Pecan Fudge Brownies with Fudge Frosting

God rested on the seventh day and on the eighth day he woke up and said, “Let’s make chocolate!” And he saw that it was good. Soooo good.

pecan fudge brownies


Then along came St. Valentine who said, “Chocolate is the food of love.” Or something like that. Somehow Madison Ave took it from there and now all Americans are required to eat their weight in chocolate on Valentine’s Day. And I’m OK with this.

Anyone who follows my blog knows there is no shortage of brownie recipes. When I got married I had 12 brownie recipes and an uncracked cookbook. I know have shelves of cookbooks, many with scratch and taste sections…cakes, cookies, bars, brownies, hot fudge sauce.

My writer friends are popping over and in their honor I wanted to make a new brownie recipe. Naturally I have to assist them in their goal to consume enough chocolate for the big day.

plate of yummy


I found a cookbook on my shelves entitled “Intensely Chocolate.” I have no memory of ever seeing this cookbook before. It was in pristine condition, so I suspect it must be new – sans chocolate smudges.
It does bring up a troubling condition: book shopping in my sleep.

Cookbooks seem to arrive on a regular basis and I have no knowledge of them. But they claim I’ve purchased them on Amazon, so who am I to dispute that?

I must have been having a great dream when I selected Intensely Chocolate, by Carole Bloom. Although you never want to have “bloom” on your chocolate… you know, that white chalky stuff that happens when your chocolate has become distressed. If you want to learn more about bloom, and how to avoid it, try Baking Bites. http://bakingbites.com/2012/01/what-is-chocolate-bloom/

still gooey

Valentine’s brownies

Although the recipe for Fudgy Pecan Brownies looked perfect, I found it a bit tedious. For starters it required both unsweetened chocolate in a bar form, bittersweet chocolate in a bar form and unsweetened cocoa powder. Yes, I’m a chocolate addict, but keeping a steady supply of these items is a challenge. And a trip to the store breaks the rhythm of brownie-creation. So I simplified the recipe and changed it a bit.

I hunted through my private chocolate stash in the drawers in my office, dresser and pantry until I found a pile of chocolate to substitute. Instead of the plain bars, I used a 3.5 oz bar of dark chocolate with cabernet grapes and another half eaten bar with crushed almonds. Then I had my trusty Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips step in to fill in the blanks.

So what happened? The chocolate held hands together to create a fudgy, rich brownie with the crunch of toasted pecans. Then just to be sure there was enough chocolate goodness, I added my favorite frosting. Just to be sure.

My writer friends loved them. My husband brought me roses. These are brownies to remember.

Ingredients
5 oz bar of dark chocolate (flavor(s) of your choice)
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
3 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp instant coffee powder (smashed to create a dust)
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
3 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder (again, I used dark)
1 cup flour
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease an 8” square pan.
Toast the pecans for 5 – 7 minutes and let them cool.
Put the chocolate bar and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Add the butter and melt.
In a large mixing bowl, crack the three eggs and beat with the sugars, vanilla, coffee and salt.
Add the butter and chocolate mixture carefully.
Mix in the cocoa powder and flour and beat just until incorporated.
Blend in the pecans.

Bake 30 – 35 minutes. Let cool
If desired (and I know you DO desire this) frost with fudge frosting

Fudge frosting
2 TBS butter
4 TBS cream cheese
4 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
Dash salt
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 TBS milk or cream
1 – 1 ½ cups powdered sugar.

Directions
Soften the butter and cream cheese. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until you have a creamy, spreadable consistency.

Enjoy!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

dark chocolate dipped berry


We are in strawberry heaven right now.

strawberries


The berries are plentiful, flavorful, juicy – and a month early! I paid less than $1.00 per pound for these beauties. Strawberries have always been my hubby’s happy food. They seem to cheer him up no matter what’s going on. And a cheerful hubby is worth his weight in…strawberries. So last night I made a batch of his favorite strawberry-rhubarb jam and then I dipped a few in dark chocolate because they were too pretty not to dress up.
First, here’s a link to the jam recipe:

http://www.nanaclareskitchen.com/2011/11/09/strawberry-rhubarb-jam/

jars of jam


The only ingredients for the dipped berries were Ghiradelli dipping chocolate and berries.

a sweet treat


Directions:
Wash and dry a few berries.
Chop up a few bars of the chocolate so that it will melt quickly and evenly.
Put it into a microwave safe bowl or cup – something that is fairly deep.
Microwave in 30 second increments to melt.
Be sure there is no water in your bowl or the chocolate will seize.
Dip berries and place on wax paper to set up. Pop in fridge for a few minutes.
Eat and enjoy.
Store extras in fridge for a day or so.

chop chocolate


melt dipping chocolate


dip strawberries


let excess drip off


make a few at a time

Notes: I thought a bit of orange liqueur would really be special in the chocolate, but it caused it to “seize” up – getting immediately lumpy and hard. It was delicious as candy, but didn’t work for dipping.
Make only a few at a time as the strawberries will get soggy after a day or so in the fridge.

So that’s it. Find some quality strawberries. Melt a quality dark chocolate and dip away.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Dr. Oz’s Peanut Butter and Oat Balls, My way

Link

choc covered oat balls


A few days ago I posted two recipes for energy balls. The first was a dessert ball promoted by Dr. Oz that mixes peanut butter and dark chocolate. But I couldn’t find exact measures on his site, so I did my best to recreate them at least to test the taste. In that case I used two parts peanut butter to one part dark chocolate.

The second energy ball was one with peanut butter, honey, flax meal and mini chocolate chips along with a few other ingredients. These are delicious for a snack or for dessert. You can check them both here: http://www.nanaclareskitchen.com/2012/04/24/great-balls-of-energy/

But today on Dr. Oz, he suggested mixing equal parts of peanut butter and oats and rolling them into balls to eat for dessert.
So I tried it and they just tasted like a spoonful of peanut butter. Which I adore, but I wouldn’t call it dessert.

mix oats and pb

makes six balls


So I got out my Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips, measured some into a bowl, melted them and dipped the little balls. After a few minutes in the freezer, they were ready to be tasted. Both my hubby and I felt they qualify as a delicious treat.

I wanted to find out what the nutritional count was, so I took the numbers off the containers and did the math. After the directions, I’ll tell you what I found out. (Yes, you can skip ahead if you need to :) )

melt chocolate chips

dip and roll

gooey

Ingredients
4 TBS chunky peanut butter (I used Skippy.)
4 TBS quick oats (I used a store brand.)
32 dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli, so 32 chips are two servings and amounted to about 3 TBS)

Mix the oats and peanut butter in a small bowl.
Roll into six balls.
Chill in freezer for a minute or two.
Melt chocolate in microwave.
Roll the balls in the chocolate and put back into the freezer for a minute to set up.

So each ball contains the following nutrients:
Calories – 101
Fat – 7.5 g
Sugars – 3 g
Fiber – 1.6 g
Protein – 3 g

The fiber and protein help offset the sugar and fat. Also because the chocolate is on the outside, it’s the first thing our tastebuds encounter, so your brain may register this as more sugar than it is. (My brain did!)

So here’s another fun and easy dessert you can enjoy with my three favorite foods – peanut butter, oats and dark chocolate. Make these in minutes – double or triple the recipe so you have some to share. You’ll be glad you did.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Macaroons Dipped in Dark Chocolate

macaroons


Sweetened coconut dipped in dark chocolate is a perfect dessert in my world. Hard to beat the combination.

a macaroon dipped in chocolate


(Unless there’s peanut butter… or oats… or orange… or ginger… OK, I love desserts!) I found this recipe on the Women’s Day website several years ago and have made it a couple of times. It’s an elegant little bite of yummy, but not as gooey as some macaroons you may have tried because this one contains no flour. So, yes! Gluten-free.

only use non stick foil


A word (OK, several words) of warning –
1. Be sure you use non-stick aluminum foil to bake these on. The first time I made them, I thought they were kidding and it was a disaster trying to pry them off the baking sheet.
2. Non-stick aluminum is a fairly new variety that I happened to find in Target.

use only glass or metal bowls


3. Remember with any egg white baking, don’t use a plastic bowl or spoon or spatula. Glass and metal only.
4. Don’t spray your baking sheets with baking spray, thinking that will replace the foil. (Or you’ll be “foiled again!”) Oil and egg whites don’t play well together.

gently mix coconut in


Let’s get to it! This recipe makes about 2 dozen treats.

drop onto foil lined pans


bake till browned

dip in chocolate

Ingredients
3 large egg whites (Not a speck of yolk.)
3 TBS sugar
¾ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract (You could also just use 1 tsp almond and skip the vanilla.)
1 pkg (7 oz) sweetened flaked coconut. This is about 2 ½ cups.
8 oz dark chocolate, melted, or about 1 cup. (I use Ghirardelli chips.)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with nonstick aluminum foil. (Did you skip the warnings above? Please go back and read 1 & 2.)
Beat the egg whites, sugar and extracts in a glass or metal bowl until foamy.
Stir in the coconut and gently mix it in.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake 15 – 20 minutes until they have set up and are browned.
Let cookies cool on a wire rack.
Melt the chocolate in a small bowl.
Dip the bottoms and a bit of the sides into chocolate. Tap off excess.
Place back on the same foil lined baking sheets to set up at a leisurely pace.

Note: If you’re in a hurry to try them, pop one or two into the fridge, but don’t put them all in the fridge because chocolate likes to set up without a big rush of cold air.

delicious


Once the chocolate has set up on these macaroons, store them in an airtight container for a few days, if they last that long.

Follow Me on Pinterest