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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

We make towering cakes, slather them with frosting and poke long wax sticks in the top.

We sing “Happy Birthday” off pitch.

They blow out the candles…

…making sure not to leave one burning so the aunts and uncles won’t tease them about having a girlfriend.

We slice the cake, revealing mammoth layers of soft chocolate and lip smacking frosting.

Everyone leaves and it’s time to clean up the mess. But why is it so hard for us to throw out the candles? Is it because they were only lit long enough to sing one rendition of “Happy Birthday” before the smoke drifted through the kitchen?

Or does it make us sad to see our babies getting older and we’re overcome with nostalgia? Are we afraid we’ll lose the memories of each party, each balloon, each cake, each smile, each celebration?

Or are we afraid they will forget?

Sweet and burning wishes,

Staci

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Hannah graduates from SDSU in a couple of weeks and it was her last day working in our group. Sticking with tradition, we had a food day—no nuts, no peanut butter. Hannah loves chocolate and deep dark chocolate cheesecake with honey ganache is irrefutably the most decadent chocolate dessert I make. And eat.

Perhaps it was the cool air breezing through the kitchen window when I opened the oven door, or maybe I overbeat the batter like a cheesecake novice that I am not.

deepest darkest chocolate cheesecake

But no matter what it was, the crack in my cheesecake made the perfect cranny for the ganache to nestle into like a silk scarf tucked into a cashmere coat.

ganache in cheesecake crack

Candid iPhone picture while slicing the cheesecake

I’m hoping I can make the same mistake again. And again. And again.

deepest darkest chocolate cheesecake

Deepest Darkest Chocolate Cheesecake with Honey Ganache is on foodnetwork.com. I’ve used the recipe since 2013 when I shared it in Save the bees, make chocolate cheesecake with honey ganache. I use the ganache recipe for a lot of my desserts because I like to use locally-harvested honey instead of corn syrup.

Don’t be afraid to add the coffee to the filling and to the ganache. Just like in Is that coffee in your cookie or just intensified chocolate, coffee simply deepens the flavor of the chocolate.

Sweet mistake wishes,

Staci

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If my best friend Darya hadn’t been killed by her husband when she was 22, we would have celebrated her 44th birthday last month. She was Lutheran. My Grandpa Elroy died quite a few years ago. He was Baptist. My sisters and I grew up with the teachings and influence of a Protestant church. They both belong to different churches now.

monster cookie bars

 

I’ve spent the past 14 years attending Mass and holy celebrations with Jason and his family. Last fall I decided to convert. This Easter I will be baptized into the Catholic Christian church. As I’ve been attending Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes, I’ve been thinking about what happens to us when we die. Of course, I want to spend my eternal life in heaven with my family and friends, no matter their Christian religion. I want to be in the presence of Darya’s spirit again. I want to eat hard butterscotch candy with my grandpa. I want to hang out with my kids and my sisters. If we get to kiss in heaven, I want to kiss Jason each heavenly morning. So however we need to live our lives on earth to get to heaven, let’s be there together.

monster cookie bars

What does that have to do with a big batch of monster cookie bars? It was my turn for treat night at RCIA the week of Darya’s birthday. People loved these, especially Father Andrew. I gave him an extra one to take home. It was a compliment that people came back for seconds.

Cookie dough balls ready for freezer

Read about how I got this recipe and how I freeze cookie dough balls in Your IT guy knows how to make monster cookie bars and strips.

Monster cookies and bars

2 sticks softened butter

2-1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

2 cups white sugar

2 cups brown sugar

4 teaspoons baking soda

6 eggs

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla

9 cups quick-cooking oats

2-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 cups plain M&M’s

Heat oven to 350°. Prepare pans. If you want to use all your cookie dough at once, you can make one 13×9 pan of bars (baking time takes about 20-25 minutes) and at least two dozen large cookies (baking time takes about 12-16 minutes). Or, you can make two 13×9 pans of bars. Or if you only want cookies, you can make at least six dozen enormous cookies, a few more dozen if you make smaller cookies.

  1. In large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream softened butter and peanut butter together.
  2. Add white sugar and brown sugar, beating until well combined.
  3. Add baking soda.
  4. Add eggs and beat well.
  5. Pour in corn syrup and vanilla. Continue mixing until everything is incorporated well.
  6. At this point, you should be able to add at least a few cups of the oats and still use your mixer. But once the dough gets too heavy, stop using the mixer and continue adding oats stirring the batter with a wooden spoon. Use your sexy arm muscles.
  7. Stir in the M&M’s and chocolate chips.

If you are making bars, spread half of the dough into a 13×9-inch pan. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until nice and golden brown. If you take the pan out before they turn golden brown, the middle will not be done.

For cookies, baking time depends on how large you make them. Place on cookie sheet. Using the back of a spoon, gently push down the dough a little bit so that they spread out instead of baking in one mound. Bake at 350° for 12-16 minutes, or until golden brown. I like to sprinkle just a tiny bit of pink Himalayan salt or sea salt on mine when they come out of the oven.

Sweet heavenly wishes,

Staci

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Why didn’t it even cross my mind? All hockey season long I see signs posted on entrance doors of rinks everywhere: “No outside food or drinks allowed.” My hockey mom mojo was out the window as Sunday I was just a cheer aunt with peanut butter cream cheese brownies and chewy cocoa peanut butter chip cookies to share with my family.

Cocoa Peanut Butter Chip Cookies | Random Sweetness Baking

When we stopped at the arena doors so the security guards could check our bags, I thought they were checking for guns and knives.

Katera Wildfire Cheer

But as soon as she spotted the unconcealed plastic bottle of water in the side pocket of my camera bag, the guard informed me that no outside food or drinks were allowed in the arena. I thought she was talking about my overstuffed canvas bag of chocolate and peanut butter treats but she didn’t even notice. She kept her eyes on me until I ditched my water but I made it through with the bag full of cookies and brownies to share with my family.

Hailee

But I was mortified when I was driving home. I took a bite of cookie and the sugar consistency was like gasping in a mouthful of sand after too many cocktails on the beach during spring break. I’ve made these cookies a lot since the time they disappeared before Christmas supper in 2013 and they’ve never been like that.

cream cheese peanut butter brownies

I went to bed thinking about it and woke up in the morning knowing exactly what went wrong. The recipe calls for 1¼ cups of softened butter and for some reason I forgot one whole stick of butter! I guess that’s what I get for unintentionally smuggling goodies into the cheer competition.

Chewy Cocoa Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

2 cups sugar

1-1/4 cups butter (2 and a half sticks), softened

2 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

10-ounce package (1-2/3 cups) peanut butter chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat sugar and softened butter until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Stir together and then gradually add to butter mixture; beating until well combined. Stir in peanut butter chips until distributed evenly into the cookie dough.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 10 minutes. Do not over-bake. The cookies will not look like they are done but they will puff up a little when baking and then they’ll drop when they are cooling. They are soft with a little crunch around the edges.

Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and then move them to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Sweet buttery wishes,

Staci

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Like speed limits, recipes are merely suggestions for when normal conditions exist. But who defines normal conditions? Maybe you never have a box of Chex cereal (or three) in your cupboard when you have the hankering to make traditional Chex™ Muddy Buddies™ so you have to think outside the box. Why not make puppy chow, also known as people chow, with the traditional peanut butter, chocolate chips, and powdered sugar but use your favorite cereals?

people chow puppy chow

In my most recent batch, I folded in Golden Grahams, Corn Pops, and Corn Chex cereals for an even tastier version of puppy chow. I planned to toss in chow mein noodles but I forgot to add them. Did you know that if you store puppy chow in an airtight container in the refrigerator it stays crunchy longer?

hodgepodge people puppy chow

You might also like Corn Pops Clusters

Corn Pops Clusters

If you have a box of Golden Grahams cereal, reserve four cups to make what will become a fight-over-the-last-piece family favorite: Marshmallow Creme Crunchy Graham Brownies.

marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies square

Of course there’s always a special version of Chex Mix Like You Mean It.

Staci's version of Chex mix

Hodgepodge Puppy Chow with Corn Pops, Golden Grahams, Chex, and Chow Mein Noodles

9 cups of a combination of your favorite cereals and maybe chow mein noodles

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1½ cups powdered sugar

  1. Put all the cereal in a large bowl.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter together. Stir until melted and creamy. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal and toss until all the cereal is drenched in chocolate.
  5. Using a 2 or 2.5 gallon plastic zipper bag, dump in 1/2 cup powdered sugar, chocolate coated cereal, and top with remaining 1 cup powdered sugar. Seal bag and shake it like a Boggle game until everything is coated with powdered sugar (everything in the bag, not your kitchen).
  6. Spread the cereal mixture onto a sheet of wax paper until cooled.
  7. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

May your recipes feel like suggestions,

Staci

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It’s not like chocolate and mint don’t go together when the skies are sunny and blue and the grass is tall and green, but there’s something festive about a platter of cocoa mint cookies reflecting the dancing lights of a Christmas tree surrounded by family and friends.chewy cocoa mint marshmallow cookies

If you’re from the Midwest, you can see how these chewy cookies resemble a Minnesota snow pile—our snow gets plowed into towering mounds of snow which melt into piles of dirt and muck (the cookie), school gets called off and kids build frolicking snowmen out of sticky snowballs (teensy marshmallow bits), and then a fresh blanket of snow falls, turning everything into a sparkling winter wonderland (dusting of powdered sugar).

marshmallow mint cookie ingredients

You’ll want to check your grocery store soon for the HERSHEY’s mint chocolate chips because I can only find them during the Christmas season. (If you live in my neck of the woods, I buy them at Hy-Vee. I can’t find them at Wal-Mart.) You can use any mint chocolate chips you want, I just like that these are actually semi-sweet chocolate chips. The Mallow Bits are usually in the hot chocolate aisle. But my local grocery store thinks they are seasonal so I couldn’t buy them there last summer. Small town, one grocery store problems…

chewy cocoa mint marshmallow cookies

I found that if you leave the cookies sitting out, the teensy marshmallows on top get crunchy – just like I like them! You can store the cookies in an airtight container but the marshmallows will get soft. (Only leave the cookies sitting out a day or two or they won’t be chewy anymore.)

Chewy cocoa mint marshmallow cookies

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

2 cups sugar

1-1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

¾ cup Andes Crème De Menthe Baking Chips

1 cup mint chocolate chips such as HERSHEY’S semi-sweet mint chocolate chips

2 (3 oz. each) bottles tiny marshmallow bits, divided

powdered sugar for dusting

Make the cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl beat sugar and softened butter until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. In separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Stir together and then gradually add to butter mixture; beating on low just until combined.
  4. Stir in Andes baking chips, mint chocolate chips, and 1 cup marshmallow bits until distributed into dough evenly.
  5. Roll dough into balls. Flatten balls lightly and press into bowl of marshmallow bits, pressing bits gently into dough so they stick when baked.
  6. Place marshmallow side up on ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 9 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. The cookies will not look like they are done but they will puff up a little when baking and then they’ll drop when they are cooling. They are soft with a little crunch around the edges.
  8. Cool 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack. When cookies are completely cool, dust with powdered sugar.
  9. If eating within a day or two, keep uncovered – this allows the marshmallows on top to get a little crunchy. If you like the marshmallows soft, store in airtight container.

Sweet minty wishes,

Staci

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There’s a border battle between two Minnesota housewives and for that reason, I am sworn to secrecy and cannot share my sister’s super-secret-better-than-everyone-else’s Special K bar recipe.

For years, Heidi has been knocking the socks off family and friends with her secret Special K bars. But there’s this one housewife [Lincoln County Housewife] who is unkind (like cyber-bullying unkind) to my sister but that lady’s husband and sons (who are nice and friends of the family) love Heidi’s bars. So she bakes them for the guys but won’t share the recipe with anyone but her sisters. Ah, sweet revenge.

Special K bars

When I told Heidi I was writing this post and assured her that I would not share her secret recipe, she told me a few interesting facts about what happens when she makes a pan (or two) of her famous Special K Bars. [I didn’t use the guys’ names.]

Heidi: When I make these for them, there are rules. They are rationed between each other.

Me: LOL, what? Between Lincoln County Husband and Sons?

Heidi: I don’t really know, but it is wild hog code of rules about who gets bars, when they get bars, what size bars each get. I stay clear!

Me: Oh it’s wild hog rules amongst themselves – they’re not your rules? Is that more than just Lincoln Co. Husband and his boys? Or is it Pipestone Co. Husband and the other guys too? You just toss them a pan and run??

Heidi: Yes. It’s (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male) and (Male).

And the chivalrous “ladies first” rule does not apply.

It gets even better. 

Here’s an excerpt from a message from Lincoln Co. Housewife to my sister:

“Made my husband more bars, huh…I’d like to know what obsession you have about making bars for my men in my family…” blah, blah, blah something about the “fatning” bars… (her spelling not mine) “[Lincoln Co. Husband] told me today that he told you to stop making him bars…you better listen to him…”

Me to Heidi: Did he tell you to stop?

Heidi: Hell no!

Who knew a pan of bars could create such turmoil? We will forever refer to her secret recipe as Special K-iss My Ass Bars.

Special K Bars

(A standard, non revolution provoking recipe)

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup white sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

6 cups Special K cereal (or corn flake cereal)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

In a large saucepan over medium heat bring corn syrup and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth. Fold in cereal. Press into a buttered or parchment paper-lined 8 x 11½ or 9×13 cake pan.

In a small saucepan melt chocolate and butterscotch chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Once smooth, pour over bars and spread evenly. Cool completely before cutting.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Come back later this week for: 3 piggies in a breakfast pie.

Super secret sweet wishes,

Staci

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