Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie FINAL

We’ve been experiencing uncomfortably high temperatures (and insanely high humidity) for the last several weeks in central Europe, meaning I’ve had no desire whatsoever to turn on my oven and get baking. That doesn’t mean, of course, that my notorious appetite for all things chocolate diminished in the slightest. Far from it! I was into my collection of no-bake dessert recipes within minutes of temps topping 90 degrees last week.

This pie has a very special place in my heart, as it’s been my dad’s favorite for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can scarcely remember a birthday or Father’s Day celebration in my childhood in which it didn’t make a welcome appearance. The filling is rich and creamy, cradled in a delicate chocolate cookie crust and topped with drizzled chocolate sauce and grated dark chocolate. I took it a step further (maybe too far?) on this occasion with the addition of chopped miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. A word of warning: this pie is not for the faint of heart … or dieters … or diabetics … but is definitely worth a try if you’ve got a peanut butter lover in your midst!

Note: If you’d like to craft a lower-fat version of this pie, use 1/3-fat cream cheese, reduced or low-fat sweetened condensed milk, reduced fat peanut butter and fat-free Cool Whip. I’ve made both versions and the flavor variations are minimal.

Enjoy!

 

PEANUT BUTTER PIE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Yield | 8 to 10 servings

 

  • 1 1/3 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (approximately 30 crushed cookies)
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tbsp finely granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly whipped cream
  • 1 to 2 tsp chocolate syrup, to serve
  • 1 ounce grated dark chocolate, to serve

 

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, melted chocolate and sugar. Press firmly and evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Chill crust for 30 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter, blending for 1 minute. On low speed, add lemon juice and vanilla extract, blending until just combined.
  3. Remove bowl from electric mixer and gentle fold in freshly whipped cream. Pour pie filling into the chilled chocolate cookie crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. To serve, drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with grated dark chocolate, if desired.

 

Habanero Turkey Chili with Honey Buttermilk Cornbread

 

Habanero Turkey Chili

It’s been a long, lonnnng time since I’ve posted to this blog, but I’m happy to be back with new recipes (the result of lots of summer cooking and baking!) this week. Hopefully this post kick starts my lazy blogging bum into gear, and I’ll be back with more recipes in the weeks and months to come!

This spicy homemade chili has been a family favorite for years. Adapted from the recipe for Boilermaker Tailgate Chili on AllRecipes.com, it’s also been my go-to meal for the happy occasions this summer that we’ve welcomed family and friends to our home in southern Germany. Despite the rather intimidating number of ingredients listed, this chili couldn’t be easier to prepare for a large group of weary, jet-lagged world travelers desperately in need of a protein boost. And if the protein doesn’t wake them up, the flavor surely will – this chili is spicy with a capital S. I personally like to take my spice level to the brink of hospitalization, but feel free to tinker with the amount of chili powder added if pepper-induced sobbing just isn’t your jam. (I recommend 2 tablespoons instead of 1/4 cup for those with less heat tolerance.)

And finally, let’s talk about cornbread. I LOVE cornbread. I’ve tried every conceivable type of cornbread known to man or woman, and this recipe is HANDS DOWN the best. It has the rare combination of perfect flavor (not too sweet, not too bland) and perfect consistency (not too cake-like, not too dry). I can’t imagine a better accompaniment to this spicy chili. Enjoy!

 

HABANERO TURKEY CHILI WITH HONEY BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD

Yield | 12 servings

For the chili:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 4 (15 ounce) cans chili beans in sauce
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 habanero peppers, seeded + minced
  • 4 cubes beef (or chicken) bouillon
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, to serve

For the cornbread:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt

 

To make the chili:

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground turkey and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
  2.  Pour in the chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, habanero peppers, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder and remaining ingredients (through sugar). Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, topped with shredded cheddar cheese (or refrigerate and serve the next day).

To make the cornbread:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter and honey in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cadbury Crème Egg Ice Cream

Cadbury Ice Cream 001

Have you ever looked at your Easter haul of Cadbury Crème Eggs and thought to yourself, “These don’t contain quite enough sugar, fat and calories?”

No? Fair enough.

In all honesty, I haven’t either. I’ll be the first to admit that this ice cream isn’t healthy, or nutritious, or a good idea for diabetics. [It really, really isn’t.]

But if you like your desserts chocolate-y, creamy and sinfully rich – or you’re simply itching for a reason to bust out your ice cream maker just weeks into spring (becausesummerseemssofaraway) – this recipe is for you. Enjoy in moderation (think: a 1/2-cup serving every once in a blue moon – or better yet, share with friends!), then head outside, get active, and enjoy a beautiful new season!

{Note: I couldn’t track down miniature crème eggs in Germany, but it worked just fine to freeze the regular ones for 20 minutes (just to firm up) before chopping. They took a wee bit longer to melt down in the chocolate-cream mixture, but were well worth the extra effort!}

 

CADBURY CREME EGG ICE CREAM

Yields | 10 to 12 servings

Inspiration | Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

 

  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup finely granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 4 oz milk chocolate
  • 8 oz miniature Cadbury Crème Eggs (unwrapped, chopped and divided)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

 

  1. In a non-reactive sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together 2 cups cream, cocoa, sugar, corn syrup, and salt; mix until smooth.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup cream and cornstarch to make a slurry; set aside.
  3. Add the chopped chocolate and 4 ounces of the Cadbury eggs and whisk until completely smooth. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the remaining cream, cornstarch slurry, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  5. Pour the mixture into a large Pyrex bowl, cover with Saran wrap, and refrigerate until mixture is chilled through (about 1 hour).
  6. Pour the ice cream base into ice cream maker and process (per the machine’s instructions) until thick and creamy.
  7. Pack the ice cream into a resealable container, sprinkle with remaining 4 ounces of Cadbury Crème Eggs, and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).

 

 

Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes

Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes 000

Happy Easter, baking gods and goddesses!

So … I’m one day late on holiday wishes AND blog posts. In my defense, I was busy cooking, over-eating and laying around in a food-induced stupor. If you don’t consider that much of defense, take heart! Some things are better late than never, and these cupcakes are most definitely one of those things.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, many of the recipes featured on this blog – indeed, the blog itself – are inspired by and devoted to my late grandmother, Bonnie Jean. She loved food – shopping for it, cooking it, and of course, eating it – and centered every holiday around what inevitably became an epic family meal. If she were still here – and I swear sometimes she is! – she’d confirm that there’s no better end to an Easter meal than a giant slice of homemade carrot cake. THIS carrot cake.

You’re probably asking yourself: “But why pineapple?” Honestly, I have no idea. I have no idea why she put pineapple in her carrot cake. Or grape leaves in her homemade pickles. Or sour cream in her chocolate chip cookies. I just know they’re hands down the best carrot cake, pickles, and chocolate chip cookies ON THE PLANET. Maybe when I’m a grandmother, I’ll be let into their secret society of culinary sorcery. In the meantime, I don’t ask questions, and I add the damn pineapple. You should too!

{I made my grandmother’s recipe into cupcakes, but have also included the instructions for a sheet cake below.}

Enjoy!

 

PINEAPPLE CARROT CUPCAKES

Yields | 36 cupcakes

 

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups finely granulated sugar
  • 5 medium fresh eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, divided

For the frosting:

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 to 6 cups confectioner’s sugar

 

To make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three 12-well cupcake pans with paper liners (if making a sheet cake, lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch cake pan). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat oil and granulated sugar on medium speed for 30 seconds. As motor runs, add eggs individually. After eggs are fully incorporated, remove bowl from mixer.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir, by hand, into sugar-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla, carrots, pineapple and 1 cup chopped walnuts; stir well. Pour batter into prepared paper liners until each liner is 3/4 full (or into prepared cake pan, spread evenly to edges). Bake cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes (cake for approximately 1 hour), or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Remove cupcakes from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool thoroughly before frosting (cool cake in pan).

To make frosting:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar (adjust powdered sugar to taste). Frost cupcakes (or cake) only when completely cooled. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup chopped walnuts.

 

Brookies

Brookies1

I celebrated my 33rd birthday late last week, and spent my special day on an amazing holiday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a stunningly beautiful ski resort on the German border with Austria. I managed to cram all my favorite activities into the day: hiking, playing in the snow, exploring historic sites, and enjoying my hubby’s company. I also discovered what will be, for the rest of my days, a delicious birthday cake substitute: the Brookie.

For those that don’t know, my first name is Brooke – which makes the discovery of the Brookie such a fun one for me. A genius combination of two long-time favorites, Brookies pair the flavor and crackly surface of a brownie with with the soft, chewy texture of a cookie. And oh my goodness, are they fantastic! Fantastic enough to give up birthday cake, which was frankly unfathomable only a week ago. Give these a try for the chocolate lovers in your life, and enjoy🙂

Brookies2

 

BROOKIES

Yields | 25 cookies

Inspiration | AllRecipes.com

  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

 

  1. Beat vegetable shortening and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in one egg until completely incorporated. Beat in second egg along with vanilla extract and water. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Stir flour mixture into creamed mixture at low speed until just blended, then fold in chocolate chips. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
  3. Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven until cookies are set, 7 to 9 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet; transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Frosted Banana Bars

Frosted Banana Bars

These Frosted Banana Bars are one of the greatest revelations of my baking “career.”

They are – admittedly – not much to look at.

They feature one of my least favorite foods – soft, blackened, nearly rotten bananas.

They don’t require any special tools, expensive ingredients or fancy techniques.

Yet, they are by far my most-requested dessert. OF ALL TIME.

No joke – I am asked on at least a weekly basis to make these yummy bars, and bake them just about as often for my husband and his co-workers. They are ridiculously delicious – soft and uber-flavorful, with just the right amount of sweetness – are super easy to make, and can be thrown together with ingredients that virtually everyone has on hand already in their pantry or refrigerator. I’d say “enjoy in moderation!”, but forget that bollocks. Pig out. You won’t be able to stop yourself!

 

FROSTED BANANA BARS

Yields | 24 servings

Inspiration | Taste of Home

For the bars:

  •  1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups finely granulated sugar
  • 3 large fresh eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Dash salt

For the frosting:

  •  1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 to 4 cups powdered sugar*
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit (175° Celsius). Grease a 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch baking pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into creamed mixture just until blended.
  3. Transfer to prepared baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  4. For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add powdered sugar* and vanilla; beat until smooth. Frost bars when cool.

*Feel free to experiment with the amount of sugar in the frosting. Because I fancy my frosting a little less sweet, I usually add approximately 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. If you’d like it sweeter, add up to 4 cups total.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Toasted Walnut-Gorgonzola Sauce

Ricotta Gnocchi

Have you ever discovered a really delicious dish at a restaurant, savored every last bite, and then spent the next few hours/days/weeks/months thinking about it, craving it, and wishing you knew how to make it just as good (if not better!) at home?

Have you ever caved in, dragged a loved one to breakfast/lunch/dinner, and gone back to said restaurant for justonemorebite, only to find out those fools have sold to new management and your beloved dish is no longer on the menu? Well, I’ve gotta tell you – it hurts. It hurts bad.

This is that dish.

I stumbled across it on a date with my husband in San Diego’s Little Italy several years ago, and have never really been able to get it out of my head. How did they make those gnocchi so soft, so delicate? How did they manage to make their sauce so rich and creamy, yet so light? What culinary trickery was this, and how oh how could I be trained in their ways?

Then it was gone. All gone. I was left with a profound feeling of loss that is difficult to articulate. It turns out that was just hunger, but man I was disappointed. I began scouring the Internet for gnocchi recipes, and was instantly intimidated. You want me to do what with a potato?! It wasn’t until I stumbled across this version made with ricotta and flour that I got up the nerve to get my gnocchi on.

I don’t know what I was so afraid of! This brilliant recipe is both delicious and actually really easy, if you’re not afraid to get your hands a little dirty (or doughy, to be exact!). Paired with toasted walnuts and a simple, dreamy Gorgonzola sauce, this gnocchi is a perfect, incredibly tasty copy of that dish in San Diego. Phew!

What are some of your favorite restaurant dishes that you’d love to recreate at home?

 

RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH TOASTED WALNUT-GORGONZOLA SAUCE

Yields | 4 to 6 servings

Inspiration | Framed Cooks and Ina Garten

 

For the gnocchi:

  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese (not creamy or dolce)
  • 6 tbsp freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, to serve

 

To make the gnocchi:

  1. Place ricotta, flour, salt, egg and Parmagiano cheese in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir well, until a wet dough forms.
  2. Turn dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead until it feels pliable and smooth (approximately 2 to 3 minutes).
  3. Divide dough into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a long rope the approximate width of your index finger, stretching as you roll (it’s okay if the ropes rip, as you’ll be cutting them into small pieces in the next step).
  4. Cut ropes into 1-inch pieces. Using a fork turned upside down, gently press the tines into each piece (this will later help the sauce cling to the gnocchi).
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.

[You’re not finished with the gnocchi yet, but this is a good time to turn to the sauce for a moment!]

To make the sauce:

  1. If not yet toasted, place the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 3 minutes (if walnuts are already toasted, skip this step). Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and saute for two minutes. Add the cream, Gorgonzola, 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, salt and pepper, stirring well to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

[Now, back to the gnocchi!]

To serve:

  1. While the sauce is thickening, carefully drop gnocchi into the boiling water. They will immediately sink to the bottom, but within 2 minutes will start floating to the water’s surface. At this point, your gnocchi is DONE – immediately remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, transfer to the simmering sauce, and toss to coat.
  2. Remove from heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, and serve immediately.

Baked Ginger Honey Chicken Wings

Ginger Honey Chicken Wings2

Super Bowl weekend is finally upon us, which can only mean one thing – GAME DAY SNACKS!!! Oh, and football. And I guess some people really dig the commercials … and the half-time show … and the endless supply of cheap American beer. But seriously, it’s not about that. Any of that. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD.

Well, it is in our house anyway. While my husband and I are pretty ambivalent about who wins and who loses, we’re definitely excited about stuffing ourselves silly from opening kick-off to final whistle with these yummy homemade chicken wings. Bathed in a palate-pleasing mixture of soy sauce, honey, ginger and (lots and lots of) garlic, these baked wings can be thrown together by even the most novice chef in less than 30 minutes – with no frying or messy clean-up!

Enjoy in moderation!

*** Looking for something a little spicier? Try my recipe for Spicy Honey Hot Wings! ***

 

BAKED GINGER HONEY CHICKEN WINGS

Yields | 6 to 8 servings

Inspiration | Simply Recipes

  • Canola or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled + finely minced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1/8 tsp Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
  • 3 lbs raw chicken wings (or drumettes)
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit (215° Celsius) with baking rack on the upper third of the oven. Line a roasting pan or thick baking sheet with foil. Rub some canola or olive oil over the foil to keep the wings from sticking.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic and Sriracha hot sauce. Add wings and toss to coat thoroughly. Arrange skin-side down on prepared roasting pan or baking sheet, taking care not to crowd the wings.
  3. Roast in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and – using tongs – flip wings over so they are skin-side up. Return to oven and bake for 10 additional minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies1

It seems like forever (almost a year ago? really?!) since I featured a cookie recipe on this blog, which boggles the mind because 1) this is *supposed* to be a baking blog, and 2) I bake and eat cookies all.the.time.

If I had to rationalize their omission, I’d say it’s because this blog – at least lately – primarily features my culinary experiments, rather than those tried and true recipes I’ve relied on for years. I have so many treasured cookie recipes passed down from my mother and grandmother that I’m often on cookie auto-pilot; in other words, I rarely branch out and try new recipes. Well, shame on me! There are literally thousands of incredible cookie recipes – this one included! – that I’ve overlooked in my haze of childhood cookie nostalgia. I take heart in the fact my Grandma Bonnie would have LOVED these Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies – she was a sucker for anything with coconut and chocolate – and forgiven my wandering taste buds. These cookies are soft and chewy, over-sized (which is the best cookie size, amirite?), and not overly coconut-y. They’re best enjoyed 10-15 minutes out of the oven – when they’re still a wee bit warm and gooey on the inside – but can be zapped for a few seconds in the microwave for a similar effect.

Enjoy in moderation!

 

COCONUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Yields | 24 cookies

Inspiration | Taste of Home

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup finely granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 2/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit (175° Celsius).
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips. Shape two tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball and place 3 inches apart on a baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned (13 minutes was the sweet spot for my oven). Remove to wire racks to cool.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcakes

It occurred to me earlier this week that, as of late, this baking blog has been seriously lacking in one very important thing: BAKING. I could blame this on my recent love affair with soup (seriouslyhomemadesoupisthebestthingeverrrr), but the fact is I was just plain sugared out after the holidays. I don’t know about you, but I consumed so much cake, candy, and gluhwein in December (okay, and November) that I could hear my teeth screaming for mercy. With the face of my stern and ruthless Persian dentist in mind, I reluctantly placed a moratorium on baked goods.

If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you probably know that’s when I re-discovered soup. We only ate soup on the rarest of occasions in California, because frankly, it’s way too blasted hot there. Much to my delight, however, German winters are ideal for soup making and eating, and I fell in love experimenting with all the recipes I’d collected – but never tried – over the years in San Diego. We enjoyed everything from Broccoli Cheddar to Zuppa Toscana, from Cream of Wild Mushroom to Cheesy Potato Bacon. We ate soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and probably – no joke – a few times for dessert. We lost ourselves in those heady days of cream and broth and bacon. In the meantime, my oven sat neglected, patiently waiting for me to get back to the business of baking.

Oh sweet oven, you know me so well. Late last week, I started getting that all-too-familiar hankering for chocolate. It started off subtle, but by the weekend I was pawing through my recipes looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. When I stumbled across these cupcakes – one of my childhood favorites – I knew I was back in the baking game. And thank goodness – I wasn’t keen on starting a Soup Goddess blog!

Black Bottom Cupcakes instantly remind me of my lovely aunt Rebecca, who frequently brought these to family picnics, potlucks and camping trips when I was growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I hadn’t had one in years, but was immediately transported back to the blissfully happy days of my youth as soon as these emerged from the oven. They are a delicious combination of decadent chocolate cake and rich, lightly sweetened cheesecake, studded with semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips. They’re an especially attractive dessert for those that love cake but hate the occasionally cloying sweetness of frosting. Enjoy in moderation!

Black Bottom Cupcakes1

 

BLACK BOTTOM CUPCAKES

Yields | 14-16 cupcakes

Inspiration | my aunt Rebecca

  • 1 1/3 cup finely granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (do not microwave!)
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 6 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. Place 1 cup finely granulated sugar, cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add coffee and oil and mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add vinegar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, then blend on medium speed for an additional 30 seconds.
  3. Fill each paper liner half full with chocolate batter. Set aside.
  4. Clean and wipe dry the mixing bowl. On medium speed, blend cream cheese, 1/3 cup finely granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and egg until smooth and creamy. (Note: DO NOT OVER MIX. Blend just until lumps disappear, no more than 30 seconds.) Add chopped chocolate pieces and stir to incorporate. Top chocolate batter with one heaping teaspoonful of cream cheese mixture.
  5. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from muffin tins immediately and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. The insides will be gooey if eaten within the first hour, but will set thereafter. If you prefer the gooey texture, microwave for 10 to 15 seconds before eating.