Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies

I think we’re friends now, right? I’ll be honest with you, so let me tell you what happens when you decide at 10:30 PM to start to bake something and you’re out of certain ingredients, but you’ve also been awake since 7 AM and didn’t get to bed until 3:30 AM, so essentially you’re running on the fumes of about four hours of sleep, you just go with what you got. This time I had some leftover stuff from any one of my last recipes, I don’t how it happens, but I always get left with an odd amount of stuff like chocolate chips. It’s like when you have one hot dog bun left, but for some reason two hot dogs. Who ate a dog with no bun? Wasn’t me.

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Anyway, I thought I’d bring another cookie over the edge this time with some of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans. This one is going to be a sugar high the likes of which you may not return. Couple that with chocolate chips and I’ve probably piqued your interest, but nay, that’s not enough, so I’m throwing in white chocolate chips just because I can. I hope you’re ready to pull an all-nighter.

I started here:

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Inside you get a lot of these:

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They’re more than just curiously strong. They’re really strong and have a bitter aftertaste, so I tried to counteract that flavor with sweet chocolate. I started with my base chocolate chip cookie recipe by Dora on AllRecipes.com.

Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies

Makes ~ 40 medium sized cookies

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chocolate covered espresso beans crushed/chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream your butter and sugars together.

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3. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla extract.

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4. Add flour, one cup at a time.

5. Dissolve baking soda in hot water, then add to mixture. Add in salt.

6. Add chocolate chips. Add espresso beans. Mix.

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7. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

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8. Allow cookies to cool and enjoy with cold milk.

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The chocolate covered espresso beans are crazy. They’re good, but the after taste just doesn’t do it for me. I think crushing them makes them a little bit more palatable, and placed amongst the mixed chocolate chips they’re good. If you like espresso (you could also just sub in just plain ol’ chocolate covered coffee beans) these cookies are for you.

What I learned from this recipe:

My pictures suck, some have flash, some don’t, they’re all differently. I’m sorry. The lighting in my kitchen sucks. I’ve got canister lighting installed in the ceiling and despite have seven lights on at times they don’t seem to light anything nicely. Plus because they’re directional and overhead they always create shadows, which , I’ve mostly taken care of, but only because I turn to weird angles. I wish I could say I was getting better at it. I’m not.

Also, I don’t really like espresso. It’s a little too much for me. I don’t like foods heavy on aftertaste. Onions, seafood, and now espresso. I’m not a big coffee drinker, so I’ll stick to the occasional latte or mocha, but mostly I like an iced coffee. Maybe these things on ice cream? Next time around.

Speaking of next time…until we meet again. Enjoy and if you like this concoction share it. Thanks for reading and come back soon. Like the post, follow the blog, subscribe via email, do one or all, or none. You have free will to do whatever you so choose. Take advantage of that, start by baking some cookies. Power of suggestion. Ok, it’s 2 AM, I’ve got espresso cookies in me and I’m not going to sleep any time soon…Gotta go or this will go on forever.

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Crock Pot Bread Loaf…Wait is That Bread Made in a Slow Cooker? Yup.

This isn’t really so much a recipe as much as it is something that I’d heard of a couple of months back and had been wanting to try for a while. I ran into a couple of obstacles, I was looking to take the easy way out and find some pre-made refrigerated/frozen dough to just pop in the slow cooker and work out, but I couldn’t find any in any of the local stores, so that was out of the question. Then on one of my semi-weekly visits to Target I finally found the next best thing in a box of bread dough. It’s essentially everything you need to make a loaf, yeast included. This was what I found:IMG_0200

I decided to try and make my bread the ‘artisan style’, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I feel like it’s just one of those marketing catchphrases, kind of like how everything is ‘high definition’ now, but what do I know. Anyway, the directions were pretty easy to follow, put the yeast in water and stir. Add in the flour package and mix it all up.

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Cover it up in plastic wrap and let it sit for two hours. At that point it should have doubled in size. The only part that wasn’t clear was how much to mix. It says something about mixing to make the dough moist, so that’s where I left it, I didn’t want to over mix the thing.

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After a couple of hours the dough expanded and you can see the plastic wrap actually being pushed out by the chemical reactions going on within. I floured up the sides to make it easier to pull the dough out of the bowl (again, according to directions) and put it into a piece of parchment paper to rest for about 45 minutes.

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The rest of the directions I took from Artisan Bread in Five, I set the crock pot to high and let the machine do its thing. I came back to check on it after 45 minutes just to make sure it was doing all right. The top still looked doughy, but the sides where contact was being made looked a-okay. I left it in for about another 20-25 minutes and then lifted the bread to find a nice brown crust on the bottom, the top was still a little bit on the light side, but the bread was pretty much done. Not satisfied, however, I flipped it over and left it in the crock pot to cook a little longer using just the residual heat.

After all that was said and done and the bread had cooled off it was ready for a slicing.

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How’s it looking? Not too shabby, right?

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I took a couple of slices and made a sandwich for lunch the next day. It was pretty good, you’d never know it was made in a crock pot unless you were told. You could also pop it in the oven/broiler for a few to brown the top. You may find it more enjoyable this way.

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As far as bread is concerned, I thought it was pretty good. I like knowing that it’s homemade (mostly) and that it was fairly easy at that. If you’re at all interested in making your own bread, but it’s too hot to turn on the oven consider this as an option, especially if you have access to the pre-made stuff. No muss, no fuss, just fresh bread in about an hour. Otherwise, find a bread recipe you like, or find a box like I did, and go from there. It’s not all that hard. Seriously, if a guy like me can do it just about anyone can.

What I learned from making this:

  • Whether it’s bread from a box or bread from scratch, they’re not that hard to make. There are plenty of no-knead recipes out there that anyone who knows there way around a kitchen can make on their own.
  • The slow cooker has so much more functionality than I ever knew. For whatever reason, I just thought it was good for stews and soups, but everything from cakes to breads to puddings to white hot chocolate and everything in between can be made in that versatile machine sitting inside the cabinet. Give it a whirl.

I hope you learned a little something and as I see a little spike in traffic I hope you try this and let me know how it went. I’m more than willing to hear what you did with it. Share your own recipes with me, I’m always looking for something else to feed the family, we can’t have spaghetti every week. Yeesh. Until I update again.

Puff Pastry Palmiers

I don’t watch Martha Stewart often. I happened to see one episode , though, at my parents house where she was making palmier cookies out of frozen puff pastry sheets. Having never worked with puff pastry before I thought I’d give it a whirl. These are a lot easier than you would think and pretty good for beginners who want to look better than they are. (I’m looking at myself in the mirror as I type this.)

The reason these are so easy is because you can buy puff pastry sheets ready to go. You will find them in the frozen food section probably somewhere around the frozen pies, at least that’s where my local supermarket stocks them.

This is the Martha Stewart recipe. It’s not terribly detailed, but that wasn’t a big deal since I saw her do it on the TV. They’re fairly self-explanatory, actually. Before you start you should read the directions on the puff pastry box, mine said to leave refrigerated overnight or for a quick thaw leave out for about 40 minutes at room temperature. At that point you can begin working with it.

Puff Pastry Palmiers

  • 1 Box Frozen Puff pastry sheets (My box had two sheets, roughly 8×12)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Place 1/2 cup of sugar on work mat and put your puff pastry sheets over the sugar. Work the sugar on to the underside of puff pastry. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top and roll up each side of puff pastry to meet in the middle. (You probably want to be neater than I was below)

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2. Cover in plastic wrap and freeze for about 20 minutes.

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3. I then cut off the ends to prevent weird shapes into 3/8 slices. Place on parchment paper and flatten with rolling pin or wide end of a chef’s knife. My cookies will not be winning any awards for looking picture perfect. Note: You really want to use parchment paper because the sugar will melt and make a huge mess on your cookie sheet. Learn from my mistakes.

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4. Bake 4-6 minutes at 450 degrees until golden brown on bottom. Flip over and bake for another 2-4 minutes, they will look golden and crispy. All the dough should be baked thoroughly and you shouldn’t see any semi-clear areas in the center.

If you baked your palmiers correctly they should look golden brown and should have expanded to about twice their original size. Enjoy.

Like I said, this is an easy 5-10 minutes of work, but the frozen puff pastry makes it look like they’re that much harder to make. Your friends and family will be impressed by your mad baking skills. You don’t have to admit to them how easy it really is, let them figure it out on their own.

What I learned from this recipe:

  • Don’t worry so much about time if you’re monitoring your cookies closely, if they’re not baking up don’t rush them just because the recipe calls for 4-6 minutes (or whatever the time is). Otherwise your cookies will be the slightest bit smaller than they should or could be. You can see in the topmost photo that mine were slightly undercooked. No one will complain, but if you’re a perfectionist it’ll bother you. The first sheet that goes in will not be as good as the second sheet. And the next time you make these, provided it’s in the near future, those will be even better.

So, pretty simple. Give them a try, one batch makes more than enough for company. You should manage roughly 35-40 palmiers out of the two puff pastry sheets. Share them with friends, share this with friends and thanks for swinging by, stick around and I hope you come back next time.

Banana Oatmeal Bread With Chocolate Chips

I hadn’t planned on baking anything today, that is to say, I didn’t have a recipe picked out already like I might normally. I thought about making a pie because I’ve never made one before and I’ve covered a lot of the basic dessert groups thus far, but I changed my mind when I noticed some very ripe bananas. I knew banana bread would be a great option. It was 105 degrees outside and while I’ve avoided turning on the oven for the past two weeks it turned out that I had four bananas already a funky looking dark brown. Of course, that’s not reflective of what is inside, but try telling that to the kids. They’re not trying to hear it.

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Anyway, I’m a huge fan of banana nut bread. I heart ❤ it so much. So, I decided to go with something a little more traditional and just make a loaf this time around. In looking for a recipe, I happened upon one that had oatmeal, didn’t like that particular one, so did a more specific search for banana oatmeal bread and found exactly what I was looking for on Multiply Delicious, with the caveat that I didn’t have many of the ingredients to make mine all healthy, so I substituted what I did have and that’s what I’m going to show you today.

Not so many pictures this time around, but you’ve seen batter and the like before, you can imagine what it looks like. Not even much of a story, this is straight forward, plain and simple. That being said, I love understated desserts. I don’t need it set on fire, I don’t need it covered and/or smothered in some form of alcoholic beverage, and I don’t need gold flakes or anything fancy really. Just give me the basics because if you’re not doing that right you’re hiding it with unnecessary bells and whistles.

So, here’s a simple recipe for Banana Oatmeal Bread with Chocolate Chips.

Banana Oatmeal Bread with Chocolate Chips

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (quick oats will work in a pinch)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of ripe bananas, mashed approximately 3 (I used four)
  • 3/4 cup of chocolate chips (optional)
  • Even more optional choose 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup peanut butter chips or 1/4 walnuts or pecans

1. Take all dry ingredients and mix in bowl. Minus the chocolate chips, of course. At this point you could pretty much begin preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

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2. Put eggs into bowl for light mixing. I used my stand mixer and the paddle attachment. Add melted butter, buttermilk, and bananas and mix.

3. Add your dry ingredients, keep mixing. Add in chocolate chips, mix well.

4. Spray two 9×5 baking dishes/pans with non-stick spray. Pour batter into your baking dishes. Place in oven for 45 to 50 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick comes out nice and clean.

banana oatmeal bread with chocolate chips

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I thought about completely altering this one by using white chocolate, but I wasn’t entirely sure how well the flavors would work. I also contemplated peanut butter chips, which would have gone well. A combination of chocolate and peanut butter would have been great, too, as would have been chocolate and pecans (walnuts are out of the equation because my Misses is allergic), in the end I used what I had in the house. Problem solved, but experimenting in the future is always an option.

This is where I talk about what I learned from making this recipe. Um, this one is pretty straight forward, so I’m having a little difficulty here, but how about this.

  • When placing two baking dishes in the oven at the same time there’s a good chance that your dish will skew towards the back end of the necessary time and may even run over. You might be able to tell from the photo above that the bread came out a touch earlier than it could have and came out, not raw, but a touch dough-y.

This bread goes perfect with cold milk and can be used as a dessert or a breakfast bread of sorts. You could also make muffins out of the batter if you choose. Cut the baking time in half and keep an eye on the muffins so that they don’t overcook.

In summary, if you like banana bread and you’re looking for something to make give this one a shot. My girl absolutely loved it. I hope you do as well. As always, thanks for reading and I hope you share with friends and family.

Baking the Right Way

I thought that I had been doing a pretty okay job the past couple of months at baking up some sweets for friends and family. Turns out that it probably wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. What I mean to say is that I recently made one of my fairly routine trips to Home Goods, where I find a lot of my tools and picked up a couple of things notably an 8” Calphalon bread knife for $17, which I saw on Amazon for like $35. I thought that was my better purchase that night, but what turned out to be even more important was the oven thermometer I picked up for about $7. I popped it into the oven and since I didn’t have anything to bake left it there for a few days. Then I got the request for some Mexican chocolate chunk cookies from my girl so that she could share at work, I set my oven to 350 degrees to preheat it and when I peeked inside to see what the thermometer was reading I was startled because the temperature was about 50 degrees off! So, something was going inside my oven and now I’ve got a more accurate reading (assuming the thermometer is accurate), so I can continue with baking according to schedule. So, learn from my mistake and get yourself an oven thermometer, they’re fairly inexpensive (under $10) and helpful beyond belief.

Chocolate-Cookie Butter Ice Cream

I hadn’t heard of cookie butter until a few months ago when I was first introduced to it by someone on Twitter. Shortly after that I had some in my grubby hands, and, though it’s delicious as all hell, I don’t use it all that much. I’ve seen cookie butter cookie recipes, but try entering that into the Google and see what happens…a bunch of butter cookie recipes show up. I’ll eventually get to one of those, but this time around I wanted to beat the Central California heat (again) with ice cream. For the second week in a row, I’m not baking. I’m sorry, I’m not living up to the title of the ‘blog, but I think you’ll be ok with it once you get a taste of this ice cream.

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Let’s go back for a second to explain a little about cookie butter. Think about what peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, etc. are and you can imagine what comprises cookie butter. Cookie butter tastes a lot like gingerbread cookies. This particular jar used in my ice cream comes from Trader Joe’s. I made a special trip just to find this as the nearest store to me is roughly an hour away…ok, I went to the one near work, it was still a special trip just for this little jar.

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So, this weeks recipe is adapted from the ice cream recipe book, The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz. Incidentally, I own one book of recipes and this is it, I bought it two years ago and have never used it because I don’t make a ton of ice cream because something is apparently wrong with me. This is from the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Ice Cream recipe with cookie butter substituting for peanut butter…obviously.

Chocolate-Cookie Butter Ice Cream adapted from recipe by David Lebovitz

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup cookie butter

1. Place half and half, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt into saucepan and whisk away.

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2. Heat to boiling. Stir frequently until it comes to a boil. It will foam up at which point you have about three to five seconds to remove it from the heat or risk it boiling over and making a mess of your stove top. Trust me on this one. Your chocolate may or may not look like mine here. This should take somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 minutes or so, now you’re done with the stove top.

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3. Add in your cookie butter and whisk away, the heat will melt up the cookie butter easily. At this point I let mine cool off for a few minutes and stirred every couple of minutes to avoid that film that covers the top of anything milky. After a few more minutes you can place in a heat proof/freeze proof container and place it in the freezer giving it a little stir every few. I don’t know if this is at all necessary, for all I know the ice cream maker would take care of all that, but I don’t chance the little clumps in my ice cream, so I cut them off before they even start.

4. Check the directions for your particular ice cream maker and add mixture according to their suggestions. Mix it up and you will eventually get something that resembles ice cream like this:

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5. Work quickly to avoid the melted spots like those in the picture below. It’s just not pretty for picture taking. Freeze in container, I use the disposable/reusable Ziploc containers, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes and enjoy 8 or so hours later, any sooner than that and you’re eating pudding or soft serve.IMG_0152

What I learned from this recipe:

  • You have no idea how easy some ice cream mixtures are to make. This is one of those recipes that takes all of ten minutes worth of work and the rest of the time is spent either waiting for the ice cream maker to do its thing or waiting for it to freeze so you can have at it. Oh, and you will have at it, it’s sooooo good.
  • One quart of ice cream is never, ever, under any circumstances enough. Especially when you make something that’s really good and you’ve got a few sweet tooth’s (sweet teeth?) to satiate.
  • You know what doesn’t photograph well? Ice cream, that’s what.

I’m still thinking of what this would pair up really well with, so if you’ve got an idea please let me know. Maybe it’s time to work on a cookie butter cookie recipe? It’s like the M.C. Escher drawing of the hand drawing the hand.

As always, thanks for reading. If you’re inclined, please share this with friends and family.