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Marble Pound Cake

27 Mar


Did you know that March 4th was National Pound Cake Day? There’s actually a fun food holiday for every day of the year! I celebrate when I can, even if I don’t post the recipe till weeks later, oops! This year I had a hankering for marble pound cake, one of my favorite flavors, because you don’t have to choose between vanilla or chocolate. Best of both worlds!

This was really easy to make and turned out great! The only thing I’d change is the fact that apparently I went a little swirl crazy, because my chocolate and vanilla swirls are really small instead of being thicker and more defined. So just go easy on the swirling, even though it’s fun and easy to get carried away!

Marble Pound Cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
Butter or cooking spray for pan

Yield: 1 loaf

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter or spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan; set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour.

Scoop 1/3 of the batter into another bowl and set aside. In a separate small bowl, mix the cocoa powder and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of boiling water until smooth. Add the cocoa mixture to the small bowl of cake batter; and stir it well.

To assemble the cake, start by creating a checkerboard pattern in the bottom of the pan by spooning dollops of each batter on opposite sides of the pan. (see pictures in the original recipe, link below) For the second layer, alternate the pattern, spooning vanilla batter over the chocolate and vice versa. Finish with a final layer of batter, again alternating it from the pattern of the 2nd layer.

Use a knife or skewer to swirl all the batters together. Make a couple figure 8s and run it back and forth so it is swirled and pretty.
Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 40 to 60 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn out cake from pan and cool completely on the rack. Cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Source: The Baker Chick

Turtle Cookies

10 Mar


I made these cookies as a special treat for some folks who went above and beyond in their recent generosity and kindness. And…maybe I kept a few for myself. Trust me, you would have too! These cookies are out of this world delicious. The base is a rich chocolate cookie dough that is rolled in finely chopped pecans. Once baked, you make a caramel topping to fill in the little cookie crater on top. Then you can drizzle some melted chocolate on top – totally optional, but it serves as a nice finishing touch. You can use the famous turtle flavors of chocolate, caramel, and pecans in so many tasty ways but this is my current favorite!

Turtle Cookies

For the cookie:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus 1 additional egg white
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecans, finely chopped

For the caramel topping:
14 soft caramel candies (I used Kraft Traditional Caramels)
3 Tbsp heavy cream
For the chocolate drizzle (optional):
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp shortening

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

To prepare the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla; mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour. Whisk egg whites in a bowl until frothy. Place chopped pecans in another bowl. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, and then roll in pecans.  Place balls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Using a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in the center of each dough ball. Bake until set, about 12 minutes.

To prepare the caramel filling: Microwave caramels and cream together in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from the oven, gently re-press the indentations.  Fill each indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon of the caramel mixture. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the chocolate drizzle (optional): Place chocolate and shortening in a small zip-top plastic bag. Set bag in a bowl of warm water to soften. Gently knead the chocolate with your fingers until melted and smooth, placing back in the warm water for a minute or two as needed. (or you can microwave the chocolate and shortening in the bag, a little at a time, until it’s soft and combined) Snip a very small hole in the corner of the plastic bag. Drizzle chocolate over the cooled cookies.

Source: The Kitchen Is My Playground

Brownie Walnut Pie

27 Feb


I saw the lovely Giada De Laurentiis make this pie on her chocolate themed episode on Food Network a while back and have wanted to make it ever since. So when my coworker’s Birthday approached and I found out he prefers pie over cakes and likes chocolate and nuts, this dessert immediately came to mind.


You can follow the original recipe and make a tasty biscotti cookie crust, but I went with a simple homemade graham cracker crust instead. But, I decided to use dark brown sugar to give it a richer and deeper flavor that really worked with the chocolate and walnut combo. (the crust recipe will be posted soon too!) The consistency of the pie is like a fudgy brownie and is super rich. So just a warning that a small slice will go a long way! You can get creative with the nutty decoration on the top of the pie. Plus if you want to sub another type of nut (pecans would be awesome too) it would be just as delicious!

Brownie Walnut Pie

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnut pieces
Graham cracker crust (pre-made or homemade)
Walnut halves, optional

Yield: 8-10 servings

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the butter and the chocolate over low heat in a medium saucepan until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the flour and salt with a spatula. Stir in the nut pieces. Scrape the batter into the prepared crust. Press a ring of walnut halves, if using, into the batter around the top edge.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake until the outer 2 to 3 inches are slightly puffed and dry looking and the center is set, 35 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted into the center should come out with some moist batter still attached. Cool the pie completely on a rack.

Cut the pie into wedges and serve with ice cream or whipped cream, if wanted. Enjoy!

Source: Food Network – Giada De Laurentiis

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

4 Feb

photo 2

I love learning new dessert skills and lately I’ve been wanting to venture more into the realm of cookie decorating. I see such impressive cookies on blogs and think, “Hey, maybe I can do that too!” Though I’m confident I can get there eventually, I feel like I have A LOT to learn and want to take it one step at a time for now. This weekend, I wanted to make a cute Super Bowl dessert, so got a simple football shaped cookie cutter, a recipe that looked easy enough, a basic decorating idea I could handle, and went for it!

photo 1

I wanted to bake a simple chocolate cut out cookie and make a small batch of royal icing to pipe on some basic football lines. I really liked this chocolate sugar cookie recipe – the dough was quick and easy to whip up, simple to work with, and the final product was delicious. The cookies have a great chocolate flavor and are a bit crisp but still have a nice chew to them, especially in the center. I actually got 4 dozen cookies out of the recipe which was way more than I needed! I halved the royal icing recipe that was included on the original page (see link below) since I only needed to do simple piping. Overall, these turned out great and I can’t wait to try my hand at some more!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Yield: Up to 4 dozen (depending on cookie size)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.

In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.

Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.

Bake cookies for about 10-12 minutes (depending on size) or until they are firm around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with royal icing, if desired. Be sure that the frosting on the cookies dries completely before storing. (This may take several hours) Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight container. Store between layers of parchment or wax paper.

Source: Joy of Baking

Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

9 Dec


Being stuck at home during this ice storm has given me plenty of time to get caught up on housework and gave me extra time for baking and cooking! I was in the mood for some scones for breakfast yesterday and had this recipe for coconut scones that are made with coconut milk instead of heavy cream or regular milk. I’d made some similar scones before, but I really like this recipe more. The coconut milk adds some extra flavor and the texture is nice and soft on the inside but still a little crisp on the outside. I added mini chocolate chips for some extra sweetness and it made these taste just like a Mounds bar!


If you don’t have a scone pan to make fancy triangular scones, you can simply scoop the dough onto a lined baking sheet and make round scones instead. They’ll be just as good! And a heads up – this dough is super sticky! So you might want to grease your hands and utensils. Then make sure to drizzle on some of the coconut glaze and you’re all set for a tasty breakfast!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup or more chocolate chips (I used mini ones)

For the glaze:
2 Tbsp coconut milk
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Yield: 1 dozen scones

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet OR prepare your scone pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and shredded coconut in a bowl. Beat in the butter with a mixer on low speed, then raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is in coarse crumbles.

Whisk the coconut milk, eggs, and coconut extract in another bowl, then stir into the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips; do not overmix.

Scoop 2-to-3-inch mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets (a large ice cream scoop works well for this) OR divide the dough into the scone pan. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Whisk the coconut milk, coconut and vanilla extracts, and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle over the scones while still slightly warm.

Source: Slightly adapted from Food Network

Kit Kat Ice Cream

23 Sep


I’ve been loving my new ice cream maker! It’s one of the best presents my hubby has ever given me and is definitely a gift that keeps on giving. One of the new desserts we made for his recent Birthday was this Kit Kat ice cream, since they are one of his favorite candies.

One thing I’ve learned during my recent ice cream experiments has been that you HAVE to let the base chill completely before adding it to the ice cream maker. Otherwise, your consistency will be off. Just be patient and let it chill overnight if you can – it will be worth it!

The flavor of this ice cream is rich and creamy and the addition of malted milk powder is really a smart move and pairs nicely with the Kit Kat pieces. I can’t wait to try other variations – like maybe a Whopper ice cream using the same malt infused base. Yum!

Kit Kat Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup malted milk powder
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
3 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 full sized Kit Kat bars (plus more for garnish)

Yield: 8+ servings

In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cocoa, malted milk powder, and salt. Stir and heat to a simmer until the sugar and cocoa is dissolved, do not let this mixture boil.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Drizzle half of the cocoa mixture into the eggs to temper them. (you do not want scrambled egg ice cream now do you?) Add this egg mixture back into the saucepan and heat until thickened.

Take the mixture off of the heat. Pour it through a strainer into a heat proof bowl. Add the chopped chocolate, heavy cream, and vanilla. Mix well, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until completely cold, or overnight if possible.

Freeze according to your ice cream makers instructions. Chop the Kit Kat bars into small pieces. Pour the ice cream into a container and fold in the Kit Kat pieces. Freeze until the ice cream hardens. Garnish with Kit Kats.

Source: Baked Bree

Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins

27 Aug


So lets be real. Muffins are just an excuse to have cake for breakfast, right?

I had some very ripe bananas to use and didn’t want to make my usual banana nut variety of muffins, so thought a chocolate banana combo would be awesome. And indeed it was! Between the cocoa powder, melted chocolate, and chocolate chips, these are totally dessert for breakfast. But there’s banana involved, so they’re redeemed by at least a little nutritional value. (At least that’s what I tell myself.)

While the chocolate is the star of these muffins, you do still get an obvious banana flavor in each bite. You can add nuts if you want, but I felt like leaving it out this time. Also, you can skip the muffin approach and bake this into a loaf instead. (like the original recipe) Just spoon the batter into a prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Either way, it’s good eats! Enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins

1 stick butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with papers and set aside. Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until fluffy, then beat in the chocolate, eggs, bananas, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated. Do not over mix. Gently stir in the chips.

Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin pan (about 2/3 full) and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, about 20 minutes. Put the pan on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes before taking them out of the pan. Let them cool completely on a cooling rack or enjoy while still warm.

Source: Slightly adapted from Mama’s Gotta Bake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

13 Aug


When planning my bakes for a recent birthday, I was told that they liked the classics – chocolate chip cookies and brownies. So instead of making the usual variety, I decided to combine the best of both worlds and make chocolate chip cookie brownies! I figured I wasn’t the first person to think of this concept, and sure enough, I found a great recipe.

These were a huge hit! The brownie layer was nice and gooey and the chocolate chip cookie layer was chewy and rich. It totally made me think of those recent commercials where they discuss choosing one or the other, like sweet OR sour chicken, or staying at a bed OR breakfast – why not both? Indeed, cookies or brownies – why not both? Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

For the cookie layer:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the brownie layer:
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Yield: 12 brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch pan with foil, letting it extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. Spray the foil with non-stick spray.

To make the cookie layer: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and set aside.

To make the brownie layer:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl set over simmering water, stir together chocolate, butter, and espresso powder until completely melted and smooth. Keeping the bowl over the water, turn off the heat and add the sugar. Whisk until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan and cool slightly. Once the chocolate mixture is cool, add the egg and vanilla and whisk until combined.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just combined. (a bit of the flour mixture should still be visible) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Using your hand to form clumps, distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the brownie batter in teaspoon-sized clumps, using all of the dough.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cookie layer is set and lightly browned. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the brownies cool completely. Cut into squares and serve.

Source: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Chocolate Mint Donuts

7 Jun


Happy National Donut Day!

Aren’t donuts the best? They’ve become a perfectly good excuse to eat dessert for breakfast. And with these beauties, you’ll be having chocolate cake for to start your day! I have tons of fresh mint at home and was looking for tasty ways to use some of my abundance. (besides endless mojitos) Enter these awesome donuts.

The fresh mint flavor is subtle but definitely makes itself known. They aren’t overly sweet, even topped with the chocolate glaze. Ooh but the chocolate glaze… Licking spoons and bowls is a normal side effect of this delicious glaze. Lick the cooling rack though, and you may have gone too far. 😉

Chocolate Mint Donuts

2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, minced

Chocolate Glaze
1/3 cup cream
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1 cup powdered sugar

Yield: 2 dozen

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and prepare a donut pan with baking spray. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. While the butter is melting, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs in a small bowl. Add the buttermilk/egg combination to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the melted butter and stir in. Finely chop the fresh mint leaves and add the mint to the donut batter and mix well. Spoon the batter into the donut pan.

Bake the donuts for 10 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for a minute before turning out onto a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining donut batter.

Prepare the chocolate glaze: Heat the cream to a simmer. Combine all of the other ingredients in a medium bowl and pour the hot cream over them. Whisk until shiny and smooth. Dunk each donut half way in the glaze and twist as you remove them from the glaze. Put donuts back on the cooling rack to set up. Enjoy!

Source: Heather Christo Cooks

Home from Rome

16 Apr

Hello everyone! Sorry for my absence lately – since getting home from our trip to Italy, life has been busy! We had an amazing time, and besides the beautiful religious aspects of the trip, the next best part was the delicious food! (is that a surprise?) We ate plenty of pizza, pasta, and of course, gelato! I could write for weeks about all that we did, and feel free to ask me about it, but here are some photo highlights to give you a taste of what we saw and ate.

cafe photos
(left to right: Nutella focaccia. Sweet shop in Assisi. Cannoli. Prosciutto, mozzarella, and arugula sandwich. Latte and a Nutella croissant. Salami and mozzarella sandwich. Sausage and mushroom pizza. Bakery with HUGE meringues. Fresh focaccia bread from the brick oven.)

rome collage
(left to right: St. Peter’s Basilica. The Colosseum. St. John Lateran. The Pantheon. Pope Francis! The Spanish Steps. St. Paul Outside the Walls. Trevi fountain. St. Mary Major.)

pasta collage
(left to right: Mezze maniche con chianti, speck e zucchini. Risotto radicchio e speck. Pasta cacio e pepe. Fregnacce con broccoli, speck e pecorino. Fusilli panna, funghi e salsiccia. Pasta carbonara. Pasta bolognese. Risotto ai funghi porcini. Gnocchi alla sorrentina.)

pisa florence siena assisi collage
(left to right: In Assisi: St. Francis Basilica. St. Clare Basilica. St. Mary of the Angels. In Pisa: The leaning tower (built as the bell tower for the cathedral!) The beautiful cathedral. The baptistry outside of the cathedral. In Florence and Siena: The cathedral in Florence. The gorgeous dome in the cathedral. The cathedral in Siena.)

gelato collage
(left to right: Strawberry and pistachio gelato. Banana and chocolate combo. Chocolate hazelnut. Dark chocolate. Chocolate rum from San Crispino. Mint chocolate. Kit Kat gelato. Coconut and chocolate combo. Tiramisu gelato – my favorite!)

While we had a great time and would love to visit again, it’s good to be back in Texas and cooking in my own kitchen. Stay tuned for some tasty things coming your way!