Banana Muffins

  
There is something super sad to me about a bunch of browning bananas. No one wants to eat them and they are even too ugly to use in a smoothie. I could freeze them and keep them for banana ice cream but, honestly, they just get lost in the freezer. 

  

The answer is clearly muffins. Turn that frown upside down, bananas! You are going to go from the saddest part of the fruit basket to the most desirable baked good in the house!

  
I’ve made banana muffins on the blog before but that recipe called for more bananas than I had (and I was far too lazy to adjust the recipe), so I google around until I found this one and it turns out it’s much more delicious and banana-y than my other recipe. See kids? Laziness pays off sometimes. 

Banana chocolate chip muffins
1-1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 medium ripe bananas

1 large egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined.  Add the chocolate chips stirring just a few times to distribute. 
Fill muffin cups nearly full and bake until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean (about 18-22 minutes). Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan then turn out onto a cooling rack. 

  

Vanilla Butter Cookies

I’ll admit, these are not my usual cookie.  Crisp and sandy are not the adjectives that pull me into a cookie recipe.  That being said–I’m glad I stepped out of my cookie-box.  These cookies are not only easy to make but also delicious.  Rich, buttery, and the slather of chocolate over the side makes these a cookie I can see me adding to my regular rotation.

 

I mixed these up after dinner the other night when the boy wasn’t quite ready to give up on the kitchen for the evening.  There are just a few ingredients (and no eggs!!) that were almost all already in my baking drawer within easy reach.

After an easy “cream the butter and sugars, then add the dry” type construction, these cookies are balled up and rolled in sugar–which is one of my favorite steps to have kids help out on.

 

After placing the sugar-rolled cookies on the sheet pan, you need to smoosh them a little.  The KAF website suggested the plunger of a food processor since it had a nice concentric design.  Mine was within reach, so why not?  You could easily use a drinking glass or, if you are a fancy, you could use a cookie stamp.  (hint hint to my husband…wouldn’t these make a great Christmas present for me??)

These didn’t spread much during cooking but don’t crowd the pan since they do need a little room.  While they are still warm, you’ll need to melt the chocolate chips with a splash of vegetable oil.  I do mine in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring well in between.  The residual heat will melt the last of the chunky chips, so just keep stirring!

Dip the top of one side into the chocolate and put it back on the parchment to harden.  The chocolate on mine stayed a little gooey, so I stashed mine in the fridge between layers of parchment.  I’d like to say putting them in the fridge also kept them out of sight, out of mind but not so much because they are DELICIOUS cold.  If you need them to cool more quickly, you can try singing to them as my son did.  I don’t think it helped as much as the fridge though.

 

Vanilla Dreams

3 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups AP flour

coarse or granulated sugar for rolling

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients in two parts, scraping the bowl down between additions.  Use a small disher to portion the dough, then roll in the sugar and place on the prepared baking dishes.  Press slightly to flatten with a cookie stamp, drinking glass, or the plunger of your food processor.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

Mix the chocolate chips with 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Heat in the microwave in 15-20 second increments, stirring thoroughly to fully melt.  Dip the cookies into the melted chocolate so half of the top of the cookie is covered.  It is less messy if you manage to keep the bottom of the cookies clean.  Leave to cool on parchment or put directly into the fridge.

Makes 36-40 cookies.

 

 

Chocolate Monster Cookies


Sometimes you need a really big cookie. Really big and chocolate. With M&Ms. And peanut butter.  I had that kind of day today.

This cookie is made with a Devils food cake mix, one of my favorite easy cookie shortcuts. Cake mix cookies usually only require a couple of ingredients and only need a single bowl.   This one uses peanut butter as one of the major binding ingredients and the flavor really comes through in the final cookie. If you could add M&Ms to a peanut butter cup, you’d get close to this cookie.

Like most cake mix cookies, this batter is THICK. Soldier on though and fold in the candies as best you can. If you wanted some extra amazingness, you could add both chocolate chips and M&Ms. Or, if you are a terrible person, I suppose you could add nuts. But I don’t because yuck.

This batter is so thick I managed to break my large ice cream scoop dishing it. Insert the saddest of faces here.  Thankfully, the cookies soothed my soul and a new scoop can be had on Amazon before my next muffin emergency.  These are best formed by your hands–about 5 tablespoons or a decent size handful.

I love these cookies and, if you are a chocolate & peanut butter lover, you will as well.

 

Chocolate Monster Cookies

Makes 12 giant cookies

 

1 devils food cake mix

2 eggs

3/4 cup peanut butter (I used creamy but I’ve made this with crunchy with good results)

3 tblsp milk

1 1/2 cup m&m’s

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cake mix, eggs, peanut butter and milk together.  The batter will be very thick! Fold in the m&ms as well as you can, then form the cookies into balls.  Bake for 11 minutes or until just set.  They cookies will be soft and will need to firm up while cooling on the sheet pans for a few minutes.  After about 5 minutes, move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

 

 

Brownie roll outs

  
How did it even happen? I spend my morning selecting a new cookie recipe to try after my son requested them at breakfast. Brownie Roll Outs–they sound perfect. I go to the fridge and pull out the butter and then the pantry to collect the other ingredients but…what? How do I not have any cocoa? WHAT??

  
Its a good thing I live basically 2 minutes from the grocery store. I ran in, grabbed the cocoa, and got back home to assemble this super thick chocolate dough. I let it chill in the fridge for an hour while I cleaned up and pondered cookie cutter shapes. As it turns out, I had the exact same cookie cutter set that Smitten Kitchen used in the original recipe so–why not?

  
Once chilled, I cut the dough into a few sections so most of it could remain chilled in the fridge. It rolled out beautifully and, at 1/4 inch thick, held the cut out shapes well as I transferred them to the parchment paper. I used a slightly smaller cutter so I set my timer for 6 minutes and rotated the pans halfway through.

  
It took several batches of rolling and cutting (and letting the cookie sheets cool thoroughly in between).

  
These are quite delicious but, honestly, I think they could be just a little better with a splash of peppermint extract. But maybe its just because I love peppermint and chocolate together. The kids gobbled them up (no surprise) and my son proclaimed they were “his favorite”. That will probably only last until I make the next batch of cookies but its an endorsement all the same. I liked that these were nice and soft with a good chocolate flavor. They held their shape well through baking so if you have a fancy cookie cutter you are looking to use, this would be a great candidate!

Smitten Kitchen’s Brownie Roll Out Cookies

3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (225 grams) lightly salted butter, softened (Deb note: I don’t really see “lightly salted” much these days, so I used one stick salted, one stick unsalted)
1 1/2 (300 grams) cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (approximately 60 grams — weights can vary a bit depending on brand. I use the “good” stuff–Droste, Galler or Valrhona –but I can assure you that my mother only used Hershey’s growing up, so your choice)

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top. (It does disappear once baked, though, so don’t overly fret if they go into the oven looking white.) Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the former for 1/8-inch thick cookies, the latter for 1/4-inch cookies) until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Craziness: One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you bake with kids, you know the deep pain of a child waiting for butter to soften. It takes FOREVER–especially in the cooler months when you really want to be baking cookies. I feel your pain and this recipe is here to rescue us both. It has just the basic ingredients and–to make it EXTRA easy–it uses butter softened in the microwave. And, if that wasn’t enough to tempt you–it also only takes one bowl.

After you soften your butter in the microwave, you hand mix the sugars in, followed by the rest of the ingredients. The softened butter makes it easy to get everything combined without having to lug out a heavy stand mixer. Add in the chocolate chips at the end and you are ready to bake!

As I always do, I use a cookie disher to portion my cookies. My favorite for cookies with chocolate chips or other chunky stuff is the 1.5 Tablespoon size.

I baked them until the centers were just set and non glossy. I like a nice chewy cookie and, much like eggs, if you bake them until they are done in the oven, they’ll be overcooked when you want to eat them.

In my continuing adventures in freezing, I froze about half of my dough by plopping it onto a sheet of parchment paper and shaping it into a log with my pastry scraper: Then I wrapped the parchment log into cling film and put it in the freezer. I’m hoping for easy slice and bakes in my future!

In the end, these cookies are pure classic perfection. Simple ingredients, lots of chocolate chips, and a buttery softness to the dough. Since the butter and sugar weren’t creamed together, these cookies stayed nice and dense and decidedly cookie-ish rather than any cakey qualities. I don’t know if this cookie could really be improved on.

One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
generous 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
One bag (10-11 oz) of chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Put the butter in a large (microwave safe) bowl. Heat the butter in small increments (10 seconds or so), stirring in between each. You want the butter to be nicely softened but not melted or runny. Add the sugars and vigorously stir them into the butter until well blended. Stir in the egg, vanilla, salt, and baking soda thoroughly. Add the flour and stir until just combined. Then fold in the chips.

If the dough is very soft, you can add a few more tablespoons of flour to stiffen it up (or just put it in the fridge for a few minutes while you clean up).

Use a disher to portion the cookies onto the sheet pans and bake until set (start checking at 8-10 minutes but use your own discretion based on the size of cookies you end up with).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’ve discussed my love of muffins many times on this blog and I stand by my feelings. Today, I have a favorite for you–peanut butter chocolate chip muffins! Two of my favorite flavors in my favorite bready shape!

 

This is a standby recipe in our house and, to be honest, I usually make a 4x batch of these since they freeze perfectly! I just freeze them either in the pan or in a single layer until they are hard, then pop them into large freezer bags. They’ll defrost on the counter overnight or in a few hours in a lunchbox.

 

These are as easy as pie to put together and, since there are many lickable things in the batter, are a great option for cooking with kids. I’ve made these with both smooth and crunch peanut butter and both work fine.

 

These are dense, heavy muffins with a strong peanut butter flavor and are quite sweet for a breakfast muffin. I’d say if you don’t like a sweet morning muffin, these would be a fantastic option for a cupcake with a little chocolate frosting or ganache on top.

These stay fresh for a few days before getting hard but they don’t last long in my house anyway.

Peanut Butter Muffins

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup peanut butter (crunch or smooth)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup milk or semi-sweet (I used semi-sweet) chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, eggs and milk until smooth.
Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter into your paper-lined muffin tin. Each cup should be filled to the top, not just half way up, to ensure you get a nice dome on the muffin.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top of the muffin springs back when lightly pressed.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Craziness: Slice & Bake “In the Chips”

cookie

I’m pretty sure chocolate chips cookies were the first thing I ever baked as a tiny kid. I remember it feeling like a huge all day undertaking with the waiting for the butter to soften, mixing everything together and then waiting for all the cookies to bake and cool. Maybe I’m just more patient these days but cookies seem like an easy thing to whip together with the kids.

mixing1

Stand mixers help, too.

somanychips

I like my chocolate chip cookies soft and chewy with A LOT of chips. Why bother with a cookie that has 2 or three chips? The cookie part is tasty but it is really just a vehicle to get chocolate to my piehole.

readytobake

This is one of my favorite recipes. It is perfectly chewy, makes a good amount of cookies (I love them but I don’t need enough to last a month), and has just the basic ingredients. Its also a very sweet dough which really satisfies my sweet tooth. Even though I love this recipe, it is time to branch out and start another quest for the perfect recipe. Can I improve on perfection? We shall see.

done

This recipe originally comes from a great book on cookies that can be frozen in dough form for instant gratification cookies from the freezer. I’ve tried a few of the recipes and they are excellent though I haven’t actually made it to the freezing stage–they are too good to not all bake up at once! I only made a few slight changes–switching out the instant coffee/water mixture in the recipe for milk being the main one.

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies
Adapted from “In the Chips” from Slice & Bake Cookies by Elinor Klivans

2 cups/255 g bread flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp milk
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 cups of chocolate chips and chunks

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add milk, vanilla, and eggs (one at a time, mixing until combined). Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in two parts, slowly mixing until just combined.

Remove from mixer and add chocolate chips by hand.

I used a #40 scoop which yields 24-26 cookies and baked for 13 minutes.

These are nice, soft cookies that would be excellent candidates for mailing!

Giant Chocolate Chunk Cookies

cookies

Baking cookies with a cake mix feels like cheating. Four ingredients? And I get cookies? Shouldn’t I have to measure something? Or use a mixer?

mixing

I usually spend a lot of time baking or cooking since I really enjoy the process but, sometimes, I just want the darn cookie. When we need cookies fast–or with a minimal amount of mess–I break out the cake mix recipes. They usually have just a handful of ingredients and often use vegetable oil instead of butter so you don’t even have to spend time waiting for butter to soften on the counter.

Cookie

These are a great example of a perfect quick cookie. Four ingredients in one bowl and you end up with luscious, moist, chocolaty cookies.

inside

Giant Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 chocolate cake mix. I used a King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Cake mix which is a 22 oz mix.
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (if you are using a standard cake mix that weights 15-16 oz, use two whole eggs and skip the extra yolk)
3/4 cup of vegetable oil (1/2 cup if you are using a standard mix)
1 cup of chocolate chunks

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. The batter will be very thick! I used a #12 disher (a standard size ice cream scoop) which yielded 12 very large cookies. You can fit 6 on one standard cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 18 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for 2-3 minutes, then move to a wire rack. If you are doing two sets of cookies on a single sheet, allow the sheet to cool completely before putting the remaining cookies on it to bake.

Microwave Fudge

fudge

What a silly name. I was tempted to give it some kind of fancier name for the blog entry but I’ll never remember the new moniker in the long run. It has been “Microwave Fudge” since I was old enough to steal cubes of it from my Mom’s freezer as a kid.

bowl

The is one of those recipes that I’ve never bothered to change. Why would I? Its chocolaty, sweet, easy, doesn’t heat the kitchen up, refreshing on a hot summer day, and I always have the ingredients on hand. It is perfection in a melt-in-your-mouth candy. The craziest I’ve ever gotten is to add a little peppermint flavoring during holiday season which is good….but it just isn’t as classic as the original.

melted

You’ll need a microwave safe bowl and some type of freezer safe pan, lined with foil (heavy duty is nice), and about 5 minutes of your time.

pan

Microwave Fudge

1 box/1lb 10x sugar
¼ cup evaporated milk (NOT condensed)
½ cup cocoa
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla (a splash really. I never measure)

My mom always sifts the sugar and cocoa together into the microwave safe bowl but I never do because I kind of like the clumps. This is one of those decisions you are going to have to make for yourself. Add milk and butter on top, do not stir. Microwave just until butter is mostly melted (about 2:30 on my microwave). Stir just the center of melted butter to melt any large chunks of butter that remain with the residual heat. Add vanilla, stir quickly to incorporate. Pour into foil lined dish and store in freezer. It will be ready to cut in a couple of hours.

Slice into squares. How small is up to your discretion. I do about 1 inch cubes.

Store it in the freezer! This is not a stable fudge so it can’t get to room temperature without melting. It is better cold anyway. Its also great on ice cream!

cutting fudge

Chocolate Peppermint Balls

Peppermint Balls

It is no secret that I love cookies. Chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal, butter–I’ll eat any kind of cookie. You can’t go wrong with a classic chewy chocolate chip or a peanut butter with the little fork crosses but you can get those anywhere. The best cookies are those family treasures that seem to only come out and make the rounds at holidays and family events.

I have a few from both sides of my family but Chocolate Peppermint Balls is my clear favorite. They are chewy, chocolaty, fudgey, and totally indulgent–the forbidden child of a brownie and cookie. Perhaps best of all, they are fast, easy, and use a cake mix! Talk about easy! You can make them in a single bowl and, even better, the kids can help form the cookies.

CPB Dough

I have no idea where this recipe originated in my Mom’s side of the family. My Mom and her sister often talk about the days before “super moist deluxe” cake mixes when the cookies would be hard to form and crumble before they got to the oven. Thankfully, we live in the future these days and moist cake mixes are easy to find.

CPB Baking

The name must come from the forming stage since the finished cookies have zero resemblance to a “ball” of any sort. The pre-baking stage though…well…its an unfortunate color and shape combo.

After baking, these cookies are dredged in powdered sugar with sanding sugar mixed in for festiveness. Since these were often only a holiday thing when I was growing up, the colors were always red and green but I make these all year long so I mix up the colors. Blue is my personal favorite but if you must do another color, I won’t judge you.

Sugaring

Voila. Amazingly chocolaty cookies with a fun peppermint twist. They freeze really well (and are delicious straight from the freezer if you have a chocolate cookie emergency to satisfy). Since they are soft, they also ship well. I put them back to back and wrap the two cookies in cling film. Layer with bubble wrap and ship priority to someone deserving.

Chocolate Peppermint Balls

1 package devils food cake mix (look for one that says something like
“extra moist”)
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 egg
2-4 egg yolks

1 cup powdered sugar
sugar crystals (optional)

Mix butter, extract and 2 yolks until smooth. Stir in cake mix. If the mix doesn’t come together into a thick frosting like texture, add egg yolks one at a time. It depends on the size of your eggs as well as the brand of cake mix you have. I ended up using 4 yolks and a whole egg. Form into 1 inch balls (your hands work best). Bake 15 minutes at 300 or until just set. Move to a cooling rack and allow to mostly cool.

In a shallow container, combine powdered sugar and crystals (just enough to make them festive). While the cookies are still slightly warm, coat with powdered sugar mix.

CPB inside