Easy Caramel Pecan Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies



I first saw this recipe back in like 1984 or 1985 or so, just after I got married to my ex. I was deep into the newlywed “cut out recipes and save them” phase. I got it from, of all places, TV Guide. This was back when TV guide was interesting. It was about the size of a Readers Digest magazine, had a fair amount of articles in it and a nice synopsis of practically every show that came on. They also had a piece at times highlighting celebrity recipes. This one came from John Davidson (yes, I realize fully half of you have no idea who he is, lol while the rest of you are googling his name as you think, “Wow. Is he even still alive? He’s like 200 years old, right?”)) and was aptly titled “John Davidsons Brownies”. The TV Guide people were somewhat lacking in imagination. I guess they used all their creativity describing episodes of M*A*S*H or The Waltons and had none left for recipe titles.

Since then, it has, as most recipes do anymore, swept the web under many different guises with some people (who obviously forget that the rest of us can google) going so far as to say they made these up. You can find it under “Turtle Brownies”, “Cake Mix Brownies” and 900 other names. But it’s still always the same basic recipe. This is one of those times when you don’t want to try to be fancy. No homemade caramel sauce here… no from scratch cake. Normally, I would balk at wrapped cheap caramels, but know what? They totally work here. I hadn’t made these in forever and I had forgotten how good they are. They are intensely chocolatey (in part because I use a chocolate fudge cake mix, not the German chocolate one originally called for), gooey from the caramel and they have a nice crunch from the nuts. I’m not usually a nut person (just nutty personally) but they also help cut the sweetness in the brownies. That way you can eat more of them! ๐Ÿ˜€

About all I do differently from the original is the cake mix flavor, plus I use half and half rather than the evaporated milk it used and I add about a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter.

So what do we have here? Intensely chocolatey brownies, gooey caramel and crunchy nuts. And they’re so easy you can let the kids make them and you can sit and watch old M*A*S*H reruns.ย  Yeah, you want these.

You know the drill…

Easy Caramel Brownies

  • 1 box dark chocolate fudge cake mix (or whatever chocolate flavor trips your trigger)
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 14 ounce bag caramels (I use Kraft)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted in a 350 oven (the toasting is optional, but it’s a really good idea)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil and spray it lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon (or whatever, just do this by hand) combine the cake mix, 1/4 cup half and half, vanilla extract and the melted butter.. It will be a fairly stiff batter; you didn’t do anything incorrectly. Press about half of this (may take a touch more) into the bottom of the prepared pan. It will be a thin layer.
  3. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes while you prepare the caramels.
  4. Unwrap the caramels and put them, along with the 1/2 cup of half and half, in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for one minute, stir, then microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until they are melted and smooth. Mine take aboutย  two and a half minutes.
  5. Take the brownies out, sprinkle the pecans on top of them, then the chocolate chips. Pour the caramel sauce in an even layer over this. Then, use your hands to break up small pieces of the remaining brownie batter and place it all over the caramel. It will NOT cover the whole thing. You’ll end up with a rather cobblestone look.
  6. Place the pan back in the oven and continue baking until the top is firm and set and the caramel is bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool for at least an hour, then pull them out using the foil and cut into pieces. They are fairly rich, so it doesn’t take much to satisfy anyone but the most addicted chocoholic. In other words, me. Heck, just cut big squares. Who am I kidding?

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Coconut Hot Chocolate With Almond Fluff Whipped Cream

Coconut Hot Chocolate With Almond Fluff Cream

Coconut Hot Chocolate With Almond Fluff Cream



I’m one of those weirdos who loves Winter. I love the coziness, the enforced family time (helpful for seeing ones kids when they’re teens. They simply can’t get away in the Winter. Buahahahahaaaa!), the foods (mmm, soups and stews), the clothes. I mean, what woman doesn’t love cozy fluffy sweaters, right?

But one thing I don’t care for is extreme cold. I grew up in Chicago, so it’s not like I didn’t get used to it back in the day. But I’ve been in Kentucky for 26 years now (yes, longer than some of you have been alive, lol) and my body has acclimated to the temps here. I think I would probably just whimper and die in Chicago now. The last few years though, our part of Kentucky has been getting some pretty frigid cold fronts coming through that are very reminiscent of my growing up days. One is expected to hit tonight putting the temp down to about 1 degree with wind chills of about 15 below. Time to get the outdoor cats locked in the garage with the kerosene heater to make sure they stay safe and warm. Time to keep the wood burning fire going. On a side note from that, I have to laugh every time we need to start a fire because it kills my husband that I can get a fire going with a stick and some paper and he can barely get one going with a blow torch, a gas can and 3 full grown trees. I keep teasing him that I’m going to steal his man card.

One thing I love when it’s cold is any excuse to make a hot, soothing drink. Sometimes I like them spiked, but more often than not, I just like drinks that are booze free and creamy. Creamy and I are bff’s from way back.

Now, I’m not usually a fan of The Food Network. I tend to turn a cynical eye towards many of the people who have shows on that channel or recipes online. But I do buy the Winter issues of their magazine since, well, I buy the Winter issues of pretty much every Winter food magazine published. Because soups, stews, cozy food. Enough said.ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  So, in the March 2012 issue (yes, it’s taken me this long to get to it), there was the “He Made, She Made” column where two of their cooks make recipes based on a certain food or theme. It was Bobby Flay up against Anne Burrell, making hot chocolate. I’ve had Bobby Flay’s recipe cut out from the magazine since then. I don’t even remember what Anne Burrells was, so it must not have excited me that much. But Bobby’s had a can of coconut milk in it. The words coconut milk are a siren call for me. I have been known to have to open an extra can of coconut milk when making curries because I eat too much of it straight from the can. Yes, yes I do like hardened arteries. Why do you ask?

So, this drink was wonderful. I’m one who can never decide if I want whipped cream or marshmallows on top of hot chocolate. With this, I get both because you combine whipped cream with marshmallow fluff. WooT! I was happy! Plus, you get hot chocolate. With coconut milk. Really; do I need to say more? The only thing I did differently here was to up the amounts of extracts. I like more intense flavors. ๐Ÿ™‚
You know the drill… ๐Ÿ™‚
Mrs. Cupcake, who wants to be swimming in a vat of coconut milk.

Coconut Hot Chocolate With Almond Fluff Whipped Cream

  • Fluff whipped cream-
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff (store the rest in the fridge for another time… or just eat it straight from the jar. I won’t tell)
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto or sub with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Hot chocolate-
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 can coconut milk (NOT coconut cream.)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used more; I admit it.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut for garnish (to me, this is definitely optional. I don’t want hot chocolate with texture ๐Ÿ˜› )
  1. Make the whipped cream and set aside- Combine the topping ingredients in a medium bowl. You can use either your stand mixer with the whisk or a hand mixer at medium speed, though I suggest starting at low so you don’t wear the splattering cream. Whip until it forms nice soft, fluffy peaks.
  2. Combine the coconut milk and the whole milk in a saucepan. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Add in the cocoa powder, brown sugar (your best bet is to combine the cocoa with the sugar to help avoid the cocoa lumping up), chocolate chips, vanilla extract and salt.
  3. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking the whole time, until the chocolate is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Pour into cups and top with a dollop of the whipped topping, then some of the toasted coconut if you’re using it.

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Peppermint Bark Flourless Chocolate Cake

Peppermint Bark Flourless Chocolate Cake


As I was perusing… I love the word perusing… I also love the words Beijing, Machu Picchu, Monkey and Pretoria.ย  What? Why are you looking at me that way? I like words. I’m a blogger. It stands to reason that words would make me happy. They’re my life, man! My livelihood! My reason for living!

Sorry. I’m done now.

Erhmmm, as I was perusing the blog the other day, I noticed that it had been 12, I’ll type that again as a word…(I like words. have I mentioned that?) TWELVE, posts since I had done anything chocolate. And even then, it wasn’t pure chocolate. It was cookies that merely involved chocolate chips. Not that that’s a bad thing. But it’s not the type of chocolate that makes one swoon. It’s not the type of chocolate that leaves you gasping for breath and thinking that you never want to eat chocolate again.ย Or for at least an hour. It’s not the type of chocolate that has you planning secret hideaways into the closet, leaving your six year old naked, shivering and waiting for his bath as you whisper sweet nothings to the chocolate.

This isn’t just me, is it?

Sorry. I’m done now. Maybe.

This is pure chocolate overload… pure chocolate nirvana…pure chocolate…

Sorry.

This is yummy. I have made a flourless chocolate cake before here on the blog and I won’t tell you that this is miles away from that one in preparation and baking. This one is, however, gussied up for Christmas. It looks like a huge round of peppermint bark. And rather tastes like it too. It’s dense, fudgy, outrageously rich and decadent (this uses a pound each of chocolate and butter, after all) and totally over the top delicious. You can’t eat but a sliver of this at a time (closet hideaways notwithstanding) so it goes a long way, making it perfect for a party. Make this at Christmas and Santa will bring you diamond rings, houses, BMW’s, your own pool boy named Juan. Ok, maybe not.

You know the drill…. ๐Ÿ™‚

Love you!

Mrs. Cupcake

Peppermint Bark Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 16 ounces good quality semi sweet or dark (not too dark or the cake will be bitter) chocolate, chopped
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 9 eggs (yes, nine)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy (candy canes work great)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 inch springform pan (you can get this size at Wal mart) and set the pan on a baking sheet. This is in case of any leakage.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the chocolate, butter, sugar, salt and cream. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, to melt the chocolate and butter. Make sure to stir it all up and get this nice and smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and peppermint extract. Slowly whisk in half of the chocolate mixture. Again, slow is the key so you don’t scramble the eggs. You want to slowly temper them. Return the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, stirring to combine.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 2 hours, then refrigerate it for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. When the cake comes out of the oven, it will look puffy, then will fall and sink. This is what it’s supposed to do, so don’t panic and think you did something wrong.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the white chocolate and cream. Microwave for 35 seconds on high, then stir. It should be melted. If not. put it back in for about 5 seconds. Drizzle the white chocolate over the cake, then sprinkle with the crushed peppermint.
  6. Cut into thin slices to serve. It’s easiest cut with a knife run under hot water, then wiped dry.

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Raspberry Chocolate Amaretto Streusel Muffins

Raspberry Chocolate Amaretto Streusel Muffins

Raspberry Chocolate Amaretto Streusel Muffins




Mannnn, I’ve mentioned before that I hate wordy recipe titles. I prefer straight to the point and concise. But sometimes, you just need to make sure the title lets people know about all the yummy goodness in the food.

It’s funny that I am the same way with recipe titles as I am with life in general. I’ve always told my husband not to assume I fit the stereotypes of how women are “supposed” to act. If I ask you, “do I look fat in these pants?”, and I do, tell me I do. I can’t stand it when some women use phrases like that as a trap for a guy and when he answers honestly, they go on a rampage. Don’t ask the question if you don’t want a straightforward, honest answer! Point being (yes, somewhere in there there was a point) that I like people to be just as straightforward as I like my recipe titles. ๐Ÿ˜›

And no, I have absolutely no idea where that all came from. Chalk it up to being incredibly tired and as I wrote it, there seemed to be some vague connection lol. Now? Not so much. But it’s there, so…

These muffins are quite yummy if I do say so myself. I had found some fresh raspberries at the grocery store for, get this, 50 cents a pint! I was in shock but not so dumbstruck that I didn’t go ahead and grab six pints. My original thought was to make preserves, but lately, I’ve been unbelievably tired for some odd reason and the thought of making preserves just kind of died out. So I went to muffins. Nice, easy to throw together muffins lol.ย  And I’m glad I did. The original recipe for the raspberry and chocolate part of these came from Sallys Baking Addiction which is a blog I love. But I wanted to do them a bit differently. Imagine that…me…changing a recipe. Whoda thunk it?

I have always loved the combo of chocolate and raspberry and the combo of chocolate and almond. Knowing that almond also goes with raspberry made this an easy decision as to what to do. Add in some streusel and these are wonderful dessert muffins, though you can of course still eat them for breakfast. Because…muffins! There is no actual Amaretto in these. I used almond flavoring but didn’t want the title to make it seem that there were nuts in here, so amaretto sufficed as a description. These are soft and tender, fairly high rising with a lovely almond flavor amidst bites of raspberry and chocolate. The original recipe called for an oven temp of 425 for the first five minutes, but I did it at 400 instead; hot enough to yield a quick rise, but not so hot as to burn the outside if ones oven runs hot, as many do (cause ovens are finicky pains in the…) Also, since I used more raspberries and more chocolate than Sally’s, I got more muffins. She got six jumbo. I got six jumbo and five regular sized.

You know the drill… ๐Ÿ™‚

Raspberry Chocolate Amaretto Streusel Muffins

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk, room temp
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil (I used vegetable)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 12 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 dry pints fresh raspberries (about 2 cups)
  • Streusel-
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.ย  Spray 6 large and 5 regular muffin cups with no stick spray.
  2. Make your streusel and set aside- in a medium bowl, combine the streusel ingredients. Cut the butter in using a pastry blender. You can also slice it thin and work it in using your fingers. You want small chunks, about the size of a pea.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt). Scoop out about 3 tablespoons of the flour mixture and toss it with the chocolate chips in a small bowl. This helps prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and brown sugar. Add in the oil, milk and extracts. Dump the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and gently stir just until combined. It’s ok, good actually, if there are some small lumps. Over beaten muffin batter makes for tough muffins.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips, then carefully fold in the raspberries, trying your best to break them as little as possible.
  6. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared cups, filling each to the top. Sprinkle with streusel topping, gently pressing it down onto the muffins. If you have streusel left over, just put it in a ziploc bag and freeze it. It’s wonderful to have on hand when you need some. Place in the oven on the middle rack.
  7. Bake at 400 for five minutes, then, without taking the pans out of the oven, reduce the heat to 350. Bake for about 25 minutes for the large muffins, 18 or so for the small ones, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. let cool in the pan for three minutes, then carefully remove to a rack to finish cooling. These are even more delicious spread with some raspberry jam!

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Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies




 

I was going through the blog the other day, contemplating redoing some old recipes, using photos that don’t make me cringe. I mean, really, I’m not going to set the world on fire even now with my mad photography skillz but at least now I don’t alternate between hysterical laughter and wanting to gouge my eyeballs out with a spork. Then though? Oh…my….gosh. I sucked.

When I was going through though the recipes though, something occurred to me. I do not have even ONE plain old chocolate chip cookie recipe in here.

Well, guess what? I STILL don’t have one plain old chocolate chip cookie recipe in here. I’m tellin’ you; it’s impossible for me to leave a recipe alone! And while I realize that 900 other bloggers have gone the stuffed cookie route, I’m still hanging onto that possibility that there are one or two of you out there who don’t visit many other blogs, but love me for my special type of charm. Plus, my cookies are different. Please don’t ask me why because I don’t have a valid reason. Just trust me on this. k? We’re cool?

As for a plain recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I’ll get to it. Someday. Maybe.

That title up there? It is not entirely accurate. At least not for me. I changed it up mid way through and stuffed some of mine with peanut butter filled Dove chocolates. Point being… these are easy to vary. Grab your favorite piece of filled chocolate and bury that sucker in dough.

The cookie part of this is based on Jacque Torres recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I changed it up to the point that the basic home baker who doesn’t have a large variety of flours and ingredients can do it. I also cut down on the amount of chocolate in the dough, as even were I not stuffing these, I would have found it too much. But, having tried the original, I can tell you honestly that I didn’t taste a difference. I think the main thing with his is the resting time and the usage of the 2 flours, which I still adhered to.

You know the drill… git to cookin’ ๐Ÿ™‚

Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (if you happen to have cake flour, use 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons of cake flour instead)
  • 1 2/3 cup bread flour (no subs)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar (I used dark brown)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces chopped dark chocolate
  • a bag or container of your favorite chocolates (I used a mix of some sea salt caramels I bought at Costco a while back and two different varieties of Dove chocolate, the peanut butter and the salted caramel
  • ย sea salt for sprinkling on top (optional)
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. Use a strong hand mixer on high or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and cream together the butter and sugars.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and beat well.
  4. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour mixture just until combined.
  5. Use a heavy rubber spatula or wooden spoon and fold in the chopped chocolate.
  6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
  7. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with either silicone mats or parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  8. Scoop out dough portions weighing about 2 to 3 ounces (that is big enough to totally enfold the chocolate so it doesn’t ooze out everywhere). Flatten the dough somewhat and press a chocolate piece into the middle, then close the dough over it. Roll it in your hands for a second to make sure it is sealed.
  9. Bake at 350 for 16 to 20 minutes (it will vary depending on the size of the dough ball and your oven) or until golden brown and mostly firm on top.
  10. Let cool on pan for a minute, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired when still a little bit warm.

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Cookies And Cream Brownies

Cookies And Cream Brownies 2


My youngest son started Kindergarten this year. It’s strange being the mother of a five year old at my age of fifty. I see most of the other parents and they are the approximate age of my own older kids. Talk about weird. One expects the parents of your childs peers to be YOUR peers, but here I am, happily looking like granny (ok, in my own defense, I’m fifty but guessed at early 40’s. Thank you, Loreal and fat padding in chubby cheeks :-D.) and the other parents have nose piercings and tattoos with modern sentiments that leave me saying “huh?”, waiting in the pick up line with their e-cigs hanging out the window, listening to rap on their radios, drinking an energy drink while they browse the net on their smartphones. And me? I’m the one wearing a baggy t shirt and stretch pants, listening to Contemporary Christian while I read Saveur magazine and drink a decaf latte and look at basic texts form my husband on my 25 dollar wal-mart phone. Yeah, I fit in well. Russ and I thought about sneaking into the school for the Grandparents day lunch. Then I looked at pics of some from another local school and realized that half of the grandparents are younger than us also. Welcome to the South, huh?

One of the things that drives me nuts waiting in the pick up line (beyond the rap music) is how, even now, when school has been going for a month here, the people helping students in and out of the car act like we are total idiots. Yes, we know by now to keep driving and not slow down the line. You standing there, waving your hand frantically in the air as if you’re warding off a horde of hungry wasps, is simply annoying me to the point where I want to stop dead, pretend my car died and see how fast your hands really CAN move. Yes, yes, I am ornery. Why do you ask? But seriously, we know the routine. Why, oh why, must they act as if we are six? Mind you, some of the parents look that way to my aging eyes, but I’m assuming they really aren’t. ๐Ÿ˜›

Make these brownies.ย  Oreos, fudgy brownie,ย  chocolate, did I mention Oreos? And chocolate?

These are typical brownies as far as cooking goes. They go together quickly and really, homemade isn’t much more difficult than boxed and while I’ll admit to liking boxed every once in a while for the chewy factor, fudgy and homemade trumps that every time.

You know the drill…. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have I told you lately how much I adore you? No? Consider yourself adored.

Cookies And Cream Brownies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, room temp
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 20 coarsely chopped Oreo cookies of your choice, plus 3 more for the top of the brownies (I used the Mint Oreos; use your favorite)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 baking pan with foil and grease the foil.
  2. In a large saucepot, combine the butter and the chocolate. melt over medium heat, stirring frequently, until smooth.
  3. Beat in the sugar, salt and vanilla, then set aside off the heat to cool for five minutes
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Stir in the flour and cocoa, stirring just until combined.
  6. Fold in the crushed Oreo’s (not the three for the top) and then pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing down the top. Sprinkle the reserved three crushed oreo’s over the top of the batter, pressing them down lightly.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with moist, but not liquidy crumbs on it. Let cool in the pan on a rack, then use the foil as a handle to pull the whole slab out of the pan for slicing.

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Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

There are some foods that it is dangerous to leave me alone with. Set me in front of a dish of panna cotta and you’re likely to come back in 30 minutes and see that I’ve eaten mine, yours, everyone’s and am now sitting in a panna cotta stupor on the floor, grinning like a loon. Put creme brulee near me and I can’t be held responsible for my actions. Give me a bone in ribeye and some roasted brussel sprouts and soon enough, I’ll be that person moaning saying “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”.

There are also some foods that aren’t quite as “normal” that I’m not safe around. I eat fries when I have a ribeye. I also set the baking sheet full of overly greasy fries back in the oven and eat them for breakfast the next day. Yes, feel free to gag.ย  Then there’s Cheetos. I shamefully admit that I have been known (in the past, in my weight loss defense) to polish off the majority of a large bag of Cheetos in one sitting while watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

This cheesecake however, does not go into the not so normal category. It may go into the “omg, this is good!” category though. I have been making this cheesecake for years; more years than I care to admit. It originally came from yet another of those decades old paper Pillsbury cookbooks I have collected for…well, decades. Yes, I’m old. Fifty as of this past Tuesday, actually. *sobs just a little for lost youth, then gets over it and eats more cheesecake* Liiiiiike I said, I’ve been making this for years. I changed it some from the original but not enough to say it’s a totally different cheesecake, just added a few ingredients, took away almonds in the crust and bake it in a water bath to minimize cracking. It also originally had a sour cream topping and I do use that sometimes, but I prefer the topping I have here.

This is a wonderful base cheesecake to play with. You have a chocolatey, buttery crust, topped with a very creamy chocolate filling. I always add a touch of almond extract to the filling. It doesn’t make it taste almondy; don’t worry. It just adds that little something that makes people say, “what is in this?”. The filling is smooth, rich and creamy. Then I topped it this time with the worlds easiest strawberry sauce and dolloped it with a slightly tart cream and sour cream topping. In the past, I have also drizzled this with caramel sauce, cherry topping, peaches, etc. Like I said, this is a great base to play with. It’s also dam good on its own so try it like that first. This goes together quickly and if you bake it as directed, there will be little to no cracking on top.

You know the drill…. ๐Ÿ™‚

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

  • Crust- 2 cups finely crushed Oreo’s- about 21 cookies (I use my food processor)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling-
  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted per package directions and cooled
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Topping-
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, ice cold
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, ice cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Strawberry sauce-
  • 1 16 ounce bag frozen strawberries, thawed, NOT drained
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Boiling water for water bath
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover a 9 inch springform pan with 2 layers of heavy duty foil, making sure it goes up about 3 inches on the sides. This helps prevent water from getting into the pan as the cheesecake bakes.
  2. Lightly butter the whole pan.
  3. In a large bowl (or your food processor), mix together the crust ingredients. Press them onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the prepared pan. I have found that using the bottom of a small glass is the easiest way to press any crumb crust in. It is much more even and firmly pressed in that way. Set the crust aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and extracts; beat well.
  5. Add in the cream and melted butter. You’re best off whisking these in because trying to beat the liquid into the batter results in a lot of splashing, even on low speed.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Gently tap the pan on the counter to level it and help get rid of any air bubbles in it. Place pan inside of a deep baking pan. Slide into the oven and carefully pour boiling water around the cheesecake to a level of about one inch up the sides of the pan, being careful not to splash any water into the cheesecake.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes (large time gap, but I have had it go to both extremes.), until the cheesecake is set around the outer third but the center is still rather soft. It will set from residual heat as it cools.
  8. Cool for five minutes on a rack then loosen the sides and carefully slide off the outside of the pan. Finish cooling completely until room temp, then refrigerate until 30 to 60 minutes before you’re ready to serve it.
  9. About 30 minutes before serving, make the sauce and the topping. The sauce couldn’t be simpler. In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and the sugar. Let sit for about 30 minutes so the sugar has time to dissolve.
  10. For the topping, in a large bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Beat at medium speed (careful of splattering) until the mixture is thick and creamy with firm peaks, about 4 minutes.
  11. Top each slice of cheesecake with some strawberries and topping. Eat. Curse me as you loosen your pants. Know that I’m over here giggling at you.

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Chewy Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cheesecake Brownies

Chewy Salted Caramel Hazelnut Brownies

Chewy Salted Caramel Hazelnut Brownies




I’ve come to the realization that, during the Summer, I am NOT a prolific blogger. I bake like the dickens (what IS a dickens anyway and do they even bake?) during the fall, Winter and early Spring, but I live in Kentucky in a house with an A/C system that barely works when it’s hot out and I have asthma; not a good combination when trying to bake lol.

Weeks ago I said I was going to make some Nutella Brownies. Today the temp wasn’t bad so FINALLY I got around to it. Erhmmm, kind of. You see, I have the great honor of being mom to six kids, three of whom still live at home, with two of those being teenage walking stomachs boys. So what did I find when I went into the cabinet to grab the Nutella? An almost empty jar with incriminating spoon marks in it. Gee, wonder how THAT happened? So I went to the back up jar of Nutella wanna be imported from Italy that I got at Big Lots. And know what? That crap is Nasty with a capital nas! I wouldn’t feed that to my worst enemy. Welllll, I know of one woman I used to be friends with that I might feed it to as well as one ultra controlling ex boyfriend. ๐Ÿ˜€

So, being the inventive soul that I am (be nice and work with me here…) what did I do? I got out the jar of Jif Salted Caramel Hazelnut Spread that I keep on hand for emergencies. Those emergencies being when I am craving something sweet and delude myself into thinking that since this is made with nuts, it’s good for me. Point being, this is some yummy stuff! Not Nutella, I admit that, but it has a unique flavor of its own; sweet, salty, with an undertone of caramel to go with the hazelnuts.

Then when I was in the fridge getting eggs, I saw the cream cheese and I immediately thought of cheesecake brownies! So that’s what we have here- deep dark and chewy chocolate brownies swirled with a salted caramel hazelnut cheesecake, then topped with some salted caramel sauce. Can we spell decadence, class?? And OMG? Wait, that one is rather self explanatory. My bad. And maybe even “please don’t share these with anyone that you don’t want to have following you around the house whimpering like a puppy to get more from you”. Just sayin’. And you don’t really have to spell that last part. I understand.

You know the drill….

Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cheesecake Brownies

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup Jif Salted Caramel Hazelnut Spread
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (not a typo; you need some for the swirl and the brownie batter)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • salted caramel sauce for drizzling n top (I used Trader Joes brand)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a greased 13×9 inch pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the hazelnut spread, 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla extract. Beat well to combine. Set aside while you make the brownie batter.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter and the 2 1/4 cups sugar. Beat well for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Beat well.
  4. Add in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix the batter just until it is combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth down.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter and swirl it into the brownie batter using a butter knife.
  7. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean with no liquid batter on it, though a few moist crumbs are fine.
  8. Let cool in the pan on a rack for about an hour.
  9. Use the parchment paper to carefully lift the brownies out of the pan. Let them cool completely on the rack. Wrap loosely and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight. Take them out about an hour before you’re ready to serve them so that they will be easier to cut. Cut into squares of whatever size makes you happy; no 1/2 inch tidbits mentioned in THIS blog ๐Ÿ˜›
  10. Drizzle each square (chunk, half pan…whatever, I don’t judge) with some salted caramel sauce. Serve these with ice cold milk or some hot coffee. Thank me later.

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Chewy Coconut Blondies

Chewy Coconut Blondies

Chewy Coconut Blondies




A few months back I started a bottle of homemade vanilla extract. All the “recipes” one can find say to let it age for about 6 weeks. Well, mine has aged about 4 months now. I’ve always been an overachiever :-p I opened it today and took a whiff. It was, without a doubt, one of the most amazing scented things I had ever smelled. Better than chocolate, better than baking lasagna, better even than my husband after he has been doing he man work in the yard. It immediately started to perfume the whole kitchen and I’m pretty sure if it hadn’t been simply 80 proof vanilla vodka infused with a ton of vanilla beans (I used vanilla vodka just to up the ante and used far more than the amount of beans usually suggested), I would have upended it into my mouth. It is sheer vanilla heaven.

So since I had this wonderful extract, I needed to find the perfect way to use it. My mind went through shortbread to cheesecake to a vanilla shake. Then I thought of snickerdoodle cookies, sugar cookies and so on and so forth. I wanted something that would highlight that floral vanilla flavor without being overwhelmed by other ingredients or overwhelming them since this is one intense vanilla

The other day, Food52 posted a recipe for Blondies. Now I love a good Blondie anyway…. that subtle flavor, the melty chips, the chewy edges; whats not to like? They are even one of the rare cases where I am fine using nuts.

But, being me, I had to change it some. Not much mind you, but some. I added toasted coconut, extra chocolate chips & extra vanilla, as well as a small amount of coconut extract plus used dark brown sugar instead of light to give it a deeper flavor.These turned out wonderfully. They have slightly crispy, slightly chewy edges, tat wonderful coconut/chocolate flavor that I personally love, the crisp topping of chopped pecans. Just all around delicious enough that it is going to take some major willpower for me to not over indulge in these. Willpower or possibly the National Guard standing over the plate with an M-16 pointed in my direction.

You know the drill…

Chewy Coconut Blondies

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter that has been melted and then cooled to room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted at 350 until light golden brown (stir often)
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil and then grease or spray the foil.
  2. Toast your pecans at 350 for ten minutes or until they are a nice toasty brown. transfer to a plate to cool quicker.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to blend.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter and the brown sugar. Whisk well to combine. Add in the eggs, vanilla extract and coconut extract
  5. Fold in the toasted coconut, chocolate chips and pecans. I actually sprinkled the pecans on top because I like the way it looks that way, but either way works.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes. The top should be somewhat shiny and crinkled looking. Cool on a rack in the pan until they are room temp. Lift the brownies out to a cutting board using the foil as handles and cut into small squares. Or big ones. That’s cool too.

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Triple Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

ย Triple Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies


I doubt it’s a secret anymore that I have six kids (and eleven cats…and one husband). For the newbies to my blog….ummm…I have six kids. ๐Ÿ˜› I think of them as separate batches. There’s my three oldest, all within a few years of each, my next two, also close in age and then my baby, who is only five while the rest are grown or almost grown. I swear; it was something in the water.

When my oldest were young, I was baking all the time then too. I had to if my kids were going to get any treats at all, because we were stone broke. With, at one point, five kids at home, plus myself and my ex husband, I had to learn to bake (and cook) in bulk. No “this makes four servings” foods for my household; not if I wanted to let everyone eat. These cookies are one of the first things I ever made. I remember that the first time I made them, all I did was double the recipe for Toll House Cookies and that was that. Yummy, sure, but over the years, it has morphed into what I make now.

For the most part, these are like the back of the bag cookies. The changes are subtle. But they are enough to make this a very different cookie. I lowered the amount of sugar, I added orange zest and extra vanilla and when I have it in the house, I use some Fiori di Sicilia from Williams Sonoma. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that this used three different types of chips? Yep. Semi Sweet, White Chocolate and Butterscotch. All three of these chips go so well with the subtle orange flavoring (and it IS subtle, so don’t worry; it’s NOT a “chocolate/orange” flavor by any means.) and the Fiori di Sicilia, plus they complement each other as well.

This makes a TON of cookie dough, so you can either half the recipe or do as I do when I make them now (since I’m not feeding as many anymore and I’m more careful with how much sweets I keep in the house) and just bake half of the dough andย  freeze the rest. You can either make preshaped balls of dough, freeze them and then transfer them to ziploc bags or just wrap the full half of dough in heavy duty foil and freeze it that way.

No matter what you do, definitely make these cookies. They are totally fantastic, if I do say so myself. ๐Ÿ˜€

You know the drill….get to cookin’!

Triple Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 12 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag butterscotch chips
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer (you can also do all of this with a hand mixer, but make sure it’s a strong one; this is a lot of dough), combine the butter and sugars. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, orange zest and Fiori di Sicilia, if using.
  3. Beat well, until the mixture is well combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Whisk to blend. Pour into the butter mixture, put on the splatter shield and beat at low speed until the dough comes together in a soft dough.
  5. Add in the three bags of chips (make sure to snag a few first; quality control and all) and beat on low speed until combined.
  6. The dough will be soft. Transfer it to another bowl, cover and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
  7. When ready to bake, either grease your cookie sheets very lightly or use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat ( I love these mats) and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Scoop rounded tablespoons (or do as I do and use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop. What? I like large cookies! :-P) of dough onto the prepared sheets and bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until the tops are firm and golden brown. If making the big cookies, bake for 14 to 17 minutes.
  9. Let cool on the sheet for one minute, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

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