Category: Dessert

Peanut Butter Brownies

Peanut Butter Brownies
Pi Day (3/14) was earlier this week, but I didn’t get around to baking a pie this year. Fortunately, I am lucky to spend my workdays with the most thoughtful, fun and festive colleagues. Two of them surprised the entire office with an assortment of pies—key lime, apple and s’more, to name a few. It was such a treat to have a little bite of this and that. I made sure to try everything.

A peanut butter pie stole my heart with its silky filling and berry jam top, but I couldn’t help dreaming of chocolate instead of fruit. That magical combination will always be my number 1. I baked a batch of peanut butter brownies that were so good I couldn’t stop myself from devouring a square while making dinner. Don’t worry, my child did not witness me indulging in dessert before the meal.
Peanut Butter Brownies
Peanut Butter Brownies

Adapted from Food & Wine December 2007 and Martha Stewart Living February 2004

Makes 16 brownies

For brownie batter
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for pan
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For peanut butter swirl
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly butter a foil-lined 9-inch square baking pan.

For the brownie batter, melt the butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add the cocoa powder, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract thoroughly mixing after each addition. Gently fold in the flour.

For the peanut butter swirl, stir together the butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, salt and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

Spread one-third of the chocolate batter in the bottom of  the prepared baking pan. Spoon tablespoon-sized dollops of the peanut mixture about 1 inch apart in the pan. Spoon the remaining brownie batter around the peanut butter. Gently drag a butter knife through the batter both lengthwise and crosswise to make swirls. Tap the bottom of the pan on a counter to smooth out the batter into an even layer.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a bit of batter.  Cool and cut into 16 squares.

Store in an airtight container.

Bittersweet Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Bittersweet Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake
Ever since I dusted off my mini bundt pan for Valentine’s Day baking, I’ve been on a bundt kick. I even donated the fleur de lis decorated pan I had for over 10 years, so I could replace it with a more streamlined geometric design that’s more in line with my current style. Of course there was nothing wrong with the old pan, but I treated myself using a gift card to one of my favorite cooking stores.

To break in my new pan I baked this bittersweet chocolate stout bundt cake. The original recipe called for coffee, but I swapped it out for a micro-brewed milk stout since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. I made an irresistibly rich ganache to top it off. It was so wonderfully thick that I ended up using an offset spatula to help push it into the deep ripples circling the cake. Each bite was pure bliss.
Bittersweet Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake
Bittersweet Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Serves 10-12

Non-stick cooking spray
1 cup stout beer
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
2/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-12 cup bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the beer, butter and cocoa powder. Once the butter has melted, stir the mixture together and remove from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Stir the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla, eggs and yogurt. Fold into the chocolate batter. Transfer to the prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes before turning the pan over onto a cooling rack. Wait another 5 minutes before removing the pan.

Cool the cake completely before making the icing. Place the chopped chocolate into a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream over medium heat until it is bubbling around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute before gently whisking until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Spoon the icing over the top of the cake.

Store in an airtight container.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie
There are certain foods that I associate with specific people. Any chocolate dessert (the chocolaty the better), I immediately think of my brother. For my dad, it is two things. When I was a kid, he loved drinking LaCroix, which is now so popular in the world of carbonated beverages that I say he was 20 years ahead of the trend, and when it comes to dessert, it’s key lime pie.

My dad made the trip from Chicago to Florida to spend a long weekend with us, so I figured it was the perfect reason to make a key lime pie for our special guest, who was also celebrating his birthday. From the graham cracker crust to the citrusy filling, it was a simple, foolproof pie. I did get a little fancy by toasting the meringue topping with my trusty kitchen torch.
Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie
Adapted from Food52

Makes one 9-inch pie

12 graham cracker sheets
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 large eggs, separated
1-14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Key lime juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Use a food processor to pulse the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Press the graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Allow the crust to cool a little.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Pour into the crust and bake for 15 minutes until the center of the filling is still a bit wobbly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over the cooled pie.

To toast the topping, use a kitchen torch or place it under the broiler for a minute or less.

Mini Almond Bundt Cakes

Mini Almond Bundt Cakes
With Valentine’s Day coming up I felt obligated to bake something extra special. This year I had trouble figuring out what I wanted to tackle. After hours spent browsing my bookshelf and online, I decided I should use a much-neglected gadget or tool in my kitchen and that the recipe should involve chocolate. This strategy helped narrow down all the options.

I’ve had a mini bundt pan in my cabinet for years, and I think I’ve only used it twice. For some reason it has survived multiple kitchen purges. I dusted it off to bake these mini almond bundt cakes drizzled with bittersweet chocolate ganache. The cakes were dotted with almonds and flavored with almond extract. I am pretty sure they won’t last until the 14th!
Mini Almond Bundt Cakes
Mini Almond Bundt Cakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living May 1998

6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature plus more for pan
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup roughly chopped almonds
4 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease six mini bundt pans with butter. Spread the sliced almonds on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl combine the chopped almonds and brown sugar.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and almond extract until combined. Add a third of the flour mixture and half the sour cream and beat until just combined and repeat and finish by folding in the last of the flour.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of batter into each bundt pan and smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the chopped almonds on top and cover with an additional 3 tablespoons of batter. The batter should be about a half inch from the rim.

Bake the cakes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let the cakes cool completely on a wire rack before unmolding them. Arrange the cakes on the wire rack on top of a sheet pan.

Place the chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until it is very hot and bubbles start appearing at the edges. Pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 1 minute before stirring until smooth.

Drizzle the chocolate over the cakes and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Let the chocolate set before serving.

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