Tag Archives: dessert

I Love Carbs Now, Honestly {recipe: chocolate caramel oat bars}

22 Sep

I am going to be honest with you, because it will be best to maintain honesty in our friendship. I originally made these bars to send to my brother. And then I ate them all.

Sorry, Ben.

I shall make more. Actually, I am a little afraid to make more in case the same thing happens where I lose all willpower and then eat too, too many. So maybe I will make you something slightly less tasty.

In the spirit of honesty, there is more I should share… all these tidbits of pregnancy that I did not expect. Honestly…

1. The first is that dutiful willingness to indulge in many a baked treat or carb. I have never been much of a bread or pasta eater, thinking meals laden with such things leave me feeling full and sleepy, but now I have a newfound love for them. Especially when I am hungry and turn into the need-to-eat-now-or-the-hungry-monster-will-take-control-of-my-emotions person, nothing fixes that quicker than a quick pasta dinner or frozen pizza (gasp!) for dinner.

2. There is a sense of pride that comes when someone you don’t know, asks you in public when you are due. At this point, you can stop wondering if everyone just thinks you drink a lot of beer.

3. The willingness of other pregnant ladies to share their pregnancy/baby things. Right now, I am wearing Erika‘s shirt and Olivia‘s pants. Amber-Rose‘s sling and Coralee’s Baby Bjorn are patiently awaiting a newborn, tucked away in the closet, and Jackie’s soft, green crib bumpers are rolled up on the floor, where the crib  will go in the nursery. I didn’t ask for any of these things. Friends just willingly shared from what they had from their own babies. Think of what life would look like if we did that with all stages of life.

4. Temporary, overwhelming emotions to a not-over-emotional person like me.

5. Pain. I came back from a run last week with shooting pain in my back and down my leg. I am only 23 weeks pregnant. This will get worse and I am a little irritated that the pain has started now, and not 12 weeks from now.

6. A sense of feeling. Other than physical pain and other than the occasional over-emotional times that I mentioned before. I feel like if pregnancy has done anything to me, it has made me ‘feel’ things more, giving me a heightened sense of emotion. I like it. I would say that I am someone who shoves things out of my mind and would rather not deal with things that are hard because they can cause hurt, and consequently, I don’t feel as much excitement around happy things as I should, because I feel like getting really stoked about something only sets me up for disappointment, and then that hurt that I so desperately avoid. So….I am hoping I can hold on to this. Not being an emotional wreck, but just having heightened senses of excitement and sadness, because I am finding that those things only drive me to a healthy empathy and sorrow, or joy and thanksgiving.

7. Pregnant does not always mean tired. There have been multiple mornings that I have quit fighting insomnia at the wee hour of 4am and just gotten up to start the day.

8. General largeness. I knew I would get bigger, but I really only thought my stomach would get bigger. I have jeans that side low, on my hips below my waist. I left these jeans in the closet when I rid the racks of any clothing I knew would not accommodate my growing belly. Much to my surprise, I am 23 weeks in and, um, none of those pants fit. Apparently all other body parts grow throughout pregnancy as well. Some more than others, but we won’t go there. This weekend, I will conduct Round Two of maternify-my-closet, and all such pants will be banished to the storage tubs, sealed, and placed on the floor of the closet, not to be opened until June of 2010.

9. Nosebleeds. And giant veins. I look like a body-builder. You gain something like three pounds just in blood during pregnancy…and it shows on me. So much that for 10 days straight the veins in my node would burst from so much pressure and I had nosebleeds.

10. Excitement and Fear. Fear of pain. Of giving birth. Of raising a human. Of not being enough…and Excitement to experience new life. To give birth. To raise a child with my husband. To try.

Chocolate Caramel Oat Bars

from Half-baked

2 2/3 cup oats, rolled, old fashioned or quick cooking, divided

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
32 kraft caramels, unwrapped (or, a bag of the new kraft caramel bits for baking)
5 tbsp cream
1 cup chocolate chips

Grease or butter a 9×13 pan.

Take 1 2/3 c. oats and whirl through a food processor until they resemble a fine flour.

Combine oat flour, baking soda, salt and stir well. Stir in oats and brown sugar. Cut butter into dry ingredients until crumbly.

Press half of mixture into a lightly greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
While the base is baking, in a small saucepan, melt the caramels in the cream until smooth.

Remove pan from the oven. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the base. Drizzle the caramel mixture on top. Add remaining oat mixture. Return to the 350 degrees oven for another 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow bars to cool before cutting. Because they don’t contain any flour or eggs the carmalites are not as thick and a little most crumbly than most bar cookies but they taste so good you won’t mind.



Everything Can Wait {recipe: toffee shortbread bars}

2 Aug

Everything can wait.

From toffee cookie bars

My work ‘to do’ list is organized and pristine, nothing is crossed off.

The floors in my house are grimy and there are dishes in the sink and I head out tomorrow for a four-day conference that will have, perhaps, no down time.

But, it can all wait. Erika and Micah are having a baby. And Jon and I aren’t going to miss a second of it. Somehow, what I would have stressed myself out with tonight has found a way to fit itself into tomorrow’s schedule. Tomorrow there will be time. Now, we wil wait in the waiting room among family and a now-empty Domino’s pizze buffet complete with four boxes of cinnastix (courtesy of the father-in-law).

Rewind 38 weeks and three days ago. Erika called about an hour after peeing on a pregnance test that gave back two lines unstead of one. I feel like I have been waiting a long time and it is not even my baby. I can’t imagine how long it has been for her and Micah.

Ten weeks before that, we sat in their living room and talked abou the domestic adoption that they were pursuing wholeheartedly, until the news that would follow. And, only five weeks before that. we met at a mutual friends’ house. So much has happened in a year. Our relationship has progressed so quickly: meeting, birthday celebrations, camping trips, adoption plans, tuesday night conversations that went so late they ended in overnight stays  in guest rooms, dinner parties, pregnancy news, holidays, early-morning grocery trips, late-night dinners, more pregnancy news, and now, childbirth.

It has been 30 hours. That is a lot of hours.

They are going on 40 hours of no sleep, 30 hours of labor, and 28 hours of no food for Erika. Laughs and joking have turned to prolonged waiting as she pushes through resisting a cesarean delivery. It is go time. We, in the waiting room, hear there is lots of pushing going on in the delivery room. What was once soft, mood-type lighting in her room has I am sure turned into a spotlight show, with bright lights and lots of instruments and hairnets. All so glamorous.

Well, Erika, this one is for you. I think we polished off a plate of these cookies after dinner one night a few months age 🙂

From toffee cookie bars

Toffee Shortbread Bars

adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces almonds, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F and grease a 9-x-13-inch pan.

Beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, then add brown sugar and beat on medium high until fully mixed. Add in vanilla and beat for 30 seconds on medium-high. Turn mixer to low and mix in flour and salt. Press dough into prepared pan. It will be thin.

Bake until shortbread is golden brown,  firm at edges and slightly soft in center, about 30 minutes.

Take shortbread out of oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the shortbread. Place back in oven for 3 minutes. Remove from oven and using a spatula, spread the chocolate out evenly over the shortbread. Sprinkle the almond pieces on top of the chocolate. Let cool. Place in fridge for 30 minutes and then break into pieces.

From toffee cookie bars

Good luck, E. It’s 9:36 and I think you’re almost there.

Pre baby, Oct 2008
Pre-baby, October 2008
New Year’s Eve, 2008
May 2009

July 2009

The Beauty Queen of Cakes {recipe: red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting}

13 May
From Blake’s Last Day

I am not a huge red velvet cake fan. I just don’t get it. It’s chocolate-but-not-really, and I say, if you’re only going to do a half-job on something (especially chocolate) then maybe you shouldn’t do anything at all.  Also, red velvet cake seems hard to perfect, it’s often too dry and crunbly, yet still greasy.

However, I was swayed by the deep, red color of a red velvet cake to make one. It is so pretty. I saw a red velvet cake in a bakery recently and forgot that I thought the recipe was ridiculous. I was swayed by it’s beauty. That and the cream cheese frosting. I thought, if my red velvet cake is not great, at least I have a vehicle for the cream cheese frosting, because I have been known to just love the frosting.

From Blake’s Last Day

Ok, ok. So it was also a hard cake to make because I made it for one of the girls who is leaving the office. Blake has been an intern for two semesters now, and I have really just gotten the joy of knowing her over the past three months. Blake is fantastic. Witty, smart and adept in all things melinnial, she will surely be missed this summer as she heads back to Atlanta after graduation this weekend.

I made this recipe into mini-bundt cakes by simply pouring the batter into mini-bundt pans. The cakes held their shape well. Sometimes, softer cakes will crack or stick awkwardly to the pan, but this cake stayed firm and intact. It would be a great cake to cut into different shapes, if you wanted to use a sharp serrated knife and cut a shape into  a heart, or a letter, etc.

Side note:  I also just read that instead of using red food coloring to color your red velvet cake, you can use beets. That gives a whole new meaning to dirt cakes.

From Blake’s Last Day

Red Velvet Cake

from the The New York Times

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3½ cups cake flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1½ teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1¼ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2½ teaspoons white vinegar.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Yield: 3 cake layers.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

4 oz (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter with an electric mixer unti light and fluffy. Add in cream cheese, beat until combined. Add powdered sugar in 1-cup increments, beat until creamy. Frosting can e refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Blake’s last happy hour. Blake, Deirdre, Emilie, and myself.

Coming in the next few posts: Baby Showers

Weddings and Driving and Julie and Julia {recipe: cake mix cookies}

4 May

I only ever post pictures of food! Guess what? I have a video!

Well, it is not my video, but it is  a video of something I think is fantastic.

Ok, so in 2006 I was planning my wedding. Wedding planning for me involved countless  decisions, lovely showers and parties, many attempts of i-will-do-an-hour-of-yoga-everyday-until-the-wedding but then never even unrolling my mat, a last-minute shrunken wedding dress (that’s for another day), and lots of miles on my car. I lived in Austin and we got married outside of Houston, so probably three of four weekends a month, I drove the 6-hour round-trip to H-town for planning bonanzas for a few months.

Let’s just say I listened to a lot of books on tape. In four months I listened to probably four times as many books on tape as books I have actually read in the past four years. Pathetic.

This book was my favorite. It’s about a girl who’s over her crappy desk job and decides to cook through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one recipe at a time. She has to boil live lobsters and search Manhattan to find parts of pigs that I have never heard of to include in recipes, and she and her husband sometimes don’t eat dinner until 1am because it really just took that long. There are a lot of cuss words through her trials…but in a stick-it-to-the-man kind of way, that makes you want to read (listen?) more.

Here’s the trailer, I hear it opens August 7.

Oh, yes and a recipe. Well, to contrast Julia’s time-intensive recipes, I have the easiest cookie recipe ever.

From Easiest Cookies

Cake Mix Cookies

makes 24 cookies.

1 cake mix (any kind)

2 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cup mix-ins (optional, see below)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix ingerdients.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes.

Ideas for cake mixes and mix-ins:

  • yellow cake with chocolate chips (pictured)
  • carrot cake with pecans and coconut
  • red velvet cake with white chocolate chips
  • chocolate cake with mint chips
  • white cake with butterscotch chips and walnuts
  • pineapple cake with orange peel
From Easiest Cookies

A Case of the Mondays {recipe: olivia’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies}

19 Mar

Olivia and her husband, Todd, have us and four other couples over every Monday night. Olivia makes one fantastic dessert after another, week after week, but that’s not really why we’re there. It’s their cute kid. No, not really. We spend time talking about life and marriage and all the joys and challenges that those bring, amongst other things. It’s great.

These are Olivia’s cookies. Also great:

From Olivia’s Cookies

She would probably give the credit to someone else, but for our purposes here, they are Olivia’s cookies. Thanks Olivia. I love your cookies. I am cheating on my once-favorite cookies with yours. Can we say, “Flavor of the week?” Yes. Yes, we can.

These cookies are thin and soft and gooey. Thin and soft, you ask? I know, I know. Until this recipe I would deem those two words an oxymoron in its finest sense. I do not like a crunchy cookie.

From Olivia’s Cookies

Now, a word to the wise: When I made these, I knew what I was aiming for. I had eaten one (or four) of Olivia’s cookies weeks before and I was stoked about this recipe. I made the cookies, and when I pulled them out of the oven I was crushed. They had poofed up in all the wrong places and looked like “those” cookies. You know the ones. The cookies that are a bit airy and crunchy as a cracker. We had people over hanging out and I had to go un-hype the cookies that I had just hyped up for 10 minutes while making the dough. So we finished dinner and I went back to the kitchen to get said crappy cookies. And they had sunk, much like my heart had about 5 minutes before. But this time it was good. The cookies had deflated and redeemed themselves. They were flat and chewy and gooey all at the same time. A dream come true.

From Olivia’s Cookies

Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 20


1 c. butter

1 c. white sugar

1 c. brown sugar


2 eggs

2 t. vanilla

Blend in:

2 1/2 c. oats

2 c. flour

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

4 oz. grated milk chocolate Hershey’s bar

Drop 1/4 cup dough on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

Remember the note ablove about how the cookies will sink.


Changing Scenery {recipe: carrot cake cupcakes}

17 Mar
From carrot cake cupcakes

I recently changed desks at work. In three years, this is the fifth cube that I have occupied. I think I am the most-moved one on the team, and I like it. I love changing desks, even if it’s just a few yards over, or swapping with someone on the next row. Management likes to keep us all sitting near the people we are working directly with, which helps collaboration and discussion, and I like new things. Not bright-shiny new, but just new-to-me things. New cube neighbors, a new view.

My current cube is somewhat in the middle of our department, technically on a row with people who I am not on a team with.

They are nice enough to let me sit here. So I made them cupcakes.

I took photos of these cupcakes because they were soooooooo pretty (probably because they weren’t my idea, but they were Deb’s), but I have had them for weeks and forgot that I had not posted the recipe.

From carrot cake cupcakes

These are very, very good. The carrot cake is moist and the frosting is creamy and sweet. Smitten Kitchen used maple in the frosting, but I did not have maple syrup, so I used honey and all was well.

From carrot cake cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

yields 24 cupcakes

2 c. all purpose flour

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt1 T.  ground cinnamon

1 t. ground nutmeg

2 t. ground ginger

2 c. sugar

1 1/4 c. canola oil

4 large eggs

3 c. grated carrots (I used a food processor to grate them)

1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Place liners in 24 muffin cups.

Stir sugar and oil together until incorporated.

Add in eggs one at a time and stir after each addition.

Add spices,  salt, and baking soda and stir well.

Add in flour and stir until blended.

Stir in carrots and nuts.

Drop into cupcake cups.

Bake 12 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool in pans for about 10 minutes then transfer cakes to a cooling rack.

The cupcakes should cool completely before you frost them.

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

2 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1/4 c. honey

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy (this will take about 10 minutes).

Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.

For the spikey frosting, I used a Wilton #129 tip and just kept dolliping, dolliping, dolliping!

Out of a Rut {recipe: chocolate chip cookie dough bon bons}

5 Mar

I have tried to make cake truffles atleast four times. I have failed every time. I don’t know what the deal is, but when I try to roll the cake into balls and it sticks to my hands, and I end up with these dough-ball messes. Then, I try to dunk my messy, sticky globs unto soft, melted, unadultered chocolate coating. I end up with a cake glob mashed with asymmetrical, hardening chocolate. They taste great but look atrocious, so I eat them myself and make something safe to bring.

Well I may suck at the cake truffles, but I totally owned these (the original recipe calls them chocolate chip cookie dough truffles).

From cookie dough truffles

Anyhow, I found some easy truffles. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bon Bons. These are more like cookie dough, and less like truffles. But really, is that a problem for you? It is not a problem for me. 

I know what you are thinking. Cookie dough has raw eggs in it. 

Not this cookie dough. This has some crazy combo that includes sweetened condensed milk. And it is so, so good. And when I think about Bon Bons, I have visions of sitting in on the couch with a good blanket and some junky TV. Thinking of that makes me happy right now.

From cookie dough truffles

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bon Bons

adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

2 cups flour

1 can  sweetened condensed milk

1 cup chocolate chips

4 oz. meltable chocolate bark


Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add salt and vanilla.

With speed on low, slowly add flour, alternating with condensed milk, beating well after each addition.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough 45 minute-1 hour so that it is not too sticky.

Shape balls into 1-inch balls and place into an air tight container. Store in freezer for at least 3 hours.

From cookie dough truffles

Melt choolate and dip balls in chocolate. Let chocolate harden on wzxed paper and then freeze balls up to 3 weeks.

Original Post: https://saltimbocca.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-truffles