“What WERE those things?” my friend Ingrid asked. “They were aaaamzing.”
What those “things” were is my new favorite super easy “cookie” recipe that is impossible to resist. These chewy, peanutty bars with soft butter chocolate frosting have everything going for them:
First, you probably have the ingredients for them on hand right now.
Secondly, they have fiber and protein to help slow down the absorption of sugar, so you and your kids or guests can enjoy an indulgent treat with less of a sugar rush. (I confess to have eaten a couple of them with an ice cold glass of milk and happily called it breakfast.)
They only take about 5 minutes to mix, just 18 to 20 minutes to bake. Cool to the touch, frost, cut and serve a bunch. This makes them the perfect dessert to bake for last-minute guests, to satisfy a gotta-have-it-now craving for a sweet treat, or make n’ take to a potluck or bake sale.
Making a pan of bar cookies is so much faster and easier than baking cookies… and, I’ve not yet met a cookie I like as well as these peanuty chocolate babies. Be sure to save the link to this recipe because I think you’ll use it again and again.
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. sugar (I use organic)
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour (or 3/4 c. flour plus 1/4 c. hemp seeds or ground flax or wheat germ)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. rolled oats
MOIST Chocolate Layer Cake with Buttery Mocha Frosting (& Story of My Daughter’s Unforgettable Birth)Posted: December 28, 2013
Today is my daughter’s 30th birthday! Sadly, Rachel lives too far away to celebrate with in person today (she is in Texas, and I am in Colorado). So I’ve had to make do with texts, Facebook posts, emails, phone calls, Twitter and now, a blog in her honor!
I have great stories about each of my children’s entrances into the world, but Rachel’s birth story wins the Most Exciting Award, hands down.
She was born three days after Christmas. From December 23 to December 28, I was the proverbial pot waiting to boil, only in my case my visiting family was waiting for me to give birth. It was the coldest winter on record in Texas and ice had frozen inside the windows. After enjoying my two sons who were age 3 and 5, I could not help dreaming of a baby girl. Ultrasound pictures were rare in those days, so we did not know the sex ahead of time.
Because my previous home births had involved long painful labors, when I woke up with contractions this third time around, they weren’t terribly painful. So I decided to just lie still, on my side, in the peaceful darkness and labor quietly by the light of the Christmas tree. I didn’t want to wake my husband, parents or sister who were visiting us over the holidays, until I was sure I needed help. This plan went surprisingly well, until I felt something like the urge to push.
I decided to wake up my husband with this news. His eyes grew large as he announced, “Becky, I see the baby’s head!” This set off a Three Ring Circus with my Dad manning the wall phone in the kitchen talking to the midwife, then shouting directions to my mother who was standing in the living room, who relayed them to my then-husband standing at the end of my bed, like a baseball catcher. My college-aged, organized little sister, who is not fond of feeling out of control was, I believe, hiding in the guestroom taking notes in her journal under“Things I Must Never Ever Do.”
The ice on the highways was so thick, and I’d waited so long to sound the “Baby is Coming!” alarm, that the midwife could not possibly get there before the baby’s entrance. Rachel slipped into the world and soon, into my arms, fairly easily. However, she was not breathing on her own, so I reached into our “Home Birth Kit”, grabbed a suctioning bulb and went to work. It wasn’t long before she took her first beautiful breath. We looked in each other’s eyes and made friends immediately. I named her Rachel Praise, after my sister Rachel. Interestingly, the two Rachels in our family both prefer less-crazy, less-messy lives than I’ve lived. Lives where they keep schedules, know what day it is, give birth in hospitals and don’t mind “bothering” other people when they go into labor. However, all three of us love to laugh and ended up writing books of family humor. (My sister’s latest is The Well-Lived Laugh –ebook download is just $1.00 this week, and ours is We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.)
As soon as I could stand and walk, I scooped up my new daughter and headed to a store, with her big brothers dressed in cowboy boots and hats trailing behind. I walked in and bought 3 lacy bonnets. Before the days of hair bows on stretch lace, it was a frilly bonnet that would say to the world, “Baby GIRL here!” and I wanted the world to know my beautiful newborn was a SHE.
Besides remembering the story of Rachel’s birth (as I do every year on this day in some way), I decided to have a piece of this incredibly moist and buttery, made-from-scratch homemade chocolate cake in her honor. In fact, I had it for breakfast… because these are the kinds of sacrifices mothers make for their birthday girls.
This cake is a variation of the famous recipe on the back of Hershey’s Cocoa. The frosting is extra rich, soft and fluffy – made with lots butter and melted chocolate.
You are most welcome to join us in celebrating Rachel’s birthday today by whipping up this cake. Then stand back and watch people swoon. Seriously it is the kind of chocolate cake that provokes moans not unlike those of Meg Ryan’s in the movie,”When Harry Met Sally”.
Happy Birthday, Dear Rachel! I am so glad you were born. So proud of you as a wife and mother. So thrilled that we got to write a blog and book together this year. So many good things have happened in the world, because you were born.
Now, let’s eat cake!
MOIST, Chocolate Layer Cake with Buttery Mocha Frosting
Ingredients (Adjusted for High Altitude, See “Normal Altitude*” measurement adjustments below)
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons sugar*
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder*
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda*
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk*
1/2 cup light oil such as sunflower, canola or light olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water mixed with 1 T. instant coffee (or 1 cup strong hot coffee, brewed)
Heat oven to 350°F.
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. I use Pam spray. Then cut a circle of wax or parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan. Re-spray the top of parchment with Pam lightly.
Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Carefully, stir in hot coffee, with the mixer on low, or use a hand whisk. The batter will be very thin. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with fluffy mocha frosting.
- Normal Altitude Measurements: 2 cups sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup milk
- Vegans: substitute milk with soy or almond milk; use Earth Balance Butter Sticks in place of dairy butter, and Ener-G Egg replacer for eggs.
Buttery Mocha Frosting
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or morsels (Vegans use dairy-free chocolate chips)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature (really important this be at room temp) (Vegans use Earth balance butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 – 5 Tablespoons Strong coffee, cooled
Carefully melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or use the microwave but watch carefully, only nuking 10 seconds at a time, just until you can stir it smoothly.
Beat the butter until it is light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, the melted chocolate, and then add one tablespoon of coffee at a time until the frosting is smooth and creamy and will spread easily, but don’t whip it. Spread immediately on the cooled cake.
This cake is best served at room temperature. If I make it a day ahead, I put it in the fridge and then let the cake sit at room temperature for several hours so the frosting will soften up to serve the next day. My favorite way to handle leftovers (if there are any) is to cut slices and wrap them individually, very well, in plastic wrap. Then when I want a piece, I unwrap it and put it on a place, and microwave it about 15 seconds to soften.
This week marked our wedding anniversary. I asked my six-year-old grandson George if he’d like to help me make an “Anniversary Pie” for his Poppy.
“Is it your secret recipe?” he asked. (He saw a cooking show where some chef talked about a secret recipe and has been curious about any “secret recipes” I might have lurking in my brain.)
“Yes!” I said. “It will be OUR secret recipe because I’m making it up right now, with you.”
“How long have you and Poppy been married?” Georgie asked.
“For nine years now!”
“And you and Poppy never fight and you never died! You did good!”
Indeed, that might be the hallmark of a great marriage: you don’t fight and you don’t die. In fact, in a great marriage, you thrive, you blossom, you grow.
Here’s what I wrote on my Facebook Status about Greg, my husband, the Love of My Life:
“Nine years ago today, I married Greg Johnson, and each day of those nine years have been the happiest and most peaceful, fulfilling and giving, romantic and stable of my entire life. When you live with someone whose eyes always mirror love, delight, acceptance… when you know you are cherished every moment of every day, it changes you into the best possible version of yourself. And you have so much more to give to the world, because your brain is no longer working so hard to simply try to survive or make sense of your life. Being well loved expands your capacity to love and be more present to others. I love and adore you, Mr. Johnson for who you are and who you have helped me become when I am with you. Who knew marriage could really be like this, ‘after all these years’?
A wonderful marriage is definitely worth celebrating. One of my husband’s favorite treats is mint chocolate chip ice cream. One of my favorite treats is warm chocolate sauce. This ice cream pie, like us, is the perfect marriage of both.
Now that I’ve shared our secret to a happy marriage (choose to cherish each other daily), I’ll go ahead share my “secret recipe” (shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone) for this absolutely mouth-watering, silly-easy, pie. It’s wonderfully refreshing on a hot summer day, and you’ll spend just a few minutes in the kitchen putting it together.
Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Pie with Warm Fudge Sauce
One pre-made chocolate graham cracker or chocolate cookie pie shell
1 quart of your favorite chocolate chip ice cream (I’m from Texas and partial to Blue Bell “the best ice cream in the country”)
One recipe chocolate sauce (below)
About 10 Andes Mint Candies
1 c. half n’ half
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ t. vanilla
Let ice cream soften just enough so that you can scoop and pack it into pre-made chocolate pie shell. Decorate the top of the ice cream pie with Andes Chocolate Mints, by cutting them at a diagonal and placing around the pie in a pretty design.
Cover with plastic wrap and let harden in freezer.
Simmer half n’ half in a small saucepan, add the chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is melted and well mixed. Add vanilla and salt. Remove from stove and let cool until warm but not piping hot. (Leftover sauce will keep in fridge for a week or more. Just microwave a few seconds to reheat and liquefy.)
Cut and serve the ice cream pie, drizzling some of the warm sauce over the top and serve immediately.
Yes, you can have your moist, dark, chocolate cake-bread, and enjoy your health, too!
This recipe began stewing in my mind when my sister-in-law Gail came to visit. Every morning, without fail, she has the same breakfast: a chocolate chip chocolate muffin and a Starbuck’s frappucinno. I am not a big fan of breakfast foods, in general, but those double chocolate muffins …. oh man, they looked and smelled and tasted soooo good!
Since Gail’s muffin’ lovin’ visit, I’ve been in search of a moist, super chocolately bread or muffin that I can feel good about eating, even for breakfast. I came across a Cooking Light recipe for chocolate zucchini bread that used squash and applesauce to substitute for most of the oil. It was quite moist and… pretty okay, but a “fer piece” (as they say in Texas) from that perfect dark, rich, chocolately bite I was looking for.
So I started tweaking and baking like one of those OCD chefs from America’s Test Kitchens. By the time I was done, I’d changed every ingredient and added more, and made the recipe entirely my own. I don’t like the taste of baking soda so I switched to baking powder. It wasn’t chocolately enough so I used dark Hershey’s cocoa, added ¼ cup Hershey’s syrup and doubled the chocolate chips. I added a cup of chopped walnuts. I substituted ½ the zucchini for grated carrots because that’s what I had in the fridge. (Actually I just put all the veggies in the food processor and whirled them.I’ve no patience for hand-grating veggies and I value my knuckles.)
When the finished loaf came out of the oven, fragrant with rich chocolate aromas, I took one bite and said, “Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Chocoholics rejoice! You have seriously got to try this recipe to believe how good it is. No one will suspect it has 1 ½ cups of veggies and 1 cup of applesauce & only 3 T. of oil and ¾ cup sugar – in two loaves.
Valentine’s Day is coming up and this would make a fun breakfast or snack or dessert for yourself or your kids or your Honey Pie. Just garnish it with a few heart shaped strawberry slices and serve it with all the love in your heart.
Double Chocolate Veggie-Nut Bread
¾ c. organic sugar
3 T. olive or canola oil
2 large eggs
¼ c. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
1 t. vanilla
Sifted Dry Ingredients
2 cups unbleached or whole wheat white flour
2 T. Hershey’s dark cocoa powder (you can use regular cocoa as well, just won’t be quite as dark a loaf)
3 T. plus 1 t. baking powder
½ t. cinnamon (more if you like a stronger cinnamon punch)
½ t. salt
¾ cup grated or ground squash, any kind (zucchini, yellow, butternut, pumpkin….)
1 c. applesauce
¾ cup grated or ground carrots
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 T. flour
Using a mixer cream all the “creaming ingredients” together until eggs are very well beaten and mixture is smooth. Sift together all the ingredients from the “Sifted Dry Ingredients” list. Use food processor to grind/process carrots and squash, or grate them by hand. Alternate adding squash-carrot mixture and sifted dry ingredients to mixing bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Put chocolate chips and chopped walnuts in a small bowl and toss with 2 T. flour (this helps them not fall to the bottom of your bread, keeps them floating evenly throughout the loaf). Stir these final goodies into the batter, by hand.
(In the picture at top above, I had frozen grated yellow squash and zuchinni from the night before, and just tossed it back in food processor with a couple of large carrots. Next pic is batter awaiting the bowl of floured walnuts and chocolate chips. Finally my super-long bread pan, found at an estate sale.)
Pour batter into two well greased and floured loaf pans. (Note: I baked my bread in one super-long baker’s loaf pan, a find at an estate sale. But I’ve never seen another bread pan like it, so just use two regular bread pans instead.)
Bake at 350 for 55 minutes. Let cool to warm and carefully run sharp knife around edge to loosen and remove from pan. Let cool some more and then slice with a sharp serrated knife to serve. After first day, store in fridge (otherwise the moist veggies and fruit could start fermenting) and either nuke for a second or heat slices in skillet with a little butter.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Double Chocolate Veggie Nut Bread
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Tu
I have recently been singing the praises of hemp seeds (“the new flax”), and telling everyone about their health benefits. Of course, every time I mention the word “hemp” someone jokingly asks if I get high from eating hemp seeds. I say, “No, the Getting High part of the plant is not in the Hemp Seed part. Really, this is just the way I am normally, organically, without any psychotropic help.”
Which is true. And probably why I’ve never understood the need or desire to smoke pot or even nibble on a THC-laced brownie. Life in my own natural born head is all the “high” I can handle, and certainly Life with “Normal Becky” is challenging enough for my family without any
I spent a few days in a hotel room with my daughter Rachel last week at a food blogging convention. She was trying so hard to be patient but one morning, in exasperation, she said, “Mom, I know you are somehow trying to be organized, but there are six Ziploc bags on the bathroom counter and all of them are filled with miscellaneous stuff that doesn’t go together in any logical way. Here’s a bag with lipstick, a hair clip, a pen, and a bottle of aspirin. And even the aspirin bottle is filled with everything but aspirin!”
My mind is a place you probably would not want to go into alone, but somehow I’ve managed to get by in this world, probably through the kindness of strangers and an overworked, stressed-out team of angels.
So I don’t touch “recreational drugs,” but I am fascinated by Super Foods that may help boost brain function. When researchers found that dark chocolate was full of antioxidants and flavonoids — beneficial for the heart and brain –it was a happy day. When creamy coconut oil proved beneficial for digestion, healing and possibly even weight loss; and crunchy almonds were touted for their anti-inflammatory properties, Vitamin E and minerals — things got even happier. And then, hemp seeds were found to be a Super Food. They taste like slightly green sesame seeds and are full of protein (11 grams in 3 Tablespoons) with 10 amino acids, chock full of Omega 3’s and 6’s in perfect balance. A vegan’s dream.
I offer you not just one, but two, recipes that make use of Super Foods and taste irresistibly indulgent. The mocha hemp frappuccino makes mornings worth getting out of bed for. And the Super Food Dark Chocolate Hemp Candy – let’s just say you are about to meet your new best recipe friend. A couple of pieces of this sensuous dark chocolate treat is especially delicious alongside a few fresh berries and a cup of tea. (For health benefits it is hard to beat white tea.) The additional fiber in the candy makes it surprisingly filling, so as tasty as it is, I don’t find myself over-indulging.
Super Food Dark Chocolate Hemp Candy
Makes about 12 to 15 chocolate drops
1 3.2 oz bar of 70% chocolate (My favorites are Newman’s Own and Chocolove brands, they are both rich and smooth without bitterness)
2 T. coconut oil
2/3 cup hemp seeds (found in any health store and most large grocery stores on “organic aisle”)
¼ chopped almonds (I love the roasted salted version in this recipe)
2 T. dried cranberries or other chopped dried fruit of your choice (coconut flakes would also be yummy)
Slowly and carefully melt chocolate and coconut oil together in a microwave, stopping every 10 seconds to stir and stopping just as soon as chocolate has melted. Stir in rest of the ingredients until well coated. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on a parchment lined plate or cookie sheet.
Put in fridge (or freezer if you are in a hurry) until firm. Keep leftover pieces in a tightly covered container in the fridge.
Hemp Mocha Frappuccino
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
½ frozen banana
3 ice cubes
Instant Coffee granules (amount to your taste – I like an organic version that comes in individual sleeves)
1 T. organic corn-syrup free chocolate syrup (such as Ahlaska brand)
1 – 2 T. Hemp Seeds
Blend until smooth, serve in a pretty glass cup and wake up happy!
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Super Food Hemp Chocolate Treats (Candy & Mocha Frappuccino)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Fm
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved
I know, I know. I’m late with this post. But I have a great excuse.
I’m in Oregon on vacation and this is the view from my hotel room. (Priceline, $50.00 a night!) And this is where I’ve been taking my meals, already prepared for me, along the river.
The sign above the plate of sweet potato fries and my bacon-avocado-tomato sandwich says, “Escape, Relax, Renew.” It is the Hotel Rules and I don’t want to break them, so I’m officially slacking today.
I did, however, create one dish in the hotel room last night to satisfy an intense craving for something sweet and chocolatey. I’m trying to keep my calories under 1450 a day, which is why I conveniently know that this snack weighs in at 150 calories! I love Pinwheels cookies, dark chocolate and marshmallow treats, that are only in the stores in the cool months of the year because the dark chocolate atop them melts too easily. This chocolate “hotel mix” reminds me of those cookies and satisfies my cravings for something indulgent without costing me much in calories.
Becky’s 150 Chocolate Marshmallow Snack
1 T. Semi-sweet chocolate Chips (17 normal sized or 24 mini chips)
1 square chocolate graham cracker
1/3 c. mini marshmallows
Break the graham cracker into small bite-sized pieces, and toss with the rest of the ingredients. Serve with a cup of coffee or hot tea and satisfy your sweet-chocolate cravings for very few calories!
As Rachel and I enter a new phase of our lives, writing with a book deadline looming before us, we are going to surprise you on Fridays. We may have a guest post, an all pictures post, a flashback post where we re-post a favorite recipe with a new twist or comment, a give-away post (free books!), or whatever else strikes our fancy. (And takes less time!) This will allow us another day in our week to get the book written, and hopefully be fun for you, too.
Must sign off, now. The pool is open and I must obey the rules around here and “escape, relax, renew.”