Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Energy Bites

It’s fall which of course means pumpkin EVERYTHING. And I love it! Pumpkin has so many great uses in baking, especially when it comes to baking something HEALTHY. Sadly, I don’t have many healthy pumpkin recipes up to this point on my blog, but I do love this Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip and just made these Fudgy Butternut Squash Brownies with PUMPKIN instead of the butternut squash and they were amazing!

So, I’m excited to add these Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Energy Bites to the mix. These little gems are so tasty and so very good for you! I don’t mind giving these to my kids for breakfast one bit. They’ve got fiber, protein, good fats and some great nutrients! Oh and the best part…DARK CHOCOLATE. 😀

They only take a few minutes to whip up–give ’em a try!

Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Energy Bites
Author: 
Category: Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. Oats
  • 1, 15 oz. Can Pumpkin Puree, NOT pumpkin pie filling (prefer organic)
  • ¾ c. Roasted Almond Butter (no salt, oil added...just roasted almonds)
  • ½ c. plus 2 T. Agave
  • ½ t. Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 6 T. Ground Flaxseeds
  • ¼ c. Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
  • 1 c. Raw Sunflower Seeds, toasted
  • ¾ c. Chocolate Dreams Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together oats, pumpkin puree, almond butter, agave, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, ground flaxseed and shredded coconut until well combined.
  2. Stir in sunflower seeds and dark chocolate chips.
  3. Roll into balls of about 1½″ in diameter.
  4. Place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment or foil and place in the freezer for one hour. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes 45.

 

 

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Peanut Butter Gooey Bars

Peanut Butter Gooey Bars

Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favorite combos and it is absolutely delicious in these super easy Peanut Butter Gooey Bars!  I looooove easy these days, let me tell ya.  Don’t be put off by the use of a boxed cake mix–they really come in handy sometimes!  I added Rice Krispies for a little crispy/chewy texture but feel free to leave them out if you wish.  Perfect treat to whip up on a cold winter night (which apparently we are having lots of around here in the Midwest–UGH).

Peanut Butter Gooey Bar

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Gooey Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Smooth Peanut Butter
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1, 18.25 oz. Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. Rice Krispie Cereal
  • 1½ c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1, 14oz. Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 pan.
  2. Combine peanut butter, butter, eggs, cake mix and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well combined. Gently mix in the Rice Krispies. Press half the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and pour on the sweetened condensed milk. Top with remaining cake mixture.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack and cut into squares.
Notes
Makes 16 bars.

 

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Double Chocolate Pecan Cake Mix Cookies

Double Chocolate Pecan Cake Mix Cookies

Cake mix cookies…or as some call them, CRACK cookies.  And I will not lie, they are good.  But Sarah, they use a cake mix!  Yes, I know.  And I’ve discovered that very good things can come from cake mixes…such as Chocolate Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, Strawberries & Cream Cake, Strawberry Cakies and even Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes!  And while I much prefer a made-from-scratch-cake over a box mix any day, sometimes when you’re in a pinch and need something quick, a cake mix can be your best friend.  Which is totally the case for these cookies.  I needed something super quick for a meeting I was going to and recalled having these cookies for the first time at my friend Joelle‘s house.  I honestly didn’t believe her when she told me how good they were but once I tasted one, I knew I was in trouble and could probably never trust myself with a batch of them in my house.  They turn out super soft in the middle and slightly crispy on the outside.  I added semi-sweet and white chocolate chips along with toasted pecans but you really could add in whatever you like and even use whatever cake mix you prefer…spice cake with cinnamon chips, orange cake mix with dark chocolate chips,  chocolate cake mix with peanut butter chips…you get the idea!

Double Chocolate Pecan Cake Mix Cookie

Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Pecan Cake Mix Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1, 18.25 oz. White Cake Mix
  • ½ c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • ½ c. Chopped, Toasted Pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cake mix, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth and blended. Stir in white and semi-sweet chocolate chips and toasted pecans. Using a large spoon (or use a small spoon if you want smaller cookies..mine spread and turned out quite large), drop onto pan, two inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes (8 minutes if you want them slightly underdone), rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Notes
Makes about 20, 3-inch cookies.

 

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Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies

Not so long ago I made my first batch of gluten-free brownies.  While good, they relied heavily (as in it’s the main ingredient) on an absurd amount of almond butter.  Not that I’m complaining..I love almond butter and could (and do!) eat it by the spoonful and as an ingredient in many baked goods.  However, it made for one calorie-laden gluten-free brownie.  So since I had also been experimenting with chickpeas in my baking lately (like these awesome Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips Cookies) and wondered if I could use them for some of the almond butter in this recipe.

The results?  Fabulous.  The chickpeas produced a slightly softer, cake-like brownie with the same richness as the original recipe.  And I love that it cut back on the fat and calories while injecting a good amount of fiber.  I took these to a dinner and people preferred these over the totally NOT healthy frosted sugar cookies I brought and were asking for the recipe!  Yep, a keeper.

Enjoy!

Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Organic Almond Butter (no salt, oil, sugar etc added)
  • 1 c. (15 oz. can) Chickpeas processed in a food processor until smooth with ¼ c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ c. Honey
  • 1½ T. Vanilla
  • 1 T. Instant Coffee Granules dissolved in 2 T. Hot Water
  • ½ c. Cocoa Powder
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (or whatever you have)
  • 3 T. Dark Chocolate Chips or English Walnuts, etc (try to find chocolate chips that are not made with refined sugar, etc)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the almond butter and chickpea/almond milk mixture on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then honey, vanilla and coffee. Beat in cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Spread batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Notes
Makes 24 brownies.

 

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Dark Chocolate Cheesecake for Christmas

I am more excited about this Christmas season than ever before!  And it’s mostly because I will be baking my way through the next 25 plus days and documenting every gloriously sweet moment on this blog!  Since there are so many awesome recipes I want to try right now, I’ll be posting a new one every Monday and Wednesday of the week from now until Christmas.  Most likely one will be something baked (cookie, cake, etc) and one will be unbaked (candy, party mix, etc).

I’ve decided to kick off all the festive baking with this amazing  Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cappuccino Ganache.  This thing is decadent and rich and worth every single calorie you will have to burn on the treadmill the next day.  You really can’t go wrong bringing chocolate to a holiday gathering because seriously, who doesn’t love it??

The only problem (well, ok there were two) I encountered with this cheesecake is that the butter in the cookie crust started seeping out of my springform pan for some reason (I have NEVER had that happen before–weird!) so I had to put a cookie sheet beneath it to catch it all. And problem number two was that I didn’t realize how much volume adding two cups of melted chocolate chips would add to this recipe so my 9-inch springform pan got very full…TOO full!  I’d advise you to use at least a 10-inch round springform pan.  And don’t freak if the top gets kind of funky and cracked; your just going to cover it with ganache anyway.  I torted mine to give it a nice even surface before spreading the ganache over it and in the end it turned out perfect!

What are you most looking forward to baking this Christmas season??  I’d love to know!

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cappuccino Ganache
 
Ingredients
Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
  • 2½ c. Oreos, crushed (I did mine in a food processor)
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4, 8 oz. Packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ c. Whole Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla
  • ¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 c. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
Cappuccino Ganache
  • 9 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 T. Instant Coffee (or 1 T. Espresso Powder)
  • ¼ t. Cinnamon
Instructions
For the Cheesecake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10-inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the crushed Oreos and melted butter and press evenly into the bottom of the springform pan, pressing the crust up onto the sides of the pan just a little.
  3. In a small bowl, melt the semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool slightly.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in the milk and then mix in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream, vanilla, flour and cocoa until smooth. Beat in the melted chocolate and spread evenly into the springform pan.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door closed for at least 1 hour (I left mine in for 3 but if I'm pressed for time, I take it out at about 1 hour...it's supposed to help prevent cracking, if you care about that). Let cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator overnight.
For the Ganache
  1. Place the chopped chocolate and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. In a separate bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 3 tablespoons of the boiling heavy whipping cream and then add back to the rest of the heavy whipping cream in the saucepan. Pour the heavy whipping cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly to barely warm and almost room temperature. Pour over cheesecake by starting at the center of the cake and with a spoon, slowly smooth it out toward the edges and slightly over. Let cool completely and store in the refrigerator. Decorate with shaved white chocolate, if desired.
Notes
Serves 12-15.

 

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GiGi’s Cupcakes

Last Friday night Jeremy and I visited one of the two new cupcakes places (yes TWO) that opened up this week in Springfield, MO.  GiGi’s is a franchise based out of Nashville, TN and I had heard good things about them so I was pretty excited to visit.  The place is cute, simple and clean inside.  No frills.  And quite frankly they don’t need frills because the cupcakes are gorgeous!  At three dollars apiece, they are good-sized and well worth the money.  And the frosting…OMG don’t even get me started on the frosting on top of these cupcakes.  The minute we stepped inside the doors and my eyes fell upon the mountain of frosting piped on top of the cupcakes, I was mesmerized and drooling.  I’m a frosting girl all the way!

Since it was their opening night and they had been giving away free cupcakes all day to all their fans on Facebook, they were down to some basic flavors but still a good variety.   I would have LOVED to have tried the Tiramisu or Red Velvet but they were out of those so we went with Wedding Cake (my choice), Midnight Magic (Jeremy’s choice) and Chocolate Salted Caramel.

The Chocolate Salted Caramel consisted of a yummy super dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream topped with chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of sea salt.  It was very good and I loved the salt and chocolate combination but the caramel buttercream was just a tad too sweet for both of us.  Somehow we still managed to eat most of it though…how did that happen?!

My choice, the Wedding Cake, was vanilla cake topped with vanilla buttercream.   The cake was on the denser side and not so light and fluffy and the buttercream was very thick, creamy and smooth, not greasy at all and had a wonderful vanilla flavor.  I really enjoyed it, especially the frosting.

Jeremy’s choice, the Midnight Magic, was our favorite.  It was a rich chocolate cake topped with an absolutely delicious cream cheese frosting and mini chocolate chips.  We ate the whole thing and loved every bite.

I’m really looking forward to going back and trying more cupcakes.  And I will go back!  I can’t stop thinking about the frosting…and the Tiramisu cupcake…and the Miss Princess (strawberry) cupcake…and the Red Velvet cupcake..and the frosting..and the Kentucky Bourbon Pie cupcake…and the…

P.S. Check out all GiGi’s offerings here!

P.S.S.  After linking to her page, I read her story of how she started and it is totally inspiring!  Check it out!

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ok, confession time.  See, I have this feeling that I give off the impression on my blog that everything that emerges from my oven is perfect and beautiful and rainbows and puppies and all that cute stuff.  But the truth is, it’s not.  Every now and then I have some serious baking failures and not-so-perfect baking days.  Usually when it happens, I can immediately look back and realize what I’ve done wrong or need to do differently.  I didn’t go to a fancy, schmancy pastry school (I wish!) or get trained by some world renowned pastry chef; I’m just learning as I go.  So, in light of this revelation, I’d like to start off this post for a most delicious chocolate zucchini bread (more like cake, who are we kidding) with a short list of things I did “wrong”:

1.  Forgot an egg.

2.  Took it out of the oven prematurely, thus causing the middle to collapse upon itself.  Lovely.

3.  Didn’t line the pan with parchment or foil, thereby making the removal of the bread to a serving plate in one piece, a feat worthy of Houdini himself.

So, there it is.  Now, I can’t say that forgetting the egg made any difference and I did manage to throw the bread back in the oven and get it on the more cooked side as opposed to raw and inedible and getting it out of the pan only took one VERY large spatula and some sideways tipping maneuvering.  All in all, a good time in the kitchen.  Just ask my husband who has to listen to the choice words coming from that part of the house.

Needless to say, this cake…err, bread is one of the most delicious things I have every tasted.  It was incredibly moist and dense and formed a beautiful crust on the top.  And I loved the hint of cinnamon blended into the chocolate.  Also, I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips both in the batter and on top and they kind of disappeared into the batter so next time I’ll use regular size or maybe chocolate chunks.  And there WILL be a next time.  Cause it was that good.

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Author: 
Category: Snack, Dessert
10-12
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ c. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. Dark Brown Sugar
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Grated Zuchinni, squeezed dry (I processed mine in a food processor; just be sure and remove any large seeds first)
  • ½ c. Cocoa
  • 2 c. AP Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 2 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 1, 12 oz. pkg Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5x4½" baking pan or, if removing from pan, line with foil or parchment paper and grease well.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat oil and sugars on medium speed until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Beat in the zucchini.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
  4. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream to the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry. Fold in one cup of the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into pan and sprinkle the remainder of the chocolate chips over the batter and press down lightly.
  6. Bake for 1½ hours or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

 

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Mudslide Cookies

This amazing cookie recipe was given to me by my friend, Judy.  I met Judy at my first “real job” I had shortly after I graduated college.  Judy was pretty much the resident office baker and she brought in desserts like I had never seen or tasted before!  I mean, I grew up loving to bake and cook but the treats she brought in soon made me realize there was a whole wide world of baking I had never explored.  I’ll never forget the first time I had ganache was in a dessert she had made.  I thought it was absolutely divine!  From then on I started reading and really digging into baking, beyond basic cookies and brownies.

So, she really inspired me and I have her to partially thank for my love of baking, especially baking with chocolate!  This recipe was one of the first I made of hers and I fell in LOVE with it.  These cookies are rich and chocolatey, almost like a brownie in cookie form.  And they look beautiful too because they form a shiny, delicate shell of sorts on the outside.  It’s almost like a brownie, cookie and chocolate truffle all rolled into one!  Just scrumptious!  Enjoy!

Mudslide Cookies

4 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, finely chopped

3 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

3 T. Unsalted Butter

1/3 c. + 2 T. AP Flour

1 t. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Salt

3 Large Eggs

1 c. White Sugar

1 1/2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/4 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, melt the unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and butter in a microwave, stirring every 20 seconds until completely smooth.  Set aside and let cool.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add the cooled, melted chocolate mixture and combine on low speed.  Add flour mixture and continue to beat on low speed until almost combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Using a 2-inch scoop, drop onto baking sheets, about 3 inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks half way through.  Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Makes 28 cookies.

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Triple Chocolate Muffins

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day and to celebrate I came up with these super easy Triple Chocolate Muffins.  If you need something in a hurry, these are perfect and quite frankly they could pass as cake.  I’m really not sure who eats this kind of stuff for breakfast, but I will admit they would go perfect with a cup of coffee.

I adapted this recipe (as you can see I use Allrecipes.com quite a bit) and didn’t have the full cup of sour cream so I did part Miracle Whip which I’ve used in baking before with great results.  I made a few other changes and ended up with an awesome super soft, super chocolatey muffin.  Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Muffins

2 2/3 c. AP Flour

1 1/2 t. Baking Soda

1/2 t. Salt

1/2 c. Cocoa

3/4 c. White Sugar

3/4 c. Light Brown Sugar

1/2 c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

3 Large Eggs

1 T. Vanilla

3/4 c. Sour Cream

1/4 c. Miracle Whip

1 c. Whole Milk

3/4 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

3/4 c. White Chocolate Chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line or grease 24 regular size muffin cups.

Beat together butter and white and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa.  Add eggs, one at a time to the butter/sugar mixture and beat in vanilla.  Beat in the sour cream and Miracle Whip.  Add one-third of the flour mixture and mix thoroughly.  Add half the milk and beat until thoroughly incorporated.  Add half the remaining flour, beating until incorporated.  Add the rest of the milk and beat thoroughly and the rest of the flour.  Stir in both kinds of chocolate chips.

Fill cupcake tins 2/3 with the batter and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

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Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Chip Scones

Earlier this evening I whipped up some “test” scones for a baby shower tomorrow.  The reason they were “test” scones is because it was the second time I had EVER made scones.  I knew that I LOVED the recipe I had made just a few weeks earlier, but it was for a savory Jalapeno Pepper Jack Scone so I determined to adapt it and make it work.  And it did!  Much to my relief.

In my opinion, these are the best scones and so easy!  They are soft, buttery and flaky with a perfectly crisp outside and the combination of raspberry and dark chocolate is divine.  I always thought scones were hard to make but they definitely are not.  I think it just comes down to having a good recipe.  Enjoy!

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Chip Scones

2 c. AP Flour

1 T. Baking Powder

1 t. Salt

1/4 c. Granulated Sugar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter, cold

2 Large Eggs

3/4 c. Heavy Whipping Cream (plus more for brushing tops of scones)

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 c. Frozen Raspberries

1 c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Bittersweet)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.  Dice butter into small cubes and work into the flour mixture with your hands until it resembles a coarse meal.  The flour should be nice and crumbly.

Whisk together the eggs, heavy cream and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and fold together with a fork until almost fully incorporated.  Gently fold in chocolate chips and then lightly flour the surface of the counter where you will turn out the dough.

Divide dough into two portions.  Working quickly, toss 1/2 cup of the frozen raspberries in flour and then gently, but quickly, incorporate them into the dough.  It will be quite sticky.  Flour your hands and turn the dough onto the floured counter, and quickly but gently form the dough into a rectangle about 14 inches long and 2 inches thick.  Press against sides with a large knife to get straighter edges.  Cut dough in half and then cut the halves diagonally.  Repeat with remaining half of dough.  Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with heavy cream.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pans once, until scones are golden brown.  Let cool completely and drizzle with vanilla glaze (optional).

Makes 8 scones.

Vanilla Glaze

1/2 c. Powdered Sugar, plus 2 T.

5 t. Milk

2 t. Pure vanilla extract

Directions

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

 

 

 

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