Outrageous White Chocolate Chip Brownies

Some friends of ours moved away almost two years ago. The husband had an opportunity to take a position within the same company, that would allow them to be closer to their family. Of course they had to take it. We’ve missed them, but we’re happy for them.

braden & aiden
I have no idea why my child is looking at me like that. 😛

The husband’s job brought him back this way for a week, so we were able to plan a play date for MC and a get together with some other friends. Martha didn’t have access to everyone’s numbers or a computer during the day, so I more than happily put a plan in motion. We were going to meet up at an awesome BBQ place that was loud and big. We wouldn’t have to worry about the kiddos being rambunctious and we’d have space for the 10 adults. Well, one of the couples backed out because they’d overspent that weekend and really didn’t have the money to go out. Ok, that’s fine, I totally get it. I’m not working right now and I totally feel the pinch. I feel bad when I spend money on myself knowing I’m not bringing any in right now. Luckily, one of the couples offered up their house. Great, problem solved. We were all going to bring something and have a potluck.

*Sigh* Well, the same couple that backed out of the restaurant meet up, backed out of the potluck. Then, another couple “suddenly” remembered that her grandmother’s 85th birthday was that night and they were going to be late to the party, but didn’t want to leave us high & dry on food. I mean, come on people. And the worst part about all this? No one told ME until the last minute. They all somehow communicated amongst themselves and didn’t let the person who was in contact with the visitor KNOW ANYTHING.

I’m so glad Martha and her family were flexible and weren’t leaving town until later in the week. We rescheduled for the next night, but were still down a family (same ones that couldn’t come the night before, because they already had plans). Oh well, their loss.

We wanted to do something simple, quick & easy because there was going to be 9 adults and 3 kiddos. One of the dads is a rep for Sysco and he wanted to try out their mini burgers, so that turned out to be the main course. I’m not one to eat packaged burgers, but I wasn’t going to turn them down either.  Also on the menu were tater tots, macaroni salad and baked beans. Nothing too fancy.  What did we take? Well duh! I brought dessert.  😛

outrageous white choco chip brownies

I’d made Barefoot Contessa’s Outrageous Brownies before and just love the deep richness of these brownies. They have very little flour, so they are definitely on the fudgy side. And the coffee in them just intensifies the chocolate flavor. I threw in some white chocolate chips this time, to add a different dimension to these brownies. In my opinion these are best served chilled or frozen. If I’m going to eat warm brownies a la mode, I prefer them to be on the cakier side. Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t eat these cubed up on top of some vanilla bean ice cream. 😉

outrageous white choco chip brownies

Outrageous White Chocolate Chip Brownies
Yield: 2 dozen
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
Printable Recipe

½ pound butter
½ pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons flour, divided
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray and line a 13×9 sheet pan with parchment paper – this helps to lift the brownies out of the pan after they’ve cooled.

Melt together the butter, chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler – put a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water – don’t let the bowl touch the water. Cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir into the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together ¼ cup flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the white chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.


Oh, I took these along as well.
pickled peppers
My first attempt at pickling.  They were definitely yummy.  I may have caught the pickling bug.  I want to try some cucumbers & onions next.


Banana-Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins

What does everyone do when they have brown bananas on the counter? Make banana bread! Ok, maybe not everyone. I bet those suckers get tossed more times than we know. But what if you aren’t in the mood for banana bread? Or you just don’t have a few minutes to put it together? Do, what I did. Mash ’em up and stick ’em in the freezer.

About a month ago I had some bananas that were riiiiipe. They were so ripe I was afraid they were attracting things my kitchen didn’t need attracting. So I mashed them up, stuck them in a freezer bag, labeled them and froze them. Then, another round came along. This time, I mashed those up, combined them with the thawed ones and made some Banana-Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins.

I was originally going to make some boring old banana bread, but then I ran across these bad boys as I was looking through my cookbooks again. I’m so glad I made them. They were definitely a nice change from the norm and hubby commented on how they almost tasted like chocolate chip cookies, but in muffin form. That means “mmmm, yummy!” I know this because he ate two of the night I made them, two of them for breakfast the next morning and another two for breakfast again. 😉

banana-coffee choco chip muffins

The original recipe is actually Banana Espresso, but since I don’t keep instant espresso powder on hand – I use instant coffee granules – I wasn’t going to go out and buy them specifically for these muffins. I just subbed in my usual and it worked out great. I also used mini chocolate chips, because I like how they get distributed more throughout the muffin than regular sized chips.

banana-coffee choco chip muffins

If you have some bananas that you’re on the verge of saying goodbye to, don’t. Make these instead! 🙂

Banana-Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yield: 1 dozen regular size muffins & 6 mini-muffins
Adapted from Baked, New Frontiers in Baking
Printable Recipe

1 ½ cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup milk
1 egg
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray or line a regular size muffin pan. (Plus 6 cups from mini tin).

In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk and egg.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant coffee granules, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill each cup about ¾ full. Bake in the center of the oven fro 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack.

Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, Take 2

I have a little writer’s block. Well, I’m not much of a writer, so I guess it’s really total blockage. I have 3 or 4 posts waiting to be written, but I can’t seem to make them interesting. I want to give my readers something other than a pretty picture (if I’m lucky anyway) and a recipe. You want substance, not just surface, right? I know I do.

the many faces of sophie
Speaking of pretty pictures 🙂

I got an email via Facebook from my instructor this weekend. He was asking how GB and I were doing. How nice was that? I’ve actually been meaning to contact him to find out about the final exam I missed. I don’t even know what I need to review before I take it! I’m so glad he’s being so flexible about it. He also asked if I was going to be interested in attending this fall. Um, I think I’ll wait. I’m not sure how hubby will handle a 3 year old and a 5/6 month old by himself. Yes, it’d only be one night a week, but the two of us together can barely make it sometimes.

Weekday mornings around here can be crazy. We don’t usually have to set our alarm because MC’s out of his bed and in ours waking us up before it goes off. But somehow we’re still rushing around trying to get everyone out the door. I try to make some breakfast and then pack MC’s lunch and get him dressed while hubby gets ready.

The weekends are another story. We can slow down a little bit, maybe enjoy a nice breakfast together. Hubby can get up with MC and I can lay in bed for just a little longer, or until GB requires my attention. On mornings like that, these Overnight Cinnamon Rolls are great. Everything is prepped the night before (when the little’uns are asleep). Just give the rolls a little alone time in the morning, then bake ’em and glaze ’em.

090709.2 ab cinn roll

This version is from Alton Brown.  (Have I ever professed my love for Alton on here???  I think he’s informative, fun and quirky.) I asked hubby what he thought of these cinnamon rolls and his response was, “I can’t find anything wrong with them.”  To me that means, they’re good, but not great. And I’d have to agree. They are better than the other ones I made, but they still don’t have that soft, fluffy, cinnamony, sweet and sticky Cinnabon-ness. Sorry Alton, I’m not sure I’d make these again.  But I still love you.  I think my next attempt will be this recipe I found on King Arthur Flour’s site.  If anyone has tried these, let me know.

090709.4 ab cinn roll

I decided to go with a glaze instead of the cream cheese icing Alton suggested.  I just mixed together a little milk and some powdered sugar until I got the consistency I wanted.  It was easier, plus I didn’t have any cream cheese – ACK! 

I didn’t change any proportions or ingredients (wait, except the buttermilk – I didn’t have any, so I used the vinegar/milk trick, oh, and I did have to add a bit more flour due to the dang humidity – what’s up with that Texas???), so no recipe here.  Just go to the Food Network site. And speaking of the Food Network…has anyone seen this?  I just ran across it the other day and laughed my ass off! Check out the Host Bios…I bet you’ll get a few good chuckles.


Blueberry Crumb Cake

I think summer is my favorite season for fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries and especially watermelon. I could probably eat an entire watermelon on my own.  Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. There’s a watermelon festival every year where hubby grew up and the last time we went they gave out free watermelon. I barely made it through the ginormous piece they gave us. But man was it good. Cold and crisp and juicy. Mmmm. I just totally gave myself an awesome idea for a drink! I’ll let you know if it pans out. 😉

You’d think this post was going to be about watermelons, but alas, it is about blueberries. I know, I know, I’ve already given you blueberry pancakes, blueberry sauce, blueberry banana oatmeal pancakes, dos berry muffins and blueberry crumblies. But, I can’t help it. I am a lover of the blueberry.

I perused through my meager collection of cookbooks and landed on Dorie’s Blueberry Crumb Cake in the Baking book. You know, maybe I should just join Tuesdays with Dorie. I’m slowly making my way through this book anyway. Ok, so I’ve only made two other things from the book, but somehow I keep drifting back to it.

Anyway, despite the fact that I did not follow the instructions properly, the cake itself was pretty good. It did end up being a little dry, but I think I overbaked it.  It was a lot better with a scoop of ice cream on top.  😛

blueberry crumb cake 

The thing is, I was trying to give hubby some alone time by having MC bake with me.  He loves to stir things up (quite literally), scoop things out, turn on my stand mixer, you know, normal things an almost three year old would love to do.  Hubby had a LONG day, the day before.  The boys (Hubby, MC, BIL, BIL’s son – 4 and Nephew – 12) all went to Hurricane Harbor.  Long story short, Hubby has decided that no one gets to go until they are at least five years old and the children can not outnumber the adults.  I’m so glad I stayed home with GB. 

Things didn’t quite work out in the kitchen.  I really want my children to cook and bake with me in the kitchen, so I’m trying to learn to relinquish a little control and order, but it’s not easy.  I ended up scolding MC for something and he ran off to daddy.  Granted, this is currently a normal occurrence – one parent scolds him and he runs to or cries for the other one.  What I’m trying to say here is, I didn’t read the instructions as carefully as I normally do and my crumb cake didn’t have any “crumbs” on top.  I was supposed to refrigerate it with the nuts, but I forgot to put the nuts in, so they ended up getting sprinkled on top, and I forgot to refrigerate it until I was halfway through assembling the batter.  The “crumbs” never firmed up and didn’t get cold like they should have, which is why my “crumb cake” just turned into a cake with a crunchy top.

blueberry crumb cake

Blueberry Crumb Cake
Yield: 9 squares
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours
Printable Recipe

Crumb Ingredients:
5 tablespoons butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup pecans, chopped

Cake Ingredients:
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries (preferably fresh, or frozen, not thawed)
2 cups + 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8-inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet; set aside.

Put all crumb ingredients, except the nuts, in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms clumps and curds and holds together when pressed. Scrape the topping into a bowl, stir in the nuts and press a piece of plastic against the surface. Refrigerate until needed.

Using your fingertips, toss the blueberries and 2 teaspoons of flour together in a small bowl, just to coat the berries; set aside.

Whisk together the remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the sugar and butter and beat on medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one and beat for about 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, the flour in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). You will have a thick creamy batter. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the berries.

Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top gently with the spatula. Pull the crumb mix from the refrigerator and break it into pieces. Scatter the crumbs over the batter, pressing them down ever so slightly.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool until it is warm or reaches room temperature.


Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

Hubby’s brother’s son (aka Nephew), comes down to stay with his dad for about 2 months every summer.  During those 2 months he usually stays with us a few days.  We live far enough away from his dad that it’s kinda cool and he has a little breathing room. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that hubby has an a few video game systems and our internet speed is a little bit faster. However, from the sounds of it, I’m a stricter “parent” than either of his.  You know, only 1 soda a day, no sweets until after you eat your meals, take a shower, brush your teeth. He’s almost 13, so you can only imagine how he felt about all that. 😛

We saw Nephew this past Christmas and since then he has been ever so subtly asking me to make these bars again. I first made them over a year ago when I saw them on Velvet Lava.  Ann describes these bars as somewhat reminiscent of a Twix bar, which is what caught my attention in the first place.  I’m not sure that’s how I’d explain it, but they are definitely yumilicious.

090707.4 choc carm sb bars

I’m the type of person that enjoys making treats that I know others will enjoy.  And since Nephew was staying with us for a week and I wanted him to be happy…well, you know how it goes.  I thought it would make him happy anyway.  You can never tell with teenagers.  He didn’t say a word about the fact that I made them for him, but gobbled them up nonetheless. 

090707.2 choc carm sb bars

I don’t think I allowed my caramel layer to cook long enough.  The color was pale, but not a pale caramel.  😛  It was still a bit soft even after I let them set in the refrigerator, so make sure you get to the right color stage AND don’t make that layer too thick. I’d originally wanted to swirl my white chocolate and semisweet chocolate on top, but my white chocolate wasn’t loose enough for me to do that.  I may try to add a little butter or shortening next time to loosen it up.

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars
Yield: 32 rectangles
Adapted From Velvet Lava
Printable Recipe

Shortbread Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ pound unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup sugar

Caramel Ingredients:
¼ pound butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Chocolate Ingredients:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
6 ounces white chocolate

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a food processer, pulse the flour, cornstarch, ¼ pound butter and sugar until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Turn out into an 8×8 pan. Pat the mixture down into the pan and smooth the surface. Prick the bottom of dough with a fork and bake for 30-35 minutes until pale golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Place ¼ pound butter and brown sugar in saucepan over low heat until melted. Add sweetened condensed milk and bring slowly to a boil, stirring continuously until the mixture turns a pale caramel color, about 3-4 minutes.

Pour caramel over top of cooled shortbread – do not overfill the pan (about ½ inch); if this layer becomes overly thick, it will not set properly. Chill in fridge for 1 hour or until set.

Once the caramel layer is set, melt the semi-sweet and white chocolate in double boiler. Allow the chocolate to cool before pouring over the caramel topping. Chill in the fridge until set.

Allow the bars to come to room temperature before cutting.


The “Baked” Brownie

A very facetious friend of mine made this comment to me: “I may not know alot about cooking, but aren’t all brownies baked?”  Har-dee-har-har. Yes, they’re all baked, but this one is THE “Baked” brownie. Not a baked brownie. 😛

"baked" brownie

I hope everyone out there had a great Independence Day with alot of great food and some fantastic fireworks.  I know a couple of you celebrated your birthdays too!  I enjoyed a nice relaxing day with some good friends, good food and some brownies!

"baked" brownie

I have a friend who loves brownies and is always asking me to make him some. He even offered to bring me the supplies. 😛 I don’t think he really meant it, but it’s nice that he offered. I’ve been meaning to try out this brownie recipe and since he was going to be participating in the 4th festivities, I thought I’d give it a go.

"baked" brownie

Since I was going to be using semi-sweet chocolate (instead of the bittersweet the recipe calls for), I decided to cut down on the amount of white granulated sugar in the recipe. I don’t think that affected the outcome of the brownies, which were very good by the way. I can’t say they were my favorite, but they’re probably near the top of my short list. I think we polished off a good 2/3 of the pan that night. I think my nephew, who’s staying with us for a week, polished off ½ of the leftovers.

The Baked Brownie
Yield: 24 brownies
Adapted from Baked New Frontiers in Baking
Printable Recipe

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
11 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
½ pound butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the sides and bottom of 9×13 baking pan.

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

Put the chocolate, butter and instant coffee in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined; then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.


Red, White & Blue Cupcakes For U(SA)

…and for ME!  Happy Almost Birthday to me! Two more days, till I turn double 3.

red, white & blue cupcakes for u(sa)

I told hubby that I was going to make my own birthday (cup)cake this year.  He asked me if I wanted him to make the cake.  I said, uh, no, that’s ok.  🙂  We’ve got a good thing going, let’s not change it…you know, I cook, he does the yard work.  Heehee. 

Anywho, ever since I saw the rainbow cakes making their way around the blogosphere, I wanted to give them a try.  I thought, what better time to try, than for Independence Day, with a red, white & blue theme.  I just needed to find the right cake recipe. 

red, white & blue cupcakes for u(sa)

I’ve read alot of good things about Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake and I have her Baking book, so I took a peek.  She uses lemon as a flavor component; not something I wanted in my birthday (cup)cake.  Don’t get me wrong, I like lemon, but I wanted just a classic white birthday cake flavor.  I decided to go ahead and use her recipe and sub in some vanilla.

red, white & blue cupcakes for u(sa)

I was very pleased with the texture of these cupcakes.  It’s exactly what I think of when I think birthday cake.  The colors turned out pretty good too.  Just beware, you have to use a lot of red just to get this particular shade. What kinda sucked was that my colors didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped or expected.  I spooned in the red, the white then the blue batter.  As you can see the blue fell into the midle of the cupcake.  Oh well.  It still tasted good.

red, white & blue cupcakes for u(sa)

This frosting is one of my favs…and I don’t usually like frosting (I’m a whipped cream frosting kind of girl).  One thing to keep in mind; about halfway through the red & blue started fading so I had to re-stripe the bag.  It probably would have been wiser of me to use a new bag, but I’m lazy and stingy frugal.  😉  The colors started blending together a bit after the second striping, so I’d definitely recommend starting fresh with a new bag. 

Red, White & Blue Cupcakes with Red, White Chocolate & Blue Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 18 cupcakes
Cake adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours (Perfect Party Cake)
Frosting from
The Essential Baker
Printable Recipe

Cupcake Ingredients:
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups milk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ pound butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Red & blue icing colors

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners; set aside.

Sift (or whisk) together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk the milk and egg whites.

In the mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light in color; about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add ½ of the milk/egg mixture and beat until incorporated. Add ½ of the remaining flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk/egg mixture and beat until homogeneous (as Dorie puts it). Then add the rest of the flour mixture and beat the batter until it’s mixed thoroughly.

Separate the batter into 3 small bowls. Set aside one of the bowls of batter (white). In another one, mix in some red icing color until you get the color you want. In the last bowl, mix in some blue icing color until you get the color you want. (Use the “mixing color in icing” technique.)

Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners in whatever order you choose. I put red on the bottom, white in the middle, then blue on top (my blue fell into the middle of the cupcake anyway). You could even swirl them for a tie-dye effect.

Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

Frosting Ingredients:
8 ounces white chocolate
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Red & blue icing colors

Melt white chocolate in the microwave. Heat the chocolate in 30 second intervals and stir in-between each round.

Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy; about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add the sugar in 3 stages. Stop occasionally and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat together until thoroughly blended. Add the melted white chocolate and blend together completely.

To get the red, white & blue colors use the “brush striping” technique.


Aren’t you glad to see a post about something other than cookies??? Five of the last 10 posts were cookie related! Step away from the cookies, Susan! 🙂

Hope everyone has a fun, but safe 4th of July!