Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

These brownies…

…are, without a doubt, the best brownies I have ever eaten. A good friend (who also happens to be my sister-in-law) gave me one of David Lebovitz’s cookbooks a while back and I could not resist baking one last thing before my final semester of school starts. In the introductory paragraph, David says “I’ve made a lot of brownies in my life, and these really are the best.” I could not agree more.

For “Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies”, you need:

  • 6 tbsp butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans, toasted and chopped (I used pecans)

Heat the oven to 350 and line a 9-inch square pan with parchment or foil, leaving about an inch of overhang. Grease the parchment with cooking spray and set aside.

Melt the butter over low heat, then stir in the chocolate until it is melted and smooth. Take it off the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until smooth again.


Then, beat in the eggs one at a time. Last, add the flour and beat “energetically for one full minute.” David really emphasizes beating the batter vigorously for a full minute, as this is what Robert advises. Apparently, excellent brownies will not result unless you enthusiastically beat the batter for this specified amount of time. I didn’t risk not following the instructions, and it was well worth it. Anyway, beat the batter until it is glossy and smooth, then stir in your nuts of choice. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.


Bake until the center feels almost (key word, almost) set, which will take about 30 minutes. As David directly says, “don’t overbake.” Let the brownies cool completely in the pan, then lift the parchment or foil out of the pan to remove the brownies. Prepare for your field trip to heaven.


I really don’t know what else to say other than MAKE THESE RIGHT NOW. I am practically at a total loss for words, as these brownies are amazing, fudgy, rich, wonderful gooiness that I want to eat all the time. I might not ever buy a box mix again as, after eating these, that would be disappointing and might even feel sacrilegious, since these are practically as easy to make and are way more delicious.  In fact, it’s lunchtime. I’m going to go eat a brownie and love every minute of it.



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…were in order again, as we got a FANTASTIC new toy for Christmas–a Kitchen Aid stand mixer!  This has been an item on Schatzi’s and my wish list for quite some time, and his family was so kind to give us one this year.  Of course, new toys are nothing but a wonderful excuse to make a batch of cookies, so we made Food Network’s Chip Chubbies, which are fantastic.

For this chocolate chip cookie you need:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chunks

Beat the butter  and sugars until fluffy, then add in the egg yolks and vanilla.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and add it to the butter mixture.  Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Roll the dough into one-inch balls and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven, until golden brown.

I have to admit, while these are indeed delicious cookies, I was a bit more keen on the original chocolate chip cookie recipe we made a few weeks ago.  Nonetheless, these are excellent and are a wonderful combination of sweet and salty.  They do come highly recommended, particularly when dunked in a glass of milk!


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…is super-fun to make, especially for the holidays!  Food Network Magazine featured a recipe for perfect gingerbread men, and I couldn’t wait to make them!

For perfect gingerbread you need:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice (we just added extra cinnamon)
  • 6 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 tbsp. melted shortening
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg

Sift the flour, baking soda, and spices together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and molasses.  Beat the egg in with a mixer.

Mix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients in two additions.  The dough will become crumbly and seems like it will never incorporate, but keep working with it!

Divide the dough in half,  wrap each portion in Saran wrap and pat/roll it to 1/2 inch thick.  Pop the dough in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly flour the counter.  Roll each each of dough to 1/4 inch thick, dusting with more flour if you need it.  Cut the dough into gingerbread men or whatever shapes you desire.  If you can believe it, we actually don’t have a gingerbread man cookie cutter, so we used our Star Wars set with other random shapes.  And, as you can see, Schatzi attempted his own gingerbread man.

And, the Star Wars gang was all there!  We added chocolate chips  and sprinkles to some of the cookies, and it made them taste all the better!  When cookies have been cut, place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets and place back in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Then, bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes and let them cool on a rack.


I highly recommend mixing chocolate chips and sprinkles to your batter-it is delicious!  The Food Network chefs weren’t kidding when they deemed this perfect gingerbread–it’s soft, sweet, spicy, and just plain wonderful.  Whip up a batch for the office in the last couple of weeks before Christmas!


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…are so quick and easy and are absolutely perfect to make for the holidays!  We made a batch last weekend, and have been enjoying these little indulgences all week.

For chocolate-covered marshmallows you need:

  • 1 lb. dark chocolate
  • A bag of marshmallows
  • Sprinkles
  • Skewers

Simply melt the chocolate in a double boiler, then roll the tips of your skewered marshmallows in it.  Then, roll the freshly coated marshmallow in your favorite holiday sprinkles.  Set on some wax paper to harden, and you are done!

My mom gave us the great idea of enjoying these marshmallows in a cup of hot chocolate…delicious!!!!

When you dip the marshmallows in your cocoa, the chocolate and marshmallow begin to melt and just become heavenly!  And, the sprinkles make your plain old hot chocolate look quite festive.  What a way to start (or end!) the day!


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Pumpkin pie…

…is delicious, but can get boring if you don’t mix it up the recipe a bit year after year.  With the help of Paula Deen, for this year’s pumpkin pie, we added the twist of rum and candied pecans–brilliant!

For Paula’s Pumpkin Rum Pie you need:

  • 1 (9-inch) premade pie shell
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum (we actually used white)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup Praline Pecans (You can actually buy these to save a bit of time! Ask your grocer.)

Heat the oven to 375 and partially bake the pie shell according to the package instructions.  Meanwhile, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, butter, 1 1/2 cups cream, sour cream, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, rum, and vanilla.  Pour the batter into the shell and bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 and keep baking the pie for 30-45 minutes.

Allow the pie to cool while you make some whipped cream.

Simply beat the remaining cup of cream until it starts to froth.  Then,  slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until the cream starts to hold peaks.  Garnish a piece of pie with the cream and pecans.

This pumpkin pie is delicious and so easy–especially is you buy the pecans and whipped cream!  The rum adds a subtle hint of flavor that really complements the rest of the ingredients.  Put a spin on your typical pumpkin pie recipe and give it a try for the holidays.


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…are in order, as it is the Christmas season!  Last year, Food Network Magazine did this wonderful segment, 50 Holiday Cookies, in which they gave several great base recipes along with variations.  Why this has been hiding on my bookshelf, unused, for a year is beyond me!  Well, this weekend, we made their classic chocolate chip cookies and they are absolutely fantastic (and easy!)!

For these chocolatey, gooey cookies you need:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy.  Then, beat in the vanilla and eggs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Stir it into the butter mixture.  Add the chocolate chips and pop the dough into the fridge for half an hour.

Roll the dough into balls and bake them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment for 8-12 minutes at 350.

Let the cookies cool for just a few minutes on a rack.

Grab a handful of delicious cookies and kick your holiday season off right!

These are honestly the most perfect chocolate chip cookies you can make!  They are both crispy and gooey as well as sweet and salty.   These are an absolutely wonderful holiday treat and they really could not be any easier!


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…has been on my mind for months with the availability of pumpkin this year and the cooler months.  I finally was able to make a batch this week and served it with Papa Lawson’s Award-Winning Chili, which made for an absolutely fantastic meal.  When I was growing up, we always had pumpkin bread with our chili, so I figured it was rather common.  Apparently, combining the sweet bread and spicy soup is not a well-known tradition, and Schatzi was in for a real treat when he was introduced to the excellent combination!  If you have not tried it, I highly recommend you get baking!

For my family’s pumpkin bread you need:

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 and greasing/flouring 2 large loaf pans.  Then, cream together the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin.

Add in the flour, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pecans.  Then, pour the batter into the two prepared pans.  Bake the bread for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the bread rest and cool for a few minutes, then remove it from the pans to a cooling rack.  Slice yourself a piece and enjoy.

Ah, this bread was well worth the wait.  And, it freezes very well, so if you can’t finish off two loaves in a timely fashion, just wrap one in some foil, pop it into a bag, and into the freezer it goes.  But, I’m betting you won’t have a problem polishing it off–Schatzi and I are plowing through ours!


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