Flourless Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {GF}

Chewy oatmeal cookies rich in peanut butter flavor and studded with chocolate chips.

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Chocolate and peanut butter. What a winning combination. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record but it’s just so true. Anyway, in almost a year and a half of blogging, I’ve only shared three chocolate-peanut butter recipes (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C). I believe that means I can share one more. Or, you know, possibly several more, but we’ll start with just one for now.

Some people don’t like oatmeal cookies. I don’t understand this. But then, I eat a lot of oatmeal–either hot oatmeal or granola or a granola bar every day. Or all three. I think some people (some of my relatives included) don’t like oatmeal cookies because they usually have raisins. What raisins ever did to them, I don’t know. But, relatives and those of you suspicious of the oatmeal cookie, here is an oatmeal cookie recipe with not a raisin in sight.

Instead, just creamy peanut butter and chocolate chips. Nothing to argue with there.

These cookies fall into the “chewy” cookie category, which I think I prefer. But because of the old-fashioned oats, they still have a bit of a bite to them. I made mine very rustic looking (on purpose, of course) but you could tidy yours up by actually rolling them into balls then gently pressing onto the cookie sheet. Or you can roll with the rustic look. They’ll taste fantastic, no matter how round they are–or aren’t.

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Flourless Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 14-16 cookies

from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats*
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup peanut butter, room temperature
  • 6 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 chocolate chips (I used dark)

*Be sure to use gluten-free oats if you want these to be gluten-free.

Instructions

Toss oats, cinnamon, and baking soda together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat egg.  Stir in peanut butter and brown sugar until combined. Pour in dry ingredients; mix to fully incorporate. Fold in chocolate chips.

Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Scoop dough onto baking sheets in spoonfuls of about 1.5 T. They will not spread much during baking, but do not overcrowd the baking sheet.

Bake 9-10 minutes. The cookies will still look underbaked, but after a few minutes out of the oven, they will begin to look more “solid.” A longer baking time will give you a crispier cookie, which I suppose you could do. Cool about 10 minutes on the pan before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely…or to be eaten.

Posted to Happiness is Homemade and Sweet and Savoury Sunday!

Chocolate Babka

Enriched bread dough swirled with chocolate chunks makes a versatile bread perfect for breakfast, snack, or dessert!

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I love chocolate. You might have realized that already, judging from the number of recipes on this site that involve that wonderful food. I also love bread (who doesn’t?!), and it’s particularly great when it’s fresh from the oven. Earlier this year, I started honing my bread and yeast techniques, and now have shared quite a few different types of bread recipes, from basic loaves to bagels to enriched breads.

(Enriched doughs have butter, oil, eggs, or milk in addition to the basic flour/water/yeast mixture and as a result are usually softer and sweeter.)

So what happens when you marry chocolate and bread? You get babka, of course! I mean, there are probably other things that could be produced, but this Chocolate Babka is all pretty and swirly on the inside, in addition to consisting of two fantastic culinary staples.

See?

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The dough itself is a variation of a brioche. The chocolate–well, it’s chocolate, whatever type you please. Dark chocolate is my favorite. The assembly is done basically like cinnamon or sweet rolls, or Cinnamon-Raisin Bread. Except unlike  either of those, the snake of dough at the end gets twisted around itself like a rope for extra swirlies on the inside.

This bread is guaranteed to impress. I brought it to a family event and everyone said something like “Oh my god, is that bread with chocolate in it?”

Yes, yes it is.

P.S. A few days ago Deb from Smitten Kitchen, whose recipe I used, published an updated babka recipe, which I have yet to try…guess I’ll just have to do more baking!

Chocolate Babka

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

makes 3 loaves (or make a third recipe for 1 loaf, which I have done–I used one egg + one egg yolk for the dough, and the remaining egg white as the egg wash)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 1 1/2 T active dry yeast (2 1/4 oz. packets, if you use those)
  • heaping 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large whole eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour (I used a combination of white and white whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
  • 2 pounds chocolate, finely chopped, or chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 T whole milk

Instructions

Activate yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of your standing mixer by mixing milk and yeast with a pinch of sugar. Let sit about 5 minutes until bubbly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla, 2 eggs, and the 2 yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add flour and salt, and beat until incorporated. Switch to a dough hook on your mixer (if using) and slowly add 1 cup butter. Beat for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and sticky, and all ingredients are fully incorporated. Turn dough onto a clean, floured surface and knead briefly. Place in a large, buttered bowl and cover. Let rise in a draft-free place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

In a large bowl, mix together chopped chocolate, remaining butter, and cinnamon. This part is sort of like making biscuit dough–you may want to use a pastry blender or your hands. Butter three loaf pans and set aside. Beat remaining egg with milk and set aside.

After dough has rise, punch down and transfer to a floured surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Divide into three equal pieces. Take one piece of dough and roll it out to about a 16″ square that is about 1/8″ thick. Brush edges with the egg wash, and sprinkle 1/3 of the chocolate mixture onto the dough, leaving a 1/4″ border. Roll up the dough into a long snake, then twist over on itself a few times to resemble rope. Place into one of the prepared loaf pans, and repeat with remaining sections of dough. Reserve some of the egg wash for brushing on top of the loaves.

Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Brush the loaves with the remaining egg wash and bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 60-70 minutes. (The original calls for 55 minutes at 350 and then 15 at 325, but I did not do this, I simply covered my loaf with aluminum foil for the last few minutes of baking).

Can be frozen for up to one month.

 Posted to Super SaturdaySweet & Savoury Sunday and Show and Share Wednesday!

Whole Wheat Walnut-Rosemary Fougasse

A hearty whole wheat and walnut loaf in a festive shape to welcome fall.

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Reader, due to unforeseen circumstances I missed another Saturday post.  I should probably stop saying that I’m fully back in the blogosphere since things keep coming up that prevent me from being so.  I’m pretending this is being posted on Saturday, so just use your imagination to that extent.  Just don’t imagine so much that you miss work tomorrow.

This bread was on my list of things to bake for many months before I finally got around to doing it.  I actually made it several weeks ago, but it seems like the perfect bread to post at the beginning of fall.  It’s hearty, nutty, and would be perfect with any soup…particularly butternut squash or pumpkin soup, which I have yet to make this season but am craving.  Not to mention it’s shaped sort of like a leaf!

(OK, Wikipedia has just informed me it is supposed to be shaped like an ear of wheat.  I made my loaves leaf-shaped because I thought that’s what they were supposed to be.  And I think they look rather fetching as such.)

Well, whether you want your loaves turn out like ears of wheat or leaves or whatever else, give this bread a try next time you need a showstopping loaf of bread!

Whole Wheat Walnut-Rosemary Fougasse

makes 2 loaves

adapted from the New York Times

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 T walnut oil or olive oil
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose or bread flour + more for kneading
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large spring fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped

Instructions

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast and sugar in water.  Let sit for about five minutes until bubbly.  Then add the oil, whole wheat flour, salt, and about 1 3/4 cups of the AP or bread flour.  Begin mixing, either by hand or with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer.  Once incorporated, switch to the dough hook if using a mixer, and continue to work for 8 to 10 minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup AP flour as needed.  Total kneading time if working by hand should be about 10 minutes.  The dough should be elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled (I suggest olive oil for this).  Cover and set in a draft-free place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

After the first rise is complete, punch down the dough and place it on a clean, lightly floured surface.  A handful at a time, knead in the walnuts and rosemary.  It may seem like they don’t want to become incorporated, but they will!  Reshaped, return to the bowl, and cover for 15 minutes.

After the dough has rested, divide it into two even pieces.  Flatten or roll dough into desired shape–something like an oval or rectangle–in the range of 7×9″.  If you have trouble with the dough, let it sit for 5 minutes and then return to it and continue shaping.  Once shaped, slash the dough to resemble the veins of a leaf using a very sharp paring knife, leaving a 2-inch border around the dough.  Gently pull the dough apart at the slashes.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.  Now is a good time to start preheating your oven to 425ºF.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding.

Posted to Sweet & Savoury Sunday and Happiness is Homemade!

Dark Chocolate Frosting

Rich, dark, but still sweet — this Dark Chocolate Frosting is a fantastic topping for any cake!

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Reader, I finally got Internet in my apartment!  Woohoo!  Because I had Internet at work and also have a new, shiny smartphone (my first!) I almost felt like Internet at home was unnecessary, but now that I have it life is so much easier.  I can do things like read and write blog posts again.  Especially since my last multi-day training for work ended yesterday.  Which means I should be able to be a lot more active in the blogosphere than I have been for the last few weeks.

Training has been mixed, which I suppose is usually the case with most workplace trainings.  I have never taken so many personality tests in my life (who knew that in order to manage people you needed to take personality tests?!), but I also got to do a few fun things, like clean and repair gravestones and bond with my fellow AmeriCorps members.  Training has been pretty draining, and I’ve only done a little baking in the past few weeks.  Now things are more settled, I hope to be able to do more in the kitchen.  Plus, I get paid on Tuesday, which means I won’t feel like I’m needlessly spending money if I splurge on a few special ingredients at the grocery store.

Today I’m sharing a recipe that might be a splurge if you’re on a diet but shouldn’t be a splurge for your wallet.  This Dark Chocolate Frosting, which is another Martha Stewart recipe, is decadent but only requires ingredients you probably have in your pantry.  I paired it with her Yellow Buttermilk Cake to make a delicious three-layer birthday cake last month.  Some thought that the frosting was too rich for the cake, but I thought it was a great pairing.

This frosting is seriously chocolatey.  It’s got melted semi-sweet chocolate chips (a whole pound!) as well as a cocoa paste made from cocoa powder and boiling water.  And, of course, it’s got the typical frosting ingredients of butter and powdered sugar.  The result is super smooth and shiny, rich and dark, sweet…a winner for when you want to change it up from a basic buttercream!

Dark Chocolate Frosting

From Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes about 5 cups, or enough to frost the layers and top of a triple layer 9” round cake but not the sides

Ingredients

  • 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
  • ¼ cup + 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder (Martha recommends Dutch-process)
  • ¼ cup + 2 T boiling water
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar*
  • Pinch of salt, to taste

*may need a little more than this

Instructions

In a double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth. You can take it off the heat when there are still a few lumps left—these will disappear when stirred.  Be careful not to let any water come into contact with the chocolate or it will seize.  Let rest until cool before using, about 30 minutes.

When chocolate is cool enough to use, mix together cocoa powder and boiling water until cocoa is dissolved, and set aside.  Beat butter, salt, and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add melted chocolate, beating until combined.  Add in cocoa mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  If the consistency is too thin, chill until set just enough to hold on a cake (1-2 hours, depending on initial thickness and consistency).

Posted to Sweet & Savoury Sunday!

Cranberry Orange Drop Scones

Buttery scones packed with fresh cranberries and orange flavor, perfect for the beginning of fall!

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Big news, Reader.  After being back home with my parents for just over a month, I moved to West Virginia last week – I was probably packing the car as you were reading about Sparkling Wine with Strawberries.  West Virginia is not really someplace I ever imagined myself living, but after visiting a few times and seeing how absolutely gorgeous it was and how there are some cute towns, I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps doing heritage development.

We’ve been in training this week, filling out paperwork, doing leadership activities, receiving lots of AmeriCorps swag, and getting to know other AmeriCorps members serving with the same program.  I’m liking what I’ve seen thus far, though every now and then I have an “OH GOD WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?” moment.

The last week before I came to West Virginia, the temperatures skyrocketed at home and it was in the 90s and humid.  As I drove south, it got quite windy and leaves swirled about.  When I woke up the first morning in my new apartment, it was 59° out.  All this is to say: fall seems to be arriving, at least in my new little town.  And fall not only means pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, it also means apples and sweet potatoes and squash and cranberries.

I adore cranberries.  Making cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving has been my job since I was, I don’t know, eight years old?  If someone else offers to make it I feel like they are discounting me and taking away my dish.  But cranberries are fantastic in breads, muffins, scones, chicken salad, or covered in chocolate as well.  And today I’ve got a Cranberry Orange Scone recipe to share to help welcome the first hints of fall!  Tender scones with fresh cranberries bursting in each bite and a fresh, bright flavor from orange zest.  What could be better on a fall morning?

(Oh, and I don’t yet have Internet in my apartment, so bear with me while I get that sorted out.)

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Cranberry Orange Drop Scones

adapted from bakingbites

makes about 12 small scones

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (or use all-purpose or your favorite combination)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of one orange, plus enough milk or orange juice to make 3/4 cup
  • raw or demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Grease a scone pan or a regular cookie sheet.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Cube butter and add to dry ingredients, then cut in with your fingertips, a fork, or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal.  Stir in cranberries and orange zest.  Add 1/2 cup of the orange juice and milk and stir to combine.  Gradually add in more liquid until the dough forms a ball.

Drop spoonfuls of the dough into a scone pan or onto a cookie sheet and sprinkle with demerara sugar.  Bake for about 16-20 minutes, until the scones are light golden brown.

Posted to Sweet & Savoury Sunday!

Sparkling Wine with Strawberries {Erdbeerbowle}

White wine, sparkling wine, strawberries, and orange liqueur all mix together for a light, refreshing drink!

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In 2010, after taking a year of German class, my mom decided that we should go on vacation to Germany to practice.  As I love to travel, I was all for exploring the country, though I was still hesitant about trying out my German language skills on the natives.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably remember that later I ended up studying abroad and then I spent a year teaching in Austria.  German – the language and the cultures of Germany and Austria – have definitely influenced my life in many ways.

On that first trip to Germany, my mom and I went for a week and a half and visited a few cities in the northeast.  As we were traveling in mid-May, we encountered all the signs of spring: Spargelzeit (“asparagus time”), the seasonal Maibock beers, Maypoles, and spring festivals.  The spring festival we visited in Osnabrück was my first German fair experience and, man, do they know what they are doing.  Rides, food, beer and wine flowing, folk costumes, and just enough kitsch being sold to be entertaining and not overwhelming.

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erdbeerbowle03This Erdbeerbowle, a sparkling wine drink with strawberries, was served at the spring festival we visited.  In wine glasses.  Real ones.  That blew my mind, a little bit.  Of course, you had to pay a deposit on the glass as an incentive to return it when you were finished, but still.  No plastic cups in sight.  It’s traditionally a spring drink and, I know, summer is basically over.  But I’ve still got until Monday before I begin my next adventure (more on that sometime soon), so I figured I’d better post this now.

I love how light this drink is, and how it’s like white wine but isn’t just white wine.  And it’s so easy!  You can make one pitcher of it and then you’re done, no making cocktails all night when guests are over.  It would be fantastic made with the first spring or summer strawberries, but if you just use fresh berries from the grocery store or farmer’s market, that will work just as well.  I promise.

Sparkling Wine with Strawberries

from Brigitte magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries
  • 5 T orange liqueur
  • 2 bottles white wine (750 ml each), chilled
  • 1 bottle dry sparkling white wine, such as Sekt or Prosecco, chilled

Instructions

Remove green strawberry tops and quarter berries.  Place strawberries in a large bowl or zip-top bag and cover with orange liqueur, stirring or tossing gently to coat.  Let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Place soaked berries in a large punch bowl and pour wines over the berries.  Serve and enjoy!