A staple treat of my 90s childhood, recently vilified by both my pregnancy (raw eggs!) and the FDA (salmonella in raw flour!). Thankfully, to fulfill my craving for a sweet/salty, studded with chocolate treat, there are these Healthy Cookie Dough Balls, slightly modified from a genius recipe by Angela from Oh She Glows. Thrown together in under 10 minutes in a food processor or high speed blender, these little balls of goodness are the perfect substitute for traditional cookie dough and are safe for everyone having no raw eggs or traditional flour. If you buy gluten free oats and use carob chips instead of chocolate chips, they are also vegan and gluten free, if you’re into that sort of thing….
Despite my frequently dessert heavy focus on the blog, I actually don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Give me a plate of hot, salty fries or crunchy chips any day over a donut or pastry. That being said, one sweet treat that I usually can’t pass up is a good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie. I am, however, very particular about the cookies: they need to be chewy, slightly salty, and with a good dose of chocolate. I absolutely adore the mini oatmeal chocolate chip cookies found at Potbelly and recently set out to create a similar cookie at home. You know, so I don’t have to drive anywhere to get them when the craving really strikes!…
Hey friends, just popping in here for a late Friday night post. We had a little technical glitch with the blog this morning – so very sorry if you stopped by earlier! The issue seems to be resolved, at least for now, and we’ll be back next week with our regular posting schedule. In the mean time, I wanted to share this fantastic Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte. It’s only slightly modified from the original genius recipe by blogger couple Kevin and Amanda (I added a little french sea salt for finishing) and so rather than post the recipe, I’m just going to direct you over to their wonderful blog here.
I made this torte – which they call a pie – twice last week and both times it was gobbled up. The best part of the recipe is that it really is no bake! You’ll need a microwave to melt some butter, the stovetop (or, if you’re brave, the microwave again) to heat some cream, and a food processor for grinding up all those oreos, but no oven. I do recommend a torte pan with a removable bottom for ease of slicing and all around presentation but you most definitely could make this chocolate wonder in a traditional pie pan.
Now, it’s important to note that all the fantastic chocolate and peanut butter make it suuuuuuuper rich, so a very small slice goes a long way. In other words, it may not seem like it, but this dessert will most definitely feed a crowd. Plan to make it a little ahead of time as it is definitely best served chilled. It is also wonderful served with a light dollop of whipped cream, which ironically seems to counter the heaviness of all that great chocolate and butter. Do yourself a favor this holiday weekend and make one to share with your friends and family. You won’t regret it.
I think we all have those recipes, tucked into the back of a recipe box or a binder, that gets pulled out once a year for a specific occasion. This Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake, from the genius Ina Garten, is exactly that recipe for me. Each April, I lovingly make this cake for my husband’s birthday and then – for no good reason – it tends to be tucked back into my trusty recipe binder until the next spring. I can’t quite figure out why I don’t make it more often. It is really the best cake ever: layers of rich, dark chocolate with a hint of coffee to cut the sweetness and buttermilk to keep it moist. When the recipe was published in Food and Wine years ago, Ina declared it “the most fabulous chocolate cake I’ve ever made.” I agree wholeheartedly….
One of the very first books I got when I first started cooking was Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. At the time, Nigella wasn’t yet a household name here in the U.S. I used to watch her first show, Nigella Bites, on Style Network (does that even exist anymore?!?). I loved the glimpses into London life and her quirky British sensibilities. She was unabashedly in love with food and it made me want to cook everything she did! One of my favorite recipes from those early days – one that I still make today – is for Molten Chocolate Babycakes. In the book, she refers to them as “the acceptable face of culinary cute” and I couldn’t agree more. They are however, also absolutely delicious….
I spent the weekend making Peanut Butter Cup Bars. Simple ingredients, simple recipe, no oven involved. This is one of my very favorite recipes, not only because of its simplicity, but because of the fact is that it gets my kids into the kitchen every time. In the interest of full disclosure, these particular peanut butter cup bars pictured above were actually made by my 4 year old with only some minor help from me. My journey to the kitchen was so much later in life, that I’m hoping that by getting my kids into the kitchen early in their lives, I will spark their interest in cooking.
I have 2 kids, currently aged 13 and 4, and when it comes to food and kids in the kitchen, I have learned a lot of lessons between number 1 and number 2. When my now teenager was tiny, I was in the throes of my education and training. That meant long days, long nights and meals that involved the path of least resistance. Our then toddler wanted butter noodles for dinner 7 nights a week? Sure-we could handle that, we had a fast casual Italian joint down the street. I’m not sure I knew where my kitchen was back then, and I’m pretty sure that even if I could have found my kitchen, I wouldn’t have known how to make noodles anyway! No surprise that food rapidly became an issue with my firstborn, as her preferred menu involved very few types of foods and none of them could be considered nutritious.
When I started my full time job, one of my new colleagues asked me what we liked to eat for dinner. Unfortunately, my honest answer did not impress her, to say the least. Who would be impressed by our crazy array of fast food dinners? From that day forward, my colleague (now one of my great friends) vowed to teach me how to do better. She encouraged me to cook, encouraged me to try new recipes (even if they were simple desserts like these Peanut Butter Cup Bars) and encouraged me to do a better job of feeding my family. In my free time, I took some demonstration cooking classes, tried tons of new recipes and read cookbooks like novels (I’ve actually developed quite a cookbook addiction, but that it is a whole other conversation). I rapidly improved my skills and discovered a true passion for cooking.
When I had my second child, many years after the first, I was in a different place in my life. I had more time, more energy (it’s all relative, right?) and much more in my repertoire. I got smart, and fed my youngest child whatever we were eating, and what we were eating had vastly improved by then. He greedily ate everything including the garlicky pureed beef stew I fed him, the beet borscht his Polish nanny fed him, and the various vegetables we insisted he have at every meal. I also learned that getting my kids into the kitchen with me was a great way to get them enthusiastic about trying new foods. There was so much they could help with-dumping, mixing, spreading, crushing. My 13 year old, initially very finicky, is now exploring her own talents in the kitchen and her palate has greatly expanded (she now orders salmon everywhere we go-and together we can make a fabulous salmon at home!). My 4 year old tells people he’s going to be a “daddy chef” and asks me to put his apron on him so he can help me cook. Now, this Peanut Butter Cup Bar recipe certainly isn’t a healthy recipe, and it certainly won’t give your kids any nutrition, but it is so easy and gives my 4 year old such a sense of accomplishment to be able to make a dessert that everyone enjoys. It is a great recipe to start getting your own kids into the kitchen with you! And who knows, maybe if you get them interested in making dessert, helping you make vegetables will soon follow!
Peanut Butter Cup Bars
- 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 Cup Butter
- 2 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 2 Cups Crushed Graham Crackers
- 1 1/2 Cups 12 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Mix peanut butter, melted butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl.
Stir in crushed graham crackers.
Spread peanut butter mixture in a 9 x 13 pan.
Melt chocolate chips, stirring frequently to ensure the chocolate doesn't burn. (This can be done using a double boiler over low heat, or using a microwave on medium power, stirring every 30 seconds until melted)
Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture.
Refrigerate until chocolate is hardened.
Cut into squares, serve and enjoy!
In the midst of the busy holiday season, I count on recipes that can be made ahead in a quiet morning or two, and pulled out of the freezer for a fresh baked treat on (what seems like) a moment’s notice. This year, in particular, I have been searching for sweet treats and found a great option in these Chocolate Hazelnut Scones from Zoe Nathan and the Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe in Santa Monica. The brilliance of the scones lies in the fact that the recipe requires the unbaked dough to be frozen and then baked, so you don’t even feel like you’re cheating by making it ahead. I made a batch last week and another this morning, froze them, and then wrapped each scone in plastic wrap. On Christmas morning, they’ll need a quick 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven and that’s it. Serve them with a generous amount of whipped cream (which I prefer sweetened with a small amount of powdered sugar and a tiny bit of vanilla bean paste).