don’t know whether I should rip into some yo mama jokes, flip a table, or pull the fire alarm, or just stop and shove aaaalll of the fudge into my face.
This fudge makes me feel aggressive. Like I should beat my chest with pride. Like I should… maybe I should stop talking.
The thing is… I feel like I made candy. I’m pretty sure I made candy. Yup, I definitely made candy. This fudge is the real deal. No microwave. No sweetened condensed milk. We’re using a real pot, a real candy thermometer, real cream, and we’re twerking sugar and chocolate into fudge.
Why would be so excited about doing something the hard way? Well… I think it’s important to know how to do things the old-school way before learning the quick tricks. You know… like long division in mathematics. (Do people do long division anymore? That was always a special kind of torture.) Maybe long division isn’t the right analogy. Fudge is way better than long division.
Here’s what we’re going to need: granulated sugar and brown sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, half-and-half, salt, vanilla extract, dark chocolate, and just because: marshmallows, peppermint candy, and pretzels. Turnt up.
ou know my tricks. You know the games I play around here. The more browned butter, sea salt, and chopped pistachios, the better! It’s just that… pistachios are the best, browned butter reigns supreme, and I think good sea salt is my secret weapon in my baking pantry. I’m not wrong.
We’re keeping it simple by shoving all of the good things into one pan of rice krispie treats. Fancy rice krispie treats are totally my go-to party trick. They never disappoint. Also consider Salty and Malty Rice Krispie Treats. So much win.
I’m traveling these next few weeks to meet you and celebrate the release of my cookbook Homemade Decadence. I’m in Philadelphia Tuesday 10/21 and you should totally come say hi! Keep in mind that for some reason I’ve been listening to the Once soundtrack nonstop for the past week, so… just so you know where I’m at and that I’m weird. Ps. Do you know how easy it is to cry to the Once soundtrack? Like crazy easy. I don’t know what’s going on with me. I really am in a happy place, I promise.
I’ve said too much.
I have a soft spot for brownies. Well… actually, don’t we all?
Brownies were the first thing I learned how to bake in the kitchen. My parents kept the flour, sugar, and those gnarly bars of unsweetened chocolate in a little cabinet just within reach of my little 8 year-old body. It only took me one nibble of the unsweetened chocolate to figure out that it was not at all suitable for sneak-snacking… but the box of unsweetened chocolate had step-by-step instructions on how to turn the dark blocks into something entirely delicious, aka BROWNIES!
In our house filled with whole wheat fig bars and date rolls, I felt like a wizard… like an actual wizard… because I could make brownies.
I still feel like a wizard. I mean… brownies are magic! Dense, moist, waaay chocolate-y, chewy at the edges, earnest, and everything!
There are so many great Fall cookbooks hitting the shelves this year! I need to make us a list. There’s just too much good!
One of the books I’ve been looking forward to most is The Kitchy Kitchen by Claire Thomas. Claire is the beauty and brains behind the blog The Kitchy Kitchen and she’s turned all of her amazing food-brain-thoughts into a lovely cookbook! Among the goodness in this book (it has an amazing soup chapter) are these BEER BROWNIES!
Think about it. Dark stout beer with all of its earthy bitterness + dark chocolate with all of its deep sweet fruit undertones. This is a very good marriage. Right on, Claire!
Some things change: the city I live in / the friends I visit on a lazy weekend / the view from my living room window / my mega longing for California Mexican food / the frequency with which I eat fried oyster po’boys.
Some things stay the same: the endless amount of cookies coming from my oven / my desire to eat every doughnut in town (any town) / my fear of spiders large and small / the hope that you’ll invite me to your house so I can share this giant batch of Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies with you and maybe make a few new friends in the process.
Crisp. Golden. Peanut Butter-y Cookies. AKA How To Make New Friends And Not Be A Weirdo At A Pool Party.
Edible social tools are my specialty.
I wasn’t sure how to tell you that I have a brick-red wall in my dining room so I just took a picture of it. Ok? Ok.
I’d never go so far as to say that baked doughnuts are better than fried doughnuts. That’s downright madness. Perhaps we can we all just agree that they’re good… like, really really good. Right?
Baked doughnuts are the real life version of Homer Simpson doughnuts that we get to eat without being cartoons ourselves. They’re emoji doughnuts, in our hands, for our bellies. Just a little bit of magic. That’s all I’m saying.
I do have a history with baked doughnuts. Call me biased. See: Brown Butter with Chocolate Glaze or Double Chocolate Cake or Sweet Apple Cinnamon.
Today I’ve combined my love for cartoon-esque baked doughnuts with my love for Black and White Cookies and a bonus rainbow cloth because we’re worth it.
Let’s doughnut like we always do!
I lay in bed some mornings trying to will my food brain into action.
On the particular morning that these Banana Bonbon things were born into my brain, I was lying in bed thinking that I’d really like to eat Oreo cookies… but I’d like them to be frozen… and then maybe I could smear peanut butter on top… except that’s crazy… crazy good!!!
No food brain. No. Be reasonable. (That’s what I think to myself as I lay in bed thinking about Oreo cookies first thing in the morning.) We need more fruit. Can we turn bananas into cookies? Yes. Let’s add peanut butter… and probably chocolate while we’re at it… and we’re going to need something crunchy… peanuts! And let’s pull that awesome coconut oil trick to make a the chocolate as smooth as can be.
Alright food brain. Good job! Essentially you’ve created a chocolate-dipped frozen banana and found a way to smash peanut butter inside. You started with Oreos cookies and, well… here we are.
Think of these frozen treats as mini banana peanut butter sandwiches dipped in chocolate an topped with peanuts. It’s beyond easy and might be one of the better ideas ever on the Internet. Speaking of the Internet, these treats are aaaallll over the dang thing, which just goes to show that no matter how hard my food brain works, it’s impossible to think of anything brand-spankin’ new. Still though…. still delicious! Just saying…
Let’s set aside our pretentious and our kale. We won’t need them.
We’re also going to set aside any tinges of guilt or doubt.
What we’re going to do is smash candy into our crispy rice treats… and we’re also going to feel really good about it.
Let’s go camping! I’ll bring the steak to grill, the potatoes to bake, the entire martini bar, and enough bug repellant to upset every bug in a ten mile radius. I’ll build the fire, too. And maybe we could string a few lights for decoration… because we’ll definitely need all of our outgoing Instagram photos to look juuuust outdoorsy enough. We’ll eat really well and just happen to look really great doing it! Let’s not forget our matching flannels. Obviously.
Now if I could just borrow your sleeping bag, and tent, and bear stick, and wolf-away ninja sword, and spider vacuum, and any other terribly essential camping survival gear… we’ll be good to go! Are we going to need a fire extinguisher? Please say no.
That… or we could just stay home, eat steak in the courtyard, and crank up the oven for a moment to enjoy these toasty chocolate scones. It might be easier than the whole camping endeavor. Maybe.
My friend Tracy sent me a text last weekend. It was a photo of a toasted marshmallow-y scone-y deal from Shortcake during her recent trip to Los Angeles. Los Angeles is like the opposite of camping, so naturally they have to add camping elements to their food.
Tracy’s text message was full of enough high-fives and exclamation points to coax me into making my own version of Campfire Scones. This feels quite right! Thanks, Tracy! No tents.
I grew up in a ‘because I said so’ household.
“Why can’t I have an Easy Bake Oven?”, I no doubt said in the whiniest voice ever. “Because we have a real oven and because we said so!” was likely the answer from my very reasonable parents.
“Why can’t I wear these filthy overalls and Nirvana inspired grunge flannel to church!?” I’d ask my mom as we were rushing out of the house, almost late for service. “For so many reasons, but mostly because I said so!”. Thank goodness for mothers.
“Why can’t I drive a car like all of my friends who have cars that their parents bought them to drive!?” Gah… what a brat I was. My parents response was likely somewhere along the lines of, “You’re crazy. You’re lucky there’s food in the fridge for you to eat. You’ve only been on the planet for 16 years and we care too much about you, and our cars, and about other people on the road to ever merge the three. Also BECAUSE WE SAID SO! Get out of our faces starting now. ” Thanks parents.
In that vein, I bring you the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER… because I said so (and also because of browned butter).
I think I’ve posted this recipe on my blog before, but I’ve found a renewed spirit for these cookies after my friends at King Arthur Flour put these Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies to the test. They asked, in step-by-step pictures of butter melting and flour whisking, if these cookies were the very best there are. The answer is up to you, really. Are the cookies that come out of your oven after mixing up this dough the best you’ve ever had?
I have two superhero skills. Two! So good, really… that I’m tempted to call them skillzzzz.
My two superhero skills are: catching things that are falling (anything really, it’s cat-like agility) and making PIES! Sometimes you’re just endowed with talents beyond your ability to learn them. That last sentence I totally made up and it can’t possible be true. Suffice it to say, I can catch a falling wine glass without spilling a drop, and I can whip up a rich chocolate pecan pie in the blink of an eye. Do not, however, throw a baseball my way (I can’t catch that!!!) or ask me to make you croissants (not in my superhero wheelhouse!!!).
What’s your superhero skill? If your answer is ‘long division’, I’m super impressed. Maybe your answer is ‘dish washing like a ninja’, in which case please come over, flex your skills and eat this pie.
Maybe your superhero skill is ‘not eating all the cookie dough before it’s baked’. That really would be something.
Maybe your superhero skill can be pie baking. I really think it should be. It’s just butter+flour, pecans+eggs. Rub it together. Whisk it up. Be a pie ninja. It’s all so very possible.
Let’s make this Bourbon Pecan Pie with Dark Chocolate. We’re showing off for the Kentucky Derby. Flexin’ because we can.
It’s better to just let it be what it is.
I had every intention of making you a fancy Easter brunch cake… the kind with lemon and lavender and swirly frosting… but as I stood in my kitchen (with exactly zero lemons), and evaluated my desire to go to the store (to buy hella lemons), I thought… can’t it just be what it is?
What it is, is CHOCOLATE. That’s what I want. That’s what I need. That’s what I have in abundance in my kitchen.
In the spirit of letting it be what it is, I’ve taken all of these photographs on my phone, on the fly. I also wasn’t wearing shoes and had frizzy hair. What else is new? Rhetorical question.
I made these cookies for us. This is that.
Every day I need a treat. I need a little something that says ‘Hey, I see you trying to get through this day standing on your own two feet and you deserve this special something just for you”.
Sometimes that treat is a whole milk cappuccino with extra cinnamon. Whole milk tastes like ice cream to me. It’s just too good. Sometimes that treat is a high-kick dance along to old school Beastie Boys… because, yea I’m still listening to Beastie Boys. Often times that treat is a piece of chocolate. A piece usually turns into a good portion of the chocolate bar… but then again, you knew that.
It’s Monday. We’re going to need a little something to savor. Reach for the chocolate… Or! Better yet, make these creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, chocolate studded pudding cups! Actually… get someone to make it for you. That’s the real savor.
My dad used to make my sister and I cold cereal for breakfast most mornings. He’d spoon some brown sugar into a small bowl, add Life Cereal (remember that goodness!?), and top the cereal with milk. My sister and I would sit in the breakfast nook watching I Love Lucy (or The Andy Griffith Show on a bad day) and enjoy our cereal. Easy and regular and somehow super special.
I’d try to rush my way through the cereal before it got too soggy. Always a race against time. The best part of cereal was always the final spoonfuls of milk steeped with the brown sugar that lived at the bottom of the bowl. I loved finding those sweet pockets of brown sugar.
I think I’m looking for those sweet pockets all through life. They’re not really that hard to find…. especially when you put way too much minty chocolate syrup at the bottom of your chocolate milk glass. See what I did there? Sweet pockets.
For a hot version of Chocolate Milk, see: Cinnamon Infused Hot Chocolate.
Cupcakes in disguise… also known as Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts.
Perfectly cakey and soft with extra drippy chocolate glaze. Basically, I’ll never make a cupcake again, especially since this is the very best way to eat chocolate cake for breakfast.
Sprinkles, too! This is a total no-brainer.
Other Baked Doughnut experiments include Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts and Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts. I’m nowhere near done baking up these little darlings. So much more satisfying than cupcakes… but mostly kinda the exact same thing. Shoulder shrug.
You should get a baked doughnut pan. No pressure.
I found this recipe in this month’s issue of Food and Wine magazine. It was one of those Jerry Maguire moments. I’ve had these before. You know… ‘you had me at hello’. It’s ok. I can still say that. I grew up in the 90’s sooooo, just let it happen.
These blondies are studded with dark chocolate and Marcona Almonds. Marcona almonds come from Spain and are slightly lighter and more creamy than the California variety. You can usually find them roasted in olive oil and tossed with sea salt which makes then extra snackable. I love them on top of these brownies because the saltiness balances the sweet of the brownies and the extra roasting makes the almonds dreamy.
Brown sugar is the base to Blonde Brownies.
Is ‘Blonde Brownie’ an oxymoron?
Brown sugar and butter also happen to be the base ingredients of chocolate chip cookies. Consider the two to be really delicious cousins.
My recipe titles are getting longer and more ridiculous. I know. I’m almost sorry.
I use my waffles as bread. It’s not often that I stack these things and drench them in maple syrup. I just think that nice, thick waffles should be treated just like slices of bread and slathered with peanut butter, honey, and bananas. It’s weekend breakfast meets after school lunch.. studded with chocolate because we’re grown and we can do what we want.
If buttermilk trips you up a bit… meaning you don’t often have the stuff in your fridge, you sure can make your own! Here are the Best Buttermilk Substitutions.
If you’re curious about which waffle maker I use… it’s this bad boy. I like it because it creates thick waffles, and I never have to fill the whole waffle iron. I prefer to make imperfect single serving waffles.
If you’ve gone waffle crazy… you’ve come to the right place. Between these Mashed Potato Waffles and these Cornmeal Gruyère Lunch Waffles (that are actually gluten-free) I have you covered. Also! Lemon Ricotta Poppy Seed Waffles! Ok. I’m done with waffles.
If you’re wondering what my next breakfast adventure will be… it’s definitely FRENCH TOAST! Emily’s waffles and Adrianna’s waffles have me scheming.
It’s really not Christmas until we make a cake shaped like a log, and prematurely plow through the chocolate treats in our Advent calendars. Well… consider it Christmas because here we have A LOG (that’s really just a cake made of whipped cream and cookies) (and the Advent calendar is loooong gone)!
I made a Yule Log-type Cake a few years ago. It had a soft (gluten-free) chocolate cake filled and rolled with peppermint whipped cream and topped with chocolate ganache. So light and fluffy! Dreams, really.
This year’s Yule Log Cake is beyond clever. We’re stacking thin chocolate wafers with peppermint whipped cream and topping it with chocolate whipped cream. It’s an Icebox Cake! No-bake. Minimal fuss.
Joy the Baker Icebox Yule Log Cake from Joy the Baker on Vimeo.
Because the cake was such a cinch. We made you a Christmas video, too! We were feeling cheeky and we like to play with our food. Thank you to the creative mind of Hilton Carter and the reliability of the Canon 6D for this video. I’d like to pat myself on the back for making a giant stable mountain of ‘whipped cream’ out of meringue and foil. Take a look!
This genius recipe is inspired by America’s Test Kitchen. Do you know the hardworking people at America’s Test Kitchen? They’re a wonderful recourse for great recipes and amazingly sensible kitchen techniques. I love their cookbook The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook.
Now let’s stack these cookies and call it a cake! It’s definitely as easy as it seems.
I manufacture a million ways to ensure that I get my chocolate fix every day. I sneak chocolate hazelnut spread into my coffee some mornings. I eat chocolate chips by the handful. Did you know you can make your own hardening chocolate ‘magic shell’ for ice cream with coconut oil? Chocolate in my cookies. Chocolate in my pancakes. The only thing I don’t put chocolate in is salad. And hash browns. And quiche… anyway. I get my chocolate fix in… we’ll leave it at that.
For some reason, my chocolate habit doesn’t usually include a mug of hot chocolate… mostly because I’m usually shoving it in my face as fast as possible. These cold cold days have had me craving a cup of creamy chocolate. This is that, with extra cinnamon, because because.
You can’t show up to my family holiday gatherings with just any dessert. There better not be a wiff of boxed cake mix nor a hint of shortening in the pie crust. All real. All butter. This is a place where we come correct!
I come from a legacy of legendary home bakers. Am I bragging? You bet your sweet pants I am! My mom makes the best Peanut Butter Balls (you might call them Buckeyes, right?). My dad (as I’ve told you ad nauseum) is known for his Sweet Potato Pie. My grandmother makes the best Banana Bread in the entire world… she probably invented it, so.. there’s that.
Believe it or not, I’m feel like I’m still trying to find my footing in my family when it comes to legendary baking. I’m not sure what my specialty will be, so I’m looking for a bit of inspiration in the holiday season. The inspiration for this holiday gingerbread cake comes from GODIVA Chocolate. GODIVA has chocolate-legend status on lockdown (amiright?). This particular cake was inspired by GODIVA’s Gingerbread Cookie Legacy Truffle: gingerbread spices, and Speculoos mousse wrapped in chocolate. Yes… someone finally worked Speculoos into a decadent chocolate candy. Thank heavens. Seriously.
This Gingerbread Cake with Speculoos and Dark Chocolate really ups the ante. It’s perfect for the holidays. Actually… it’s perfect for most every night between now and late February. This cake might just be the one that makes a name for me. Fingers crossed (with a mouth full of chocolate).
I’ve had a Beatles song stuck in my head for weeks.
Oooh, I get by with a little help with my friends / Mmm, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends / Oh, I get high with a little help with my friends / Yes I get by with a little help with my friends.
I sing both the Ringo Starr and John Lennon parts, duh.
I feel like With A Little Help From My Friends song is SO appropriate these days. My entire year has been a testament to hard work and great friendships. One of those soul-saving friendships this year has come from Matt Armendariz also known as Matt Bites. Matt is a majorly talented food photographer and author of a cookbook called On A Stick.
Speaking of Matt… Speaking of great friends… You best believe it’s time for a new Bonkers Awesome episode! Oh, if you’re the binge-watcher type, check out ulive.com for more episodes!
After you watch the video we should probably talk about Matt’s tiny dog and my aggressive bangs, right?
I’ve admired Matt’s (and his food-stylist husband Adam’s) food photography and styling skills for years. YEARS! Seriously. This was a total fan-girl moment for me. It’s just totally beyond that I got to spend the day in their studio styling food and getting photography tips.
I want to share my fan-girl freak out with you. I also think we should make Gingerbread spiced Marshmallows, s’mores-style, dipped in chocolate and crumbled gingersnap cookies. This is a good-time overload. I’m not even sorry.