Recipe: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

I brought along some Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies to the LucciHouse Holiday Party last weekend and I thought I’d share the recipe here:

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup margarine
  • 2 cups white sugar [I used Splenda instead]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter [I used creamy peanut butter instead]
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and peanut butter until smooth. Combine the flour and baking powder, then stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the dough out flat on the prepared pan.

  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops of the bars look dry. Cool in pan, then cut into squares.

I got the idea for blondies from a cookie run earlier that week — Leia and I walked to Eatzi’s to grab some cookies from their bakery section. In addition to a dozen peanut butter cookies, I also picked up a peanut butter blondie. It was pretty tasty and I pondered whether I could make some myself.

So, I checked AllRecipes’ cookie section and searched for blondie recipes. While there were a fair number of recipes for regular blondies, there were relatively few for peanut butter blondies (why, I have no idea). In addition to the recipe on which I decided, I also considered the recipe for Best Ever Chocolate-Free Blondies but I ruled that one out as I didn’t want to deal with peanut butter chips (at best they tend to resemble peanut butter).

I was pleased with how the blondies turned out, though their consistency was different than I had expected. The blondie which I had at Eatzi’s was fairly chewy but these were flaky in texture. Their texture was almost like that of a thick peanut-butter flavored sugar cookie. I’m curious whether swapping the sugar for Splenda, as I did, had any effect on their chewiness.

Recipe: Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Dallas Camera Club meets twice a month and members take turns bringing in snacks (chosen by rotating through the membership list). Tuesday’s meeting was my turn to bring in snacks and so I decided to bake some cookies. Sure, some people just stop by Kroger and buy a box of cookies, but I figured that baked cookies would be much nicer.

I stopped by AllRecipes a few days ahead of time to select a recipe. Once in their Cookie section, I headed straight for the subsection on Chocolate Chip Cookies. It's not that I had ruled out other cookie types, but I thought I had a good chance of finding a workable chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Fortunately, all the recipes at AllRecipes are rated (on a scale of one to five). With dozens of chocolate chip cookie recipes, I just ignored all the non-5-star entries. And, I had in mind more of a soft cookie (rather than crunchy) and that further narrowed the playing field. And one that I finally settled on was called (simply) Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. In particular, the tagline sounded enticing: “Crisp edges, chewy middles”.

As the recipe called for chocolate chips (as you would expect) but also chopped walnuts, I thought I'd have to make a special trip to Super Target for sure. But, I glanced through my pantry beforehand and it turned out that I had all the ingredients already.

When it came time to bake the cookies, the recipe was actually a little easier than I expected. There was no melting of any kind (neither butter nor chocolate) and there're only three steps in total (the first of which is “preheat oven”, so that one hardly counts, even). The one nebulous portion of the recipe was the baking time — “Bake for about 10 minutes […] or until edges are nicely browned”. I don’t like guesswork when it comes to recipes and so I just went with an even 10-minutes for the first batch (well, actually 5 minutes + 5 minutes, as I swapped racks halfway through).

After that first batch, the edges were slightly browned, but who was I to say if that meant “nicely”? To be sure, I baked the second (and third) batches for 11 minutes (5 minutes + 6 minutes) and those were slightly more golden-brown around the edges.

Once they were baked, I set them aside on cooling racks and, as soon as they were cool enough not to burn my tongue, I snarfed one. It was still gooey, of course, but rather tasty. In some ways, it still even had that cookie-dough flavor (as opposed to most other recipes where the cooked product is decidedly different from the raw edition). But, I made a mental note that I'd have to allow them to cool fully before forming a final opinion.

So, the next day, I had one with breakfast (ooh, decadence) and it wasn’t quite the cookie that I recalled from the night before. It was soft, to be sure, but the edges never hardened. Really, it was just soft the whole way through — and some people like it that way, but not me. I wanted that delicate ying & yang of crispiness and softness, but to no avail. So, sure, these cookies are good in the general sense that all cookies are yummy, but I get the feeling that there may be a better chocolate chip cookie recipe out there.

In any case, here’s the recipe.

“Best Chocolate Chip Cookies”

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar [or Splenda, natch]
  • 1 cup packed 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 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (175 degrees C).

  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.

  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned. [11 minutes was an improvement for me, and 12 minutes may be even better]

Recipe: Thick and Chewy Triple-Chocolate Cookies

I brought along some chocolate chocolate-chip cookies to the Independence Day party on Sunday and I thought I’d share the recipe here. Back when I first received the Evite to the party, I noticed the request for desserts and side dishes and I immediately began to ponder what I could bake.

Being the chocolate nut that I am, I decided fairly early on to go with something chocolate-based, but it was only after watching some TiVod episodes of America’s Test Kitchen that I happened upon the idea of chocolate chocolate-chip cookies. (For those not aware, America’s Test Kitchen is a cooking show on PBS which goes through dozens of iterations for each dish before publishing the recipe that works best).

Fortunately, their recipes are also online (for the recent couple seasons, anyway). And, while the as-televised recipe is for Double-Choclate Cookies, their site also lists a varation which I could not ignore: Triple-Chocolate Cookies. For those keeping score, the double chocolate cookies include Dutch-processed cocoa along with a pound of melted bittersweet chocolate. The triple chocolate cookies include those ingredients plus chocolate chips. Well, on to the recipe:

Double-Chocolate Cookies, Thick and Chewy Cookies

Makes about 3 ½ dozen cookies

To melt the chocolate in a microwave, heat it at 50 percent power for 2 minutes, stir it, then continue heating it at 50 percent power for 1 more minute. If it’s not completely melted, heat it for an another 30 to 45 seconds at 50 percent power. We recommend using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop to scoop the dough. Resist the urge to bake the cookies longer than indicated; they may appear underbaked at first, but they’ll firm up as they cool.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

    Some—but not all—supermarkets carry Dutch-processed cocoa. If your local supermarket doesn’t have it, one place where you can definitely find it is at Penzys Spices, including their store just off Preston & 635.

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups packed (10 ½ ounces) light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl; set that aside.

  2. Melt the chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from the heat. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla lightly with a fork, sprinkle the coffee powder over to dissolve it, and set that aside.

  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it’s smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in the sugars until they’re combined, about 45 seconds; the mixture will look granular. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until it’s incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until it’s combined, about 40 seconds.

  4. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With your mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until they’re just combined. Do not overbeat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature until the consistency is scoopable and fudgelike, about 30 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Leaving about 1 ½ inches between each ball, scoop the dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets with a 1 ¾-inch ice-cream scoop.

  6. Bake, reversing position of baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until the edges of cookies have just begun to set but their centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes. Cool the cookies on sheets for about 10 minutes, slide the parchment with the cookies onto wire racks, and let them cool to room temperature.

  7. Cover one baking sheet with a new piece of parchment paper. Scoop the remaining dough onto the parchment-lined sheet, bake, and cool as directed. Remove the cooled cookies from the parchment with a wide metal spatula and serve.

Variation — Thick and Chewy Triple-Chocolate Cookies:

If you like bursts of warm melted chocolate in your cookies [and who doesn’t? —A], include chocolate chips in the batter. The addition of chips will slightly increase the yield of the cookies.

Follow the recipe for Thick and Chewy Double-Chocolate Cookies, adding 12 ounces (about 2 cups) of semisweet chocolate chips to the batter after the dry ingredients are incorporated in step 4.

The only downside to the recipe is that it can take longer than other cookie recipes (especially including the 30-minute wait-time after mixing the dough). All the same, I was really pleased with the results and I think these Triple-Chocolate Cookies may be my new favorite cookie :).

Quiznos Chocolate Bundt Cake

I think the sandwich may be one of my favorite food groups (so tidy and yet delicious). And, after I helped Mike move out on Monday, he invited me out for lunch (he’s moving in with his fiancee in College Station). We went for Quiznos and that was just the meaty elixir I needed.

I selected a small Turkey-Bacon-Guacamole sandwich, with double meat. And, as I neared the checkout, I spied a stack of mini chocolate bundt cakes in a cooler. They’re no more than 4” in diameter and, well, in the shape of a bundt cake. I had tried one before, years ago, and it was a bit dry at the time. But, I decided to give Quiznos the benefit of the doubt that maybe the prior cake was just a fluke.

In any case, after eating my sandwich, I opened the plastic dome enclosing the bundt cake. I offered some to both Mike and Annette, but they declined citing shrunken stomaches on account of skipping breakfast that morning (yeah, I don’t understand it either). So, I broke off a piece and indulged.

To my pleasant surprise, it was distinctly better than the last one. While the last one was dry and almost airy, this one was properly moist and seemingly denser. And, the chocolate icing (about 1/8” thick) was chocolaty enough and smothered the top half of the cake. As a bonus, the icing pooled slightly in the hole of cake to form a chocolate nugget.

The chocolate cake was better than I expected and just what I needed after moving furniture all morning. And, judging by the unscheduled carbohydrate-induced coma nap later that afternoon, it had plenty of sugar in it (though Quiznos’ nutrition information is remarkably sparse in this area). I don’t think it’s something that I’d pick up with every Quiznos trip, but I might just grab one of their bundt cakes again sometime.

Recipe: Double-Chocolate Walnut & Marshmallow Creme Fudge

I brought along some fudge to Ru’s party on Saturday and I thought I’d post it here in case anyone would like the recipe. I had in mind that I could bake a dessert and something with nuts & chocolate sounded good. So, I decided on fudge and headed to AllRecipes for an appropriate recipe.

I searched for “fudge” and found my way to their fudge section. From there, I navigated to the Fudge with Nuts recipes and on to the recipes for Chocolate Fudge [with Nuts]. There were about a dozen recipes there and I concetrated on those recipes which already had many reviews (recipes that are highly rated tend to garner more reviews, which leads to more reviews and so on).

I settled on Aunt Teen’s Creamy Chocolate Fudge. It had 343 reviews and still had an average 5-star rating. What I also liked about it — in addition to its inclusion of two types of chocolate along with marshmallow creme — was that it required no fancy candy thermometers (as some fudge recipes do). Here’s the recipe:

Aunt Teen’s Creamy Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar [see notes below on alterations]
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk [a 5 oz can]
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips [one full 12 oz bag]
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips [half a 12 oz bag]
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts [walnuts work very well here, though pecans would probably also be good]
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the nuts in an even layer. Toast them for 4 minutes, rotate pan, and continue to toast until fragrant and color deepens slightly, about 4 minutes longer. Then set them aside to slightly cool until they’re needed.

  2. Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine half the jar of marshmallow creme, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

  4. Remove from heat and pour in semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in nuts and vanilla; lightly fold in remaining marshmallow creme. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or until firm.

Recipe notes and alterations:

Though the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar, some of the reviews suggested trying just 1 cup of sugar instead. Since I didn’t want an overly-sweet fudge, I went with that suggestion (which worked out well). On a later batch, I tried using just 2/3 cup of sugar and that seemed to further improved the chocolatiness-to-sweetness ratio.

At one point, I also thought about using Splenda in lieu of sugar altogether. However, I decided not to take a chance on that as fudge recipes tend to rely on the crystalline nature of sugar for the proper chemical reactions (unlike many other baked goods which only use sugar for its sweetening properties). Besides, even though fudge isn’t a low-carb food (this recipe has about 18g carbs per piece), the granular sugar alone isn't that much of a factor towards that count (after all, it’s one cup divided over 48 pieces).