Bourbon Brownies

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After indulging in the brown butter bacon ice cream served with a bourbon fudge brownie at Carson Kitchen, Rob and I attempted to recreate this decadent dessert. Step one: the brownie! I’m not much of a bourbon fan, but mixed with chocolate it is delicious! The flavor is subtle and really enhances the cocoa. I like to serve these sweet treats while they are still warm and top them with ice cream (brown butter bacon recipe coming soon). Fresh brownies with melting ice cream—what’s not to love?

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Bourbon Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat 9″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the bourbon to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until smooth.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine sugar and butter, mixing on medium speed until well combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, powder and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined.
  5. Spread into prepared baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test. Cool in pan on wire rack.

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Friday Five

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Wahoo it’s almost the weekend! I think I actually enjoy Friday more than the weekend itself because you are in a relaxed, excited mindset knowing that you have two days of freedom ahead of you. Plus, casual Friday dress codes allow for some flexibility with your fashion decisions. I love being able to wear jeans instead of a skirt or dress pants! To start off a fun-filled weekend, I decided to share five of my favorite photos from the week.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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For a summer-inspired dinner yesterday, I grilled zucchini slices to have as a side with our barbecue chicken. We still had one left over, so I decided to mix it up and make a sweet treat instead. Since it would only be for the two of us, I didn’t want to make a batch of two dozen. Instead I created this chocolate zucchini recipe that only yields eight muffins, which is a much more manageable amount. Although I could probably finish a dozen myself, I would prefer to be able to fit into my jeans.

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If you’re looking to sneak some vegetables into your diet, this is a good way to enjoy some zucchini. It’s not exactly healthy, but I guess you have to start somewhere. The zucchini flavor is hardly noticeable as the chocolate is the dominant flavor. You can vary the amount of chocolate by using more or less cocoa powder and by adding or omitting the chocolate chips.

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The muffins turned out nice and moist with a firm top, creating a nice texture. Next time I might try the recipe with bananas or apple sauce instead of the oil and substituting the all-purpose flour with whole wheat to make it a little healthier.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

{Makes 8 muffins}

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with paper liners (I found these cute parchment paper cups at Target).
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Beat in sugar and oil, until combined. Add cocoa, vanilla and zucchini, stirring until fully incorporated.
  3. Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mixing until just moist. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins filling them 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle the tops with additional chocolate chips, if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.

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Chocolate Thin Mint Ice Cream

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Shockingly, we still had a box of Thin Mints sitting in our kitchen cupboard. I don’t know how it has lasted since Girl Scout cookie season in March. I would like to credit it to my strong self-control (yeah right…), but most likely I have just been preoccupied with other sweets. We decided to put our ice cream maker to use once again and make this chocolate treat. With the cookies melted into the batter, the mint flavor can be tasted throughout the creamy dessert, not just from the crushed pieces. Chocolate and mint is the perfect combination for a post-dinner treat. I like to think it helps sooth the stomach… maybe not, but it is delicious :)

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Chocolate Thin Mint Ice Cream

Yields 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 box Thin Mints, divided
  • 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add cocoa powder and whisk until no lumps remain. Gradually add whole milk and heavy cream, whisking constantly. Finely chop 10 Thin Mints and stir into dairy mixture. Pour into saucepan.
  2. Heat dairy mixture on medium-low and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and reaches 180°F. Remove from heat and mix in chocolate chips, stirring until fully melted. Add salt to taste, then pour into a medium-sized bowl. Cover with cling wrap, pushing it all the way down so that it touches the surface of the ice cream base to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. When fully chilled, churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Roughly chop remaining Thin Mints. When only a few minutes remain, add chopped cookies. Transfer ice cream to air tight container and freeze for at least two hours before serving. Or serve immediately if you like it softer, similar to the consistency of a Blizzard. Enjoy!

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Brown Sugar Bourbon Ice Cream

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One of our favorite Christmas presents has been the ice cream maker that Rob’s parents gave us this year. Since it’s officially ice cream season, we finally decided to give it a try this week and made some vanilla ice cream with bites of Tagalongs, creating a peanut butter and chocolate flavor. It was good, but I wanted to try something more flavorful and unique.

After raving about our fun ice cream maker to my mom, she sent me a recipe that she saw for brown sugar bourbon ice cream with Theo chocolate from Floating Kitchen. It looked amazing, so we decided to give it a go.

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The bourbon is the focal flavor, but not overpowering, while the brown sugar makes it buttery and sweet. This recipe was softer and creamier than the first batch of ice cream we made, which I really enjoyed. It didn’t last long – between the two of us it only lasted five days. We will definitely make it again!

Brown Sugar Bourbon Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • Ice cream maker

Directions

  1. To make the ice cream base, combine the milk, heavy cream, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a low boil.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated sugar in a separate bowl, until the egg yolks become pale yellow and slightly thickened.
  3. Temper the egg yolks by whisking about a 1/2 cup of the boiling milk mixture into the egg yolks. Then add tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and pour into medium-sized bowl. Cover with cling wrap, pushing it all the way down so that it touches the surface of the ice cream base to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  5. Once chilled, pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Add the bourbon and churn until the mixture is nearly frozen, about 20 minutes. Add chocolate and churn for additional 5 minutes, until evenly distributed.
  6. Serve and transfer remaining ice cream to a freezer-safe container to store in freezer. It makes 1 quart.

 

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

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It’s hard to beat a classic chocolate chip cookie, but I decided to sprinkle on some sea salt to create that salty, sweet flavor and it was a hit. I made them for a pool party that we went to this weekend and I was happy to take home an empty container – success!

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I have tried numerous recipes on my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, but my mom suggested that I try this foolproof recipe. The cookies stay thick and fluffy because of the cornstarch, which is exactly what I was going for! Flat, crispy cookies are not my idea of a mouthwatering sweet treat. It’s safe to say that I found my new go-to recipe!

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Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix on medium speed until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Drop a tablespoon of dough onto baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. The tops will not brown, but don’t cook longer than 10-11 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Oreos

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Oreos + Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough = Cookie Heaven

When it comes to desserts, my favorite flavor combination is chocolate and peanut butter. It’s hard not to like, right? That’s why I thought these chocolate peanut butter cookie dough sandwich cookies would be perfect to make for a little dinner party at our house. A meal isn’t complete without some sweet treats!

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The recipe is surprisingly simple. It uses ingredients that I already had in my kitchen and wasn’t too time consuming. I like to “test” the dough as I bake. Let’s just say not all of the eggless peanut butter dough made it to the cookies…

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Homemade Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Oreos

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg

For the peanut butter cookie dough filling:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

For the cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars and mix until combined. Mix in egg and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture and mix on low speed until dough forms.
  4. Take rounded teaspoon of dough and place on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 8 minutes, until set. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium-high speed until light and creamy. Add sugars and beat until combined. Add the milk and vanilla, beating until fully incorporated. Gradually add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until dough forms. Gently stir in chocolate chips.

To assemble the cookies:

  1. Drop 1 tablespoon of filling onto half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, pressing lightly to create a sandwich.

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Sprinkles Cupcakes

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The forecast calls for a lot of Sprinkles in Las Vegas – at least for cupcake lovers like myself! I couldn’t wait to try these sweet treats from Sprinkles Cupcakes when it opened at The LINQ this spring.

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In addition to the vast selection of cupcakes, Sprinkles also makes ice cream! Since I couldn’t decide between the two, I went for the cupcake sundae made with salted caramel ice cream and a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting. The cupcake is cut in half with the bottom at the base of the sundae, which is topped with the ice cream and then finished with the top half of the cupcake. It’s like a cupcake ice cream sandwich – amazing!

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Another fun feature is the Cupcake ATM. Located outside of the shop, it allows you to choose between the flavors of the day and then you watch a crane pick up the cupcake, put it in the box and when the little door opens, you’re cupcake is ready to eat!

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Chocolate cupcakes are my go-to and my standard of measurement for cupcakes shops. This dark chocolate flavor did not disappoint. And how can you beat this view?

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“I Do” Take the Blog…

After a busy spring, I vow to be better about posting on Treats + Trends. I have so many recipes and DIY projects saved up that I want to share – my favorite being these peanut butter cookie dough Oreos!

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I’ll start off with some exciting news… I’m engaged! It’s no surprise that I love chocolate, so Rob couldn’t have proposed in a more perfect way. Hope y’all don’t mind quite a few wedding posts. Let’s just say I have spent a lot of time on Pinterest this past week and have been pin-spired to get crafty! Yes, there will be Mason jars, cupcakes and cowboy boots.

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 Stay tuned – more posts to come :)

Easter Coconut Cupcakes

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How is Easter already in three weeks? I feel like it was just yesterday that the grocery store was full of Valentine’s Day treats, but I do love seeing aisles full of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. The mini Cadbury chocolate eggs are one of my favorite Easter candies, so I decided to make some coconut cupcakes topped with the pretty, pastel sweet.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup canned light coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 tsp. coconut extract
  • 18.25 oz. box white cake mix
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes

For the frosting + topping

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 bag Cadbury mini chocolate eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake tins and set aside (makes 24 cupcakes).
  2. For the cupcakes: In a large bowl, combine egg whites, coconut milk, apple sauce and coconut extract. Add cake mix and stir until combined. Pour batter into prepared cupcake tins and bake for 20-22 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.
  3. For the frosting: In a medium bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter, until smooth and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with heavy cream. Add coconut and vanilla extract. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and spreadable. Add more powdered sugar if it is too thin or heavy cream if it is too thick.
  4. Frost each cooled cupcake and then sprinkle with shredded coconut. Top with three Cadbury eggs.

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S’more Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

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I always want some more cupcakes! And this classic campfire treat turned unique sweet is no exception. The Nutella frosting is just the icing on the cake… literally.

These s’more cupcakes take me back to summer and sitting around a bonfire at the beach, roasting marshmallows and laughing with friends. Although it’s already warming up in Vegas, hopefully these sweet treats will offer those of you still living in the snow a little taste of summer and sunshine!

S’more Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

Ingredients

For the graham cracker crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon. sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • salt to taste
  • mini marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs to decorate

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. To make the graham cracker crust, combine crumbs, sugar and butter until evenly coated. Place a tablespoon of the mixture into each cupcake liner. Use a glass to press down on the crumbs, until a solid crust forms. Bake for 5 minutes, let cool before filling with cupcake batter.
  3. To make the cupcakes, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, canola oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until smooth. The batter will be thin. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Fill baking cups until 2/3 full and bake for 14-16 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.
  4. To make the frosting, beat butter in the bowl of a standing mixer on high for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and continue to beat on medium speed. Add Nutella and cocoa powder, then beat on medium speed until combined. Add 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and the vanilla extract. Add more heavy cream if it is too thick or add more powdered sugar if it is too thin. If frosting is too sweet, add a pinch of salt. Place frosting into pastry bag or Ziploc bag and use scissors to snip the corner. Pipe onto cupcakes, then sprinkle on graham cracker crumbs and mini marshmallows.

Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake Cookies

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“It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!” – Agnes, Despicable Me

Yes, she is talking about a unicorn, but she easily could have been describing these cookies. They are so soft and moist, plus anything dipped in chocolate is delicious. These chewy cookies would be a yummy Valentine’s Day treat for your special someone – and very cute wrapped in a Mason jar.

Ingredients:

  • 8-ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter.
  3. Add sugar and mix until smooth.
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture and stir until combined.
  6. On an ungreased baking sheet (or baking sheet with Silpat mat), drop rounded tablespoons of dough
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, until edges are set. When in question, I always err on the side of underbaked because they will still continue to cook ounce out of the oven. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.
  8. Cover baking sheet or plate with wax paper and set aside.
  9. Melt chocolate chips in microwave, stirring at 30-second intervals.
  10. Once melted, dip bottom of cookies and then place on prepared baking sheet or plate. Let chocolate harden. Enjoy :)

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Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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It’s hard to beat a classic chocolate chip cookie, but this recipe might just take the cake (or the cookie). Brown butter makes everything better and the oatmeal creates a chewy, amazing texture. It was my first time baking with the Silpat non-stick baking mat that my boyfriend’s brother and sister-in-law got me for Christmas. It worked perfectly and results in easy cleanup!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat baking mat.
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally as it continues to cook, until golden brown and smells nutty. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in cooled brown butter until fully incorporated. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Gradually add dry ingredients until well mixed. Gently stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  5. Roll dough into balls (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, until edges are set. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely – or eat them warm :)

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Maggiano’s Chocolate Zuccotto Cake Balls

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The Chocolate Zuccotto Cake from Maggiano’s has been a long-time favorite of mine. Even after sharing several family-style Italian dishes, I can always find room for this fudgy, chocolatey concoction.

My boyfriend and I were at Macy’s and they were having a special event where Maggiano’s was serving bite-sized samples to shoppers. Instead of the cake, they had cake balls, which were tiny bites of heaven. Rob doesn’t like overly-chocolate desserts (crazy, I know), but he loved these! Hence this recipe that tried to replicate these tasty treats – and, in our opinion, succeeded!

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (I used non-fat)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 10 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into pieces
  • 3 cups whipped cream (or Cool Whip)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 packages of Ghiradelli dark chocolate melting wafers

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 9″ x 12″ cake pan and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together eggs, milk, canola oil and vanilla. Mix in sugar until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. On low speed, gradually mix into egg mixture until fully incorporated. Mix in boiling water. Batter will be thin.
  4. Pour into prepared cake pan and cook for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool. Once cool, use hands to break into crumbles.
  5. In a microwavable bowl, combine chocolate and 1/2 cup whipping cream. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Let cool. In the bowl of electric mixer, beat remaining 2 1/2 cups of whipping cream until soft. Mix in chocolate mixture on medium speed until combined. This should be the consistency of a chocolate ganache, but fluffier. Set aside.
  6. In another bowl, heat chocolate and butter in microwave for 1 to 1/2 minutes, until melted and smooth when stirred. Let cool. In a large bowl, whisk 1 cup heavy whipping cream until thickened. Add powdered sugar and continue whisking until it reaches the consistency of whipped cream.  Add cooled, melted chocolate and whisk just until incorporated.
  7. In the bowl of a standing mixer combine cake crumbles, ganache and mousse. I did this in two batches, so I used half of each. Place cake mixture into large bowl and refrigerate until hard enough to roll into balls. Line cooking sheet with parchment paper and roll into small balls. Place back in fridge until re-hardened.
  8. Melt chocolate and dip balls, then place on wax paper lined baking sheet. Place in fridge to harden. Serve chilled and store in fridge.

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Season’s Treatings!

Merry Christmas from Treats and Trends! Hope everyone got their holiday baking done! If not, below are a few recipes I wish I had time to try this season. They all look delicious and festive!

SONY DSCPeppermint Bark Oreo Cookie Balls from Heather Likes Food.

buckeye barsBuckeye Bark from She Knows. {Similar to my chocolate covered peanut butter balls, but in bark form.}

marshmallowsChocolate Dipped Marshmallows from She Wears Many Hats.

brownie bitesHot Cocoa 3 Musketeer Brownie Bites from Inside BruCrew Life.

pretzelsChocolate Covered Pretzels from Merry Thought.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

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It’s not Christmas without chocolate-covered peanut butter balls! My mom makes these every year and this was my first attempt to make them myself. These tiny treats filled with holiday cheer are perfect for a cookie exchange or hostess gift.

Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
18 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 inch square para wax

Mix together peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Roll into one-inch balls and place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Chill in refrigerator until hard.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips and wax over medium-low heat. Using a toothpick, dip cold balls into chocolate and place back on wax paper. Take toothpick out and cover hole with chocolate (use toothpick dipped in chocolate to cover). Store in refrigerator.

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

20131117-212016It’s hard to beat a classic chocolate chip cookie. From the sweet smell of the kitchen as they bake to the melty, gooey texture when they’re fresh out of the oven, there’s a reason why this basic cookie is a dessert staple. Since I currently have a salted caramel addiction, I decided to add a little twist to this simple sweet.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 15 unwrapped caramels, each cut into 6 pieces
  • sea salt

How-to:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of standing mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and mix until well combined. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Stir until dough forms. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for one hour.
  3.  Preheat oven to 350F. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of chilled dough and press in a few caramel pieces. Roll into ball and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat until dough is gone. {Helpful hint: try to not place caramel pieces on bottom of the ball because it will stick to the baking sheet}
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes, until edges are set and lightly browned. Do not over-bake them! Even if the centers don’t look done, they will firm up. I figured this out the hard way. Sprinkle hot cookies with sea salt. Let cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sea Salt Peanut Butter Brownies

20130930-220913You know the phrase “We go together like peanut butter and jelly?” Well, I think it should be changed to peanut butter and chocolate. It’s a classic combo that can’t be beat. These brownies help prove my point. Topped with sea salt, it is the perfect balance between salty and sweet.

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Ingredients:

For brownies:

  • 10 Tbsp. butter (1 1/4 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 6 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Sea salt to sprinkle

How to:

  1. Butter the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter paper. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and eggs until fully incorporated. Mix in cocoa, flour and salt until smooth. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  3. To prepare the frosting, cream the peanut butter and butter until combined. I used a standing mixer on medium-high speed to make it light and fluffy. Slowly stir in powdered sugar until completely incorporated. Spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Enjoy :)

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Salted Caramel and Nutella Filling

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My boyfriend and I both love salted caramel-flavored desserts. We bought salted caramel gelato at the grocery store and it was gone in less than a week. You just can’t beat that sweet, yet buttery and salty flavor. Since I also love chocolate, I wanted to combine these two favorite ingredients and create a caramel, chocolate cookie. Why not go all out and throw Nutella in there, too? I normally like to share my baked goods with friends or co-workers, but these didn’t leave the house. That good.

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Ingredients

For the cookie:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  • Sea salt (to sprinkle on top)

For the salted caramel filling:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Melt butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Take off heat and stir in brown sugar, cocoa powder, eggs and salt until combined. Stir in baking soda and flour. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Place in fridge while making salted caramel.
  • Now for the caramel filling: measure butter and cream, set aside. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, mix sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, turn heat up to high. Then tilt and swirl pan while mixture boils. It will start to caramelize and turn a golden-yellow color. Take off heat and add in butter. Stir in cream. Mix in vanilla and salt. Set aside to let harden while you begin forming cookies.
  • Scoop one heaped tablespoon of dough onto cookie sheet. Create thumbprint-sized indentation in middle. Fill with 1/2 tsp. of Nutella then top with warm caramel. Place about 1/2 tsp. flattened dough on top and seal edges. Sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat until you run out of dough. (Makes about 15 cookies)
  • Bake for 10 minutes, or until dough isn’t gooey. (Well, not too gooey. I like under-baked cookies)
  • Transfer to wire rack to cool. Enjoy warm or cooled :)

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