Pumpkin Mascarpone Parfaits

I was walking through a department store yesterday and passed a girl wearing a shirt that read “BUT FIRST, PUMPKIN SPICE.” We giggle, but let’s get real: we all feel this way. At least a little. Admit it!

Tis the season for everything pumpkin. I fully embrace it. This is one of my favorite seasonal recipes I shot for Genius Kitchen last year. It’s everything you love about pumpkin pie, in a glass!

Serves 12

  • Two 15-oz cans organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups crushed Biscoff cookies*
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the pumpkin puree with the spices, salt, 2 cups of the mascarpone and 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar until thick and creamy.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with the remaining mascarpone and 1 cup of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
  3. Spoon half of the pumpkin mixture into 12 glasses and top with half of the mascarpone mixture and half of the crushed cookies. Repeat the layering process. Refrigerate the parfaits for 1 hour. Top with more cookie crumbs and a whole cookie before serving.

*If you can’t find Biscoff, use graham crackers!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine. Photos by Ashley Cuoco for Genius Kitchen.

P.S. follow along on Bloglovin!  <a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/18349873/?claim=6x5awsk38zb”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Coffee Cacao Breakfast Popsicles

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Did you know it’s #PopsicleWeek? Thanks to Billy of @witand vinegar, we all get to join the popsicle party!! One hardly needs a reason. I turned my all-time favorite smoothie into a breakfast pop, using my friends at MUD. Check them out here. They are a 4-ingredient, organic, paleo, vegan dessert with a coconut mouse base, sweetened only with dates, in three amazing flavors: chocolate, vanilla and coffee. I’m addicted. You can eat it frozen or soft (like a mouse) and use in any way you like. I am proof: it’s both breakfast and husband approved.

A big thanks to Billy for organizing all the glory that is #PopsicleWeek!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Makes 8 popsicles

  • 14 fl. oz. MUD Coffee (Organic Coconut Cream, Organic Coconut Water, Organic Dates, Organic Raw Cashews, Organic Coffee)
  • 1/2 frozen banana, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other nut milk of choice)
  • 1 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp protein powder
  • Cacao nibs
  1. In a blender, Vitamix or NutriBullet, blend MUD, banana, almond milk, tahini and hemp until well combined. Add a little extra almond milk if mixture becomes too thick to blend.
  2. Pour mixture evenly into popsicle molds. Sprinkle bottoms with cacao nibs.
  3. Let freeze for 15 minutes before placing in popsicle sticks. Freeze overnight or for at least 6 hours before enjoying.

Mint Infused Chocolate Chip Cookies

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

For months I’ve been itching to by fleur de sel. Fancy, delicate sea salt… perfect for topping chocolate chip cookies resulting in that balance of salty and sweet. The other day I finally sprung for it. The above shot was like the moment I’d been waiting for. Pure satisfaction: perfectly round balls of cookie dough. I resisted the very real temptation to eat the dough raw.

The awesome Andrea Bemis is the author of this recipe, found in her new book Dishing Up The Dirt. Fresh mint, infused into melted butter, gives these cookies a subtle yet super fresh twist. I am all for it. The best part? Nature has given me free mint for the picking, right on the side of my landlord’s driveway. These cookies were destined to be.

Without a doubt, this is the best cookie recipe I’ve ever tried. Melted butter makes for thats perfect chewy consistency that I love in cookies. I’m sold on Andrea’s recipe. I doubled it the first time I made these. Take that, Monday!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Makes about 12 large cookies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • heaping 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, plus additional for topping cookies
  • sprinkle fleur de sel on each cookie
  1. Place the butter and the mint in a small saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter, swirling the pain occasionally. The butter will foam and froth, then crackle a bit as it cooks. A few brown bits may form, and thats totally fine. Once the mint is fragrant (after 2 to 3 minutes), set the mixture aside to cool for 30 minutes (you don’t want it to solidify, just to cool down and let the mint infuse the butter). Strain the butter through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to press the mint leaves to extract any juices.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and both sugars until the mixture is completely smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, beat for 1 minute longer.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, scraping down the bowl as needed. Fold in the chocolate chips and continue to mix until well incorporated.
  4. Scoop the dough into a ball, place it on a piece of parchment paper, wax paper or plastic wrap, and flatten it slightly into a thick disk. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to begin baking, place racks in the center and upper third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  5. Use a scant 1/4 cup scoop to form he dough into mounts on the prepared baking sheets, placing more more than 4 cookies per sheet. Leave about 3 inches between each cookie; they’ll spread while they bake.
  6. Top each cookie with a few extra chocolate chips, a sprinkle of fleur de sell and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking, until they’re golden and lightly brown on the bottom. 14 minutes was the sweet spot in my gas oven. Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. Let one baking sheet cool to room temperature before reloading with the remainder of the dough.
  7. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to a couple of months.

Recipe adapted from Andrea Bemis, Dishing Up The Dirt.

Beignets

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

“I’d give my right arm for one of those beignets!”

I still laugh when I remember hearing those words. The request came from one of my husband’s friends. In order to save her precious limb, I immediately went into the kitchen and made a big batch of these babies. I love my husband so much that I woke up at 4:30am that next morning to fry them so they’d be super fresh. That, my friends, is true love.

If there’s one thing I learned from making these doughnuts, it’s this: don’t overwork the dough and be *very* gentle when handling before frying. You want as much puff as possible before it hits the oil. And, drop into the oil ever so gently so they don’t collapse.

Secondly, pile on the powdered sugar!!! There is not much sugar in the dough itself, so I promise it’s okay. Pair 3 of these with you morning coffee.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Yield: 24 beignets

*Dough needs to be refrigerated overnight

  • 1 package instant dry yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp) I prefer SAF Red Instant Yeast)
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water (100-115 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 7 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • vegetable or canola oil (for deep frying)
  • confectioners sugar (for dusting)
  1. Put the warm water into a large bowl, then sprinkle in the yeast and a couple teaspoons of the sugar and stir until thoroughly dissolved. Let sit (also called proofing) for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the sugar, salt, eggs, and evaporated milk. Gradually stir in 4 cups of the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and thoroughly blended. Beat in the shortening, then add the remaining flour, about 1/3 cup at a time, beating it in with a spoon until it becomes too stiff to stir, then working in the rest with your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight in a greased bowl.
  3. Roll the dough out onto a floured board or marble pastry surface to a thickness of 1/8 inch, then cut it into rectangles 2-1/2 inches by 3-1/2 inches with a sharp knife.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 360 degrees F.
  5. Gently transfer the dough to the oil (don’t over crowd the pot). Fry the beignets about 3 or 4 at a time until they are puffed out and golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per batch.
  6. Turn them over in the oil with tongs once or twice to get them evenly brown, since they rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff out.
  7. Drain each batch on paper towels, place on a platter lined with several layers of paper towels, and keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until all are fried.

Recipe courtesy of Food.com.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Apple Tart

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Although March is not apple season, we’re a week away from Spring and my heart is already thinking about Autumn! I picked up pink lady apples and decided to try out this tart. What could be more simple and delicious than store-bought puff pastry? Almost nothing. When you’re in a pinch, it’s texture can’t be beat. It’s a beautiful canvas for just about anything. The apples are slightly cooked in a little caramel sauce and baked till super soft, contrasting beautifully with every bite of crispy pastry. You can try this with any tart apple like honeycrisp, granny smith or braeburn. Quick, easy and with so much reward. This is my new breakfast on rotation.

  • 5 tart apples (such as pink lady) peeled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sheet fresh puff pastry (14 oz package)
  • all-purpose flour, for rolling
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut apples as close to core as possible into three lobes. In a small, heavy pot, add sugar, water, and scrape in vanilla seeds; discard pod. Cook over medium heat until sugar comes to a boil is dissolved, as it starts to caramelize, 6–8 minutes. Keep at a boil (under 375 degrees with a candy thermometer). Don’t stir! When it becomes a nice amber color, remove from heat immediately and shock pot in an ice bath. Stir in butter, vinegar, and salt.
  2. Add apples into a skillet and cook until they start giving up some of their juices and shrink slightly, 5–8 minutes. Remove apples from skillet and combine with  caramel, pouring into prepared 9″ baking dish. Carefully turn apples so the cut side is facing up and scoot them together so they overlap slightly. (The apples will shrink more as they bake, so they need to be tightly packed.)
  3. Gently roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface just to smooth out creases; cut into a round that will fit snugly inside your pan. Drape puff pastry over apples.
  4. Bake until pastry is puffed and starting to brown in spots, 20–25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown and cooked all the way through, 20 minutes longer. Let rest 5 minutes before inverting onto a platter. Don’t wait too long to invert or else the apples with stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.

Blood Orange Cream Doughnuts

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Confession: doughnuts are my guilty pleasure. When you’re craving a pillowy cloud of dough filled with cream, chocolate or jelly, nothing else will do. Long Island is seriously lacking in good doughnuts (sorry, Dunkin, you don’t count) and this recipe is going in my arsenal for good!

Citrus season is in full swing. Those beautiful blood oranges are begging to be used. Their color is so vibrant and their flavor, robust. This cream filling is to die for. Punchy, zesty, but not too sweet. Try not to eat it by the spoonful before you fill the doughnuts. I dare ya! My husband took these all to work so I snagged this ONE photo before he ran off with them… Oh well. I’ll just have to make more.

Makes 12 doughnuts

Doughnut Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 cups bread flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 qt vegetable oil, for frying

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice (from about 6-7 oranges)
  • 1 tbsp fresh blood orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Coating:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast, warm water and sugar. I have best luck with luke-warm water. You can’t have it too hot or you’ll kill the yeast. Mix and let sit for 10 minutes, until it begins to foam.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, mix salt, eggs and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the milk and 1 cup of flour. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and mix until incorporated.
  3. Change your attachment to the dough hook. Turn mixer to medium-low and add in the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments. The dough will come together in a sticky ball. Turn mixer to medium speed and “knead” the dough until it slightly elastic.
  4. Turn the dough out into a large buttered mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it someplace warm to rise until it has doubled in volume. I find the best place to do this is on top of a warm oven. I let mine rise for about 2 hours.
  5. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to be about a ½ inch thick and cut into 3 inch circles (you can use a biscuit cutter, or a drinking glass). Place the dough circles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Do not reroll scraps. You an fry them separately for snacking, or discard them.
  6. Allow to donuts to rise one more time, until they have at least doubled in size, and appear to fluffy and filled with air. I let mine rise about an hour.
  7. While the donuts rise, preheat cooking oil to 370 degrees in either an electric fryer, or on a stovetop in a heavy bottomed dutch oven.
  8. Fry each donut until it is golden on the bottom, flip and fry until the other side is golden. Be very careful when transferring the donuts to the oil, if they are handled too much, they will collapse. The finished donuts should be golden on each side, with a white ring around the middle, this shows a perfectly risen donut, and will ensure that it is nice and light in the center.
  9. Place fried donuts onto a paper bag or paper towels to drain any extra grease.  Toss donuts in granulated sugar, and place on a cooling wrack to cool to room temperature.
  10. To prepare the filling, in a small pot whisk in blood orange juice, zest, sugar and eggs. Continue whisking on medium-low heat until it starts to thicken slightly. Whisk in butter one tbs at a time. Once the butter has been added, continue whisking until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it has cooled completely.
  11. In a mixing bowl, whisk heavy cream and salt together until it forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold in the blood orange mixture. Place in the refrigerator for at least another 30 minutes.
  12. Right before serving, cut small holes in the side of each donut, I do this with a paring knife in the shape of an X.  Place filling in a piping bag, fitted with a round tip (a long tip works best). Fill and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bakeaholic Mama.

Classic Chocolate Brownies

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

You know that glossy, flaky top coat that magically appears on the surface of boxed brownie mix? I’ve been trying to replicate that effect in homemade brownies for years with little success. Recipes I’ve tried in the past are either too fudgy (yes, it’s possible) or too cakey and dense. I want that *perfect* brownie: decadent chew and that shiny top that flakes when you bite into it. Too much to ask for? Was it the dairy? The flour-to-egg ratio? I had no idea. Then suddenly it happened. The heavens opened up and Food.com asked me to photograph this recipe. The hunt is over. I kid you not, these are quickly becoming my new go-to! I adjusted a few small things and sure enough it hits all the right marks. The fudge factor is right on. A+, brownies. Bravo. Well done.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Yield: 28 brownies

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup melted butter, cooled
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9″x13″ pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with non-stick spray.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa powder. Remove from heat and pour mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer.
  3. Add in sugar and vanilla until combined. Add eggs one at a time and beat. Mix in dry ingredients until fully combined. Be careful not to overmix. Fold in chocolate chips. Use a spatula to scrape all of that goodness into the lined pan.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into 2×2″ squares.
  5. Store in an air-tight container.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.

Ferrero Rocher Babka

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I’m so thankful that tomorrow is the last day of this year.

That’s not to say this year wasn’t filled with good things. In fact, many great things happened this year. I feel abundantly blessed. Yet, I feel this overwhelming desire for more. More growth, more prosperity, a closer relationship with God. I feel a craving for it like I have never before.

More recently, I’ve gotten so caught up with work (wake, work, sleep, wake, work, sleep) and I realize I haven’t had my priorities straight. I know I need to make a change. At every year’s end, I try to list the things I want to improve upon in the new year. I feel so eager to start anew, to begin afresh, this year in particular. There’s nothing cliche about it. Like a wise person once said, (paraphrase): insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If you want to see change, make a real effort. Do something differently. Stop daydreaming and start doing. Take a leap of faith even when you can’t see the ground beneath you.

I’m going to talk to you like you’re my personal journal. Here are some of my aspirations for 2017:

  • Don’t get out of bed without a morning prayer
  • Pray for my husband daily
  • Continually learn and grow to become a better wife
  • Often visit my grandparents
  • Consistently observe the Sabbath day of rest
  • Better manage my time, prioritize the important things
  • Slow down
  • Be quick to listen and slow to speak
  • Take care of my body, inside and out
  • Read before bed
  • Do more of the things that bring joy into my life. Remove the things that don’t

We’re homebodies by nature, but my husband and I are spending our first New Year’s Eve alone at home. Just the two of us. Instead of making a huge deal out of it, I feel so at ease just letting it happen. Without all the noise and without the hoopla. Contrary to popular belief, not everything needs to be snapped and shared. Such a significant moment as 12:00am on January 1st aught to be as personal as personal gets. You & God. Your dreams, God’s plan. All hope and no fear. A little prayer said for the beginning of a new year.

In honor of the occasion, I tried my hand at this chocolate babka. I was given an abundance of Ferrero Rochers for Christmas (60 to be exact) and I decided to do something about it. Stuffed inside these flaky layers are the crushed classic hazelnut Italian chocolates, decadent and unapologetic.

 I wish you the happiest new beginning. Cheers to 2017!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Yield: 2 9-inch babkas, Active Time: 1 hr 15 min, Total Time: 6 hrs (prepare the dough the night before to allow for overnight chilling!)

Dough:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 packet dry active yeast (I use 2-1/4 tsp SAF Red Instant Yeast)
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature

Filling:

  • 4 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli)
  • 12 Ferrero Rocher balls, finely crushed and center hazelnuts removed
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed

Glaze:

  • 16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  1. To make the dough: in a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the milk with the yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk and sprinkle the dry ingredients on top. Mix at low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix at medium speed until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add all of the butter at once and mix at low speed until it is fully incorporated and a tacky dough forms, about 3 minutes; scrape down the side of the bowl as needed during mixing. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and coat the paper generously with nonstick baking spray. Scrape the dough out onto the parchment paper and cut the dough in half. Pat each piece into a neat square. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, melt both chocolates with the butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, then stir in the crushed Ferrero Rochers.
  4. Coat two 9-by-4-inch loaf pans with nonstick baking spray and line with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on each of the long sides. Roll out each square of dough to a 16-inch square. Using an offset spatula, spread all but 1/2 cup of the filling in an even layer over the dough squares to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Starting at the long edge nearest you, tightly roll up each dough square jelly roll–style into a tight log.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut the logs in half crosswise. Using an offset spatula, spread 1/4 cup of the reserved filling on the top and sides of 2 of the halves. Set the other halves on top in the opposite direction to form a cross. Twist to form spirals and transfer to the prepared pans. Cover the loaves with a towel and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the loaves in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes, until puffed and well browned. Let cool slightly, then use the parchment paper to lift the babkas out of the pans and onto a rack set over a baking sheet. Discard the paper.
  7. To make the glaze: melt the chocolate with the butter over low heat; stir until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup. Spread the glaze on top of the warm babkas and let stand until set, about 30 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine.

Spiced Chocolate and Cacao Cookies

cookies_2

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Happy December! It’s hard to believe that autumn is passing as quickly as it came. It’s my favorite season for many reasons, but with its passing comes the promise of so much joy and time spent with those I’m closest with. Not to mention, the promise of endless cookies and overindulgence! What I look forward to most is preparing to host old friends in my very small apartment, cozy and just the right size to make memories and toast to lasting friendships.

For the holidays, I’ve partnered with Simply Organic to help you celebrate Thursdays! We’d love to inspire you to share with us the simple joys of this holiday season with good food + togetherness by tagging your recipes with #ThursdayMoments. Set aside a quiet moment from the bustle of the season to capture how you’re practicing hospitality with friends and family. Simply Organic and I share this same value: there is nothing more fulfilling than setting the table for others.

We’re so excited to share this recipe with you! This season I often find myself in the mood for chocolate, and lots of it. We wanted to bring you a holiday cookie, egg-less and creatively spiced. Spiced Chocolate and Cacao Cookies take front and center stage! They’re loaded with chocolate chunks, cacao nibs and spiced with rich cinnamon and a dash of smoked paprika. My favorite company to chocolate is a little espresso, which really enhances the chocolate flavor. A little flaky sea salt balances out the sweet. With crispy edges and a soft center, the brownie-like texture of these cookies totally hits the holiday spot! Not pictured: all the eggnog and hot cocoa I’ll have alongside these. Even Santa will approve (can’t help you out with the naughty or nice list, you’re on your own there).

Help set the table for #OrganicMoments by sharing your seasonal memories with us. Click here to enter the Ultimate #ThursdayMoments giveaway! They’re giving away an AMAZING grand prize!! Gotta be in it to win it, I always say.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Xo, Ashley

cookies_1

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

cookies_4

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Spiced Chocolate and Cacao Cookies

Yields: 18 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp Simply Organic Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Simply Organic Smoked Paprika
  • 1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 2 Tbsp brewed espresso
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds soaked in 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup organic cacao nibs
  • 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chunks
  • Flaky sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and paprika in a large bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Mix in hot espresso.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl add the chia seeds and 2 Tbsp water. Let sit for 2 minutes until the water is absorbed. Add the hydrated chia to the sugar mixture.
  4. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in three installments, mixing well between each addition. The batter will be thick and brownie-like.
  5. With a spatula, gently fold in the cacao nibs and the chocolate chunks.
  6. Using a Tablespoon cookie scoop, portion dough into balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2-1/2 inches apart. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  7. Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The edges should be slightly crisp while the center will remain soft. Transfer to wire racks and cool.

This post is sponsored by Simply Organic Foods.

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Sweet Potato Chocolate Frosting

cupcakes

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

cupcakes-3

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

cupcakes-4

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

cupcakes-5

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

cupcakes-2

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins / Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes

It’s a chilly Halloween night.

I’m not a fan of Halloween. I didn’t grow up celebrating it. I don’t like to be scared, tricked or fooled. For me, the only good things that come from it are It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, and chocolate. Lots and lots of it. Times like these have me craving a bite into a rich brownie or washing down a piece of chocolate cake with cold milk. With all this chocolate overload, I know what you’re thinking. Why can’t chocolate cupcakes be healthy? Is this really too much to ask for? Well, I won’t go as far as to say that these are healthy, but I can guarantee you they are healthy-er. This incredible 2-ingredient frosting recipe comes from the genius folks at Food52, shared earlier this week. Two ingredients… sugar? Butter? Magic? No. Nothing but sweet potato puree and semi-sweet chocolate! This is huge, people. We’re talking about vegetables AND chocolate!!! My favorite thing about this frosting is that the consistency is the same as your regular frosting. Smooth, velvety and rich in texture and flavor. It’s not too sweet, of course, which is my preference when it comes to desserts like these. I give you full permission to lick the bowl and the spoon after whipping this frosting up. Do it like no one is watching. And even if they are, who cares! You’re eating vegetables!

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli)
  • 1/4 cup espresso coffee
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-3/4 cups flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream

Sweet Potato Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1-15oz can sweet potato puree
  • 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 24-cupcake pan with parchment liners.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, chocolate and espresso coffee (I brew a Godiva Espresso pod in my Tassimo brewer). Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Let cool while you prepare the rest of the batter.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs on mediums speed until light and fluffy. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gradually stir dry mixture into the sugar/egg mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate espresso mixture until smooth. Stir in the sour cream.
  4. Spoon the batter into muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. To prepare the frosting, add the sweet potato puree to a saucepan and simmer on medium-low until very warm. Turn the heat to low and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth and all chocolate is melted. Let cool and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes before frosting.
  6. Frost your cupcakes with pretty swirls and store in a closed container for up to 3 days.

Cupcakes recipe adapted from Food Network. Frosting recipe courtesy of Food52.