Brownie Cupcakes

Brownie Cupcakes

Growing up in a Philadelphia suburb, I have vivid memories of a restaurant called the Country Squire Diner. It was one of those typical 1970’s diners with large booths. The restaurant had a long counter with round stools, and behind the counter were mirrored display cases with sundae dishes filled with cubed jello or fruit cup. Does anyone even serve fruit cup anymore…or jello? Anyway, what always caught my attention upon entering this place was the revolving display case with pre-cut pieces of cake, endlessly going around in circles.

Now these were huge hunks of cake, usually seven or eight layers. Chocolate, lemon, carrot cake and strawberry shortcake were popular 1970’s favorites. My friends and I would actually order those desserts, one for each of us, and finish them.  Those days are so over.  If you read my blog, then you know I make my desserts now in mini versions. Everything in moderation, right?

My family are big chocolate lovers, so I made these Mini Brownie Cupcakes. They’re not really brownies, nor are they cupcakes, but kinda like if a brownie and a cupcake had a kid, this is what you would get. There’s lots of bold cocoa flavor in these little mini’s. You can give them a dusting of confectioner’s sugar if you like, or maybe a drizzle of melted chocolate. For me, they’re a perfect, little treat.

Brownie Cupcakes

Brownie Cupcake Bites

Adapted from Best Ever Cookie Collection

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetend coca powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup whole milk 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line your mini muffin tin with mini cupcake papers, or you could brush your tin with melted butter using a pastry brush.
  3. Melt the butter in a small pan over medium-low heat.
  4. Pour the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer, and using the paddle attachment stir the sugar and cocoa powder in until incorporated.
  5. Add the eggs and vanilla and slowly beat until combined.
  6. In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and pinch of salt. Stir with a whisk.
  7. With mixer on medium-low, add flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Stir in milk until well blended.
  8. Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 1/2 full.
  9. Bake for about 10-13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Do not overbake these or they will become hard. Remember all ovens are different, so keep an eye on the pan
Yields about 60 mini bites

Recipe: Easy   


Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a kid, my most prized possession was my 120 color box of Crayola crayons. Some people were quite content with the eight-color pack, and that’s okay for them. But I could never be satisfied with just eight simple hues.  I clearly remember my excitement upon opening a new crayon box that had the built-in sharpener, and marveling at the vivid assortment of colors with names like Mango Tango, Mountain Meadow and Razzle Dazzle Rose.

I feel quite the same way about cooking. Some folks like to stay within their comfort zone when it comes to choosing ingredients, tending to shy away from something they’ve never worked with before or maybe never heard of.  I like to look at a market shelf like the big box of Crayola crayons with so many lovely choices. I was recently in an organic market near my home (PC Greens in Malibu) and spent about 20 minutes in front of their chocolate section.

Chocolate, you could say, is my drug of choice. I look at chocolate, like some women look at a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. I stood there before the display, mesmerized by the almost endless variety of chocolate being offered to me. My eye was drawn (this is why packaging is so crucial) to a brand of chocolate called Taza. Taza, is stone ground, artisanal Mexican-style chocolate.  Taza makes a variety of  chocolate flavors like, Salted Almond, Coffee and Salt & Pepper. But I was intrigued by the Guajillo Chili flavor.

But what could I make with my new found treasure? Duh…chocolate chip cookies. Yes I thought, this would kick things up a notch, and turn my every day cookie into something more exotic. And I was right. I’m not just coloring with Red anymore, time to whip out the Wild Watermelon.  So, I present to you my Mexican chocolate chip cookies. Ay caramba!

 Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon, Vietnamese cinnamon (or regular cinnamon)
  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chopped
  • 3/4 cup, (5.4 ounces) Mexican chocolate, chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. On medium speed, add the sugars to the butter and mix until incorporated.  Add the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
  2. Add the flour mixture in increments until incorporated and a dough forms. With the mixer on low, add the chopped chocolate just until incorporated.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of dough and place on baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Leave enough space in between the balls as the dough will spread. Bake until the edges are golden brown and the centers are set. About 11-14 minutes. Mine took about 13 minutes to bake.
  4. Remove cookies from oven, and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Then remove them to cool on a cooling rack.
About 20 cookies
Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe: Easy


Mini Lemon Tarts

Mini Lemon Tarts

Mini Lemon Tarts

I’m at it again with the mini desserts, I don’t know why. Certainly I could make full size desserts, it’s just that I find these mini’s so darn cute. I knew that I wanted to make lemon tarts today because the wintertime yields the most wonderful and fragrant varieties of citrus. I decided to hit up my local Costco in my quest for the fruit, and lo and behold they had the most gorgeous boxes of Meyer lemons.  I imagine most people wouldn’t react to fruit with such glee, but I have a hard time finding these; and when I do, they’re usually small and unattractive.

So, what you may ask is a Meyer lemon. They are a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange.  Their skins are thinner than your garden variety lemon, and the juice is sweeter. The Meyer lemon has less acid, a very floral scent and their season is usually between January and May. And by golly, I just love them.

I should point out, if you make these tarts in the mini muffin tin, please make sure you spray the tin sufficiently so the tarts will release easily. I also made some in 4 inch tart pans, and those were easier to release.

Anyway, I still have tons of these lemons left so you guessed it…Mama’s Gotta Bake somethin’ new tomorrow. I’m thinking muffins.

Mini Lemon Tarts

Mini Lemon Tarts

Mini Lemon Tarts

Tart Crust

From The Silver Palate Cookbook

  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fine granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 teaspoons cold water

Directions

  1. Sift flour, sugar and salt into mixing bowl. Cut chilled butter into pieces into the bowl. Using your fingertips, quickly rub the butter and dry ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse meal
  2. Stir egg yolks, vanilla and water together and add to the flour-butter mixture and blend in using a fork. Shape dough into a ball.
  3. Place the ball of dough on a pastry board. With the heel of your hand, smear about 1/4 cup of dough away from you into a 6-8 inch smear; repeat until all the dough has been dealt with. Scrape dough together; reform into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin with cooking spray well so the crusts will not stick to the pan.  Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of wax paper. Using a 2″ round cookie cutter, cut circles and tuck the dough into muffin cups, pressing with your fingertips so that the dough comes up the sides of the cup.
  5. Using a fork prick the bottoms of each dough cup. Then cut 3″ squares of foil and press them into the inside of the dough cups. Use pie weights, beans or rice or even pennies to weigh down the foil. 
  6. Bake the crusts for about 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and take out the foil and pie weights and then return the crusts to the oven for another 5-9 minutes until the crusts are lightly golden on the edges.  Everyone’s oven is different so you really have to keep an eye on the crusts. It’s not so much about the time, but how they visually look. You don’t want an undercooked dough, and you don’t want the crust too dark as it will be very dry and crumbly.

Press the dough rounds into the mini muffin tin

This is what it looked like with the foil and pie weights

Meyer Lemon Filling

Adapted from Joy of Baking

  • 5 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Directions
  1. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor or the bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese and process until smooth. Add the sugar and process until incorporated. Add the eggs and process until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon juice and zest and process until well blended and smooth.
  3. Using a tablespoon, I spooned the mixture into the individual tarts, filling to the top.
  4. I baked the mini tarts for about 10 minutes.  The tarts are done when the filling is set. It took my oven about 10 minutes.
  5. Let cool for about 15 minutes, then gently remove them from the pan.  I sprayed the pan well so the tarts released very easily.

You can garnish the tarts with fresh whipped cream and a wedge of lemon if you like. The recipe makes 24 mini tarts, or one-9″ tart.

I love my Meyer lemons

Recipe: Intermediate 

You can view this recipe and others at Crumbs and Chaos.


French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

My husband and I have this weird obsession with French onion soup. We order it in every restaurant we go to that has it on the menu. Although it’s a fairly simple soup, you would be surprised how differently, different restaurants prepare it. He and I took a vote, and we decided the best we’ve had so far is at a place called Cafe Cigale in Oak Park (the Agoura/Thousand Oaks area, if you’re a local).

During the winter I like to make this soup at home, it’s really a no-fail recipe. This rich and hearty soup is perfect for dinner parties, or just cold, blustery nights when you need your insides warmed-up. (It was in fact 80 degrees here today, but I made it anyway!)  You might want to use a variety of onions such as yellow, red and sweet for a little more complex flavor. Either way, I just love the melt-y, crust-y, bubbly cheese on top when you first take it out of the oven. It’s so good!

French Onion Soup

Adapted From Williams Sonoma

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 lbs. yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 French baguette
  • 3 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
Directions
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes until the onions are tender and a deep golden brown.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the onions until combined. Stir in the wine, then the stock and add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and discard the bay leaf.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. You can use eight, 1 1/2-cup broilerproof soup crocks, (or I used smaller ramekins because I was making more servings and wanted a smaller appetizer portion). Cut the baguette into 1/2″ slices and place on a baking sheet. Place under broiler (12″ from heat) turning once so that they’re toasted on both sides.
  4. Ladle hot soup into the crocks (or ramekins). Place ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place 2 slices of toasted bread on top of soup, overlapping if necessary. Don’t let the bread sink down into soup. Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the cheese on top. Place under broiler until the cheese is bubbling. Serve at once. This will make 8, 1 1/2 cup crocks or even more if you’re using smaller ramekins.
Recipe: Easy

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chips & Pecans

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

You’ve gotta love the Southern California winters.  It’s two days before New Year’s and Jimi (my doggie) and I are strolling around the neighborhood in summer clothing. Well, I was the one wearing the summer clothing, but it was hard to believe it was 73 degrees in the dead of winter.  Every New Year’s for about the last ten years, we’ve gone to my friend Cindy’s house to celebrate with a fun group of people. Gone are my  disco days of the 70’s of ringing in the New Year at some loud nightclub until 3 am. Now I’m home in bed by 12:15, and I kind of like it that way. Yeah, I’m getting old.

Anyway, I was asked to bring a dessert to this gathering and I decided I would bring this sour cream coffee cake. If you’re looking for something to bring to your New Year’s gathering, this cake is a winner. It’s easy, and I never met anyone who didn’t like it.

To all my friends who have followed this blog for the past year, I thank you for reading, I hope I’ve entertained you, and I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!

Sour Cream coffee Cake

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chips & Pecans

Adapted from Heirloom Bakery & Cafe

Topping

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, chocolate chips, pecans and butter, set aside. Make sure butter is cooled, so it does not melt the chocolate chips.
Cake
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, until incorporated, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the butter and egg mixture. Continue folding until no lumps remain.
  5. Spray a 9-inch baking pan, and spoon half the batter into the pan, then layer with half the topping. Layer with the remaining batter, and remaining topping. Bake until the cake is puffed and golden and when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Check this out and many other recipes at: Crumbs & Chaos
Recipe: Easy

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

I’m very excited about my upcoming trip to New York City.  Although I grew up in Philadelphia, which is only a hop-skip-and a jump away from New York, I only got to visit there a few times, and never for an extended period of time. This trip I’m going with my friend Kim, who’s son attends NYU, and we’re taking him to a Broadway show and dinner for his birthday. I can’t believe it, but I’ve never seen a Broadway show. We’re also going to see the Rockettes at Radio City which is something else I’ve always wanted to do.

And the food. Please don’t get me started on the food. I think most people obsess about the shopping in New York, but not me. Stuff is stuff…I got enough stuff. I’ve spent the last few weeks researching the gastronomical landscape of New York, so I hope to report back to you with stories and pictures of my fabulous food finds in the Big Apple.

But, before I depart on this “bucket list” trip, there’s still some holiday baking to be done. One of my favorite’s are these Chocolate Brownie Cookies. I like them because they have that chewy texture of a brownie, and the addition of espresso powder really enhances the chocolate flavor. I like to drizzle the cookies with a vanilla and chocolate glaze and then sprinkle the cookies with gold sugar for that added bling. A cookie’s gotta have bling, right!

Please check this link to see the other fabulous cookies baked by a talented group of bloggers! You’ll love them!

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

From Great Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
  • 2 tablespoons, sifted Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, slightly firm
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon boiling water
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • Sifted powdered sugar
Directions
  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium-low speed until it is creamy and lightened in color. Add the sugar in a steady stream, mixing for 2 minutes to combine. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and espresso mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then mix in the melted chocolate.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and blend in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing only to combine after each addition. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide in half. Form into two 3″ by 4″ rectangles and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours until firm.
  4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place shelves of oven in the upper and lower thirds. Cover your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Sprinkle a pastry cloth and rolling-pin with powdered sugar. Work with one piece of dough at a time. Roll it into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Place the cutouts on the cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until cookies feel set on top.
  7. Let cookies cool on sheets for 2 minutes then cool on racks.
  8. Store in airtight containers. These cookies may be frozen.
Makes approx. 24 cookies

Vanilla Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 -2 tablespoons hot milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add the other ingredients and stir with a whisk until very smooth. The glaze should be able to drip from the spoon in a steady stream. Add more liquid if needed, but only 1/4 teaspoon at a time.
Chocolate Glaze
  • 4 ounces of high quality chocolate bar; semi-sweet or bittersweet
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Slowly melt chocolate and oil together. Either in microwave in 20 second increments, or over hot water. When the mixture is smooth, let it cool briefly.
Recipe: Intermediate

Snowflake Cookies – Let The Baking Begin

I’m not a gift giver. I swear I’ve never seen anybody wear or use anything I ever gave to them. I’m also not one who likes to get gifts either. I much more appreciate the gift of a greeting card where someone has written something personal to me, or if someone gives me something handmade. I appreciate their time and effort much more than a wool scarf from Macy’s.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, “the holiday season” is in full swing. So, since I’m not a gift-giver, how do I show those around me how much they mean to me at this jolly time of year? With cookies of course. The next few weeks will be filled with rolling, kneading, baking, boxing, sprinkling, and a lot of sugar. Yeah, sugar.

These snowflake cookies are my all-time favorite, they’re quite festive. It’s a great butter cookie recipe even if you decide not to decorate them with the royal icing. Anyway, I would love to stay and chat, but my cookies await!

Snowflake Cookies

Sweet Moon Confections

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla.  In another bowl, stir flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the butter mixture and mix well.
  2. Gather dough and knead for a minute.
  3. Divide dough into two pieces. Place one piece in between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to about 1/4″ thick, then place the dough (on the paper) in the refrigerator. Repeat with the other piece. Refrigerate for about an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Cut refrigerated dough into snowflake shapes. Bake on un-greased baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes or until just beginning to brown on the edges.

Royal Icing

  • 2 level tablespoons meringue powder
  • 3 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients. Beat 7 to 10 minutes at low-medium speed with electric mixer, or 10 to 12 minutes with hand-held mixer.
  2. To prevent drying, cover the bowl with a damp cloth while working with icing.
  3. To reuse, beat the icing to restore original texture.
  4. The icing will be very stiff after mixing. You want to thin down the icing to use for outlining the edges of the cookies.  Add a couple of drops of water to about 1/2 cup icing and stir slowly to incorporate the water. (Stirring quickly will create air pockets). The right consistency for outlining is when the spatula is lifted from the icing and the peak formed bends slightly. Use a very small round opening tip for the pastry bag to outline. Let outline dry. You will use this icing to also pipe the detail on the cookie.
  5. To thin down the rest of the  icing to be used for flooding, add a very small amount of water at a time, stirring slowly until the water is incorporated. To test for consistency, lift the spatula and let the icing drip back into the bowl. If the dripped icing smooths back into the rest of the icing, then the consistency is ready for filling.
  6. After “flooding” the cookies, let them dry. When they’re dry you can pipe on the detail designs.

Recipe: Intermediate


Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables

It’s a gloomy, rainy Sunday here in sunny Southern California. I actually love it this way. Thanksgiving is only four days away and the damp, chilly air is bringing back memories of former Thanksgivings growing up on the east coast. The word that comes to mind when I think of this holiday is “home”.  When I went away to college and then when I moved to Los Angeles, I always went “home” for Thanksgiving to my parents house. No matter how busy everyone’s lives were, we always came together for Thanksgiving.

It’ funny, because I’m not really big on holidays. Halloween and Valentine’s Day are just another day to me. But Thanksgiving is a holiday that has a special place in my heart.  It just does.

I wanted to share this roasted root vegetable dish. It’s very easy to make, doesn’t require a lot of time, and the results are quite delicious. Roasting these vegetables brings out their natural sweetness. There’s no exact measurements here as you can make this for 2 people or ten.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables

  • baby carrots, peeled
  • beets, any color, peeled and sliced into 1″ slices
  • parsnips, peeled, cut into 1″ slices
  • leeks, white part only, cut into 1″ slices
  • onion, cut into 1″ slices
  • yukon gold potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1″ slices
  • olive oil
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • rosemary, finely chopped
  • garlic, finely chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place all the vegetables in a baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil, enough to coat all the vegetables. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss.
  3. Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Take dish out and toss vegetables with the garlic and rosemary. Place dish back in oven uncovered for another 15-20 minutes, or until you can pierce the vegetables with a fork. Do not over-bake, you don’t want the vegetables too soft.

Recipe: Easy


Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread

Ya know, I don’t want to say I’m obsessed with cake, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about it. Much more than the average person I suppose. I think about important things too; world peace, the economy, and conservation. But, at the end of  the day when my psyche needs a little relaxation…I think about cake.

The cake I decided to bake today contains all the ingredients that I hold near and dear to me; melted chocolate, bananas, toasted nuts and chocolate chips. And, just to kick things up a notch, I included the addition of Vietnamese cinnamon. So, this way, I can savor all my favorites in one tasty bite. This cake is easy to make and has a nice layering of flavors. Even if you don’t think about cake very much, you might still want to give this one a try. It’s real good!

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread

Adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until lightened, then beat in the chocolate, eggs, bananas and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated. Do not over mix. Gently stir in the chips and walnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, 50-60 minutes.
  5. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.

Makes 1 loaf

Recipe: Easy


Mrs. Tac’s Holiday Snowball Cookies

My friend called me up today and told me she just lost 15 pounds from taking Zumba classes. Swell I think, as I just finished baking my first batch of holiday cookies. I love this time of year, the weeks between Halloween and New Year’s that are filled with every kind of delectable goodie you can imagine. My specialty is holiday cookies. I spend the early weeks of November scouring the stores like Home Goods, Michaels and Cost Plus for festive boxes to put my cookies in, that will end up as holiday gifts for friends and family.

I was first introduced to the whole holiday cookie extravaganza by my friend Carol’s mother, Mary. Mary began baking in early December, and whenever I went to their house there was always seven or eight different kinds of cookies offered to me. I loved the way she put her heart and soul into her cookies. Although it was 45 years ago, I never forgot her snowball cookies. (She actually called them nut balls, but people make fun of that name, so now I call them snowballs.)

I recently called Carol and told her I’d like to add her mother’s recipe to my cookie repertoire and so she shared it with me. I made them this past weekend and they brought back warm memories of cold afternoons at her  house stuffing our faces with homemade cookies. I’m hoping to make it through this holiday season without packing on the poundage, However, come January, I guess I could always take those Zumba classes.

Mrs. Tac’s Holiday Snowball Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Directions
  • In a large bowl, stir flour, sugar and salt.
  • Work in butter and vanilla by hand.
  • Add nuts and incorporate them into the mixture.
  • Using a light hand, form cookies into small balls.
  • Place on parchment covered cookie sheet 1 inch apart.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes until lightly golden.
  • Let cookies cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
  • Toss the cookies until covered in powdered sugar.
  • Re-toss cookies in powdered sugar 10 minutes later, and cool for 1 hour.
  • Store in airtight container.
Makes about 30 cookies.
Recipe: Easy