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.

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

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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

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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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

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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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.

Avocado Truffles

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Chocolate truffles…decadence at its finest. But everyone knows that after one too many, your stomach pays the price. Guess what: these truffles are made with 5 ingredients and no added sugar. The best natural fat, everyone… avocado! So I didn’t think it was possible, but I found a new way to love avocados with this one. Who KNEW. In just over 30 minutes you can get one (or five) of these in your mouth. And savor them because they’re not bad for you!

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Prep Time: 5 minutes, Total Time: 40 mins. Yields 12 small truffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 nice and ripe avocado, mashed with a fork very finely
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Melt chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, mash the avocado until very fine. Add in melted chocolate and mix well. Add in the vanilla extract and cinnamon. Mix well to combine.
  3. When nice and smooth (as smooth as possible, some small avocado clumps are expected) place bowl in freezer for 30 minutes until firm. Scoop into 12 small balls and roll smooth.
  4. Roll each ball in the cocoa powder and serve. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for 3 days.

Recipe adapted from Yummy Healthy Easy.

Almond Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Let’s face it: It’s already the middle of November. Needless to say, Christmas cookie season is soon upon us. Don’t get me wrong– I am in no way trying to glance over Thanksgiving! In fact, Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. BUT, with your turkey and stuffing in mind, you may want to consider testing out some new Christmas cookies. I’ve considered freezing a batch or two at a time. You can freeze cookies easily for 1-2 months and they’ll come out just the same as they went in. I call this a “super” cookie. I say super because… well, look at these healthy ingredients!! Almond flour (gluten free!), flaxseed (awesome source of good fatty-acids and fiber), egg whites (no yolks, and no butter), coconut oil, and last by not least: dark chocolate. Heart healthy and as far as I’m concerned, part of a balanced diet! Not to mention, you’re done in 20 minutes from start to finish. Don’t be fooled: the texture here is not what you’d expect from a typical cookie creamed with an obscene about of butter and sugar. But, for the gluten-free, health-conscious and those who want that guilty pleasure without the guilt, this one’s for you. Just be sure you glob on a nice portion of dark chocolate. T-9 days to Thanksgiving Day, folks!


Yield: 12 large cookies — Prep Time: 10 mins — Bake Time: 12 mins — Total Time: 22 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed (ground is preferred, but whole will also work)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon melted coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, flax seed, salt, baking soda and brown sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites, extracts and 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined.
  3. With wet hands, roll about 1 tablespoon of the dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Wet the back of a ½ teaspoon and gently press down in the center of each dough ball to create an indent. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and using the ½ teaspoon, press down again in the indent just to make it a bit deeper as it probably puffed up a bit while baking. Let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.
  5. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips and the ½ teaspoon coconut oil either in the microwave or on the stove top.
  6. Once cookies are cooled, spoon the chocolate into the indent. Let them sit for about 10 minutes until set. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Running To The Kitchen, www.runningtothekitchen.com

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Biscotti: traditional Italian cookies (also known as cantuccini) are twice-baked, oblong-shaped, dry, crunchy, and typically dipped in a something like coffee. The name comes from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, which means “twice-cooked.” Baking twice ensured they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. You learn something new every day! These were fun to make. And the aroma while doing so is wonderful. My mom and I spent the day testing out some new cookie recipes. While this is not as simple or as quick to make as your typical chocolate chip cookie, it is absolutely feasible for all levels of comfort in the kitchen. Just takes a little extra time and TLC. The very first step is to candy orange zest– while a little time consuming, it makes all the difference in the end result. That chocolate flavor, a bite of pistachio and the hint of orange zest in the background…it’s divine! My dad and my husband said so. I think they ate half the tray between them. Word to the wise: freeze these for up to two months and save them for Christmas. Put on a pot of your favorite brew and get dipping! In the company of friends and family, this is my idea of hosting beautifully.


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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Yield: 25-30 biscotti — Prep: 25 minutes — Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 navel oranges
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli)
  • ¾ cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • Fleur de sel (or sea salt)
  1. Cut long, thin strips of zest (avoid white pith) from oranges. Place zest in a small saucepan, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Then drain off water. Repeat boiling and draining process 2 more times. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1 cup sugar to a boil. Add zest and simmer for 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Place chocolate chips in a food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times to break up. Add pistachios and pulse 2 or 3 times.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together butter and remaining sugar on medium speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and beat on medium speed until incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to low; using a slotted spoon, add candied orange zest to butter-sugar mixture and beat for 30 seconds. Gradually add three-fourths flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add chocolate-pistachio mixture and remaining flour mixture, mixing until dough just comes together. Do not over mix.
  7. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using damp hands, shape each piece into a 12-inch-long log, 1/2 inch high.
  8. Bake logs until firm, about 24 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Cool logs on baking sheet for 12 to 15 minutes.
  9. Transfer logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice each into 24 half-inch-thick biscotti. Place biscotti on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Here comes the second baking phase! Bake biscotti until slightly crisp, about 10-15 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Country Living, www.countryliving.com

Crunchy Peanut Butter Cups

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Peanut. Butter. Cups. Three words that get me excited for Halloween! As a kid, I remember getting the “king sized” Reese’s cups and savoring every bite (too bad there’s only 3 in a package). But, never mind Reese’s: these homemade cups are 10x better. Here’s the secret: graham cracker crumbs mixed into the peanut butter filling. It adds the BEST texture and flavor. Combine that with silky, smooth chocolate and… you get the idea. Crunchy peanut butter enveloped in the lusciousness that IS your favorite Halloween treat. Can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure too much chocolate never bothered anyone. This recipe is especially dear to me because my mother came up with it after years of trial and error. This makes 4 dozen cups (THAT’S RIGHT!) so you’ll be everyone’s best friend as you share these with family, co-workers, friends, and trick-or-treaters alike. Have a happy and safe Halloween!


Yields: 48 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick salted butter
  • 1-1/2  cups all-natural crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (only if your peanut butter does not already contain salt)
  • 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (process in food processor or purchase pre-made crumbs)
  • 1 and 3/4 (12 oz) bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup all-natural smooth peanut butter
  • 48 small baking cups
  1. Melt butter in a pot over medium-low heat. When melted, remove from heat and add finely pulsed graham cracker crumbs, crunchy peanut butter, salt (if using) and 3/4 cup of the powered sugar. Mix well, and taste it. If it is not sweet enough, add more powdered sugar to taste. The consistency needs to be that of your typical cup– you should taste more peanut butter than any other ingredient.
  2. Form into little 3/4″ – 1″ balls.  Flatten slightly. Place baking cups into mini baking pan. If you don’t have a pan, a cookie sheet will work just fine.
  3. In a small sauce pan, melt chocolate chips. Add smooth peanut butter and stir until silky. If it’s too thick, add 1 Tablespoon or so of coconut oil to smooth it out a bit. This will make it easier to pour. To fill your cups, spoon a little (about a half-teaspoon) of the chocolate mixture into the bottom of each baking cup. One at a time, place each peanut butter ball into the pot of chocolate to coat. Then, place coated ball into each paper baking cup. Fill the rest of the cups with about a tablespoon of the chocolate mixture. For a more flat top, I tap the pan a bit so the chocolate evens out. Place your pan of cups into the refrigerator for at least a 1 hour. Store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Pop, bite, devour!! Enjoy!

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Double Chocolate Mocha Cookies

7Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Think of these as tiny bursts of chocolate-y heaven with just a hint of espresso. These are sure to satisfy any chocolate-lover, coffee-addict’s sweet tooth! The addition of the cinnamon and espresso powder adds a complexity in flavor that you’ll taste. Layers of sweet chocolate, semi-sweet, and cocoa powder pretty much make this a triple-whammy. I imagine these being great for after dinner dessert with coffee or as a sweet surprise for a friend. I’m sending my little brother away at college a batch of these in the mail. The best part: these are super quick to make. You’re done in a half hour!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon espresso powder, optional, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional*
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or King Arthur All-Purpose Cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups chips: cappuccino, cinnamon, chocolate, or a mixture
  • *Use ground cinnamon if you like the cinnamon/chocolate combination, but aren’t using cinnamon chips.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment. Combine the butter, sugars, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, and again beat until thoroughly combined. The mixture will look a bit grainy; that’s OK. 
  2. Beat in the cocoa. Add the flour, beating slowly to combine. Add the chips, mixing until they’re well-distributed.
  3. Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. A teaspoon scoop works very well here. If the dough begins to stick, simply dip the scoop in cold water. Space the cookies at least 1″ apart.
  4. Bake the cookies for 7 to 8 minutes; the cookies should seem barely done. If you attempt to pick an oven-hot cookie off the baking sheet, it’ll fall apart. Allow the cookies to cool right on the baking sheet. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour, www.kingarthurflour.com

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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