Deep Dish Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Deep Dish Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

the insides....yum

These are fun to make – everyone loves these, and they taste so much better than the ones you buy – a real treat.  I would use a milk chocolate or if you want it darker than that – maybe a chocolate around 55-60% at the most. Give them a try — easy, but there are a few steps involved.

Deep Dish Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

from Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen

makes 8  large treats

8 muffin liners

8 ounces of milk or dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup cream cheese

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp pure vanilla

1/2 tsp grated fresh nutmeg

Directions:

Place muffin liners in muffin tin. (this recipe uses regular sized muffin liners).

In a heatproof bowl over a pot with about an inch of boiling water, place chopped chocolate, stirring occasionally until fully melted. Turn off heat.  Using a small pastry brush, and holding the muffin liner steady, paint the bottom and about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the liner with chocolate.  Place pan in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened.

Place peanut butter and cream cheese in processor and process until smooth. Scrape down sides and add honey, vanilla and grated nutmeg. Remove chocolate cups from fridge and place 2 to 3 tablespoons of peanut butter filling into each cup.  Smooth top of filling to make level. Place back in fridge to firm up, abotu 15 minutes.

Reheat your leftover chocolate over hot water until melted again. Spoon chocolate over top of your chilled peanut butter filling, sealing the edges.  Refrigerate again until firm. To serve, peel off liners. Enjoy. Keep refrigerated, but they taste best if you let them warm up a bit (10 minutes or so) before serving.

melt chocolate in heatproof bowl over an inch of simmering water

Mix up peanut butter filling with cream cheese in processor. Add other ingredients.

paint insides of muffin liners with chocolate, about 2/3 of the way up the sides. Let harden.

place filling into cups, leveling it. Place back in fridge to firm up.

Spoon remaining chocolate over filling to seal edges. Back in the fridge to harden.

Yum

Santa likes these.

Peanut Butter Buds

It’s about the only way I can describe these cookies.  I love peanut butter and these give you a double whammy with a peanut butter cookie topped with a melty mini Reese’s peanut butter cup.  Hello.  The cookie is small and delicate and chewy, as long as you don’t overbake them. Very cute and delightful and you really can’t have just one, you have to have a few.   An easy dough that comes together fast.

Peanut Butter Buds 

adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker

makes approximately 48 cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (regular, not pure peanut butter with no additives)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated preferred)

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar (to roll cookie dough balls in)

Directions:

Preheat oven  to 350 F.  Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats or silicone liners. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter. Add white and brown sugar and mix until well combined.

Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix on medium speed until well incorporated.

In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. On low speed, gradually add to peanut butter mixture. When just combined, remove mixing things and finish combining all the flour with a spatula.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so, until firm.

Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in wide shallow bowl. Using a spoon or small cookie dough scoop, make 3/4 inch balls,, fairly small- about 1 1/2 tsp to 2 tsp of dough), roll in sugar and place on cookie sheet.

Bake for 7 minutes, or until puffed.  They turn out beautifully chewy and delicate if you take them out before they brown.  Remove from oven and press Reese’s mini peanut butter cup into center of each cookie. Cool 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Try to eat just one! It’s not possible. So good.

Combine flour mixture into butter/peanut/egg mixture

Do you know what this is? Whole nutmeg! Tastes great, looks like brains.

Scoop balls of dough into sugar, roll, place on baking sheet.

The product I used for the centers.

Press peanut cup into cookies when they come out of oven. YUM

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 24 muffins

Here’s an easy and awesome recipe to have on hand. First of all, it makes a delicious, ‘loved by everyone’ muffin.  Secondly it’s easy,  and thirdly, it’s a big recipe and makes 24 regular sized muffins.  My mother came across this recipe a few years ago and everyone who’s tried the muffins and the recipe loves it. Don’t let the fact that  pumpkin is used throw you off, in fact, don’t bother to tell people it’s pumpkin until after their eyes open wide and they say “this is soooo good”.  Great to make when you have a crowd coming, or have to bring treats to a potluck.  *A good beginner recipe.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

from A Taste of Home

makes 24 regular size muffins (recipe can be halved)

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 can pure  pumpkin  (14 oz can or half of the big can (28oz) not pumpkin pie filling)

1.5 cups veg. oil (I used 1 cup of grapeseed oil and 1/2  a cup of extra virgin olive oil)

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2 cups choc chips

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Prepare muffin tins and place muffin tin on a baking sheet.

In stand mixer or with hand mixer, mix eggs and sugar together until well blended. Add in pumpkin and oil. Mix well.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt (dry ingredients).  Add dry ingredients  to pumpkin mixture. Mix just until well combined.  Fold in chocolate chips until well distributed.  Fill muffin tin (greased or with muffin liners) to top. Bake in 400 oven for 16-20 mins, until top bounces back when touched, or tester comes out clean.

*you will notice that when baking muffins or quickbreads, the mixing of the wet, then dry, then combining them with minimal mixing is usually the procedure used.

Mix wet ingredients together well

Combine dry ingredients, then mix into wet until just combined

Make sure dry ingredients are mixed in well, but don't overmix.

Fold in chcolate chip or chunks gently.

Fill muffin tins just to top.

Everyone LOVES these muffins.

For the Love of Scones

Scones with butter and jam

Scones

What’s not to like about a scone? They are delicious and tender, plain with butter or dressed up any way you like. Their creation requires a little bit of technique, but it is quickly mastered and so very worth it. Try these plain ones, and  once you are comfortable with making them, the sky is the limit as far as modifying their flavour goes. Another benefit:  you can make your dough, cut your scones, place on a tray and freeze, then put them in a freezer bag once they are frozen.  Pull them out and cook anytime — fresh scones!  So. Follow along, and be gentle. The more gentle you are with your dough, the more tender your scones will be.

*for frozen scones, do not defrost, but increase cooking time as needed.

Plain Scones

adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea by Rose Bakery

makes 12-16 large scones or 24-32 mini scones

Ingredients

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup wheatgerm, whole wheat flour, cornmeal or oat bran  (optional) (I used cornmeal)

3 tbsp baking powder

2 (heaping) tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/4 cups milk (lactose free if necessary, soy milk, or regular

1 egg, beaten (to glaze the tops)

butter and jam, to serve

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F, and line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.

In a large bowl, combine flour, wheatgerm (if using), baking powder, sugar and salt.

Toss in the butter pieces, toss in the flour, and then begin combining it with your fingers. Squeeze the butter, then drop it back in the flour, find another piece, squeeze it, and continue in this fashion until your butter/flour mixture looks like big breadcrumbs (see picture).

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in exactly 1 1/4 cups of milk (300 ml).  Use a fork to mix it into the dry ingredients. Finish pulling your dough together using your hands, without overworking it, just until it comes together.  If by chance it is too dry, add a little more milk, or if too sticky add more flour. It should not be sticky at all.

On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into a circular shape, about 3 cms thick, then cut crosswise like a pie into triangles.  Either make 2 large discs, or 4 smaller discs,  depending on whether you want big scones or small scones. (I made small ones here).

Glaze the tops with beaten egg if desired (I didn’t), and bake 12-20 minutes until golden and risen. (these small ones took 14 minutes).  Cool a little, then slice and slather with butter and jam. Enjoy with a coffee or tea and a good friend.

Toss butter pieces into to flour mixture

Squeeze butter into flour mixture, drop, and squeeze again

When mixture resembles large breadcrumbs it is ready for next step

Make a 'well' and pour in milk.

Use a fork to mix the flour and milk together. Don't overwork.

Use your hands to put dough together, form into discs and cut into triangles.

Place on baking tray with a little bit of room in between

Bake for 12-20 minutes, depending on size, until golden and risen

Spread with butter and jam. 🙂 Wasn't that easy?

Big, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Big, chewy chocolate chip cookies

I’ve probably all made a billion chocolate chip cookies in my life, but I was compelled to try this recipe from Michael Smith’s new cookbook.  These are big and chewy with twice as many chocolate chips as you would normally put in – definitely an ‘adult’ size cookie.  If you have teen boys – they will probably go insane for them.   Best of all, they are easy and quick. Give ’em a try, I’m sure you’ll be changing from your usual recipe, or, if you are new to baking, this will be your ‘go to’ chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Michael Smith’s Kitchen

makes about 22 large (2 1/2 – 3 inch cookies)

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (a whole bag)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

With electric mixture, mix together butter and sugar. When well combined, add egg and vanilla. Mix well.

In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to sugar mixture until combined. With wooden spoon, mix in chocolate chips.

Form balls of dough a little bit bigger than golf balls. (50 g). Press down slightly on cookie dough, keeping cookies about 3 inches apart.

Bake for exactly 12 minutes  (you may think they look underdone, but take them out anyway).  Cool for a few minutes, then remove from pan to cooling rack and cool completely. Enjoy.

mix together butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla and mix well.

After gradually adding in flour mixture, add 2 cups of chocolate chips

form into golf ball size (or slightly larger) balls of dough

place on cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Flatten slightly

bake for exactly 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Enjoy

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Thumbprint

It’s cookie season– a.k.a. weigh- gain season – at least for me, as I simply cannot control myself when it comes to home baked cookies.  These are my favourite -a  not too sweet shortbread base with an excellent dense texture – then a pop of dark chocolate. Oh my. Love it. Easy too.

Chocolate Thumbprints

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

makes 3 1/2  dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp.

1 cup icing sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup  (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

2 tsp corn syrup

2 (additional) Tbsp butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

In bowl of electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter, icing sugar, salt and vanilla on medium speed until smooth, scraping down sides.  Beat in flour. Start at a low speed, gradually increasing to medium as the flour becomes incorporated. Mix only until all flour is mixed in.

Form balls of dough with cookie scoop or your hands (about 2 tsp each). Dough will be a little crumbly so press it together.  Place balls one inch apart on baking sheets.  Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven, and using the end of a wooden spoon, make an indent in each cookie.  Continue baking until light brown on the edges. (about 7 minutes more). Remove from oven, and use the end of the spoon to press your indents once more.

Combine chocolate, 2 tablespoons of butter and corn syrup in a small metal bowl over a saucepan with an inch of simmering water. Mix and remove from heat after chocolate is melted and smooth.Cool slightly, then fill indents with chocolate. (I use a baby spoon).  Set aside to for chocolate to firm up.  Store in airtight container for 3 days at room temperature, or freeze in layers in containers. They freeze really well.

dough will have a crumbly texture, but will come together when pressed with hands

after 10 minutes of baking, make indent, then return to oven

re-indent the cookies after they come back out of oven

melt butter, corn syrup and chocolate in top of double boiler

YUM YUM YUM

Slow-Cooker Beef Pot Roast

Slow-cooked pot roast, pureed cauliflower, gravy, green salad, beet horseradish

This is a great time of year to pull out the slow-cooker and figure out how to cook with it.  I use it as often as possible because it means I’ve dealt with my dinner-making obligation early in the day and I can move on to other fun stuff – like baking and eating baking.  Besides that, everyone should know how to make a pot roast, it’s a Canadian staple dinner.

Anyhow, I bought a grass-fed beef sirloin tip roast – it works well for pot roast — or use a blade or other tough chunk of beef. We’ll be cooking it low and slow so all those fibrous strands of meat will break down in the process, all the while providing some great flavour.  I chose ‘grass-fed’ because that is what cows are supposed to eat naturally and I believe that it is way, way more healthy to eat this kind of beef.

You will need to make a flavour base to cook this in. Follow along with what I’ve used, but please feel free to stray from this guideline and use what you like and/or have on hand.

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

serves 6

2-3 lb beef roast (blade, sirloin tip)

2 medium onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 cup beef broth

1/2 cup red wine (I used shiraz – use a good wine)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (use any kind)

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp tamari or soya sauce

2 tsp ground ginger

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tbsp chili garlic sauce

1/2 cup salsa

1/2 cup bbq sauce

ground black pepper

to thicken gravy:

1/2 cup water mixed with 2 tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

Turn slow-cooker on to high.  Spread diced onions along bottom of cooker.   Unwrap and wipe off roast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In skillet, heat 1 tbsp butter until melted over med-high heat. Brown roast on all sides.  Place browned roast on top of onions.

In separate medium-sized saucepan, put in the rest of the ingredients (except water and cornstarch).  Bring to a boil and stir. Pour mixture over beef roast in slow-cooker. Cover and cook for 6-7 hours on low, or 4 hours on high.  When roast is tender (can pull apart with a fork), remove from liquid to a plate and tent with foil. Mix up water/cornstarch mixture and stir into liquid in slow cooker (on high). (If there is alot of fat on top of liquid, remove as much as possible before doing this). When thickened, pour into a gravy boat. Slice meat. Serve with horseradish (or beet horseradish – even better)…boiled or mashed  potatoes and carrots – or for a healthier, lower carb option – pureed cooked cauliflower and a green salad. Cheers.

Brown roast over medium-high heat

Brown roast on all sides

Mix all ingredients (except water/cornstarch) in medium saucepan.

pour mixture over roast in slow-cooker

Add cornstarch/water mixture to liquid in slow-cooker to thicken

Slice roast, serve with gravy