Tag Archives: chocolate

Black Forest Brownies

14 Feb

Valentine’s Day is here!  And what better way to celebrate than whipping up a special dessert for your loved ones?  Brownies are definitely one of my favorite desserts, and I thought, what could be better than Black Forest Cake?  Um, Black Forest brownies!  I love the cherry-chocolate combination, especially with the topping of a light cream cheese frosting.   I made up this recipe totally on a whim, not knowing how it would turn out, but Matt actually said this might be one of his favorite desserts ever.  That’s pretty monumental, and I’m pumped that they turned out so well!

Traditionally Black Forest cake is made with a whipped cream topping, so I wanted to combine that with a little bit of cream cheese frosting, and the result was DIVINE.  Like, probably this will be the cream cheese icing recipe I default on, because it had the lovely cream cheese flavor, without being so overly sweet and heavy.  It was light and delicious.

I like to cut the brownies and then spread the icing on, so I can do them “to order”.  If serving immediately for a crowd, feel free to spread them all and then cut them (though they may not turn out as clean looking).   I thought that they might get soggy if I frosted them all in advance and then didn’t eat them right away.  I just kept the frosting in a bowl in the refrigerator and spread it on a brownie as they are ready to be eaten.  Also, I like to store these brownies in the refrigerator because I thought they tasted better, and firmed up a little more, when kept chilled.

Black Forest Brownies

Time: 30 min. plus baking time  Yield: 16 brownies

  • 1 box brownie mix (I recommend Ghirardelli), plus eggs, oil and water for the mix
  • Chocolate chips (to add to the batter, if desired)
  • 2 cans cherry pie filling (16 ounces each) – I used Polar brand, which I had never heard of, but I liked that this brand did not contain high fructose corn syrup, just cherries and sugar, etc.
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Chocolate shavings to garnish, if desired ;-)

Strain one can of the cherry pie filling to remove most of the liquid filling.  No need to rinse, just remove as much as possible so as to mix just the cherries into the brownie mix.

Prepare the brownies according to the package directions, stirring in the cherries from 1 can and chocolate chips (if desired)  immediately before pouring into a parchment-lined 9×9 baking pan. (Parchment lining allows you to remove the brownies from the pan as one unit, then you can cut them more easily on a cutting board).

Bake according to package directions.  Mine took slightly longer than the package instructions, possibly due to the increased moisture from the cherries.  So, you may want to extend the bake time by a few minutes if you notice they seem too wet when the time is up.  After baking, let the brownies cool completely in the pan.

Meanwhile, make the frosting.  In one bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks (when you pull the mixer out, the peaks on the mixer should stand up without flopping over).   In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until combined.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

Once brownies are cooled, cut into portions, then spread each with cream cheese topping.  Top each with some cherry pie filling, if desired.

Day 8: Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

21 Dec

Let me start off by saying that I ate three of these cookies before they were even cooled and that resulted in a sugar coma shortly after.  That being said, it was totally worth it.  I first made these cookies a few years ago, after I found the original recipe here from searching FoodGawker.   My mom loves chocolate and cherries, especially together, so I made these for her, and let me tell you, this recipe does not disappoint.

These cookies are slightly more labor-intensive than my molasses cookie recipe, but in my opinion, they are worth it!  The cookie itself has a fudgy, brownie-like texture, topped with a half a maraschino cherry and a smooth, fudgy chocolate topping.  This cookie will definitely satisfy your inner chocoholic, plus they’re practically a health food since they have fruit ;-)

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies (originally from here)

Time: 30-45 min prep + 10 min baking, Yield: ~40 cookies, depending how many you eat straight out of the oven…

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH baking soda, baking powder and salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • ~20 marachino cherries (about one jar), cut in half, juice reserved
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk (I used leftover from making my Peppermint Patties)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Chocolate topping:  Place chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan and melt over low heat.  Stir in 4 teaspoons of reserved cherry juice.  If chocolate becomes too thick, add a little more cherry juice.

Cookies:  Mix the flour, cocoa, soda, powder and salt in a bowl.   In a separate large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer until soft.  Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla, then add the flour mixture gradually, and mix until well combined.  The dough will be very stiff.

Roll the dough into 1″ balls (I use this OXO Good Grips Small Cookie Scoop which makes the job very easy!) and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, about 2″ apart (parchment paper makes clean up a breeze! And you can reuse it for several batches). 

Make an indentation in each cookie with your thumb, and place a half a cherry into each. 

Top with ~1 teaspoon chocolate mixture, covering each cherry completely. 

Bake for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

*These cookies freeze well, so make them in advance!  Once cooled, transfer cookies to a Tupperware container lined with wax paper between each layer*

Day 7: Cranberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

20 Dec

Happy Day 7!  Today I am sharing a great recipe for Cranberry Chocolate Chip Muffins, which are perfect to bake ahead and keep on hand during the holidays.  These would be great for Christmas morning or whenever company stops over.  There’s nothing better than muffins fresh out of the oven, but I also don’t like how muffins stored in Tupperware containers tend to get soggy and lose their nice chewy tops.  My solution has been making large batches of muffins and storing them in the freezer.  Reheat for 20-30 seconds in the microwave and they taste as good as new! 

These muffins are very easy to make and feel special with the addition of fresh cranberries, which are deliciously tart.  I used fresh cranberries which had been frozen.  (I thawed them by placing them in a collander and running warm water over for just a few minutes.) 

I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light, by the addition of chocolate chips (I can’t make muffins without chocolate! It’s a problem!), almonds on top for a nice crunch, and swapping some white flour for whole wheat and butter for oil.  Maybe that makes up for adding chocolate??  I hope so because these are delicious and I can’t eat just one!

Fresh Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Muffins (adapted from Cooking Light)

Time: 15 min prep + 18 min baking, Yield: 24 muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 + 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet)
  • 1 + 1/3 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (I only had clementines so I used them instead)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • Slivered almonds for the tops, if desired

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in the chopped cranberries and chocolate chips.  Make a well in the center of the mixture. 

Combine the milk, butter, oil, zest, vanilla, and eggs in a small bowl.  Add wet ingredients to center well of the dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened.  This process is important in making tender and fluffy muffins – don’t over mix!

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins (I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to spoon the dough).    Top with sliced/slivered almonds for a nice crunch, if desired.   

Bake for 18 minutes, remove from muffin tin and cool in a wire rack.

Yum!

Day 3: Homemade Peppermint Patties

16 Dec

It’s Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas, and today I’ll share with you my adventures in making Homemade Peppermint Patties!  It had honestly never even crossed my mind that you could make homemade peppermint patties until I saw Giada make them on TV.   Of course she looked ever so graceful making them, without any mess left behind.  My kitchen and hands were covered in powdered sugar and chocolate after my adventures, but I think it was well worth it:

The recipe I used here is from Savory Sweet Life – which is a blog I LOVE, especially because her blog is where I found the idea for my wedding cake about 2 years ago! (Here’s the original link to her gorgeous fall leaf tutorial: Fall Leaf Cake).  I’m still in love.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe.  The original recipe says “30 min” for total time – but that is in no way accurate.  This took me 2 hours total (which is what I expected).   And the yield says “32 pieces”.  I made the exact same recipe with the same size rounds (3/4″) and my recipe made 85!!! Glad I didn’t double it like I had originally planned!

Homemade Peppermint Patties  – from Savory Sweet Life

Yield: at least 75 pieces,  Time: at least 1.5 hours total

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 5.5 cups powdered sugar (I ended up using about 6.5 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint extract
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I think I used closer to 4…)
  • 3 tablespoons shortening

Mix condensed milk, 2 cups of powdered sugar and peppermint extract in a large bowl on medium speed using the paddle attachment until all the ingredients are well incorporated.  Add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is stiff but still pliable.  I ended up using about 6.5 cups sugar because the dough was too sticky after just 5.5.

Roll 3/4″ balls of dough between the palms of the hands.  Flatten into disks and place on a cutting board or plate with wax paper.  

 Alternatively, you can roll out the dough like cookie dough and cut into shapes with cookies cutters.  The only small cookie cutter I had was a mini gingerbread man one, which now I would not recommend because the limbs tended to fall off when coating in chocolate.   Small stars would be really nice, but I might actually be the biggest fan of the classic circles.

Transfer the dough to the freezer to firm up for about 30 minutes (original recipe says not to exceed this).

While the dough is chilling, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (30 second bursts), stirring between each time until chocolate is smooth.  Stir in shortening to thin the chocolate.

Remove patties from the freezer.  Use two forks to dip patties into chocolate, covering completely, and shaking off the excess.  Set on wax paper to firm up (this can be expedited in the fridge, but mine were mostly solidified by the time I got to the last batch). 

Overall, this recipe was surprisingly simple (who knew you only needed 3 ingredients to form the peppermint “dough”?) – and it was fun to play with.  Oh, and they also are pretty darn delicious.  Like, definitely better than the store bought kind. 

The most time consuming and frustrating part of this was definitely coating them in chocolate.  My advice would be to make sure you’ve adequately thinned the chocolate (and keep it relatively warm so it doesn’t get stiff).  And, if they turn out sloppy, just cover them with sprinkles :) 

Call me crazy, but next year I kind of want to try cinnamon ones.. with cinnamon extract and red food coloring… anybody with me?