Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars (Recipe Redo)

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars



I am constantly amazed at how bad my photography skills were a few years ago. I’m no prize now, but at least I don’t cringe (most of the time) when I see my pictures. And I am constantly amazed that I make some things and then do the whole blogger thing of not making the it again because if I do that, I can’t use it in the blog. Totally silly of those of us who blog because in doing that, as we miss out on eating the most delicious things more than once. I haven’t made these bars since the first time I did in 2011. I have no idea why I have never made them again because, dang, these are awesome! It all comes down to, I think, what I said about how when you’re a blogger, you tend to not make the same things twice because if you do, it’s no longer blog fodder :-p

I made these a bit differently than the first time. I added more flavor to the crust, a bit to the filling and I used less chocolate chips on top, because, my God, what was I thinking last time with the amount of chips on there?! It’s a chocolate filling, for pete’s sake. it doesn’t needed a covering of chocolate thick enough to put a herd of elephants into a diabetic coma. So I cut it down. Now only one or two elephants are in danger of that coma.

These are fantastic pot luck or church supper fare; rich enough to be decadent yet not time consuming in the least. But once you try a bite, suddenly, you’ll forget to take the plate with you where ever you need to go. Instead, you’ll be that person hiding in the closet from your kids so that you can eat these in peace. Wait. I’m not the only one who does that, am I?

The crust for these are wonderfully crumbly to the bite, but not when you cut it. Then you have a layer of tangy sweetened berries, covered with a creamy chocolate filling, then crumbs on top. What’s not to love? Berries, chocolate, creamy and crumbs. 😀

You know the drill…

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars

  • CRUST-
  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup slivered toasted almonds
  • FILLING-
  • 1 lb container fresh strawberries, capped and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch pan. Line with foil and grease the foil or spray with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, butter and powdered sugar. Sprinkle with the extracts. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour and sugar until you have pea sized crumbs. Fold in the slivered almonds
  4. Pat 2 cups of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Set the rest aside.
  5. Bake the crust for ten minutes or until a very light golden brown around the edges.
  6. Meanwhile, gently fold your sliced strawberries together with the preserves.
  7. In a small bowl, mix one cup of chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and extracts and microwave on high in 30 seconds increments, stirring after each one, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  8. Carefully spread the strawberry mixture on top of the hot crust. Then pour the chocolate/milk mix on top of the berries and spread. Sprinkle that with the reserved crumbs and the rest of the chocolate chips.
  9. Bake at 350 for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the center is set.
  10. Let cool, preferably in the fridge for a couple of hours. Use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan to a large cutting board. Use a knife dipped in hot water then wiped dry to cut the bars into serving sized pieces.

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Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad

Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad



Every year I plant a bunch of herbs. I have a few perennials set aside in a certain area of our land, but the annuals I just do in containers. One that I always plant is basil. Is there anything like the scent of fresh basil??? it is one of those smells that just makes me think “summer”. Problem is, me being, well, me, I inevitably plant more than we can use. I love basil, but I get busy and forget to actually USE it. I’ll grab a handful for spaghetti sauce, I’ll snip a few leaves to use with a sliced up tomato and some olive oil. Then that will be it. I’ll talk a good game about using the 496 plants for a few hundred batches of pesto, but I never get to it. Then, Autumn comes, the first frost comes and I am left kicking myself because my basil died. I’m sad and then next Spring the cycle starts all over again.

So this year I only bought TWO basil plants. That’s it; two. And what does that mean? That suddenly, I find myself wanting basil all the time to the point where my poor plants can’t keep up the supply. Nature can’t win with me. But I’m afraid to buy another plant or two. Because what will happen is that craving will die and so will my basil plants.

But…!! This salad is a great way to use about 1/2 of a cup (which is a fair amount of leaves) of the lovely green stuff. Every year, one of the things I do is make a Caprese pasta. I usually make a hot dinner of it though, with spaghetti or a similar pasta and the cheese all melted in it. While that is absolutely wonderful, I wanted to try my hand at a chilled salad this time. I am totally pleased with what I came up with. This is about as easy as it gets. I used a good quality bottled Italian dressing in this. You are, of course, free to make your own dressing, but I was going for easy and tasty, not involved. With this salad, the most involved part is chopping the basil and the tomatoes. Hard work, ehh? Make sure you let this chill for a bit; at least a couple of hours. You want those flavors to blend and then blend some more. Then, just garnish it with some fresh basil for decoration and a sprinkling of pepper for flavor, check for needed salt one last time and chow down.

Chilled Caprese Pasta Salad

  • 1 16 to 19 ounce package frozen tortellini, cooked according to package direction, then drained and rinsed in cold water
  • 8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella ( those are the small balls, usually found in tubs packed in water)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion (I know this isn’t a typical ingredient for caprese, but it adds a nice flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (same as what I said for the green onion)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup good Italian dressing
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (this is one of those times when the cheaper powdery stuff is acceptable, even preferred, because it coats and clings better than freshly grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pour the tortellini on a layer of paper towels and gently pat dry. Place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add the mozzarella,  the tomatoes, green onion, lemon zest and basil to the bowl with the tortellini. Gently toss together.
  3. Pour in the Italian dressing and toss to coat.
  4.  Sprinkle the Parmesan on and again, toss to coat. Give it a taste, then add some salt and pepper. I’m not giving a specific amount here because tastes vary. You may be not a huge salt person, but others are, so I salt for your taste and then others can add more if they want it. Seems the best way to season something like a pasta salad.
  5. Pour the salad into a serving bowl. Cover and chill for at least two hours. Garnish with some basil and freshly ground pepper and serve.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission. Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad 2

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

 

When I was ten, my mom and brother and sister and myself went to Alabama to visit my grandparents (Mommer and Popper) for a few days. I absolutely loved being there. It was way out in the country, a small wood frame house with no central air, no central heat (no heat at all actually), built I have no idea when. It had one small bathroom, two small bedrooms and an ancient kitchen with an old iron porcelain coated sink. I remember sleeping in the tiny hallway between the kitchen and one of the bedrooms on a blanket with my mom when I wasn’t staying over with my cousin Lori. The house was surrounded by woods and the blueberry bushes that Popper had planted. On the same patch of land was the trailer my Aunt Irene and my cousin Lori, who was my age, lived in, so going to visit was sheer heaven for me. Country, family and someone to play with. Part of my heart still lies in Alabama and the south, which is why I’m probably quite content living out the rest of my life here in Kentucky even though I was born and raised in Chicago.

Well, one day during the visit, Popper told me, my cousin Lori and a couple other cousins who were visiting that we could go pick some blueberries. We grabbed bowls and went out to the two large bushes right next to the house, which were about 5 feet tall each; nicely established bushes. About half an hour later, we went back into the house to show Popper our blueberry haul. We had totally stripped the bushes bare and had about 2 gallons of blueberries. While I’m sure that inside of him he was thinking, “oh, Etta (Mommer) is going to kill me for letting them doing this”, outside all he did was laugh, tell us that we had a lot of blueberries and had us take them in to my aunt. I have no earthly idea what they used all those blueberries for.

Silly story maybe, but the memory popped into my head the other day when I made this cake. It doesn’t take 2 gallons of blueberries though, I promise; just one pint. It did however, take me a couple of tries to get right. The first one totally stuck to the pan and while it tasted fine, it wasn’t quite right even if it hadn’t stuck. The second one however, was completely delicious. My husband, who is type 2 diabetic and knows better, had three slices in one day. I used my raspberry amaretto pound cake recipe, but changed it up for this, plus increased the butter a bit to account for the water evaporation from browning the butter. This is a delicious cake. It has a tight, moist crumb and an amazing flavor. Don’t look at the amounts of flavorings and think it sounds like they would all be competing with each other. They don’t at all. They complement each other and mixed with the fresh berries, brown butter cake and the orange syrup finish, add up to an outstanding cake, if I do say so myself.

You know the drill…

Mrs. Cupcake, who needs to go get some cake before my husband finishes it all

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange oil (or orange extract, but please, go buy the oil. it lasts forever and is much better
  • 1 teaspoon Fiori Di Sicilia flavoring (optional; available through the King Arthur site. Another one I recommend splurging on. It is a fantastic addition to many baked goods)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Orange syrup-
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  1. Place the butter in a medium pot and cook over medium high heat, swirling the butter frequently, until it is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Do NOT leave the stove. Butter can burn before you know it. Pour immediately into a bowl and put in the fridge for 45 minutes or so, just long enough to chill it and take it form a pure liquid state to a mushy solid.
  2. Preheat your oven to 325 and grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the soft brown butter and cream cheese. Beat at medium speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl once if needed.
  4. Gradually add the sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the Grand Marnier and the extracts, beating well afterward. Gradually add the flour to the mixture at low speed. Beat just until blended.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each one. GENTLY fold in the blueberries. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. When you have it in the pan, firmly bang the pan on a counter top to help remove any air bubbles.
  6. Bake at 325 for 65 to 95 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. When the cake is almost done, make the syrup- in a small pot, combine the syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the orange zest and discard it, then set the syrup aside until the cake is finished.
  8. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes, then use a plastic spatula ( or a fast food plastic knife if you have one) to loosen the cake from the edges of the pan. Place a large plate over the top of the pan, then carefully invert the pan. Tap firmly on the bottom of the pan to loosen the cake. It should fall out onto the plate. Let it finish cooling on the plate.
  9. Carefully transfer the cake over to a rack that has been set inside of a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch drips). Reheat your syrup until it is hot to the touch, then spoon the hot syrup over the cake. Make sure to let it soak in each time before adding more. You may not use all the syrup; it’s up to you. If you don’t though, don’t throw it out. It’s wonderful in tea.
  10. That’s it! Enjoy!

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Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake 2

Caramel Mocha Shake With Cocoa Whipped Cream & A Hamilton Beach Giveaway!!

 

Caramel Mocha Shake With Cocoa Whipped Cream




My husband is one of those people who has to have his gallon few cups of coffee in the morning when he gets up or it is like living with a drowsy grizzly bear. I’m normally a tea person myself, but in the last year or so have gotten into the habit of having a cup or two of coffee every other day or so. I think it came about because of the convenience of things like K-Cups. I wasn’t feeling like I was wasting coffee by making a half pot and not even finishing that much. So when the lovely people at Hamilton Beach contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing the first Brand Ambassador Campaign of 2015 by receiving and reviewing one of their 2-Way FlexBrew Coffee Makers , I was thrilled. I thoroughly enjoyed working with them last year and hope to continue to do so for a long time. Their products are wonderful and this coffee maker was no exception.

Hamilton Beach 2-Way FlexBrew Coffee Maker

Hamilton Beach 2-Way FlexBrew Coffee Maker

The 2-Way FlexBrew Coffee Makers is so darn convenient! It works for the coffee guzzlers like my husband because on one side you have a 12 cup carafe and can make a full pot to get going. On the other side is an individual brewer where you can make it one cup at a time using a K-Cup pod or the coffee reservoir that comes with it. Using the reservoir, you can use whatever type/flavor of coffee you prefer, not just a prepackaged pod. Better for the environment and less expensive. This side of the brewer works wonderfully for someone like me who does it one cup at a time  So far, we are loving the FlexBrew. There is a bit of a learning curve with the K-Cup side as you insert the pods a bit differently and it can be tricky getting the insert in until you get used to it. But once you do, it’s easy peasy. The K-Cup side can brew up to a 14 ounce cup of coffee and like I said, you can use the insert it comes with to use your own coffee and not a pod. Another feature I love is that you can make the coffee regular strength or, as they call it, “bold”. Basically, bold has the coffee stay in the filter for a bit longer, thus draining out every bit of flavor and making a stronger cup of coffee. This works great for me on the days when I’m needing a bit more of a caffeine jolt.

As usual when I review one of their products, Hamilton Beach is letting me offer one of these Flex Brew Coffee Makers to one of my readers. That reader could be you! The entry form is down below *points down*

With the weather heating up, it was a natural choice for me to make a yummy coffee milkshake using coffee made in the FlexBrew. Oh my, this puts those drinks from a certain national coffee chain to shame. I used a chocolate caramel gelato (imagine that…me…using caramel :-P) and instead of plain old milk, I used chocolate milk in this. Then I topped it off with a cocoa whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel syrup. With the coffee brewing time included, this takes maybe 7 minutes to make. You can be sitting on your porch with this not particularly diet friendly drink in hand, enjoying the weather. And if you were really feeling froggy, you could throw a shot or two of Kahlua or Baileys in this to give it an adult flair. 😀

You know the drill… and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!!!!

Caramel Mocha Shake With Cocoa Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee (throw a couple of ice cubes in it to cool it down quickly)
  • 2 cups chocolate or chocolate/caramel gelato (I used Breyers Chocolate Caramel Gelato)
  • 1 1/2 cups good quality chocolate milk (please don’t use something like a Yoo-Hoo. I’ll cry. Those are just chocolate flavored water.)
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 2 tablespoons caramel syrup
  • Cocoa whipped cream-
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • dash of vanilla extract
  1. Make your whipped cream while your coffee brews- simply combine all the whipped cream ingredients in a medium bowl and use a whisk to beat until firm peaks form, about 4 minutes. You can do it… work those arm muscles!
  2. Combine all the shake ingredients (and don’t forget to add that shot of Kahlua if you’re wanting to go that route) in a blender. Cover and blend on high speed until thoroughly blended, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour into 3 glasses and top with the cocoa whipped cream. Drizzle with some extra caramel syrup.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Hamilton Beach provided me with a 2-Way Flexbrew Coffee maker for myself and will send one to one winner of my giveaway, 18 years or older, in the United States. I received no other compensation for this and all opinions are my own.

Click here to view this promotion.

 

 

Product Info for the Hamilton Beach 2-Way FlexBrew Coffee Maker-

  • Single serve side:
  • Compatible with K-Cup®* Packs or ground coffee
  • Brews up to 14oz from ground coffee in travel mug**
  • Adjustable cup rest allows for standard-size cups or travel mugs
  • Better coffee extraction than the leading competitor
  • 12 cup carafe:
    • Brew a full pot of coffee
    • Regular or bold brew strength
    • Programmable timer with 2 hour automatic shutoff
    • Automatic pause & serve to grab a cup before the brew cycle is done
  • Durable, stainless steel features and dishwasher safe, removable parts
  • Equipped with a “Quick Start” Guide with simple, step-by-step brewing guidelines
  • Customer service support available through a US toll-free number
  • One-year warranty
  • This model is the same as 49983A, 49983P and 49983S.

Brewing with a Single-Serve Pack 

For some java drinkers, pouring fresh-ground coffee into their coffeemaker is the perfect start to their day. For other coffee lovers, being able to quickly insert a pre-packaged, single portion pack into their coffeemaker and enjoy a piping hot cup in a few minutes is a match made in heaven. The 2-Way FlexBrew® Coffeemaker offers the added convenience factor of a pack holder, which allows quick instant brewing in less time than an in-store café experience. Simply insert the single-serve pack and push the lever down – that’s it.

Brewing with Ground Coffee

Pre-packaged coffee isn’t for everyone or every palate. The 2-Way FlexBrew® Coffeemaker caters to coffee aficionados by featuring a single-serve permanent filter brew basket that holds a variety of fresh-tasting ground coffee. You can grind your own coffee beans to the medium-grind setting or save time and purchase pre-ground coffee. Brands such as Folgers, Maxwell House, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks are recommended because they are medium-grind coffees.

Note: Coffee that is ground too finely will cause an overflow. If you are unsure about the coarseness of your coffee, check with your coffee manufacturer.

About Homemade Brewing

Did you know that 86% of coffee drinkers still brew most of their java at home? With more and more Americans picking up the coffee habit and cutting back to save money, coffeemakers are now being designed to be more feasible and economical for the home budget and lifestyle. Source: 2012, National Coffee Association of USA

Caramel Mocha Shake With Cocoa Whipped Cream2

 

 

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies



I’ve come to the realization that I am always going to be a year or so behind everyone else when it comes to trying new things, be it watching a TV show, shopping certain places or trying new foods. When everyone else was watching Glee, I refused. I started watching it on netflix after season two. I then stopped mid season 4 because it sucked, but that is neither here nor there. Greys Anatomy? End of season six is when I started watching. Stopped watching that also, because they got into subject matter I disliked. I have a hard time finding a modern show I can stick with :-p I’m also that person who didn’t realize what a wonderful place Target was until about a year and a half ago. Now, like most women over 12 and under 95, it’s one of my favorite stores.

When it comes to foods, same thing. I didn’t try a Macaron until about a year ago and now I love them. I still haven’t tried making them myself though. Easier just to buy them frozen at Trader Joes. 😀 I didn’t try salted caramel until MAYBE two years ago, a full couple of years after you could find salted caramel everything (salted caramel shoe leather anyone? Maybe a nice salted caramel beef tongue?) on every food page on the internet. That’s one I regret not trying sooner, but live and learn. Stubbornness has its drawbacks and I doubt I’ll be changing anytime soon. The plus though is that, when everyone else has moved past it, yet it’s still a loved flavor, like salted caramel, you don’t have to compete with 5000000 posts each day to get seen. The rest of the foodie world has moved onto marinated llama feet in a balsamic reduction, so the salted caramel treats stand out more 😀

One thing I only recently tried was the whole sweet/salty idea. Sure, I’d had chocolate covered pretzels, which I don’t care for to be honest, but the idea of purposely sprinkling salt on top of a sweet food bewildered me. Until I tried it. Just trust me on this if you’re still as hesitant as I was. Will I be sprinkling salt on a Twinkie anytime soon? No. But on chocolate? It adds an indefinable something to the flavor.

I’ve made browned butter brownies more than once in here and they are still a favorite, but these are totally over the top. Moist, chewy browned butter brownies and creamy chocolate chunks, covered with gooey salted caramel, then MORE salted caramel and some coarse salt for crunch and contrast. Totally delicious!

You know the drill….

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1  teaspoon instant coffee (optional; my addition. You can’t taste it, it just rounds out the chocolate flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 large eggs, cold from the fridge
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1/2 cup good quality salted caramel sauce plus more for drizzling
  • coarse salt for sprinkling on top

 

  • Position oven rack in the bottom third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
  • Line an 8 inch square pan with foil, letting it hang over the edges to use as a handle later. Lightly butter or spray the foil with cooking spray.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter isn’t foaming anymore and there are browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir often and keep an eye on this. It can go from lovely browned butter to a smelly burned mess in no time flat. This will probably take about 5 minutes or so.
  • Remove from the heat and immediately add in the cocoa, sugar, water, vanilla and salt. Stir well.
  • Let cool five minutes. Add the cold eggs to the hot mixture, one at a time, beating well (by hand) after each addition. When the mixture is thick and glossy, add in the flour. Beat well by hand for one minute.
  • Stir in chocolate chips or chunks. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Drizzle the salted caramel sauce over the top of the batter. You could swirl it in if preferred, but I just let it lay on top, where it gets all bubbly and more or less melts into the batter.
  • Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out almost, but not quite, clean. Cool the pan on a rack then lift out by the edges of the paper. Cut into 16 squares. Drizzle more salted caramel  over the top of the brownies and sprinkle with coarse salt. Enjoy!

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Brownies

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (Recipe Redo)

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread



I’m not dead!!! Honest!!! *Checks pulse*  Oh, CRAP! Maybe I AM dead!! *Tries one more time to be sure* Whew… there it is. I was worried for a second. I was having a vision of having to be a zombie and eat brains; raw, no less. For the record, I am the one American left who has never, not even once, seen “The Walking Dead” or any of the popular zombie movies. What was that one??? 28 Days Later, I believe was the name? The idea of watching an hour or more of human beings eating each other just doesn’t do much of anything for me; other than make me a wee bit queasy. I’ll stick to reruns of The West Wing, M*A*S*H and Greys Anatomy, thankyouverymuch.

Man, now that I’ve written that paragraph, how do I manage to gracefully segue from zombies and eating people to banana bread? Hmmm.

I really am alive though. I apologize for the lengthy absence. I had the stomach flu, then I went through a few days of no inspiration, then the weather finally warmed up (boy, did it ever) and I had a ton of outside chores to do or oversee with my “Momma/Wife Whip” in hand. But I’m back.

I had a bunch of bananas that I needed to use up before they morphed into sentient life forms (I may have been too late. I think I heard one whimper when I mushed it up). My husband has been wanting banana bread for a while, so I decided to redo my old chocolate chip banana bread post. I’ve been making this for years and put it up here early on in the blog and the pictures, of course, bit donkey toes. So a redo was called for so I could get this out there again. This bread is so darn good. Moist, banana-ey (yes, that is now a word. Because I said so.), chocolatey, filled with chunks of melty, gooey chocolate chips.

You want this. Your spouse wants this. Your kids want this. Your neighbors want this. Your…ok, I’ll stop now. Sorry.

You know the drill…. :-)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 to 8 mashed bananas (about 2 cups of mashed banana)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons banana flavoring (found with the vanilla extract at the store)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  1.  Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 9 inch loaf pans. You can use 8 inch pans if you want a thicker loaf, but add on about 10 to 15 minutes more baking time.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the bananas and mix well. Mix in the eggs, vanilla extract and banana extract. Add the dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into the two prepared loaf pans and bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer poked into the center of the loaf comes out almost clean. It’s ok if there are a few moist crumbs on it.. Let it cool for five minutes in the pan then turn it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

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Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies



It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. There are times when I’m creating that I find that to be true. I had this cookie all planned out. it was going to use a combo of flavors I loved- cherries, chocolate and pistachios. But have I ever mentioned that little fact that I’m a mom to two young men? Well, I’m a mom to six, but only three are still at home. So, I went to go get all my ingredients ready (big believer in “mise en place” here… never start cooking until you have everything you’ll need ready to go) and lo and behold, my recently bought bag of roasted and salted pistachios were nowhere to be found. That’s where the “I have two young men still at home” seems to have come into play. I have learned that if I have something that is out of the norm for our household, I need to stash it away somewhere where it isn’t found quite so easily. I must not have heeded my own advice in this case because….. no pistachios. Nada, zip, zilch. All gone.

After I stopped crying and making plans to go live on a deserted island in the south Pacific all by myself, I had to reinvent what I had planned to invent. After a search through the cabinets, I found a bag of roasted and salted pepitas. I originally bought them to make my “famous” :-p pumpkin bread. But for unbeknownst to me reasons, I never got around to making any pumpkin bread this past Autumn/ Winter season. The result being that I had still had a full bag of pepitas. So I improvised. And you know what? These are some seriously awesome cookies. You can never go wrong with browned butter anyway… and then when you add in sweet creamy chocolate, tart cherries and crunchy salted pepitas, you end up with a really really tasty treat. I also sprinkled a little salt on top of the cookies. This is something I had never done before myself, though I’d seen it done elsewhere. I figured “what the heck” and went for the whole sweet/salty thing and oh my gosh, it was fantastic. If you’re not sure, just sprinkle some on one cookie and try it. If you don’t like it, just one cookie wasted. but if you DO, you’ll be in Heaven.

You know the drill…. Get to cookin’!

Brown Butter, Cherry And Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned to a golden brown color & cooled
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dried tart cherries
  • 1 cup roasted, salted pepitas
  • 1 12 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • coarse salt for sprinkling on top (optional)
  1. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and brown your butter-  toss your butter into a medium pot. With the heat on medium high, cook the butter (DON’T walk away!) until it turns a medium (dang, I’m using the word medium a lot) golden brown. Swirl the pan a few times to help it along. Have a bowl ready and once it gets to the right color, immediately pour the butter out into the bowl. Let this cool for about 30 minutes before you continue.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cooled butter and both the sugars. Beat on medium (there’s that word again) speed until it is thick and creamy. Add in the egg, egg yolk, cream and vanilla. beat on low speed just until combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Dump this into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, scraping the bowl down once.
  4. Fold in the cherries, chocolate chips and pepitas.
  5.  Line your cookie sheet(s) with a silicone baking mat ( like my favorite ones right here )  or lightly grease.  Scoop out large spoons full of dough (about golf ball sized) and shape into a circle in the palm of your hands. Place them about 2 inches apart on your cookie sheets.
  6. Bake at 350 until golden brown and firm on top, about 16 to 18 minutes. let rest on the pan for a minute, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Other than the one or two you snag for yourself to eat all warm and gooey, of course. If desired, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with coarse salt upon taking them out of the oven. If you don’t, that’s cool; they are still some of the most delicious cookies ever.

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Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tangy Key Lime Bars With A Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Meringue

Tangy Key Lime Bars With A Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Meringue

Tangy Key Lime Bars With A Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Meringue



I’ve decided that Key Limes are a pain in the butt and I totally prefer working with Persian Limes. Why? Because I’m lazy and zesting little teeenieeeee tinyyyyy limes takes 500 years and I’m already old. I don’t have time for that stuff. Who would finish baking if I were to keel over in the middle of zesting, dead from a zesting induced coronary?

Well, I have now managed to use the word zesting (which spell check says isn’t even a word in the first place) more in a few sentences than I had in the previous year. Zesting, zesting, zesting, zesting. There. That should take care of the next year or two.

I had planned to go on a raging bender tonight, which for me means two beers and then I fall asleep. But I came to the realization that 3 and a half hours of sleep the night before doesn’t leave much room for even picking up a beer bottle, much less enjoying it. So I shall instead drink tea fixed for me by my loving husband, eat dinner, inhale two one of these utterly delicious lime bars, then fall asleep watching M*A*S*H on Netflix. Yes, I live on the edge like this often. It’s an adrenaline filled life that few can handle. Feel free to live vicariously through me.

In the meantime however, bake these bars. Crunchy graham cracker crust, creamy, tangy lime filling, all topped with a sweet vanilla bean meringue. These are soooo good. Have I led you astray yet? WHAT!? DARN! Quit bringing up the danged Emu!!!

You know the drill…. :-)

Mrs. Cupcake, who is too pooped to pucker

Tangy Key Lime Bars With A Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Meringue

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling-
  • 2 14 ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup key lime juice (you can sub regular lime juice)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lime zest
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • a few drops of green food coloring (optional)
  • Meringue-
  • 4 egg white, room temp
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • one vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (or sub 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 inch square pan with non stick foil. Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl and mix well, until you have a crumbly mass. Press down into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake at 350 until browned, about 15 minutes. Let it cool down completely before adding the filling. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and zest and sour cream. Whisk until thoroughly blended, then add the eggs and food coloring (if using); whisk until mixed.
  3. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and chill for two hours at least, or until needed.
  4. About 30 minutes before serving, make your meringue- start a pot of water simmering.  In another, slightly smaller pot, whisk to combine the egg whites, cream of tarter and sugar. Place over the pot of simmering water, making sure it doesn’t actually touch the water, but is just above it. Whisk the egg white mixture continuously until it reaches a temp of about 120 to 125 degrees; enough to feel somewhat uncomfortable on your fingertip, but not burning hot. It will take just a few minutes at most. Remove from the heat and add in the scraped vanilla bean or vanilla extract. Whisk just to combine.
  5. Pour the still warm mixture into either the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Beat at medium high speed until the meringue is fluffy and holds a firm peak. Spread over the top of the chilled pan of bars. Use a kitchen torch to lightly brown the top of the meringue. You can also place it under the broiler with the oven door open for a minute or two, but watch it carefully if you do this as it doesn’t take long to burn.
  6. You can serve now or re-chill the bars. Use the foil to pull the bars out of the pan and place on a large cutting board. Peel off the foil from the sides and cut into desired serving sized pieces. I wouldn’t cut them as large as the ones I have here. That was just for photo purposes :-p
Tangy Key Lime Bars With A Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Meringue

Tangy Key Lime Bars With A Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Meringue

 

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Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars (Recipe Re-Do)

Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars

Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars



 

You want this cookie. Quit looking at me that way! Would I lie to you? I know, I know, there was that time with the Emu & Brussel Sprouts Casserole…. but we’ve moved on since then, you and I. Now I am your one stop shop for delicious recipes *coughcough* and wonderful cooking advice, as well as life advice, beauty tips and home renovation ideas.

You’re falling for this, right? We understand each other. I’m here to make bad one liners and create yummy recipes and in return, you pretend to laugh at my jokes and drool over my cooking.

I first made these back in 2012. While I may not be an amazing photographer even now, I like to delude myself into thinking that I have progressed quite a bit from back then. The photos from the old post looked like nothing so much as a mass of goo and didn’t do these delicious bars justice. These are some of my husbands favorite cookie bars. He is a huge fan of the Samoa (or whatever they are called now) cookies the Girl Scouts sell. But who the heck wants to pay $3.50 for a 10 ounce box of cookies when you can do a little bit of work and end up with a full pan of delicious, not round but thick and chewy Samoa-ish cookie bars?

These aren’t difficult at all. Can you use a mixer and measure? Yes? Then you’ve got this! These are chewy, with an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie base, covered with ooey gooey caramel, toasted coconut and rich creamy chocolate and…and…and.. *fans face* I really need a cookie now. Please excuse me for some private time.

You know the drill…. :-)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring (in the same aisle as the vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats (not instant)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips plus another 1/2 cup for the top of the bars
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  •  1 cup caramel sauce (preferably home made)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil and butter well or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the coconut on a cookie sheet and toast until lightly browned, stirring every few minutes. Watch carefully; coconut can go from pale to burnt  very quickly. When it’s done, set aside.
  3. Place the softened butter and the brown sugar in a large bowl and beat well, until relatively light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla, coconut flavoring and egg. beat well.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, 2 cups chocolate chips, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine then add into the wet ingredients. Stir well to combine.
  5. Press the mixture into the bottom of the foil lined pan. Top with the extreme abundance of caramel sauce, then the shredded coconut. Top this with the extra 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
  6. Bake at 350 until the bars are just barely set, about 30 to 40 minutes. The middle shouldn’t wiggle but should just feel barely firm when pressed. Don’t press too hard because molten caramel on your fingertip hurts. Don’t ask how I know this please.
  7. Let cool for about an hour in the pan, then use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan to finish cooling on a rack. If they start to collapse onto themselves when you lift, let cool for a while longer.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

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Cinnamon Orange Cappuccino Brownies With An Orange Glaze

 

Cinnamon Orange Cappuccino Brownies With An Orange Glaze

Cinnamon Orange Cappuccino Brownies With An Orange Glaze

 

When I first moved to this side of Kentucky, I missed all the big malls that were in the Louisville area. We pay for the beauty of this side of the state with a bit of isolation. Now, I’ve never been a Mall Rat by any stretch of the imagination, but I did sorely miss things like Cinnabon, The Hallmark Store and Godiva. So I was tickled when I finally got into the “big” city of Lexington (where I lived then was about 3000 people and where I am now about 17,000 for the whole town, but only a few hundred in the area I live in, with NO civilization at all) and found a mall. One of the places I absolutely loved to go to in there was a coffee shop. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name now, but I loved it. Sadly, they closed a few years after I found it. Things like that happen near me. I’m that person who gets into the check out lane and the computer breaks JUST after I set all my groceries down; that person who discovers an amazing new product only to have it discontinued a month after I find it, with no chance to even stock up.

Without fail, every time I went to this shop, I got the same thing, something that I have seen nowhere since (though I make my own version now). It was half coffee, half hot chocolate, with a shot of orange syrup and copious amounts of cinnamon sprinkled on top.. So, so delicious. The flavors of the chocolate, the cinnamon and the orange all combined together into pretty much the perfect coffee drink. When I make it for myself now, it is usually during the Winter and nine times out of ten, I will add a shot of my favorite brandy . What!? It makes it extra delicious and toe warming. 😀

So, when I was deciding what to make here, brownies popped into my head, at which point I smacked myself upside the head and said, “Janet, you just want brownies and you already have 72 different ones here.” So, after telling myself to shut up, I realized myself…erhmmm, I, was correct. I needed to DO something with said brownies. So I turned them into a brownie version of my favorite coffee drink. And oh my, these are decadently delicious. The brownies are soft and fudgy with hints of cinnamon and orange. The glaze is glossy perfection with a chocolate orange taste that is amazing (if I do say so myself). In case you can’t tell, I rather like these. Which is why most are going to work with Russell tomorrow, so I don’t have to be put into a piano case when I die.

You know the drill…

Mrs. Cupcake… who wants to be cremated, not buried in a piano case, thankyouverymuch.

Cinnamon Orange Cappuccino Brownies With An Orange Glaze 

  • Brownies-
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cup up
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons orange oil , preferably Boyajian
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Glaze-
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange oil
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • chocolate covered coffee beans and orange zest for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 inch baking pan with foil and butter the bottom of the foil.
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate and butter.Microwave at 60% power for 60 seconds, then stir. If not fully melted, microwave at full power for ten seconds; stir. Let cool for five minutes.
  3. Add the sugar to the chocolate mixture; beat well with a wooden spoon or whisk. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Add in the corn syrup, vanilla extract and the orange oil. beat just until combined.
  4. Stir in the flour, salt, instant coffee and cinnamon. Beat just until combined.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees until the top is matte looking and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs on it.
  6. Let cool in the pan, on a rack, for about 2 hours or until completely cool.
  7. Make the glaze- In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Microwave at 60% power for about 30 seconds. Stir to help the chocolate finish melting. Add in the rest of the glaze ingredients and beat gently until it is a shiny cohesive glaze. Spread over the cooled brownies. For easier cutting, place the pan of brownies in the fridge for at least an hour to let the glaze set up.
  8. Cut into small squares; these are rich. Garnish each square with a chocolate covered coffee bean and some orange zest.

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