My absolute favorite: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

We all have those one absolute favorite dessert that we eat even when we know we shouldn’t. I don’t think I can think of a combination more addictive and tastier than chocolate and peanut butter. Oh wait! Add some Nutella to it and it will drive me crazy!

I love cookies. I love chocolate. And I love peanut butter. What happens when you combine all of them? You get the most amazing, the most sinful and the most addictive things of all! I came across this recipe in 2010. We were young kids excited to be baking and wanted to make something sweet. All our previous attempts had resulted in something burnt or something spread out or something half-baked. But we weren’t disheartened. We were happy to scrape off the burnt bits and eat whatever little is edible or scoop it all up with a spoon. It was another ‘baking day’ and we found a jar of peanut butter in the fridge. Now, I LOOOVEE peanut butter! Give me a jar and some jelly and Nutella and I’ll be the happiest person on this planet. Anyway, we decided to try making these cookies and they turned out so good we gobbled up the first batch just out of the oven. Of course we had to make more and were more patient the second time around. From then on, when we bake these cookies, we always double the recipe and it has never lasted more than 48 hours.
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Fast-forward to a couple of years later, I still love the simplicity of this recipe and they are my comfort cookies. I stopped making them with all-purpose flour and make them now with whole-wheat flour. The texture does change, they aren’t as chewy, but I’m willing to make that little bit of a compromise to eat a little healthier. The ingredients are easy to stock and I began using brown sugar in baking only after discovering this recipe. I sometimes add a little Nutella and cut back a little bit on the peanut butter for an extra flavor kick. I also tend to sometimes add creamy peanut butter and other times, add chunky peanut butter. Either ways, they taste good.
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These are super rich cookies and very indulgent so they’re excellent as a treat. I would bake these and take them as a gift for someone who loves peanut butter. I can’t praise this cookie recipe enough and I don’t want to experiment with it at all! If you do try making it, please let me know what you think!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from a recipe by Canary Girl

Ingredients:
• ½ cup of butter (Use unsalted to control the saltiness in the cookies)
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• ¾ cup Peanut Butter (creamy gives a better texture)
• 1 cup flour (I used whole-wheat)
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• a pinch on salt
• 1 cup chocolate chunks
Method:
• Pre-heat oven t o 375 Fahrenheit or 175 Celsius. Line a cookie sheet with grease-proof paper and set aside
• Cream the butter and both the sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, with an electric beater if possible. Make sure the butter is at room temperature to speed up the process.
• Add the egg and vanilla and beat them in the mixture.
• Using a wooden spoon beat in the peanut butter until well incorporated in the butter-sugar mixture.
• Next, add the flour, salt, baking powder and stir to combine.
• Add the chocolate chunks and mix them in the dough.
• Drop spoonfuls of the dough on to the cookie sheet, leaving some space between each cookie because they will spread.
• Bake for 12 minutes or until slightly golden.
• Remove them from the oven and allow them to rest on the cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

These taste best when they’re warm with a glass of cold milk on the side. Happy baking everyone!
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Chocolate Covered Oreos

With some White chocolate drizzled over the oreos to look pretty!

Holiday seasons are the best for two reasons:

  1. You get to meet your family and friends
  2. You get to make/eat ridiculously yummy things!

Diwali is one of the biggest festivals for Hindus. On this day, it is said, the Lord Rama returned back to Ayodhya from his 14-year exile in the forest. To celebrate his return, the people of Ayodhya lit the entire city with lamps. To this day, the tradition of lighting house with oil lamps or diyas continues. It is one of the most beautiful sights in any city. There are so many lights and lamps and colors all around. All the shops are lit up, houses are beautifully decorated and there is a festive spirit in the air. Firecrackers burst every few seconds and in some cities, it is almost impossible to carry out a conversation because the noise of the firecrackers refuses to let you! Nevertheless, this is the time when family and close friends surround everyone. It is the perfect season to get dressed up – its not too hot nor is it too cold. I love wearing my brightest colored Indian wear and accessorizing with big earrings.

This is also the time when people visit each other and give each other gifts and wishes to celebrate the New Year. Sending something sweet – either Indian sweets, chocolates, dry fruits along with candles or diyas is the norm. I decided to make some chocolate covered Oreos to send across to some friends.

This recipe is easy and perfect to make with children. There is very little ‘cooking’ involved and you can change the basic recipe to suit your tastes. It hardly took me 30 minutes from start to finish these. After two hours in the fridge, these were ready to be eaten! I love the combination of peppermint and chocolate so I added some peppermint flavoring to the chocolate. I loved the flavors and will probably experiment with a few more flavorings soon! These are perfect to gift for any season, including Christmas.

All ready to spread the joy!

 Chocolate Covered Oreos 

(Adapted from a recipe from The Sunday Paper)

Ingredients:
  • 12 oz (340 grams) of semi-sweet chocolate
  • A package of biscuits (This much chocolate can coat about 40 cookies)
  • 1 tablespoon of Vegetable shortening
  • 50 grams of white chocolate chips, to drizzle on the finished biscuits
Method:
  • Mix the chocolate and 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening and set over a double broiler.
  • Allow the entire chocolate to melt evenly.
  • In the meanwhile, prep a baking pan or cookie sheet with Aluminium foil or parchment paper
  • Remove the chocolate from the heat. Drop a cookie into the chocolate mixture and turn it in the chocolate using a fork.
  • Once the cookie is covered in chocolate, lift it from the mixture using a fork and tap it against the side of the bowl to get rid of excess chocolate.
  • Place the cookie on the prepared sheet.
  • Repeat for all other cookies.

Just out of the bowl – chocolate covered Oreos

  • Once the cookies are all covered in chocolate, refrigerate them for about 10 minutes.
  • While the chocolate-covered cookies are setting, melt some white chocolate with 1/2 teaspoon of shortening, if desired.
  • Pull the chocolate covered cookies out of the fridge. Using a cone or a fork, drizzle the white chocolate over the cookies and put the trays back in the fridge.

With some White chocolate drizzled over the oreos to look pretty!

  • The cookies should be set in about an hour in the fridge!

I never knew the difference between extract, essence and flavorings till I made this recipe.

  1. Extract: Real spices (like vanilla, chocolate) are infused in alcohol or a liquid base.
  2. Essence: Completely artificially created flavors meant to imitate extract.
  3. Flavoring: Spices infused in vegetable oils, made from natural or artificial substances. These are free from alcohol or water hence, perfect to use with melted chocolate.

If you want to know more about the difference between the three I recommend reading this article.

I had a great time making these. I tried most with peppermint flavoring and I am waiting to get my hands on some more flavorings so I can experiment making these with all kinds of flavors!

The chocolate covered oreos lightly drizzled with white chocolate.

Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful time making these with the family and sharing them with the ones you love!

Happy No-baking!

 

Lower fat Chocolate chocolate Chip Mint Brownies

I love brownies.. They are always so rich, gooey, warm and full of goodness. Like cookies, they can be so versatile. You can add in a whole bunch of mix-ins and make them as rich or as basic as you would like.  They’re always a hit, if they’re baked perfectly. My last brownie recipe was absolutely gooey and oh so rich and had a tonne of calories! But, they were fantastic, maybe a tad too full of chocolate. In my quest to constantly try to find healthier recipes, I came across this recipe, which has a beautiful, rich flavor but has less fat. The butter has been reduced by half and the sugar has also been reduced. I have never experimented with a sugar substitute like Splenda because I don’t believe in adding more chemicals in your body if possible. My mantra is simple, if I’m going to be indulging myself; I want to make sure I’m enjoying a completely ‘bad’ treat. I rather eat my treat once in a month with sugar and all the butter than eat the treat once a week filled with sugar and butter substitutes.

 

I have tried this recipe twice and the first time, I baked them exactly according to the recipe and they turned out beautifully. I made them plain, without any add-ins and I did feel like they were missing a little something. The next time I made them, I didn’t watch the time properly and I over baked them by about 5-7 minutes.  The top in the center was browner than what I would have liked and the brownies had become dry and hard. They were still edible but the texture was just not right. In either case, they flavors came across beautifully and I absolutely will make these again with a close eye on the watch!

 

I added some amazing peppermint extract along with the vanilla extract and oh boy!!! I was in heaven! I also added a good ¾ cups of chocolate chips and the flavors worked beautifully together! I can’t wait to bake it to perfection the next time.

 

 Lower Fat Chocolate Chip Mint Brownies

Adapted from a recipe from the Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral tasting oil
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1 tablespoon cold brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius
  • Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper
  • Create a bain-marie and in a heat proof bowl, melt the butter, coarsely chopped chocolate and the oil. Once the chocolate has completely melted, take the bowl off the heat.
  • Stir the brown and white sugars, vanilla, peppermint and salt into the chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and coffee and beat vigorously until fully incorporated and the batter is thick and glossy. Add the cocoa,chocolate chips, flour and baking soda and stir just until it disappears.
  • Pour the batter into a pan and bake until the top is crispy and glossy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs, about 30-40 minutes.
  • Cool the brownies in the pan on the counter. Lift brownies out of the pan by the paper, if needed. Peel off the paper and cut into 2-inch squares. Serve. Store extra brownies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

I served these by sprinkling a little water on them and microwaved them for a few seconds to soften them since I had over baked mine.. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or with a dash of vanilla custard and they’re perfect! We ate some plain with our tea and coffee and they tasted wonderful!

Happy baking!

 

 

The absolute best cupcakes EVER!!!

Aren’t cupcakes the best invention ever? They’re perfect when you want a little something sweet, they’re so cute to look at, you can dress them up in a million ways and best of all, you can order different flavors and don’t have to share. You won’t look like a glutton if you don’t share and if you do share, you will most certainly look like an angel! 😉

Baking cupcakes is so much fun! You can decorate them with all the cute sprinkles, frost them with bright colors and my favorite is that I can use these super cute liners! I made my little brother get me 500 different cupcake liners (all with something pink, obviously!) for me! Now before you go around feeling bad for him, 500 cupcake liners are barely 3 inches tall! Surprising something so cute and awesome can be in such a small package. I guess that proves the saying, ‘Big things come in small packages’ true, or does it? Hhhhmmm……

My boyfriend absolutely loves cupcakes and I always send some when I can for him. After experimenting with a few cupcake recipes, I have settled on this particular one. It is the easiest, the moistest and the most delicious cupcake recipe. My search for the perfect cupcake recipe stops right here. I was a little skeptical because it was a vegan recipe but then I had all the ingredients at home and I did have a half bottle of vinegar which I wanted to finish. Vinegar in a cupcake recipe?? Sounds odd, doesn’t it? But trust me, you wouldn’t even know these have vinegar. It seemed like the perfect reason to try this recipe and I am so glad I did. These are the best cupcakes ever! I don’t think my cupcakes with eggs and milk and butter taste this good! So since they’re healthier, I feel a little better about eating them! 🙂

The Best Cupcake Recipe Ever

Based on a recipe by kmdipaolo

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour (I always  prefer to use whole wheat flour)

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup oil

1 cup water (you can add milk, I prefer to use water)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon vinegar

Method:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl just until moist and well blended. Avoid over mixing
  • Pour the batter into cupcake lines or grease a muffin tray.
  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes.
  • Once cooled, you can frost it with your favorite frosting. But these, without any frosting, are perfect with coffee or on their own!

Notes:

  • This recipe makes rich dark chocolate cupcakes. If you prefer to make them without chocolate, omit the 1/3 cup of cocoa and replace with 1/3 cup of flour to make a plain vanilla batter.
  • I make tutti fruiti cupcakes by mixing about 1/2 cup of tutti fruiti pieces in the vanilla batter.
  • To make chocolate chocolate chip muffins, add 1/2 cup (or more!) chocolate chips in the chocolate batter.
  • There are endless mix ins you can add! Feel free to experiment and let me know what combinations turned out best for you!
  • The original author of the post suggests that you can make a layer cake by doubling the recipe and putting it in 2 round pans. Increase the baking time to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre.
It’s so easy to make these and so quick! Maybe thats what I love the most about this recipe. Put everything in one bowl, mix it a little and in less than half an hour, you have these hot to eat! Wait, isn’t that a bit dangerous though? Something so good, so quick?? I wonder…..

Anyway, I have no doubt that this recipe will be a hit with you. Just remember not to over mix the batter! A big thank you to my friend Amri for sending me these über cute, animal cupcake liners! I have totally fallen in love with them! Look at those super awesome cupcakes! How can you resist them when they look like that?? 🙂

Happy baking everyone!

No more chocolate for me!

I love chocolate. I have always loved chocolate.  I remember my mom telling me that when I was a few months old, I would grab candy bars from store counters and bite into them with the wrappers so that they would have to buy the chocolates for me! 😀 Every time I go to a restaurant/cafe and I am having dessert, it is always (no exceptions) a chocolate dessert. Coincidentally, the Marriott has an excellent chocolate cake/pastry called the Chocolate Marquise.  It is so rich, dense and full of chocolatey goodness! I literally feel like I am floating in heaven whenever I take a bite. I wonder when will I ever be able to make something that is as delicious….. Sigh….

Most of the desserts I make at home have some chocolate – chocolate chip cookies, nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookies, peppermint and chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate brownies, triple chocolate brownies and peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. (As I type this out, I realize that I may have a slight obsession for chocolate chip cookies as well!!)

Did you know, in India it is common to give up some food item in order to appease a God hoping that your wish will come true? Now, while I don’t really believe in superstitions, I have this one wish… One wish I wish gets fulfilled. I can’t tell you what it is because if I do, it probably won’t come true (another superstition!) I really, really, really want it to come true. I imagine  if it does come true it will change my life forever! I don’t know if it is going to happen and if it is really going to change my life, but I am willing to go all out and try to make it come true.

To please the Gods (any and all Gods) I decided to give up chocolate in any and all forms. I guess what I have actually given up is cacao beans! It’s been tough considering my brother just got a bunch of chocolates (peanut butter snickers, Lindt chocolates, M&S chocolate covered biscuits – all my faves) and they are simply lying around the house. But its amazing how powerful our mind is when we really want to achieve something.

Here’s what I have learnt – if you wanna give something up (bread, sugar, coffee, tea, alcohol etc…) just give it up then and there. Don’t tell yourself you’ll stop from tomorrow. It never works! Day 1 was hard. I had gotten so used to eating a bite of a chocolate as soon as I got back from work. I almost succumbed to the temptation. But then I remembered the reason why I had decided to give it up and I managed to control myself. If you can get through the first 7 days of resisting temptation, it’s all good. It’s hard to go to a coffee shop, to go to a restaurant and sometimes even to open the fridge and not eat anything which has chocolate in it. Friends and family wonder what’s wrong with you and keep pushing you to take ‘just a small bite’. I think that is in fact really difficult to overcome – the social pressure. But after 2 weeks of sticking to your guns, they usually do leave you alone. The only problem I have now is I don’t know what to order in restaurants! I end up not eating any desserts (my dietitian is probably going to be very happy to hear that!).

What about baking without chocolate? It’s going to be a challenge. I may just bake chocolate stuff for friends and family and I hope I have the strength to overcome the temptation to try it ‘just to make sure it’s edible!’ but other than that I am looking at a lot of recipes that have Cinnamon in it. I think this weekend I will make a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting if I can help it or Cinnamon pull apart bread. I am already working on getting inspiration from the many food blogs I see online.

I leave you with this quote:

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.  No apologies or excuses.  No one to lean on, rely on, or blame.  The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.  This is the day your life really begins.”  ~Bob Moawad

Till Sunday then!