Category Archives: Chocolate

Mocha Mint Smoothie

Standard

IMG_5773
Holiday Greetings! Can you believe Christmas is in only 3 days? To me, it feels like December just started and then all of a sudden Christmas is only a few days away and everyone is scrambling to get ready. I guess the holidays have a way of creeping up on you.

This season I have been super into anything chocolate and mint flavored. Peppermint mocha coffees (or, if you’re around the south shore of MA, Girl Scout Cookie coffee from Marylou’s which is DELICIOUS and tastes exactly like a thin mint), minty hot chocolate, chocolate bars with peppermint, peppermint bark, you name it!

I recently learned about Chobani’s #MadeWithChobani project and felt inspired to see what I could come up with. I thought, what better way to feature Chobani in a recipe than to incorporate it into my favorite flavor combination and thus the idea for this Mocha Mint Smoothie was born.

IMG_5753

My Mocha Mint Smoothie includes vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt, chilled coffee, cocoa powder, peppermint extract, frozen bananas, and milk. It’s creamy, filling, and packed with flavor. And bonus – it’s healthy! I slurped mine down after the gym today and it was the perfect post-workout snack. I used vanilla yogurt to keep things simple but for a real treat you could use Chobani’s Indulgent Mint and Dark Chocolate flavor!

Mocha Mint Smoothie
makes 1 smoothie

IMG_5757

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup Chobani Greek yogurt (vanilla, plain, or mint and dark chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup chilled coffee
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder or chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Few drops of peppermint extract (about 1/8 tsp)
  • Sweetener of choice (stevia, coffee creamer, etc.)*
  • Optional: ice cubes for a thicker smoothie, protein powder for extra protein

*Sweetener of some sort is recommended to balance out the strong flavors of the coffee and unsweetened cocoa powder.

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Sweeten to your liking and enjoy!

IMG_5777

Happy Holidays! πŸ™‚

Healthy Secret-Ingredient Brownies

Standard

IMG_5427

There are two desserts out there that I almost never tire of and could always find room for: soft, chewy, traditional chocolate chip cookies, and fudge brownies. I don’t often allow myself to eat these sweets, but when I do I find that they always hit the spot.

I started bookmarking and reading a lot of recipes for healthy brownies over the past year. Some recipes make small substitutions, like swapping out oil for applesauce or using honey in place of sugar. Some recipes use seemingly odd ingredients like avocado or black beans. Today, I bring you a healthy, chocolatey, moist brownie that doesn’t include any avocado, no bananas, no applesauce, no dates, and absolutely no beans of any kind.

So what is the secret ingredient? you may be wondering. It is… (drumroll)…

Prunes!

Okay, before you turn your nose up in disgust and stop reading, hear me out for a minute. Prunes have a reputation for being a food only old ladies or babies eat because of their high fiber content, and a lot of people assume they’re foul-tasting and not something they’d enjoy. To me, a prune tastes like a cross between a raisin and a dried cherry and I think a lot of people would actually like them if they tried them out. And if people can stick things like black beans or avocados in their dessert recipes, surely we can handle a dried fruit in a brownie recipe.

Recently I was thinking to myself that prunes would go well with chocolate, like a chocolate covered raisin, or how chocolate Larabars use pureed dates with cocoa powder that end up tasting similar to fudge brownies. I found this recipe for Fudgy Guilt-Free Brownies on Oatmeal with a Fork and the ingredient list was pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

IMG_5420

This brownie recipe includes pureed prunes instead of oil, less than a half cup of your favorite natural sweetener, ground oats instead of white flour, and only 1 (optional!) tablespoon or butter or coconut oil in the whole recipe. They are moist, chewy, super chocolatey, and have more of a cake texture. I almost considered calling it cake instead of brownies, but at the same time they’re so flavorful that they don’t need icing or frosting. I have always considered myself to be a fudge brownie kind of person, but these brownies are just darn good.

Here’s where the recipe gets a little weirder. You can certainly puree the prunes yourself with a bit of water or even juice, but to get the best texture for these brownies, it’s recommended to use baby food prunes. I can hear your stomach churning and your skepticism growing, but think about it: baby food prunes are really just prunes that have been professionally pureed and any skin or tough parts are strained out. They have a silky texture and will blend right into your brownies without anyone noticing. The brownies do have a slightly fruity flavor, but I find that it goes well with the recipe. They were even approved by my picky-eater roommate Kathleen, and Dan, who prefers traditional recipes without weird ingredients.

So as you browse the baby food aisle at your grocery store, without children of your own or children who are grown, you may wonder what you’re doing with your life, as I did. But just trust me. These brownies are good.

Healthy Secret-Ingredient Brownies
adapted slightly from Fudgy Guilt-Free Brownies on Oatmeal with a Fork

IMG_5432

Ingredients:
makes 16 2-inch brownies

  • 3/4 cup oats, measured and then ground into flour (any type of flour will work here)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp cococa powder (I used half dark chocolate/dutch and half regular)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sweetener of your choice (sugar in the raw, coconut sugar, or regular ol’ white sugar)*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup pureed prunes (2 5-oz containers of baby food works perfectly)
  • 1 egg, whisked (or 1 Tbsp ground chia or flax seeds for vegan)
  • 1.5 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted (optional)
  • 1/3 cup chopped dark or semi-sweet chocolate

*If using stevia or other concentrated sweetener, be sure to follow baking directions on the package as a little goes a long way.

IMG_5454

Ingredients for the brownies…

IMG_5417

Plus common baking ingredients…

IMG_5455

And the secret ingredient!

IMG_5458

You can use prunes with apples if you feel better about it.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ΒΊF and spray an 8×8″ baking dish thoroughly with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients: oat flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients: pureed prunes, egg, honey, vanilla extract, oil/butter, and whisk. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate.
  4. Pour into your greased baking dish and bake for 17 – 18 minutes (18 was perfect for mine), or until a toothpick inserted into brownies comes out clean. Let cool before serving, and enjoy with a glass of milk or ice cream!

Note: Because these brownies are so moist and slightly sticky, they may require extra care when slicing them. Chilling them before cutting will make for neater brownies, but I was too anxious to do so, which is why my brownies are rather messy looking.

IMG_5451

πŸ™‚

 

 

Tiramisu Iced Coffee

Standard

IMG_4917
Happy National Coffee Day! A few days ago, I was having trouble thinking of what kind of recipe I should post this weekend so when I heard that September 29th is National Coffee Day, I instantly knew what my post would be about.

Coffee is one of my favorite drinks – specifically iced coffee. It was a slow growing love for me. As a kid, my mom would let me sip her coffee and even let me get my own small size once or twice. In high school, I began drinking raspberry or cinnamon iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. In college I fell in love with dark roast coffee and have been mildly obsessed with coffee ever since then.

I have my go-to orders at my favorite coffee places (Iced French vanilla dark roast at Dunkin and Iced vanilla latte or iced hazelnut at Starbucks), but sometimes homemade iced coffee is just as good. Last summer I discovered the cold brew method of making iced coffee which has become increasingly popular and doesn’t even require a coffee maker. Since moving into my new apartment, I began enjoying espresso at home too. My roommate Jill has a mini Bialetti Moka Pot, which is basically a manual stove-top espresso maker, so I’ve been having fun playing around with that.

Not only does coffee help me get through the day, but I just love the flavor of a good coffee and it always seems to put me in a good mood. I was reading last year that sipping on a cup of caffeinated coffee actually released endorphins – one of the many reasons to drink it!

Last night my family went out for my sister’s birthday, and we ate at Macaroni Grill. I had never been there before and got a delicious blood orange Italian soda and some awesome appetizers. But the part of the meal that stood out the most to me was the tiramisu for dessert. I’ve never been a huge fan of tiramisu, but this stuff was good. It wasn’t too sweet and had just the right amount of coffee flavor – delicious! After browsing some recipes online , I had the idea to make a tiramisu-inspired iced coffee. It has a bold coffee flavor with a hint of vanilla and cocoa. It’s probably hot coffee season for most people by now but I’m gonna keep sippin’ my iced coffee as long as I can. πŸ™‚

IMG_4860
Tiramisu Iced Coffee
makes 1 coffee

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup strong-brewed coffee, chilled (I used espresso roast)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup milk
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp coffee creamer (I recommend vanilla or amaretto) or other sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp coffee liqueur or extract (Kahlua would work here!)
  • whipped cream or cool whip to top
  • cocoa powder to sprinkle

Directions:

In a tall glass, combine coffee, milk, sweetener, and coffee liqueur (and iced cubes if desired – I did mine without) and stir to combine. Top off with whipped cream and cocoa powder and enjoy πŸ™‚

IMG_4929

What’s your favorite way to enjoy coffee?

S’mores Cookies

Standard

IMG_4697

Did you know that yesterday, August 10th, was National S’mores Day? Neither did I, but coincidentally I had planned to post this recipe for S’mores Cookies. I’m a day late but that’s still pretty good for just learning about this wonderful holiday yesterday.

It’s been a while since I posted a dessert recipe, and this is one that’s been floating around in my head for a while. A few months ago, I found these Marshmallow Bits at Target and so the idea for s’mores cookies was born. Everybody loves s’mores, and I thought it’d be fun to enjoy it in cookie form. (Side note, if you plan to buy these Marshmallow Bits, I recommend checking your local Target or grocery store first – I got mine for $1.50 rather than almost $8 as shown on Amazon.)

IMG_4666

These cookies also include crushed up Hershey’s chocolate and Biscoff spread. I included Biscoff in the recipe because to me, it tastes like ground up cinnamon graham crackers. Some other s’mores cookies or bar recipes include chunks of graham crackers but I wanted mine to have a chewier texture. These cookies have all the delicious flavor of s’mores, but in a neater and more convenient cookie form.

S’mores Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

IMG_4702

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp butter (about 3/4 of a stick) at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp Biscoff Spread or Cookie Butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Hershey’s Chocolate bars (1.55 oz each), crushed or chopped into little pieces or 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Marshmallow Bits or mini marshmallows
IMG_4640

Ingredients for the s’mores aspect of the cookies, plus the other ingredients listed. (I used about 2/3 of that bar, roughly equal to 2 normal sized Hershey bars, in addition to some mini chocolate chips)

Directions:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  2. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine butter and Biscoff Spread. Pop in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, or until Biscoff is softened and can be easily mixed with the butter. Cream both sugars with the butter until fluffy, and then stir in whisked egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Combine dry ingredients with wet and stir just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate and Marshmallow Bits. If using mini marshmallows, you may want to add them to each cookie dough ball individually – see note at bottom.*
  4. Chill the cookie dough for at least 2 or up to 24 hours. (This step isn’t 100% necessary but is strongly recommended for thick, fluffy cookies.) Once dough is chilled, preheat your oven to 350ΒΊF and roll into 1-inch balls (roughly 1 Tbsp each). Place on lightly greased cookie sheets.
  5. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes, or until puffy and beginning to turn golden around the edges. I like my cookies very chewy so I keep the time on the 13 minute mark. Let cool and enjoy πŸ™‚

*If using mini marshmallows, it’s recommended to keep them off of the bottom or sides of the cookie dough ball because they may stick to the pan and burn. You can either smoosh the marshmallows into the top of the cookie dough balls, or stir them into the cookie dough mix and form the balls in a way that the marshmallows aren’t exposed to the bottom or side. If using Marshmallow Bits, you don’t need to worry about this step!

IMG_4642

Mix up your dough.

IMG_4651

Form into 1-inch balls

IMG_4654

Bake at 300ΒΊ for 13 – 15 minutes, or until puffy.

IMG_4656

:)

πŸ™‚

I also wanted to mention that I start my new job tomorrow, so my posts may be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks as I figure out how blogging will fit into my new schedule. I am nervous but also really excited! So bear with me as I settle into my schedule and I’ll be back with new recipes as soon as I can πŸ™‚

Easy Raspberry Vanilla Swirl Brownies

Standard

IMG_4117
These brownies may look fancy, but I promise they’re simple to make.

I had a recipe planned out for some grilled shrimp, but my mom requested I make my “famous” brownies for our Memorial Day cookout tomorrow. Famous meaning, they come from a box and everyone knows it. But I must say, not all boxed brownie mix is created equal. I strongly recommend Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie mix. They are decadent, fudgy, and have dark chocolate chips in the mix. They are the best boxed brownies I’ve ever had and they never fail to please guests.

In honor of Memorial Day, I wanted to add a fun raspberry and cream cheese swirl to these brownies, inspired by two different recipes. Growing up, my aunt Ellen would often make brownies with cream cheese swirled on top and we always loved them. In college, my favorite dessert from the dining hall was their delicious raspberry swirl brownies, topped off with raspberry preserves. I’ve always loved the combination of chocolate and raspberry, and also raspberry and cream cheese, and so the idea for these brownies was born. But after a failed attempt using cream cheese for this recipe, I realized it was too thick to achieve the “swirl” and I decided yogurt would work better.

Anyway, these brownies are super delicious and decadent. They are deceivingly simple to make, using boxed brownie mix and using a tooth pick to swirl raspberry preserves and vanilla yogurt. The brownies are rich and fudgy and the yogurt and raspberry swirl is a nice break from the intensity of the chocolate. You certainly don’t have to use Ghirardelli brownie mix (though I seriously recommend it) – you can use whichever your favorite type is and they will come out delicious regardless.

Easy Raspberry Vanilla Swirl Brownies
makes 1 8 x 8″ pan

IMG_4130

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of your favorite brownie mix, plus the ingredients required to make the brownies (mine calls for oil, water, and an egg)
  • 1/3 cup raspberry preserves or jam
  • 1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

    IMG_4084

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325ΒΊF and lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. Prepare your brownie mix as instructed on the box directions, and pour into greased pan.
  3. In a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag, pour in raspberry preserves and seal. In a separate Ziploc bag, pour in vanilla yogurt and seal. Cut off the tip of the corner of each bag.
  4. Squeeze the yogurt in a straight line onto the prepared brownie mix, from top to bottom. Make 4 stripes across. Repeat this with the raspberry preserves. Drag a toothpick across the surface from left to right starting at the top, and then from right to left directly under the first line, alternating until you reach the bottom and a zigzag or chevron design is achieved.
  5. Bake according to box directions and let cool before slicing. Serve with a tall glass of milk or as dessert at your Memorial Day festivities πŸ™‚
IMG_4061

Prepare your brownie mix according to box directions, and pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan. (Don’t forget to preheat your oven!)

IMG_4064

Pour yogurt into a small Ziploc bag and cut the tip of the corner off. Do the same for the raspberry preserves, in a separate bag.

IMG_4069

Gently squeeze the yogurt in a thin line across the top of the brownie batter. Do the same with the raspberry. Don’t worry if the lines aren’t perfect! (I left the part of the batter plain for some members of my family who prefer regular brownies.)

IMG_4077

Gently drag a toothpick across the stripes, from left and right and then alternating to right to left, until you reach the bottom of the pan so a zigzag pattern is created.

IMG_4081

Bake up your brownies and let them cool before cutting into them. (The raspberry swirl may be hard to see, but you’ll be able to taste it!)

IMG_4085

Cut your brownies into neat little squares.

IMG_4097

IMG_4100

πŸ™‚

Happy Memorial Day!