Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

Have you ever had one of those days when you just NEED some chocolate to cure whatever ails you? Who am I kidding, of course you have. Or maybe I’m just projecting my issues on you…? Either way chocolate = answer to all questions.

After committing to a healthier lifestyle, chocolate is the one tiny thing that keeps me from being 100% committed. There is just something about it. It’s rich, melty amazingness just draws me in every.single.time. When I see a new, intriguing flavor of chocolate (Wasabi Dark Chocolate, anyone?) I just can’t help myself. I’m very serious about my chocolate! I get angry when it goes to waste (not all recipes work out, whomp) or when it doesn’t match my high hopes or when things just aren’t… chocolatey enough. I’m sure you understand, right?

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

So upon seeing this recipe for chocolate velvet pound cake, I was a bit bummed to find that there aren’t mounds of melted chocolate in it. I was so sure that the chocolate flavor would be too muted for me to fully enjoy it. I’m also not a huge fan of pound cakes, so sadly the cards were mentally stacked against this one before I even got started. But I pressed on, thinking that I could just give it away to someone less picky crazy than me.

Thaaaaaaaaank goodness I pressed on with this. This pound cake was delightful!! That’ll teach me not to judge a book by it’s cover. Probably not. But it sounds good ;)This pound cake came together fairly quickly (it’s definitely no layer cake!) and the end result was smooth, velvetey, rich chocolatey deliciousness. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone and drizzled a bit of chocolate ganache on my slice (it didn’t need it, I just have issues.) If you’re a chocolate connoisseur like myself, do yourself a favor and try this.

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake
Yields about 6 cups of batter (enough for one 6-cup bundt pan or one 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) unsifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature*

* I used buttermilk powder and it still turned out great! My powder requires that you use water as a liquid in place of the buttermilk and add the powder with the dry ingredients. If you decide to go this route, please follow the directions on the container of your powdered buttermilk.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly spray your bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. If using a loaf pan, spray with non-stick cooking spray and fit it with parchment paper to extend up both long sides to the top of the pan (leaving an overhang for easy removal once cool). If your pans have a nasty habit of sticking, butter the pan and then lightly dust the pan with cocoa powder.

Cream the butter and sugar: Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium-high until light – almost white- in color, 4 to 5 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula.

Add the eggs: In the small bowl, stir together the water and espresso powder until smooth. Crack the eggs into the bowl and whisk to blend. With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time (I’m impatient so I eyeballed and probably ended up going a few tablespoons at a time), allowing each addition to completely blend in before adding the next. About halfway through, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue adding the eggs. Scrape down the bowl again.

Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately: With the fine-mesh strainer, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the medium bowl and whisk to blend. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, beginning with one-third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk; repeat, then finish with flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand if necessary. (I normally give the batter a few quick turns with a silicone spatula before calling it done.)

Bake the cake: Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool, remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and serve.

Storing: The cake can be made several days ahead and kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap. Or double-wrap it, put in a resealable plastic freezer bag, and freeze for up to 8 weeks.

Barely adapted from Sur La Table’s The Art & Soul of Baking

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

When I have a favorite anything, I kind of dig my heels into it. New fave shoes? I wear them every day. New fave outfit? I wear it every day. Ok, not every day but I have been known to rock the same outfit twice in a row. (If you’re going to two different places with different people, it’s technically a new outfit. Senseless logic brought to you by me.) Fave nail polish? OMG I CAN’T STOP WEARING MINT GREEN AND CORAL!! Ahem, you get the point. I mean, why would anyone want to mess with elusive perfection once it’s found?! So when I find a cookie recipe that actually works in my finicky oven, I kind of can’t stop making it. And then I make them all the time… for everything.

Then the inevitable happens: I get into a rut and yell on my blog and whiiiiine because if I change anything about said perfection, it won’t be perfect anymore. What I sometimes fail to realize, is that change can help it become something even BETTER!! Say it with me people, change is good!!

Especially when it involves cookies. And chocolate. And peanut butter. And chocolate peanut butter. Baby steps…

So embrace the change with me, people! Let’s make a tiny adjustment to a cookie recipe and yell on the internet about how awesome it is (whining optional).

For these cookies, I took my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe and simply changed the peanut butter to one of my all time PB obsessions: Dark Chocolate Dreams. And the end result is simply amazing. I can’t wait to try this with the White Chocolate Wonderful!! And almond butter.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

*Note: Since the peanut butter I used is all natural, the texture was a bit different from the original cookies. They are a tad less chewy and a tiny bit more crumbly. But still completely delicious!

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter (or your favorite chocolate nut butter)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or chunks! or nuts! or…)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° , with a rack positioned in the middle of your oven (I don’t have the capacity to have two sheets going at once, I forget to flip/switch them.). Line a jelly roll pan or your standard cookie sheet with a silicone mat, foil or parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl with a wooden spoon, stir together peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

With a cookie scoop (mine is 1 1/2 TBSP in size) scoop, level and plop equal portioned dough balls onto your prepared cookie sheet. Alternatively: with moistened hands, roll dough, about 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, into balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. (These are not huge spreaders! So if you want a slightly thinner cookie, gently press down on the top of the cookie to flatten it a bit.)

Bake until cookies are golden and puffed, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on sheets; transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Promise me that you’ll have one warm from the oven?

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate-Blackberry Ice Cream

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I think I’m finally becoming a true Texan.

Not to say that I haven’t been an ACTUAL Texan these years, but let me tell you… I HATED Summer. Loathed it, even. I yearned for that week of Winter. For years I’ve loved Winter more than any other season. Now I find myself looking forward to the warmer weather.

Ok. Maybe it’s not the actual warm weather I’m looking forward to, but instead everything that warm weather brings with it.

Summer fruit, hello! Shorts. Beautiful flowers. Bright, sunny days. Laying poolside with a margarita in hand. Campfires and s’mores. Weekends at the river. And most importantly… ice cream.

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Any and all ice cream. It’s a must down South, it’s kinda hot. Take it from a girl that could get perfectly ripened peaches a month ago. Maybe I should make some peach ice cream next!

But for now, I’m sharing a strange pairing with you: blackberries and chocolate. It works. Use amazing chocolate and ripe blackberries, and a splash or two of heavy cream and never look back.

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Chocolate-Blackberry Ice Cream
Yields about 3 cups of ice cream

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 Tablespoons (40 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
2 cups (240 g) blackberries, fresh*
small pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoons dark rum, optional

* I used fresh blackberries but frozen berries should work just fine. I would suggest to let the berries sit in it’s bath a bit longer.

Instructions:

Measure the heavy cream, cocoa powder, sugar and salt into a medium saucepan and whisk to combine (to make things easier I set my saucepan on my scale and measured all ingredients in it to save dirty dishes).

Set the pan over medium heat and, whisking frequently, bring the mixture to a full, rolling boil. My mixture was pretty thick to start out with, but this is OK, it will thin out once it heats. Turn off the heat under the pan, add the vanilla extract and dark rum and give it a good whisk. Then add the blackberries. Cover the pan and set aside for 10 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a blender, immersion blender or a food processor, making sure that there are no large clumps of blackberries left. Strain mixture into a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (overnight is good). The mixture will be thick – almost like pudding – once chilled.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to airtight container and store in your freezer. Top with whipped cream, a healthy dose of unhealthy toppings and dive right into Summer!

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Adapted from The Perfect Scoop via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Brownie Batter Pancakes for One

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I am seriously doing a 903 things at once right now.

That may not sound like a lot to you but I’m not too used to multi-tasking and handling a bunch of stuff all at once. I like to give each task my undivided attention. Multi-tasking usually freaks me out.

But today I am trying to find the perfect birthday treat for one of my great friends, make my gma some candied pecans, clean the kitchen, figure out something quick to have for breakfast, look around on Facebook (cus it’s super important, duh!), write this post while uploading pics to my Flickr. See? 903 things! I don’t exaggerate here, I don’t need the drama. And I have to do all that by 11am. It’s 9:18am now. Oh gosh, my life is overrrr!!!

Ahem.

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Good thing that I have the best recipe EVER for THE MOST AMAZING QUICK FIX PANCAKES THAT WON’T KILL MY WAISTLINE!! Yes, I’m yelling at you. I want you to understand the sheer awesomeness of these pancakes. These come together super quick, they are chocolatey delicious, a perfect breakfast (or dinner, or dessert) for one, and the best part about these is that you get about 8 silver-dollar sized chocolate pancakes all for yourself and it won’t kill your diet!!! How can anyone NOT get excited about that?! Now, go chow down on some pancakes!!

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Brownie Batter Pancakes
Yields about 6-8 silver dollar pancakes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (30g) *
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 Tablespoon of Splenda Granulated sugar (or 1 Tablespoon of sugar)
pinch of salt (optional)
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (I used this)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 1/2 Tablespoon nondairy milk**

*There are several options for flour choice, choose what works for you: spelt flour, whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, or even a gluten free AP flour.

**Same goes for the milk, feel free to use what you have: soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk (oh, YUM) or plain ole dairy milk, I don’t judge ;)

Instructions:

If you have a pan that can handle the heat (such as a cast iron skillet) set a non-stick pan or skillet over medium-low heat. (I do this before anything else so that once the mix is done, the skillet is preheated and ready to go. I’m impatient, clearly.)

In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together very well.

In a small measuring cup, stir together all the wet ingredients.

Add the wet to the dry and mix until the dry ingredients JUST disappear. You don’t want gummy pancakes.

If you haven’t already, preheat your skillet on medium-low heat and let it get nice and hot (flick some water on the surface of the pan, if it sizzles it’s ready to go!) Pour a very small amount (about 2 Tablespoons, one cookie scoop) worth of batter onto the center of your skillet and let it cook until bubbles start to form and the edges are set. Flip them, taking care not to break the pancakes (they are fragile) and cook them for 30 seconds – 1 minute longer.

Stack, throw on every topping you can think of (not really. Try: powdered sugar, caramel, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sliced berries, nuts, dried fruit, your favorite yogurt and granola, or maple syrup) and dig in!!

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adapted from Skinny Taste

Servings: 1 • Serving size: 6-8 silver-dollar pancakes (one recipe without toppings) • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 172 • Fat: 2.4 g • Carb: 32 g • Fiber: 6.7 g • Protein: 5.3 g • Sugar: 4.7
Sodium: 241.7 (without salt)

Rum, Brown Butter and Pecan Brownies

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If you haven’t been here long, you probably don’t know that I’m a Texan. If you have been here for a while, you’re probably tired of me making references to the fact that I’m a Texan. Not the kind that wears cowboy boots with skirts and rides to work on a horse named sugar, but a Texan no less.

I can’t help it, I’m a Texan. It’s a pride unlike any other.

You won’t find better Tex-mex anywhere, steaks seem just a bit bigger, beautiful bluebonnets transform regular hills into waves of blue, seeing cows from the side of the road is perfectly normal, margaritas are a staple, BBQ is an art form, the night sky isn’t more beautiful anywhere else, and pecans run rampant across this great state.

Texas, I made you brownies. Brownies you wouldn’t mind calling home. They have rum and pecans in them, you’d be proud!

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Do yourself a favor: if you hate rum or aren’t crazy about the strong flavor of rum in your baked goods, don’t make these. There’s a half cup of rum in these, they are not for sissies. If you don’t like pecans, you can sub for any other nut just be sure to toast them or the flavor will get lost. If you don’t like browned butter, you’re in the wrong place ;-) BUT, you can just as easily use regular melted butter in place of browned. If you don’t like chocolate… we can’t be friends anymore*. If you want to smother these brownies in vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and a drizzle of dark rum for good measure… I think we can be the best of friends.

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Rum, Brown Butter and Pecan Brownies
yields 12-16 brownies

Ingredients:

100g unsalted butter, cut into 16 small pieces
175g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
190g (about 3/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark rum
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
75g (about 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
heaping 1/4 pecans, toasted and chopped

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8×8″ pan with foil or parchment paper, taking care to leave an overhang on at least two sides for easy removal later. Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter, swirling the pan occasionally until all the butter has melted. After several minutes, the butter will begin to bubble and this is your sign to really pay attention to your butter. The milk solids will separate: stir it frequently at this point, so that the milk solids do not settle at the bottom of the pan and burn (there is no saving burned butter, trust me). Continue stirring as your butter changes from a light brown to a medium brown and smells nutty. Remove from the heat. Let it cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, toss in your chopped chocolate and pour the browned butter over it (swirl the bowl a bit to make sure all the chocolate pieces are submerged in butter). Let it sit for about 3 minutes. Using a whisk, mix the chocolate and butter together vigorously until it is satiny and combined. Add the sugar and whisk until combined. Add eggs, one at a time until incorporated. When both eggs are in, give it a good vigorous whisking for about 10 seconds. Add the rum and mix well.

Sift the cocoa powder, flour and salt together over your chocolate mixture. Fold everything together with a rubber spatula until almost combined and then toss in pecans and fold until combined. Pour batter into your prepared pan and bake for 20-25 mins, begin checking early to ensure your brownies don’t overbake.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan until room temperature. Remove the brownies from the pan using the overhang, cut and enjoy!

Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes

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Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

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I hate doing the same things over and over again.

Repeating myself because you didn’t listen to me the first time I said that awesome thing I said. Getting up after just having sat down because I forgot my water on the counter. Painting my nails AGAIN because I always seem to paint them when I am the most antsy I could ever possibly be. Laundry. Hearing the same commercial on three different radio stations, play some tunes man!

But, there are exceptions.

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Playing my song obsession of the moment twice in a row. Or three times, who’s counting? Finding an adorable outfit and wearing it twice in the same week. Rewinding a part in a movie that made you laugh so hard you almost peed just so you can almost pee again! Playing that level of Angry Birds until you get all three stars.

And most importantly, making a recipe that you just LOVE over and over again. And in my kitchen, that’s a pretty big deal. Recipes rarely get a repeat performance. So many recipes, so little time.

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But once in a while I make something delicious that I can’t stop thinking about. Like these bars.

Soft and chewy oatmeal bars with a great hit of banana flavor, speckled with chocolate chips, baked and served warm. Don’t let the oatmeal fool you, these are breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, if you ask me! Customize them to your liking: add peanut butter cups/chips, toss in some nuts, top with ice cream, whatever you like!

Make these and eat them. Then make them again. Then eat them again. Again. What a lovely vicious cycle.

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Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Yield about 12-16 servings

Ingredients:

1 very ripe banana (mine was 115 g)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8″ glass baking dish with foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork and then add the oil and brown sugar. With a whisk, mix well until there are no sugar lumps left.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and oats until combined. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Pat batter down evenly into the prepared pan with the rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, or until edges are golden and the center looks set. Let cool before cutting into squares. Or throw caution to the wind and eat them warm straight from the pan. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Eat, Live Run

Skillet Brownies

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It’s gloomy here today. I’m talking pitch black at 9am kind of gloomy, rain all day kind of gloomy, flash flooding kind of gloomy, tornado watch kind of gloomy. And I’m ok with that.

You see, I’m one of those people that live in Happy Shiny Fun Land and things are always rainbows and butterflies and nothing goes seriously wrong. Chances are we are not going to get washed away in a flood. We’re probably not going to get swept up by a tornado and crash land in Oz either. Although I wouldn’t mind.

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But it’s that kind of day today. Upon waking, I exclaimed that I’m never getting out of bed (aloud, to myself because I’m weird and it made me feel more validated) but then my bladder quickly reminded me why that was not to be. Sadness.

So, I begrudgingly slumped out of bed and began my day. But I quickly realized that all was not lost. Oh, no. I had a tiny skillet and I knew just how to use it. And then there were brownies. Which I teased you with on Instagram.

These are as close to perfection as you can get: fudgy, chocolatey, quick and since they are baked in a cast iron skillet, everyone gets a SLICE of brownie (which includes the gooey center and the crusty edge all in one piece. WIN!!) No trying to shove foil in all the right places in your square pan and accidentally poking your finger through the foil and cutting yourself (true story, folks!). Just you and your pan, the way it was meant to be.

So if your day is washed away like mine, or if you actually live in Happy Shiny Fun Land, make these. Make them now.

And share with someone you love, it’ll make your heart feel all warm and mushy.

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Skillet Brownies
Yields one 10″ skillet of brownies (8-10 servings)

NOTE: I halved the recipe and baked in a 6-inch skillet for 28 minutes and it was divine. Top with some ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry. And sprinkles, if you’re fancy.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the sugar and eggs together until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.

In an oven-proof skillet (I used cast iron, you can use coated enamel, stainless steel, whatever you have that’s oven-proof) over medium heat, add the butter and cream until it begins to lightly simmer and the butter completely melts. Reduce heat to low and stir in the chocolate for one minute. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes and stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture looks satiny and smooth. Let sit another 5 minutes to cool.

Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into sugar mixture, whisking the entire time until completely blended. Gently fold in the flour with a rubber spatula and stop mixing once the flour just disappears.

Pour batter back into skillet, and using a rubber spatula scrape down sides if needed and smooth the top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Slice and serve warm from the skillet. Or go family style and hand everyone a spoon and dig in. Enjoy!

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Recipe from Pass the Sushi

Crazytown Peanut Butter Banana Bread

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Let me clarify a point: when I say ‘crazytown’ I mean ‘holy cow, there is so much good stuff in this bread and my impatience doesn’t allow me to list it all.’ I DO NOT mean Crazytown the band that sang that maddeningly catchy song ‘Butterfly’ way back in the day.

But I won’t lie, I liked them. I thought Shifty was cute (for like a week HA!) I know every word to the entire song.

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I used to have problems. Don’t verify that with my hubby, he’ll tell you I still have problems. He calls it issues, I call it awesome!!

There is a whole lot of awesome going on in this bread: peanut butter banana bread studded with mini peanut butter cups, snickers, chocolate chips AND caramel. I added some whole wheat pastry flour, you know… to make it “healthy.” I told you, crazytown!!

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And I just couldn’t help myself, I never can leave well enough alone, I drizzled the top with melted bittersweet chocolate. Crazytown.

Come my lady, come come my lady. You’re my butterfly, sugar baby. Oh gosh…

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Crazytown Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Yields one 8×4″ loaf

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or more AP flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil (you can also use canola)
1 large egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 oz mini peanut butter cups (I used these)
8 mini snickers, chopped
2 oz milk chocolate chips
8 caramels, chopped

Note: I used an 8×4″ pan but you can use a standard 9×5″ you loaf will be slightly thinner and will bake faster, so keep an eye on it! Also, go nuts with the mix-ins: add toffee bits, different candy bars, nuts, toasted coconut, etc.

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Generously grease your loaf pan  with butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until combined, set aside.

In a large bowl stir together your bananas, peanut butter, oil, egg, sugars and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously for about 30 seconds to ensure that everything is thoroughly combined. The batter will be a bit lumpy because of the bananas, that’s ok!

Pour your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and, with a rubber spatula, fold everything together until just combined (the flour JUST disappears.)

Fold in your mini peanut butter cups, snickers and chocolate chips. Spread half of the batter into your prepared pan. Sprinkle the chopped caramels over the batter and give them a light press with your hand. Top with the rest of your batter and smooth the top with your spatula.

Bake for approx 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached (always check your baked goods early, every oven is different and there’s nothing worse than a rock-solid loaf).

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges of the pan with a plastic knife and remove from loaf pan, transferring bread to a cooling rack. Cool completely, or don’t, just don’t burn your tongue. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups

Boozy Spiced Dark Chocolate Cake

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I really don’t drink much alcohol.

There are a few drinks that I like (my latest obsession being Malibu Coconut Rum, pinapple juice and a slash of club soda, Hawaii in a glass!) but usually I can (and do) say no. Beer tastes like horse piss gross to me and I’m not big on shots of straight liquor (Tequila being the exception). I’ll be the one nursing the same drink in my hands for the entire night.

As I said, not a big drinker.

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But dang, do I LOVE baking with it!!! It’s Christmas and to me that means that I get to find ways to put Bourbon, Rum, Kahlua and Bailey’s in EVERYTHING!! Ok, maybe not everything (I’m very obviously being dramatic) but I do take a minute to wonder how I could sneak booze into every recipe.

Please tell me I’m not alone…

I blame this time of year.

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Boozy Spiced Dark Chocolate Cake
adapted from food and wine via How Sweet Eats
makes one 12-cup bundt cake

Ingredients:

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper (trust me)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Kahlua (or any coffee liqueur)
1 cup buttermilk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Melt chopped chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments (I usually go for 3 intervals) stirring between each interval until melted and smooth; set aside to cool a bit while you prep your dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder (sifting it in if your cocoa is lumpy), baking soda, salt and spices and mix with a wire whisk until combined.

Once the melted chocolate has cooled a bit, whisk in oil, bth sugars, vanilla and heavy cream until smooth, then whisk in egg.

In a 2 cup measuring cup (or anything larger, but not smaller) combine water, Kahlua and buttermilk and give it a quick stir just to combine.

Add half of the flour/cocoa mixture to the melted chocolate mixture, alternating with half of the buttermilk mixture, mixing until just combined (so it’s: flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk).

Pour batter into your prepared bundt pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out almost clean.

Let cool, then dust with a light coating of powdered sugar or drizzle with glaze of your choice. Enjoy : )

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Bailey’s Brownies

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I have spent the better part of my time after Thanksgiving worrying, stressing, listing, scratching out and listing again all the things that need to be accomplished before Christmas gets here.

Christmas shopping usually begins on black Friday. Then it’s a mad dash to get everything on our list in the 3 weekends before Christmas, stop at 3 million stores until we have 80% of what we need then decide to “screw it” and buy the rest online (ok that last part might just be me), throw a party for our friends (or friendsmas, as I call it) to get together, wrap gifts, bake enough crap to kill a small horse, box and send everything off, have Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve, leave super late, sleep for a whopping 4 hours, and the get on the road out of town to spend Christmas with the in-laws.

Stressssssss, major.

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During these times I tell myself that pouring a stiff drink would be totally ok, encouraged even. But I never end up reaching for the mini bar we have collecting above our cabinets.

Instead I reach for brownies. And by “reach for” I really mean to say bake some. Because I don’t keep brownies on hand (too dangerous, you understand.) So yes, I stand in the kitchen and bake some damn brownies to calm my nerves.

So on SUPER stressful times like these, I tip some Bailey’s into my brownie batter.

Make some. It’s a good idea. In fact, I encourage it.

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Bailey’s Brownies
adapted from The Craving Chronicles

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
heaping 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup Baileys Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with foil and lightly spritz with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt until combined. Set aside.

Place chocolate and butter in a large microwave-proof bowl and melt in 30 second spurts, stirring in between each interval until completely melted. Set aside to cool a bit. (Alternatively, melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan set over low heat, stirring frequently until melted. Set aside.)

Once the chocolate mixture is warm (not hot!) add eggs, one at a time, whisking constantly to incorporate the eggs. Whisk vigorously for about 10 seconds to incorporate fully. Add sugar, vanilla, and Baileys and whisk until combined.

Add the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, folding until just combined (the flour JUST disappears).

Pour batter into the prepared pan, give it a quick wiggle to even out the batter. Bake at for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Enjoy and de-stress : )

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