Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Sliced

I had the honor … well, no, privilege of starting and maintaining a fabulous cooking forum. I met fabulous women. I even met some of my very best friends through this forum, all of whom I cherish and miss as I sit here in the frozen springtime beauty of Maine.

We traded our cherished recipes, helped each other with ingredients, shared our family trials, tribulations and successes. Sadly, we mourned together at the passing of some of our members.

We decided that our wonderful recipes needed to be in written in book form and we set out to self-publish our own cookbook. What a joy it was to put together! So many fabulous recipes, everyone jumping in to help test recipes and type. 290 pages of food and friendship!

One of my absolute favorite recipes from the book is Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, shared by jerseygirl. It is my go to banana bread recipe and where all of the bananas we don’t get to fast enough end up.

Continued thanks to all of you for sharing your recipes and time. Becky, I still miss you each and every day.

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 C butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan

Combine all ingredients except chips and nuts in a large bowl. Blend well on medium speed of an electric mixer. Stir in chips and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick interested in center comes out clean.

Ready to slice

Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a rack.

Pistachio Dried Cherry Torrone ~ March Daring Bakers

Done 3

The March 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.

It’s been a terribly long time since I’ve been able to join in any cooking or baking events. I’ve missed it.  I am so pleased to be able to join in BOTH Daring Kitchen challenges this month.

I have had this Martha Stewart Torrone recipe on deck for a LONG time and made my own changes to it, but felt the base recipe was easy enough for me to handle!

Done 2

And you-know-who is screaming WHY? And in the same breath WHERE’S MINE??

This was a bit fiddley. I was a bit hampered by not being in my own kitchen. I used a hand mixer that’s affixed to a bowl that turns, so it was a semi-stand mixer type piece of equipment … but not really.

It needs to sit and ‘dry’ a bit more, but man oh man, this is tasty stuff!

  • 2 pieces edible rice paper, (9 by 13 inches each) wafer paper
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 3 T light corn syrup
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C shelled salted pistachios, (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 1/3 C unsweetened finely shredded coconut, (about 4 ounces)
  • 3/4 C dried cherries

Place 1 piece of rice paper in a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet; set aside.

NOTE: I lightly buttered the sides of the baking dish. You’re going to trim them off anyway so it just makes removing the Torrone easier.

Put sugar, honey, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to simmer and sugar has dissolved, about 6 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.

NOTE: Aside from the no stand mixer problem, I also suffered from a no CANDY THERMOMETER problem. 300 degrees is hard ball stage. Drop a tiny amount of the boiling sugar into a cup with cold water, when it becomes a hard, crunchy mass once in the water, you’re done.

Meanwhile, put egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Raise speed to high. Pour hot honey mixture into egg-white mixture in a slow, steady stream, and beat until mixture has cooled and thickened and begins to stick to whisk, about 10 minutes.

Ingredients

Reduce speed to medium-low; beat in vanilla, pistachios, coconut, and cranberries.

Working quickly, spread mixture into prepared dish. Place another sheet of rice paper on top; press down to flatten and spread evenly. Let cool on wire rack at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Ready to cut

Cut around edges of Torrone to loosen. Remove from baking sheet; transfer to a cutting board. Trim edges to be straight. Using a long, sharp knife, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices.

Chocolate Ice Cream

Scoop

For Christmas (I am hanging my head in shame as I type) about 5 years ago (see, shameful) I was given an ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aide stand mixer. I have never had enough room in my freezer in Brooklyn to place the bowl. It sat in its box, in a corner, waving frantically at me, “Use me! USE ME! Oh, please use me!”

Fast forward … Maine. Huge chest freezer in the basement. First thing that went into it? The bowl for the ice cream attachment! YAY!

Home alone. Nothing to do. What to make? What to make?

“Hello! Hello? Psst! Hey, LADY! It’s me! You know, the lonely and now FREEZING ice cream bowl? Come on! Give it a whirl. You won’t be sorry! Don’t you just love ice cream?”

Love? Well, for me, it’s an affliction, really. The creamier the better. Crunchy bits? YES, MA’AM! But fortunately I have lots of will power where ice cream is concerned. See a new flavor … HAVE.TO.HAVE.IT! Buy it, have a few spoonfuls and never look at it again.

Well, I used to have willpower where ice cream was concerned. What happened? The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz happened and this fabulous recipe for chocolate ice cream! The flavor is so rich and intense, it is so lusciously creamy … well, all I can say is O.M.G. and thank goodness the Dear One was returning soon so he could eat a lot of this!

Oh, Kitchen Aide, thank you for making this ice cream make so easy to use!

Hmmm, what next? What can I add in next? What sort of flavor? Must have crunchy bits. Think it may have to be coffee ice cream with heath bars …

This makes about 1 quart of the best chocolate ice dream you have ever had!

  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 3 T unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 5 ozs bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract

Ingredients

Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.

Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

NOTE: I used chocolate chips. I totally spaced the chocolate bar when I went food shopping!

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (170°F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla.

Chilling

Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.)

Scoop Spoon

NOTE: This ice cream stayed really creamy and soft-ish in the freezer. What a delight!

Panna Cotta with Berries

Panna Cotta finished

Let’s make dessert.

Sure. What do you want for dessert?

Panna Cotta. Please. I love Panna Cotta!

You love Panna Cotta? Well, if you love it, I’ll make it for you.

PANNA COTTA? SERIOUSLY!? I can’t make Panna Cotta! Off to the bookshelf I go to find a recipe that isn’t going to make my head explode by just looking at the recipe! And to the rescue came Giada de Laurentiis and an easy to make Panna Cotta from Everyday Italian.

It was silky and smooth and really yummy. Easy to put together and not a lot of fussy ingredients.

When a Panna Cotta lover tells you it was the best Panna Cotta they’d ever had, you know you’ve done well!

  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 T unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 3 C whipping cream
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1 T sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 C assorted fresh berries

Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

Pour milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes.

Mixing

Add the cream, honey, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Pour into 6 wine glasses so that they are 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.

Spoon the berries atop the panna cotta and serve.

HOW EASY WAS THAT!?

Valentine Cupcakes with a Surprise #SundaySupper

Done HALF

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and I know I would like to make something super duper fabulicious for Valentine’s Day! Something that not only tastes great, but LOOKS great – anything flambé is out, we all know what happens when I try to light things on fire! I just can’t try something new for a special occasion without taking it for a test drive first.

Done CUT

So when the opportunity came to FINALLY be able to play with my foodie friends from Sunday Supper again, experimenting with a super duper fabulicious dessert for Valentine’s Day for two was the perfect plan.

At least now I know it works and how it works and can bake this again as a dessert for Valentine’s Day!

This looks like far more work than it actually is and the end result is worth making a wreck out of your kitchen and dirtying every baking utensil and mixing bowl you own!

Sunday Supper Movement

Pink Cakes 
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 T sugar
  • 4 T butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C  cake flour (AP flour is fine)
  • 1/2 heaping t of baking powder
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 3 T milk
  • Red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350

Pink Mixing Batter

In large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar.   Stir in the melted butter and vanilla. All at once, stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Keep stirring until everything is smooth and well-combined.  Add milk and stir until incorporated into the batter.

Add a few drops of red food coloring. The color lightens a little while baking, but you don’t want it too dark.

Pink Ready to Bake

Lightly spray a small baking pan and pour in batter.

NOTE: I used a loaf pan. You don’t want this to be too thick.

Bake  14 minutes or until just done, remember it’s baking again inside the chocolate batter. Cool completely.

Pink Cutout hearts

Once cool, using a small heart shaped cutter cut hearts out of the pink cake and set aside. 

NOTE: This is WAY more cake than you’ll need and more hearts than you will need! With the left over hearts, I spread a little raspberry jam on one cake heart and placed another on top and dipped them in melted chocolate.

Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1/3 C flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 3 t cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/4 C cold water
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1/8 t vanilla
  • Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325

Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.

In a second small bowl or spouted measuring cup, combine the wet ingredients.

Add the dry to the wet and stir till combined, whisking well.

NOTE: Here’s the tricky part! Remember this makes two cupcakes!

Placing hearts

Dollop a couple of tablespoons of batter into two wells of a cupcake tin. With the pointed end going into the bottom of the cupcake, place heart standing up in batter. While very lightly holding the heart in place put batter around and on top of cupcake. Repeat with second cupcake.

NOTE: When I did this I faced the flat part of the hearts toward the short end of the tin so I knew where they were and which way they face so when cut in half you were cutting through the heart.

Cupcakes baked

Bake for 18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

NOTE: The cake hearts rose a little during baking. Was perfectly fine. Once you frost you won’t know. Well, YOU will know, but the object of your affection will not know. This makes it easier to line them up properly to cut.

Frosting

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T + 2 t cocoa powder
  • 3 T confectioners sugar
  • 1 t half and half or any milk/cream
  • dash of salt

Frosting

Melt the butter in a small bowl.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the butter and whisk to combine. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until frosting is partially set.

Whisk again then allow to rest at room temperature until cupcakes are cool enough to frost.

Cupcake frosted

Check out these other Valentine’s Day treats for two!

Alluring Appetizers:

Exquisite Entrees:

Decadent Desserts and Drinks:

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Chunky Chocolate White Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Done Single

New cookbooks for Christmas are always a great thing. I don’t have to buy them, so they don’t really fall under the moratorium on cookbooks. They are still met with a wee bit of eye rolling, perhaps a grimace, but always followed by a giggle. This past Christmas brought many cookbooks into the house … yay! And even a new bookshelf, built by you know who.

Other people receive cookbooks too! Many I drool over and put on my secret wish list (you know, the ones you order when you know you will be the one to get the mail or perhaps even when someone is travelling …) and many I can easily take a pass on.

Southern Living Home Cooking Favorites is one of those books that someone else received and that may have to end up in my kitchen at some point! While flipping through the book, many ooohs and aaahs and yums were heard, and then a ‘would you please make these for me?’ I never turn down a request to bake something for someone else, that usually means they mostly go on someone else’s waistline and not mine.

These cookies are HUGE! You aren’t reading incorrectly, scoop 1/3 cup of cookie dough for EACH cookie! YIKES! We can try to justify this by saying, well it only makes 15 cookies. Yeah, 15, but 15 4″ cookies that are over 1″ thick! It’s a weeks worth of treats calories in one cookie. They are so worth it though!

  • 3/4 C butter
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 (3 1/2 ounce) dark chocolate bars with finely ground espresso beans, divided and chopped
  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C cocoa
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 (4 ounce) white chocolate baking bar, chopped
  • 1 C coarsely chopped pecan halves, toasted

NOTE: I used Perugina for both the white and the cappuccino chocolate. I search high and low and in and out of at least 9 stores to find Ghiradelli dark chocolate with ground espresso beans. No luck. I did, however, find milk chocolate with cappuccino … meh. Not terrible, but not a strong enough coffee taste for my liking. I did like the milk chocolate part, though. I think, sadly, that they’ve discontinued the Espresso Escape bars …

Preheat oven to 350°

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs and vanilla, beating just until blended.

Microwave half of the dark chocolate in a small bowl, at HIGH, 50 seconds to 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds.

Chocolates

Add melted chocolate to butter mixture, beating just until blended.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended after each addition.

Stir in remaining dark chocolate, white chocolate, and pecans.

Ready to Bake

Drop dough by 1/3 cupfuls, 2 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheets.

Done Tray

Bake at 350° for 21 minutes; cool on baking sheets 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookie Strips

Done

More from our snow bound day of baking. I love chocolate chip cookies, really love them, and will try any new recipe for chocolate chip cookies, but how many different ways are there to make a chocolate chip cookie? Especially drop chocolate chip cookies. It’s really just changing up the ‘goodies’ inside. I love playing with the sizes and shapes. Now, we’ve already seen the Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie, which was great and easy and a wee bit different. But, while flitting around some of the blogs I read I saw these chocolate chip cookies and they have toffee AND you don’t have to scoop them! They make great big Cookie Monster sized cookies … that you cut into strips. This recipe comes from the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer:  All the Good Cookies recipe book.

Many thanks again to my friend Lisa for braving the snow to make cookie baking day so much fun and to Miss A for awakening from slumber with a zeal to get her bake on!

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 C light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/3 C (8 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C Heath toffee bits (add 2/3 cup if you’re a toffee lover!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Creaming

Place the butter and sugars in a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

panoramic

With the mixer on low, add the flour, baking powder and salt; beat well and scrape again.

Stir in the chocolate chips and the toffee.

Rolling

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter of the dough between two floured sheets of waxed paper into an 8-inch or so square.

NOTE: Flouring wax paper? Nope, doesn’t work. Lightly flour the rolling pin and you’re just fine!

Ready to Bake

Transfer the cookie squares to the prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes.

While hot, cut each cookie square in half, then cut each half into eight 1-inch slices. Cool the slices on the cookie sheets completely.

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