, I might do an about-face soon because I finally tried a popcorn ball at the ripe old age of 34 and I loved it. Loved. It. Sweet, airy and studded with candy, it may well make a Halloween-lover out of me! Who knows? It could change the course of my life!

(Feeling dramatic today. Sorry, not sorry.)Easy Popcorn BallsBut seriously, I have no idea why I had never had a popcorn ball before a few weeks ago. Maybe it’s a northern thing? Do Texans just not make popcorn balls? Do I secretly love Halloween? Is my entire life a lie???Easy Popcorn Balls…whatever it is, I am now firmly in support of all things Halloween as they relate specifically to spherical sticky-sweet popcorn. And also candy corn. But nothing else, okay? Okay.Easy Popcorn BallsLots of popcorn ball recipes are molten sugar or caramel-based and require a candy thermometer, but I went in a different, easier direction, using Rice Krispies Treats as a guide. Butter and marshmallows are melted together and flavored with a little salt before 10 cups of plain popcorn are folded in. I like to add mix-ins for flavor/textural diversity, but feel free to leave ‘em out if they’re not your thing. I love (!) the sweet/salty candy corn and pretzel combo I used in this batch, but if those flavors aren’t your bag, don’t fret! I’ve written a list of alternatives in the recipe. You can use pretty much whatever you want, except for un-coated chocolate (it’ll melt).Easy Popcorn BallsEasy Popcorn BallsEasy Popcorn BallsOnce the mixture is to your liking, let it cool for about 5 minutes, just until you can handle it. Then butter your hands and press heaping 1/2 cups of sticky popcorn into balls and set them on a piece of parchment. After that’s done…well, you’re done. Except for the part where you watch the World Series and eat crunchy, just barely gooey, candy corn & pretzel-studded popcorn balls and call it Halloween. Or maybe that’s just me.Easy Popcorn Balls

Easy Popcorn Balls
makes about 14 balls

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 10-ounce bag mini marshmallows (about 6 cups)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
10 cups plain popped popcorn (from about 1/2 cup kernels)
1 cup candy corn
1 cup broken pretzel pieces

Alternative mix-in ideas (use 2 cups total):
M&Ms
Reese’s Pieces
salted peanuts
chopped Twizzlers
broken Oreos
sweet cereal of choice

Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

Melt butter a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows and all and stir until smooth. Carefully fold in popcorn. Remove from heat. Fold in candy corn and pretzels, or other desired mix-ins. Let mixture cool 5 minutes, or until just cool enough to handle but still pliable.

Grease your hands and a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Use the measuring cup to scoop heaping 1/2 cups of the popcorn mixture. Coax it out of the cup by inverting/using your fingers and then use your hands to firmly press the popcorn mixture into a ball. Place the popcorn ball on the prepared pan. Continue, working quickly, until all popcorn mixture is used. Let popcorn balls cool until set.

Popcorn balls are best the day they are made, but may be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you are concerned about them sticking together, you can wrap each in plastic wrap.Easy Popcorn BallsEasy Popcorn Balls

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}

Super Fudgy Brownies

Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}The world doesn’t need another brownie recipe, but I do. Sure, I already have two base brownie recipes in my archives and a few variations on them (Brownie Truffles!), but I was disappointed to realize a few weeks ago that neither has the shiny, crackly top that seems to always come with a boxed mix brownie.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}It hadn’t occurred to me that I cared about this until I was talking to a couple of friends about what makes a good brownie. Our notes were similar: fudgy, not cakey at all, not too sweet or light in color. But then they started talking about the paper-thin crinkly top on their favorite boxed mix brownies and I realized I had forgotten about that altogether.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}In my defense, I haven’t made boxed mix brownies in at least seven years—probably more like ten. But I’ve also probably eaten thousands of them, all lovingly mixed together and topped with pecan mosaics by my dad. Every last one of them has had a shiny top, and yet that has never factored into my from-scratch brownie-making. Truly, it’s never even crossed my mind! That is, until this brownie-centric conversation, after which I was consumed with the idea, as evidenced by the 60+ brownies in various states of shiny-crackliness currently taking up space in my freezer, and this pictured super fudgy, crinkled deliciousness.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}So, what produces that perfect top? Cooking/baking science wiz Shirley O. Corriher says it’s a thin layer of meringue migrating to the top during baking. Yes, meringue like in pie…but also not…?

I just confused myself. Let’s try this again.

Basically, meringue is a combination of egg whites and sugar. This combination is whipped to stiff peaks and use as a topper or made into cookies or used to make silky frosting. But that’s not the sort of meringue we’re talking about today.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Here, meringue is more…deconstructed. Essentially, sugar is whisked into butter and chocolate that have been melted together. This suspends the sugar in the flavor/texture base of our brownies. Dry ingredients are whisked in, followed by vanilla and a couple of eggs that have been beaten just until they’re starting to get bubbly. The batter is spread into a pan and baked for nearly half an hour, until just set.

Now, here’s where the magic (ahem, chemistry) happens. The air that’s beaten into those eggs? It’s super important, even though it just looks like a few bubbles. That incorporated air pushes a thin layer of egg whites (protein) upward during baking. That, in turn, lifts some of the sugar that’s been mixed into the fat, producing a thin layer of meringue or, as we think of it, a crackly top!Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Did that make sense? I think it sort of made sense. I am a C+ chemistry student, y’all. If I had known I’d spend so much time thinking about chemical reactions, I may have paid more attention.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}When you look at the recipe, you may notice that I use bittersweet chocolate in these brownies instead of the usual unsweetened chocolate. This is simply because I almost always have bittersweet chocolate (Trader Joe’s PoundPlus Dark Chocolate is my go-to) and almost never have unsweetened. When I want brownies, I want to be able to make them without having to go to the grocery store, you know?! I have reduced the added sugar in this recipe to reflect using sweetened chocolate. If you have (or prefer) unsweetened, just up the sugar to 1 cup.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Did I mention that these brownies just happen to be gluten-free? Where many recipes call for flour, the dry ingredients here are a combination of cocoa powder and cornstarch. The cocoa powder provides a little structure and an extra hit of chocolate flavor—yum. As for the cornstarch, you could definitely use an equal volume of flour in its place, but I like the smooth texture it provides here, the same way it does in cakes and cookies. Plus, it means more friends can enjoy these brownies. Yesssss 😊 Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}One last thing: this recipe is easy and requires just eight ingredients! I felt this warranted a mention because there is a lot of technical jargon in this post. But I promise these are easy. They’re soooo easy. And super dense and fudgy and delicious. And they have that perfect crackly top. And perhaps you too will soon have a freezer full of brownies. It’s a very good problem to have.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}

Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}
makes 1 8-inch pan, 16 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 8×8″ rimmed square baking pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for easy removal. Set aside.

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 25-30 minutes (mine took 28), until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not soupy batter).

Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Use parchment overhang to remove to a cutting board. Slice into 16 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.Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}Super Fudgy Brownies {Gluten-Free}