No-Bake Brownie Batter Bites

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These brownie batter bites (I love a good alliteration) are like liking the spoon.  Dangerously so.  I won’t get into the gory details, but let’s just say that after a batch of them I felt compelled to return to the gym this week for the first time since before my spinal surgery.  In October.  8 months ago!  That’s 8 months of wasting $82 which have now come to an end.  So, really, these bites helped me to get back into shape.  I should make more of them.  Maybe I’ll feel so guilty at the end of my second batch that I’ll train for a marathon!

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I know that they aren’t made from scratch, but that’s not the point.  They’re easy, quick, and don’t require an oven on hot summer days.  Taste-wise, they remind me of the chocolate chip cookie dough brownies that I made a couple of years ago (minus the cookie dough, obviously).  And I bought the 6-pack of Ghirardelli brownie mix at Costco, so I can see more experimenting taking place soon.  Look out, gym, here I come!

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No-Bake Brownie Batter Bites

1 (18.3 ounces) bag of brownie mix (Ghirardelli is my favorite)
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 instant chocolate pudding mix, dry

Put the butter in a large bowl and microwave until mostly melted (about a minute).  Add in the dry brownie mix and stir until completely combined.  It will be thick and sticky.

Set aside for a few minutes and then stir in the chocolate chips once it is cool enough that they won’t melt.

Roll into bite-sized balls and immediately roll the balls into the dry chocolate pudding mix. Shake off the excess.  Most of the pudding will be absorbed into the ball, so after I finished the batch I re-rolled them in the pudding a second time.  If they are too soft then chill them for a bit.  Enjoy!

You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week (ha! as if they will last that long!).  The fridge will make them stiff, so if you do this let them sit out for a minute before eating.

Source: Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Also, look who I caught sneaking a treat!

xbrowniebites

 

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

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I’m always buying those 3-pound bunches of bananas from Costco for $1.39 which, for the most part, only Lily and I eat.  And they all seem to reach peak ripeness at the same time, so when they start to get beyond the point being edible, it’s time to get creative.  A lot get frozen for future recipes (yum.  banana “ice cream”), but the rest end tend to up in some sort of baked good.  Jake’s parents gave us frozen blueberries, which are also good partners for bananas, as are pineapples.  But, by and large, chocolate and peanut butter are a banana’s best companions.  This recipe sticks to chocolate, but I would love to add a swirl of PB next time.  If you have any good banana recipes, leave a comment and let me know about them!

Conveniently, I had super-ripe bananas when I was looking for something to bake for our neighbors to thank them for snow blowing our driveway (is there anything that could really fully repay a gift like that?).  I figured fresh muffins could be a good start.  They must have liked them because today our driveway was cleared again.  If spring doesn’t come soon, they’re going to have to buy bigger pants from all of the baked goods (and beer courtesy of my dad) that show up at their door.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Mix the flour, sugars, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix mashed bananas, egg, melted butter, milk, and vanilla. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter among 12 lined muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden and a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean (other than melted chocolate), about 30-32 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Source: adapted from Bon Appetit

Hot Chocolate Fudge Cakes

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Love is in the air, and is always in the chocolate.  Today, Lily said to me when I handed her toast with butter on it, “Thank you, Mommy.  This is delicious!  Happy Valentine’s Day, my best cutie girl!”  It was pretty adorable considering it was the simplest food I could have possibly made for her.  She’s all about a good snuggle, so I should have known that Valentine’s Day would be the one holiday that could get her mind off of Christmas (though she does still sing carols and watch Rudolph on a regular basis).

I baked these little cakes that I found on Cooking Light over the weekend because they are chocolate and gooey, but made with egg whites, so not as completely unhealthy as they might otherwise be.  Even with my uneven oven making some of the cakes go a little over, they were still fairly moist and definitely rich.  The other nice thing about little individual cakes is that you don’t have to slice them, so serving is 100x easier and cleaner.  And when you’re making dessert for Valentine’s Day, you’d rather spend the evening playing kissy face than cleaning up a cake mess, amiright?

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Hot Chocolate Fudge Cakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 teaspoons instant espresso or coffee powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, or other dark chocolate finely chopped
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Whipped cream for topping

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt.

Place the butter and sugars  in a large bowl or stand mixer, and beat at medium speed until they are well blended (a few minutes). Add the egg whites and vanilla, beating until well blended. Lower the speed and slowly add in the flour mixture.  Fold in the chocolate. Divide the batter evenly into 4 ounce ramekins (for me it makes about 8).  Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Let the ramekins stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Uncover and bake at for about 21 minutes or until cakes are puffy and slightly crusty on top. Keep an eye on them, as different ovens cook differently and you don’t want to over bake them.  Sprinkle evenly with powdered sugar, add a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream, and serve immediately.

Source: Adapted very slightly from Cooking Light

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Kid-Friendly Food: Chocolate Lollipops

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It doesn’t get much easier than this.  You melt some chocolate, insert a stick, and then put your favorite candies on top.  But, to a kid, this process is the most.fun.ever.  Lily had an amazing time with this edible craft, and she was also so proud of herself when she shared them with my dad and grandmother.  Especially because she got to eat one each time she did, so she ended up with more than her fair share of candy that weekend.

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If I were to offer one word of advice to parents, though, it is to watch the candy toppings closely if you leave the room to melt the chocolate.  Lily went crazy on the M&Ms and ate handfuls in the few minutes that I was in the kitchen.  Then, of course, she got the melted chocolate all over herself while decorating, but that’s half the fun.  By the time she was finished with the pops, I don’t think she even wanted to eat them because she was so sugared out!  (Fear not.  That feeling passed quickly.)

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With so many store-bought and impersonal Valentine’s Day gifts out there, this is a fun way to get kids excited about the holiday.  Obviously, family members appreciate these more than others because they are the creations of a little kid, but the imperfections are the cute part.  And a drizzle of chocolate at the end can cover up mostly anything that goes too awry.  The fun is in the craziness and it was a great way to spend an afternoon while I was trying to keep Lily occupied while Jake was working on the demo of our half-bath.  Considering Jake is just now moving on to rebuilding the bathroom, there will likely be many more lollipop and craft days in our near future!

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Kid-Friendly Food: Chocolate Lollipops

Dark, milk, and/or white chocolate chips
Candy toppings, sprinkles, chopped nuts, dried fruit
Lollipop sticks

Melt the chocolate in a microwave in 30 second increments, stirring well between each.  White chocolate is especially fragile, so stir every 20 seconds.  On a parchment-lined sheet, put a thick 1″ round dollop of melted chocolate.  Twirl the lollipop stick in the middle of the chocolate so that the end is fully submerged.  Cover with any toppings you like, pressing lightly to make sure that the toppings stick.  They can be really sweet, so I also like to put some sea salt or a salty topping on top, but kids like all sugar all the time!

Let the pops sit for at least 30 minutes, or until completely set.

Inspired by: Ina Garten

Cinnamon White Hot Chocolate

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Brrrrrr.  It’s been said before (every 5 minutes on every single social media outlet) but good lord, it’s freezing outside.  This winter even has it’s own PR team that has branded it as a “Polar Vortex.”  Does it really need a special name?  I can think of enough descriptors my dad has historically used that already accurately describe weather this cold (though how he knows the temperature of a witch’s body parts is beyond me).  Regardless, it’s times like these that I’m glad I have a chauffeur (Jake) taking me from our garage to the front door of my office.  I literally go an entire day without going outside.  Jake drops Lily off at the front door of her school, too, so his existence currently revolves around keeping the rest of us warm.  (Fear not, we haven’t kept Lily off the slopes.  We aren’t complete shut-ins.)  This hot chocolate made my frozen toes so happy last weekend.  Our kitchen floor is over the cold garage, so as I was standing at the stove stirring the milk, I was eagerly anticipating the warmth while the smell of cinnamon filled the room.  It didn’t disappoint.  Jake said that it almost reminded him of vanilla chai, which I can see because of the cinnamon and creamy milk, but is definitely good enough to stand on it’s own.  Plus, everyone deserves to drink white chocolate.

I found this recipe at Tara’s Multicultural Table as a part of the monthly SRC swap.  She has some really awesome ideas  and dishes!  I spent a couple of hours flipping through her blog.  Of course, it’s a little funny that she has a whole website full of foods from all over the world and I end up with hot chocolate.  Sorry, I had a craving for warmth and comfort.  But you won’t regret going to take a look at her recipe index to find some other mouth-watering recipes.

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Cinnamon White Hot Chocolate

2 cups milk
2 cinnamon sticks
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Bring milk and cinnamon sticks to a simmer over medium heat.  Once simmering, remove from heat, and set aside for about 30 minutes.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and reheat the milk over medium heat. Whisk in the white chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Continue to whisk until the chocolate is completely melted.

Serve immediately in two glasses.  Garnish with cinnamon, whipped cream, or both!

Source: adapted slightly Tara’s Multicultural Table