Tag Archives: chocolate

Mocha Mint Smoothie

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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.

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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

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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!

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Happy Holidays! πŸ™‚

Healthy Secret-Ingredient Brownies

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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.

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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

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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.

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Ingredients for the brownies…

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Plus common baking ingredients…

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And the secret ingredient!

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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.

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πŸ™‚

 

 

Easy Raspberry Vanilla Swirl Brownies

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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

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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

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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™‚
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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!)

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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!)

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Cut your brownies into neat little squares.

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πŸ™‚

Happy Memorial Day!

Chewy Biscoff Granola Bars

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The other day Dan and I were hungry and decided to check out a local deli down the street. While we were waiting for our sandwiches, I was browsing the store’s homemade baked goods and came across their granola bars. They smelled so good and made me want to immediately make my own.

After browsing foodgawker and other food sites, I found a few recipes that sparked my interest. Unfortunately I didn’t have any oats, but I spent the next 24 hours thinking about granola bars and trekked out this morning, snow and all, to get my oats. I decided on these No-Bake Biscoff Granola Bars from Two Peas and Their Pod and omg, I could not have chosen a better recipe. These granola bars are everything I wanted and more. I’m not usually a big granola bar person, but these are something special.

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Biscoff, for anyone who hasn’t tried it, is a thick spread made from Biscoff cookies. It tastes very much like ground up cinnamon graham crackers, but has the consistency of peanut butter. Not exactly healthy, but oh so delicious. Trader Joe’s sells their own version called Cookie Butter, which I’m sure is just as tasty. Biscoff spread lends the perfect flavor to these granola bars and gives them a wonderfully chewy texture.

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To the original recipe, I added shredded coconut to half the granola bars, left out the biscoff cookie crumbles,Β  and added a little cinnamon. I also let the chocolate chips melt a bit, making the bars slightly fudgy. So good! The recipe called for quick-cook oats, but I only had old fashioned and they turned out just fine.

Chewy No-Bake Biscoff Granola Bars (adapted slightly from Two Peas and Their Pod)
makes 10-12 bars

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Biscoff spread or Cookie Butter
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • optional: 1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

  1. Line an 8 x 8″ baking pan with parchment paper or wax paper (wax paper isn’t safe in the oven, but since we aren’t baking these, it will be fine)
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat butter, brown sugar, Biscoff, honey, and maple syrup over low heat. Stir gently to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes until a dark caramel-like sauce is formed. Add in vanilla extract and cinnamon and turn off heat.
  3. Stir in oats and then crispy rice cereal until well-incorporated. If you want a slightly fudgy texture, stir in chocolate chips while mixture is still hot. (If using coconut, mix in at this time as well.)
  4. Once chocolate is melted (about 1 minute), scoop the granola into the parchment paper-lined baking pan. Press down on the granola with a spatula or wooden spoon to create an even, flat layer. Sprinkle with a handful of extra chocolate chips if desired.
  5. Refrigerate the granola bars for at least 30 minutes before cutting. These bars are best stored in the fridge or an air-tight container.

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Peppermint Chocolate Truffles

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If you’re a follower of foodgawker or other food-blog related websites, then you’ve likely seen these delectable Oreo truffle recipes that have been floating around the internet. They are super easy and are made with only 3 ingredients – crushed Oreos, cream cheese, and dipped in melted chocolate. When I saw the addition of peppermint to this recipe, I knew I had to try it. To me, nothing says the holidays or wintertime quite like the combination of chocolate and mint.

If you have a food processor or a blender, you can easily make these delicious desserts. You can choose to melt the chocolate over a stove or in a microwave, as long as you keep an eye on it. These little morsels are truly delicious and would be the perfect treat to serve at a New Year’s party or just a get-together with friends. They are rich, moist, and have the perfect balance of chocolate and peppermint flavors. Best of all, you can make them ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to serve them.

Peppermint Chocolate Truffles
adapted from Candy Cane Peppermint Truffles on Liv Life

Ingredients:
makes about 30 truffles

  • 1 15.5 package Oreos (I used generic kind and they still tasted just as good!)
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • 4-5 round peppermint candies, plus more for decorating (crushed)
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract, divided in half
  • 1Β  1/2 to 1 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or about 10 oz. dark chocolate)

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Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, add Oreos and 4-5 peppermint candies and pulse until they break down into a fine powder. If your food processor is small like mine (only 3 cups), you may need to do this in batches.
  2. Pour the crushed Oreos into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add softened cream cheese and 1/2 tsp peppermint extract. Stir until well-incorporated and mixture forms a thick paste.
  3. Using your hands, roll Oreo mixture into balls (about the size of a heaping tablespoon). Place on a platter or cookie sheet and stick in the freezer for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Melt chocolate using a double boiler over low heat, or in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each one until chocolate is melted. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp peppermint extract.
  5. Using a fork or spoon, gently dip the truffles into the melted chocolate and roll around until completely covered. Remove from from melted chocolate with your fork or spoon and place on a wax-lined cookie sheet. If desired, sprinkle crushed peppermint candies on top to decorate.
  6. Once all truffles have been dipped in chocolate, place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.

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