Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

Every good baker has a lot of secrets.  

They have a secret stash of chocolate hidden in the back of the pantry (usually behind the garbanzo beans).  They have an amazing recipe for the very best Peach Pie that they share with exactly zero people.  They have a secret cookie scooper they don’t let anyone else use.  There’s the vintage church cookbook they like to keep all to themselves, the stack of good puff pastry hidden under the ice packs in the freezer, and the secret spell they cast over all of their batters before they go in the oven… because bakers are actual wizards with magical powers and everyone knows it.  

Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

The secret to these dark and fudge brownies… because I try to share all of my best secrets… is Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil.  It’s perfect for baking!  We get all of the good, cholesterol-free fats from olive oil without the overwhelming olive oil taste that we might not want in our sweet baked goods.  Oh!  Pro-tip: this olive oil is also great for frying.  It has a super high smoke-point and can withstand high temperature for frying up treats.  Win!

Now… to celebrate Bertolli’s 150th (!!!) anniversary, let’s treat ourselves to the best brownies!  

To celebrate this stellar anniversary, join me in entering the Taste of Tradition Recipe Contest! Submit your favorite family or original recipe using Bertolli Olive Oils and/or Vinegars to BertolliOliveOil.Tumblr.com for a chance to win a stellar prize:  a trip for 2 to Tuscany!  You have until July 31,2015 but don’t delay!  This is just too good not to celebrate! 

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Dominique Ansel’s Chocolate Mousse

Dominique Ansel's Creamy Chocolate Mousse

Dominique Ansel's Creamy Chocolate Mousse

I still get kitchen-intimidated.  It happens when I least expect it… like when I’m trying to satisfy a chocolate mousse craving and I stumble upon a seemingly approachable Food & Wine recipe.  

This recipe for extra-creamy Chocolate Mousse is from cronut innovator Dominique Ansel… pastry genius.  

Here’s the thing about pastry innovators:  they tend to make challenging things look really easy, god bless ’em.  

It’s not that mousse is impossible.  It’s mostly approachable and 100% delicious but does require some a candy thermometer, egg whites beaten just-so, and well… some self-confidence and guts.  

No guts, no chocolate mousse glory.  

Dominique Ansel's Creamy Chocolate Mousse

First we hold our breaths and make the meringue.  

Here’s how that goes down in the kitchen:  

Egg whites are beaten in a stand mixer at medium speed.  Feel free to stand there and zone-out as the egg whites become foamy and frothy.  Mark this zone-out as your one and only while making this mousse.  

We can’t dilly-dally for too long because we need to make a hot sugar syrup while the egg whites get frothy.  Water and sugar are boiled to precisely 240 degrees F while our eggs beat to precisely soft peaks.  Yup.  Two forms of kitchen science at once.  Stay present.  Stay in the game.  We’ve only just begun.  

The hot sugar syrup is drizzled into the soft-peaked eggs and with the mixer on high, our two forms of kitchen science form one glossy, light mound of perfect meringue.  Deep breath.  We are successful.  

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Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake

Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake

Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake

With every trip to the grocery store, I run these few thoughts through my mind.  

•  GAH!  I forgot my grocery list.  Do I need lemons?  I probably need lemons.  •  Why is it so cold in here?  •  Do I have my wallet, where’s my wallet, who stole my wallet, oh here’s my wallet.  •  Is that baby sitting in that stroller staring at me or do babies just stare?  •  Would it be weird if I start eating this baguette right now?    •  I hate scallops  •  No, you don’t need a bag of chocolate sandwich cookies… don’t even look at those Oreos… no no no.  •  Wait, didn’t you want to make a recipe with a cookies and cream whipped cream?  Better get the cookies.  Two bags, just to be sure.  

Cut to:  home from the grocery store eating Oreos for dinner.

Could one of you please call an adult and ask them to come live with me? 

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How To Make The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Im not one for secrets.  Especially where chocolate is involved. 

I always have a few tricks up my sleeve and I can never keep them secrets for long.  Brown sugar baked bacon is one secret.  Sweet, salty, crisp, and perfect.  Adding that bacon to biscuits,  completely over the top good!  Brown butter in everything, most especially chocolate chip cookies…. another secret I just couldn’t keep to myself.  

Today another secret comes out.  We’re talking about the most perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  Soft, glossy, light and spreadable… and the secret ingredients are Rich Chocolate Ovaltine and heavy cream!  Malted chocolate milk powder and cream to add extra body, and a light whipped texture to our frosting.  It’s unexpected and perfect!  

I hope there is cake (and waaaay too much buttercream) in your future.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Here’s what you’ll need:

• Three sticks (1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces) softened, unsalted butter.  I think it’s best to leave the butter out overnight to softened to room temperature through and through.  Softening butter in the microwave makes the butter more melty than soft and can break our perfect buttercream,  

•  Unsweetened cocoa powder, and lots of it.

•  Salt, to balance the mountain of powdered sugar.

•  A mountain of powdered sugar. 

•  Milk for moisture and softness.

•  Rich Chocolate Ovaltine, the chocolate malted milk powder adds a creamy softness to this buttercream and makes it extra rich, glossy, and luscious.  

•  Heavy cream because, always.  

•  Extra credit:  pure vanilla extract.  

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Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate

Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate

These cookies are asking for your attention.  Not so much begging or pleading, but asking nicely for you to pay attention.  

They’re here to tell you that they’re a little to big, a little too sweet, have a little too much bacon, and yea… too much chocolate, too.  They’re crisp and they don’t care about your affection for chewy.  They’re gluten-free, but really… they never needed gluten in the first place.  They’re the boss.  They know it.  Don’t play.

Peanut Butter.

Bacon.  

Dark Chocolate.  

Get on the bandwagon before these cookies raise their voice.  Nobody wants that. 

See also:  Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes.  Sorry.  Also, not sorry. 

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Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies

Hey can I borrow your kitchen?  Mine is a mess. It’s half of a mess.  I’ve managed to unpack my favorite coffee mugs, my stand mixer, and my mason jars.  I’ve basically unpacked everything pretty.  The rest?  The drudgery?  Not interested. Those will stay in a box for a good while until I lose my mind and can’t live without my boring black plastic tongs for another second. 

So… I’m going to need to borrow your kitchen.  I’ll come in with random bags of baking groceries.  I’ll raid your cabinets for mixing bowls and wooden spoons and I’ll make us some brownies.  

Working in your kitchen will be much better then unpacking my own.  I think they call this avoidance. Really delicious avoidance. 

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies

My friend Gabrielle let me use her pretty marble kitchen.  I made a mess, but there were brownies in the end.  Forgiveness through chocolate. 

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Mini Jam-Swirled Baked Donuts and Lavazza Coffee Giveaway

Mini Jam-Swirled Baked Donuts

Mini Jam-Swirled Baked Donuts

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and, well… we need each other.  Let’s hold hands and get through this together! 

We’re going to need some tools this holiday weekend.  By tools I mean, baked donuts, strong coffee, and festive sprinkles.  Coffee, donuts, and love are fitting for every day of the year, but especially appropriate for a Valentine’s Day weekend.  I hope you sleep in and share coffee and donuts with someone you want to high-five for life.  

JTB V-DAY Coffee Collage

To celebrate the holiday I’ve partnered with Lavazza Coffee to give away a Valentine’s Day Survival Kit!  Just a few important things to inspire a lazy Valentine’s Day morning lingering over really fantastic coffee and sweet, tender donuts.  

1 •  My favorite Bodum French Press.  Makes perfect cups of coffee!  

2  •  Make if official with couple mugs.  Few things are more precious.  

3  •  A good throw blanket.  For picnic-style morning coffee adventures.  

4  •  Critical in any at-home coffee date is the perfect cup of coffee!  Lavazza Italian Coffee is my new favorite!  Dark, rich, and round coffee without a hint of bitterness. Lavazza makes home coffee feel extra special.  

5  •  Two people, lots of love, one journal.  It’s like a little time capsule of your years together!  

6  •  Mornings should smell great with this Capri Candle!

7  •  I always want to watch When Harry Met Sally and I know you do too.

8  •  No coffee date is complete without donuts!  They’re tender, sweet, and jam-swirled.  Get into it!  Here’s the pan you’ll need

9  •  Games of skill and chance on the living room floor:  checkers and chess.  

To enter to win a gift basket filled with Lavazza Coffee, a $25 gift card to Lavazza, and the rest of these Valentine’s treats, please leave a comment below with your favorite Valentine’s Day tradition.  Winner will be randomly selected Saturday February 14th at noon est! 

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Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls

Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls

Quick and Dirty Chocolate Espresso Cinnamon Rolls

How can I do the least amount of work, but still get the most amount of cinnamon rolls into my mouth?  Super valid question.

How long would it take to go through airport security and stand in line at the Terminal C Cinnamon?  Is that time shorter than the time it would take to make yeasted dough, roll it, fill it, slice it, rise it, and bake it?  

How can I go from zero to cinnamon roll in one hour flat?  

Here’s how!  Ready.  Set.  You know…. 

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Grapefruit White Chocolate Brown Butter Cookies

Grapefruit White Chocolate Brown Butter Cookies

Grapefruit White Chocolate Brown Butter Cookies

Well, hello. Hi. How are you? Glad tidings. Happy Holidays. I like your hair.

Are you doing all of the lovely winter things? Hot chocolate? Mittens? Ski caps? Snow men?

I’d like to bring you stories of frolicking snowball fights and ski lift passes, but I’m terrified of both flying ice balls and ski lifts. Instead I could tell you about this tremendous head cold and how I’m trying to drown it in ginger tea and cookies.

White Chocolate and grapefruit. Let’s stay on our toes and in the game!

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Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

I 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.

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

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.

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Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Krispie Treats

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Krispie Treats

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Krispie Treats

You 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.

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Beer Brownies

Beer Brownies

Beer Brownies

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.

Beer 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!

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Dipped + Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

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.

Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

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.

Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

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.

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Black and White Baked Doughnuts

Black and White Cake Doughnuts

Black and White Cake Doughnuts

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.  

Black and White Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts

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!

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Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

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.

Peanut Butter Banana Bonbons

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…

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Campfire Scones

campfire scones

campfire scones

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.

campfire scones

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.

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The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

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).

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

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?

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Bourbon Pecan Pie with Dark Chocolate

bourbon pecan pie

bourbon pecan pie with dark chocolate

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!!!).

Chocolate Pecan Derby Pie

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.

bourbon pecan 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.

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

double chocolate cookies

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

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.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

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.

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