showing my inner anglophile – chocolate chip traybake

chocolate chip traybake with peanut butter and chocolate fudge icing

Chocolate chip traybake cake
Chocolate chip traybake cake

like most people who have netflix, i am obsessed with great british bake off. i was actually obsessed with it before it was on netflix, and we also had the box set of the mighty boosh which i used to watch regularly with my brother. holla if you are familiar with this show… most people know of old greg, but have never really watched it past that. super weird, super british, absolutely hilarious, and definitely noel fielding’s best role. if you are into weird stuff or have a weird sense of humor defnitely check it out. i also have uk television shows on our cable, and will regularly relax with my glass of wine and watch antiques roadtrip, and obsessed with victorian farm. kind of on a tangent here, but you see where i’m going?

i’ve been working on my semi-homemade chocolate chip cake recipe, and for some reason i cannot make a regular cake to save my life. so this is why i always stick to traybakes (as the british call them, or a cake baked in a pan, not turned out and eaten in squares right out of the pan) or cupcakes. i feel like they are harder for me to ruin, there is no turning out the cake, trimming it, worrying about the icing looking perfect, etc. this traybaked poke cake is great because it reminds me of those tasty cake kandy kakes, but better because it’s homemade. and bigger. the fudge icing is from life above the cafe and i originally saw it on her instagram. she has the most amazing dessert recipes! definitely check out her blog. the cake recipe is modified from the wasc cake recipe from sugar geek show, and is super easy because it’s semi-homemade, and all you do is throw everything in the mixer together and turn it on. let me know if you try this chocolate chip traybake and what you think!

ingredients

cake
1 yellow box cake mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt – mountain high yogurt is delicious for baking or just by itself with some fruit or honey
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
splash (1/8-1/4 tsp) almond extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups peanut butter – i love the simply nature organic peanut butter from aldi, it has no added sugar

frosting
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
5 oz evaporated milk
1 stick of unsalted butter

instructions

preheat your oven to 350, and prepare a 9×13 glass baking dish by spraying with cooking spray or coating with a stick of butter. in an electric stand mixer, or large bowl, combine the cake mix, flour, sugar, salt, yogurt, milk, butter, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. with the paddle attachment or a whisk (if you’re using a regular bowl) beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. fold in the chocolate chips. pour into your prepared pan and bake 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. i checked mine at 30 minutes and it was still completely not set in the middle. i ended up adding about 12 more minutes of baking time, for a total of 42 minutes. it will depend on your oven. just ignore the instructions/ingredients on the back of the box and only use the ingredients listed here.

after the cake comes out of the oven and cools completely, poke holes all over the top of it using a straw. microwave your peanut butter for 30-40 seconds so it’s very pourable, and spread it all over the top of the cake. after this, start the icing. in a medium-large nonstick pot, whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, salt, and cocoa powder). add the evaporated milk, whisk everything together and bring it to a rolling boil, whisking the entire time. set a timer for 2 minutes and let the mixture boil for exactly 2 minutes, whisking constantly. when the timer goes off, turn off the heat and whisk in the stick of butter. continue whisking for one more minute after the butter is completely incorporated to cool the mixture slightly.

then take the hot icing and pour it over top the peanut butter and spread evenly over the top of the cake. i usually take mine and tap the bottom on a wooden surface (so i don’t break the glass pan) until i see that the fudge frosting starts to go down into the holes in the cake. wait until it has cooled completely before cutting into it! the top will become crusty and crackly and delicious and this is a perfect snacking cake. you can tell i definitely didn’t let mine cool all the way before cutting into it, but it’s so tempting when the frosting is still warm and gooey and fudgy. sooooo delicious. let me know if you try it! the method for the icing is on my reels on instagram if you want to check it out 🙂

instagram-worthy chocolate cookies… my new obsession

olive oil chocolate sugar cookies via jessie sheehan

chocolate cookie dough balls
close up picture of chocolate cookies

i saw this recipe for chocolate cookies on an instagram reel by jessie sheehan, and had to try them for myself. mainly because they looked super easy, i had all the ingredients in my pantry, and my toddler could help. emmett loves to help bake cookies, and these proved to be toddler friendly (you only need two bowls, a whisk and rubber spatula) and delicious. the other bonus is that these are freezer friendly! after making the dough balls you can keep them in the freezer as long as you want then bake up a few any time you want cookies. i made a couple of changes only because i didn’t have the exact ingredients (dutch process cocoa powder, and light brown sugar), but they still turned out amazing. find the original recipe here! i’ve made these a few times now, and something i also love is to add white chocolate chips. soooo delicious. let me know in the comments if you love them as much as we do!

ingredients

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour 
⅔ cup cocoa powder (recipe calls for dutch process but i didn’t have it so i used regular)
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp kosher salt 
¾ cup olive oil (recipe calls for Colavita specifically, but i didn’t have this brand)
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract 
1 large egg, room temperature (totally didn’t let my eggs get to room temp because i’m a mom of toddlers and forgot – still turned out :))
2 egg yolks, room temperature 
granulated sugar for rolling the cookies
*optional – 1/2-3/4 cup of white chocolate chips, i prefer ghirardelli

instructions

whisk the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. whisk the sugars and olive oil in a medium sized bowl until combined, then add vanilla and eggs one by one. original recipe calls for all light brown sugar. i only had dark, so i used one cup of dark brown sugar and 3/4 cup of regular granulated sugar. keep whisking until mixture lightens and becomes thicker and ribbony. add wet ingredients to dry, and fold together with a rubber spatula until everything is just moistened. the original recipe calls for using an ice cream scoop (1/4 cup) to make giant cookies. i opted for a normal sized cookie scoop since i was feeding them to toddlers. use whatever you prefer! i scooped the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer for 20 minutes. then remove cookie dough balls and roll each one in granulated sugar and place back in the freezer for 1-2 hours until completely frozen, or ready to bake. preheat oven to 350, and bake cookies for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. slightly press each cookie with a spatula after removing from the oven. enjoy!

semi-homemade baking

triple-chocolate salted caramel brownies

do you guys remember sandra lee on food network? well semi-homemade food is my jam 🙂 more importantly, the lady loved a cocktail. anyway, these are super easy, since a boxed brownie mix takes the work out of measuring out all the ingredients, but homemade caramel from sally’s baking addiction, extra white chocolate chips, and some maldon sea salt add a little extra flair. great for busy moms or anyone who aint got time for making homemade brownies. the caramel can also be made in advance which saves you being in the kitchen too long. my husband said he couldn’t stop eating them, so fudgy and addicting. enjoy!

ingredients

your favorite boxed brownie mix (i used the specially selected “double chocolate” boxed mix from aldi)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (recommend ghirardelli)
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or any other oil of choice)
maldon sea salt (or any other flaked sea salt for sprinkling)
caramel
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/2 tsp kosher salt (sally’s recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but i’m also sprinkling sea salt on top of the brownies, so didn’t want to overdo it)
1/2 tsp vanilla (sally’s recipe doesn’t call for this but i like the flavor it adds to the caramel)

instructions

make the caramel first by heating the sugar over medium heat in a medium sized pan, constantly stirring. the recipe here calls to use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula but when i make it again i’ll probably use a whisk, because i feel like it worked better. keep working the sugar until it is completely melted and a golden brown color. be careful not to burn it! as soon as the sugar is completely melted and golden brown, immediately stir in the butter and keep whisking to combine it. if the butter separates from the caramel, follow sally’s instructions, and take it off the heat and whisk vigorously until it comes back together. honestly, i always just thought caramel was ruined if this happened, but it actually worked for me. then return it to the heat and once the butter and sugar is all combined let it cook for 2 more minutes. slowly whisk in the heavy cream, it will bubble up since the cream is colder than the caramel mixture. let it boil for one more minute, then remove it from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. pour the caramel into a heat safe bowl to cool a little before using, it will also thicken up. her website also has a great video if you are confused by any of the instructions.

then, start preparing the brownies according to the directions on the box. preheat oven to 325 degrees, and mix together the brownie mix, 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips (hence the triple chocolate), water, egg, and oil until all combined. spray a 9×13 or 8×8 pan with cooking spray (your preference, or just follow the instructions on your box mix), and pour the brownie mix in and spread it evenly into the pan. drizzle desired amount of caramel over the top of the brownie mix and then take a toothpick and swirl it around. bake the brownies according the package directions for the size pan you are using. this will also vary depending on if you like your brownies to be more done, or more gooey. mine were in for about 30 minutes and i used a 9×13 baking dish. sprinkle them with sea salt after taking them out of the oven, let them cool then slice and serve.

easiest christmas treats ever

dark chocolate grahams with white chocolate and sea salt

these are seriously the easiest “cookies” or treats for christmas or any late night chocolate craving. i have a weird obsession with graham crackers but paired with chocolate and sea salt, they are over the top. they are so great for kids to help decorate, because all it takes is a little melted chocolate and sprinkles. believe it or not, emmett (2 year old) did most of the white chocolate drizzle on these… future cake decorator! he had the best time decorating and eating sprinkles and this is just a really easy and fun activity for toddlers and then *bonus* they get a sweet treat after. plus not a ton of clean up for mom.

ingredients

honey or cinnamon graham crackers
semi sweet chocolate chips
white chocolate chips – my favorite are ghirardelli
1/8 tsp coconut oil
flaked sea salt – i used maldon
optional – sprinkles to decorate

instructions

melt semi sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in increments of 20-30 seconds, checking and stirring frequently until they are mostly melted. then stir them vigorously until all the chocolate chips are uniformly melted. add a tiny bit of coconut oil into the white chocolate chips and melt them the same way as the semi sweet chocolate chips. spread onto the graham crackers, sprinkle with toppings and pop them into the freezer for a few minutes to set them. they will harden at room temperature, but i always stick them in the freezer because i just can’t wait to eat them 🙂

mom’s chocolate chip cookies – with a twist

brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies

this recipe is a riff on my favorite chocolate chip cookies that my mom makes every christmas. brown butter and toffee bring a great nutty/toasted flavor and nothing is better than melty chocolate chips right out of the oven 🙂 i also had to add sprinkles for a little festive charm (here is a link to this fun sprinkle mix), but the other half of the batch is sprinkled with maldon sea salt and honestly they are to die for. next time i will go sea salt all the way around. or maybe sea salt AND sprinkles. can’t go wrong with sprinkles. hope you enjoy these as much as my family has over the years!

ingredients

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon brown butter (instructions below, but this will need to be made ahead of time)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 white chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed toffee bits with chocolate (i used this one because i’m lazy, but you could also chop your own, or put the candy bars into the food processor)
optional – sprinkles and/or sea salt for decorating

instructions

a few hours or up to a couple of days before you plan on starting your cookies you will need to make the brown butter. cut up 1 stick + 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter into tablespoon size pieces and using a light colored pan or skillet, start to melt it over medium heat, stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. i use an extra tablespoon because some of the liquid evaporates as it’s cooking. cook the butter until the foam disappears, you start to see brown bits in the bottom, and it is giving off a nutty aroma. this should take around 5-8 minutes. be careful not to overcook it as it can burn! as soon as it’s done, pour the butter along with all the brown bits into a glass bowl and set aside to cool. the butter will need to solidify again before we bake the cookies, so you can leave it at room temperature, or put in the fridge and then get it out to come to room temperature before baking.

for the cookies, start by preheating the oven to 385 degrees. whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. take the stick of regular unsalted butter and nuke it (yes nuke it) for about 15-20 seconds or until it just starts to melt. i don’t know why… this is how my mom does it… just trust me. add this, along with the room temperature brown butter to your electric mixer with the paddle attachment, as well as the brown sugar and white sugar. cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy. add in the eggs and vanilla, and mix until combined. add in the dry ingredients in thirds with the mixer on low until everything is fully combined. add in the chocolate chips and heath bar bits, then mix on low until everything is incorporated and evenly distributed. scoop evenly sized balls of cookie dough (i don’t own a cookie scoop because i’m weird and just use a spoon) onto a baking sheet, sprinkle them with your choice of toppings, and bake for approx 10-12 minutes. mine never take longer than 10 minutes.