Category Archives: Desserts

Brownies [ w/ Melted Chocolate ]

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I love brownies.  They are my go-to dessert when I need comfort in the form of chocolate.  I do have a problem.  I cannot pick a favorite brownie recipe.  Maybe you can help me out.  Here is what I know about brownies:

–  Has to be fudgy.
–  Not cakey.
–  Has to have top flaky layer.
–  No nuts.
–  Has to exude chocolate.

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With that said, I rely on two recipes and have many more on my to-do list.  The first  one I’d like to share with you involves melted chocolate (as opposed to cocoa powder).

The results?

–  Definitely fudgy.
–  Definitely has the top flaky layer.
–  Definitely chocolatey.

I loved every bite.  It had a chew and soft enough to melt in my mouth.  With that said, I think I’ll look to see if other recipes really pack more of a chocolate punch.

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What’s your favorite brownie recipe?

Brownies (with melted chocolate)

barely adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.  Grease an 8×8 inch square pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and water.  Cook over medium heat until boiling.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth.
  3. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Stir into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Start checking after 25 minutes because you don’t want to overbake.  Cool in the pan and cut before serving.

 

 

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Filed under baking, Brownies, Desserts

Tres Leches

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As we approach Cinco de Mayo, I look forward to great food.  Guacamole.  Fajitas.  Chips and salsa.  Mexican wedding cookies.  Tres leches cake.  After having a slew of spicy and flavorful dishes, this cake is a light and cool dessert that absolutely fits the bill.

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As if I need a reason to make and eat this cake.  A cake soaked in a blend of sweet milks and covered in fresh whipped cream.  I say, have it all-year round.  Birthdays, weekends, found-another-sweetened-condensed-milk-can-in-your-pantry days.  I definitely don’t need a reason.  Just a fork.

Tres Leches

adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking pow der
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour one 9×13 inch baking pan.
2. Sift flour and baking powder together.  Set aside.
3. Cream butter and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy.  Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well until fully incorporated.
4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well
blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Pierce cake several times with a fork.
6. Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the
top of the cooled cake.
7. Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon
vanilla together until thick in a stand mixer.  Spread over the top of cake.  Place cake in fridge until time to serve.

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Filed under baking, Cake, Desserts

Banoffee Pie

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My career, in my opinion, has taken a nose dive since the baby was born.  Going from a 100 hr/week attorney to a part-time attorney has been a major hit on my career self-esteem.  So, when one of my cases recently was scheduled for back to back depositions and a settlement conference, it was my time to get back on the work horse.  And, I loved it.

After very successful depositions, I marched into the settlement conference with dare I say — a swagger.  My client and I sat in one room while the opposing party was in another and the attorneys were to walk back and forth with settlement offers.  Walking back to my client’s room, I happily thought that I put aside the mom clothes and was back to my old self.  I took one step inside my client’s waiting room when she said, “I think you sat in chocolate.”  Mortified, I stood there for a minute attempting to salvage this most unprofessional situation.  But, she was right.  Somewhere between feeding my kid a chocolate chip granola bar and driving, I sat in it.  Oh, and my suit was tan/light brown.  It paired well with my dark chocolate chip stain.

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Luckily, my client quickly said, “Oh, I figured your son did that,” and went on about her life as a mom.  And, there I was – in my professional element, exchanging mom advice with my client.  The settlement went well and on the drive home, I accepted the duality that has become my life, where the mom part is the base and everything else is seemingly built around that.  When I got home, I celebrated by making a pie.  No chocolate.

Banoffee Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham crackers, finely crushed into crumbs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 (14 oz) cans dulce de leche 
  • 4 large bananas, sliced
  • 2 heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 3 tbsp confectioner’s (powdered sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a 9-inch pie plate, mix together the graham crackers and butter, and evenly press into the pie plate for the crust.  Bake for 5 minutes to set the crust.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Once the crust is cooled, spread the dulce de leche from one can over the crust.  Layer with bananas.  Finish with the last can of dulce de leche.
  4. Chill in a refrigerator.
  5. Make the whipped cream:  With a stand or handheld mixer, whip the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff.  Spread evenly over the cake.  Serve immediately or put back in the fridge to chill.

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Filed under Desserts, Pie

Dulce De Leche (The Easy Way)

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Remember when I slaved over a pot of boiling milk to get about 1 cup of dulce de leche?  Yeah, turns out that’s not going to be happening anymore.  Why?  Ask my kid who finds it fun to tug at my pants and grasp onto my leg for dear life just to be picked up every 5 minutes.  It’s also hilarious when he pretends he has cooked noodles for legs when I try to set him back down.

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You could extend a sigh of frustration with me.  Or, you could ask why a mom who has more than enough on her plate couldn’t just buy a bottle of it?  Or perhaps just not make it altogether because it really isn’t a necessity like maybe … dinner?  I call those non-options.  And, you’ll agree when you see what I’ve done with two beautiful cans of pure decadence, without all the stirring.

Dulce De Leche (The Easy Way)

Ingredients:

  • Cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • Large pot with a heavy bottom with a lid

 Directions:

  1. Place the cans of condensed milk in the pot.  Fill the pot with water.  The water should fully cover the cans.
  2. Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil over medium high heat.
  3. Once at a boil, cover and reduce the heat to medium to keep it at a simmer.
  4. Check the water level every 30 minutes to make sure that the cans are all well submerged.
  5. After three hours, turn off the stove and move the pot with lid off the heat (to another burner).  Jut let everything cool down.  Once the water is cool, remove the cans and place on a towel to cool to room temperature.
  6. Do not use any cold water, ice or any cooling procedure to make the cans colder faster.

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Filed under Custard/Pudding, Desserts, Frostings & Fillings

Banana Pudding

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The title should really be – Best. Banana. Pudding. Ever. Ever.

As a Texan, I take my banana pudding pretty seriously.  I’ve seen serious atrocities attempt to pass as banana pudding.  My ideal banana pudding must be vanilla pudding, with banana and vanilla wafer cookies.  The most important part to know is that it’s vanilla pudding with bananas.  Not banana flavored pudding.  But, the banana flavor, after sitting, will get into the vanilla pudding.

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I totally agree the ingredients in this recipe may not be the most traditional, but oh good gravy it’s good.  The sweetened condensed milk adds the perfect amount of sweetness while the whipped cream keeps it light.  The vanilla wafers get cakey after sitting and these seemingly separate ingredients blend wonderfully.  Cohesion – it works.

Banana Pudding

barely adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 1 box mini vanilla wafers
  • 6 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Directions:

  1. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch dish with wafers and layer bananas on top.
  2. In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer.
  3. Using another bowl, mix the cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. 
  4. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. 
  5. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining bananas and then cookies.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Filed under Custard/Pudding, Desserts, Favorites

Isaiah’s Curious George Themed First Birthday Party

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Let’s get some cliché things out of the way:

  1. I can’t believe he’s already 1!
  2. It seems like yesterday I just gave birth to him.
  3. This year has flown by with him.

*He is actually 15 months right now, but this post took a long time.  🙂

Cliché and so so true.  When he turned one I got really sad thinking of how much he’s grown.  From a tiny 7 pound baby to a 20+ pound tubby.  With his big hair, eight teeth and personality, he’s really not at all baby and has become a real boy.  And, it’s been quite an adventure with him.  Just when I think I have something figured out or a semblance of a routine, he changes and then we start again.  There is no relaxing with this kid.

As a crazy obsessed mother, I have been planning his first birthday much earlier than I want to admit.  I wanted it to be cozy and filled with family, close friends and things he loves.  What does this one year old love?  Curious George.  Balloons.  Without being too attached to everything Curious George, we kept the essence through the balloons, colors and some Curious George/monkey-themed items strewn about.  

First, for the invitations, we got a Curious George invitation and door sign, which helped kick off the monkey-themed party.  

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Similar to the one at my surprise birthday, I wanted to have a photo booth for kids to take pictures.  The photo booth was a hit.  Kids, families and parents really got into it.  The only person that didn’t?  The birthday boy.  He couldn’t sit or stand still to take a picture in front of anything.

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My sister, the Pinterest fiend, made a multi-colored balloon garland and decorated corners of the house with bunches of balloons.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.

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One of the main reasons I wanted to post this party is because of all the fun I had planning and putting everything into action.  And, with the menu I had, I had little to no work during the actual party.  I really despise having to be running around finalizing anything after guests arrive.  My house was prepped and ready to go on time.

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As the party was held from 2-5, I didn’t plan a big meal but offered heavy appetizers and desserts.

Menu

We had more than enough variety and just the perfect amount of food but still have a little left over for later grazers – mostly me and my sister.

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Almost everything I made (except the grilled cheese) was make ahead. So, the day of, I was really just warming or baking, which is a much better project than cooking.  The grilled cheese came together in the last 10 minutes.  I will definitely make it again and I’ll show you the method to make grilled cheese for a party.  It’s a game changer.

The day before, I made a smash cake and didn’t focus too much on making it perfect as I fully expected my rambunctious kid to destroy it.  Well, turns out he had no interest in smashing it and preferred to eat it a bite at a time with a spoon!  If he would only do that with soup or any other meal.

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So, because he was so careful with the smash cake, we served it up with the cupcakes.  All of it – gone.  Made me so happy.

Finally, for favors, I wanted a food gift that was quick and easy to make.  Look no further than caramel corn, friends.  I don’t know why I was intimidated at all about trying it.  It was so easy, and a little effort makes a whole bunch of popcorn that really disappear quite fast.  (Recipe coming soon!)  Favors were stacked in Curious George containers to keep the theme of the party even as guests departed.

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If you’ve made it this far in the post, I appreciate you and wanted to share this special day with you.  All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day with family, friends, and a little boy who eats his smash cake with a spoon.  My outfit was eternally grateful for that, kid.

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Filed under Appetizers, Birthdays, Cake, Cupcake, Favorites, Life, Side Dish, Snacks, Soup

White Chocolate Mango Cheesecake

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Have you seen the movie The Truth About Cats and Dogs?  Fully identifying with Janeane Garofalo’s character, crushing on Ben Chaplin and Uma Thurman, and of course the adorable pets, I loved that movie.  But, looking back, the one thing I remember most is the cheesecake scene.  Do you know the cheesecake scene?  An image-conscious Thurman attempts to refuse cheesecake, but ultimately succumbs to being fed each bite by Chaplin.  Aside from the sheer awkwardness of the moment altogether, I remember studying the cheesecake a little too much.  As a child only left with a stash of Maria cookies (thanks, mom!), I longed for something so decadent.

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As strange as the cheesecake scene, I still think of that movie when I eat cheesecake.  Totally weird.

You can use whatever preserves, jam or fruit butter you have on hand.  Mango and white chocolate were heavenly together, but I know this would also work with raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.

White Chocolate Mango Cheesecake

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese,
    softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fruit preserves, jam, coulis or butter

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tbsp white sugar and unsalted butter.  Press mixture into a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F.
  3. In a double boiler, melt white chocolate chips and half and half, whisking until smooth.  Once smooth,remove from heat and set aside to cool down.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Pour half of the batter over the graham cracker crust in the springform pan.
  5. Spoon half of the fruit preserves.  Pour the remaining batter over the preserves.
  6. Spoon the remaining fruit preserves and marble the preserves with the tip of the knife.  Marble according to your preference.  I wanted more pockets of mango butter so I didn’t marble as much.
  7. Place the springform pan on top of a cookie sheet filled halfway with water.  Carefully move the springform pan and cookie sheet into the oven.
  8. Bake the cheesecake for 55-60 minutes, until the cheesecake is set (no longer jiggling or wet in the middle).  Once set, turn off your oven, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour.  Do not touch it.  Do not open the oven.  Just leave it.
  9. After an hour, remove the cheesecake and allow it to cool.  Once cool, cover with a plastic wrap, touching the cheesecake as you cover and place in fridge for at least 8 hours prior to serving.

 

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Filed under baking, Cake