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Almond Joy Brownies

I recently made Almond Joy Ice Cream, and Katrina left a comment on my blog saying that she just posted these brownies earlier that week.  I’m not sure how I missed her post, but I’m sure glad she pointed it out to me!  I said in my previous post that I love Almond Joy candy bars, but the flavor is even better in these brownies.  The best part about these brownies for me was that they are gluten free, thanks to the use of coconut flour.  It’s fine to use regular flour if you don’t care about them being gluten free, but I would recommend using coconut flour if you can because it gives the brownies a stronger flavor.

These brownies were only slightly more complicated than regular brownies to make because you have the coconut layer in between.  My only issue was that there wasn’t really enough brownie batter for both a bottom and top layer, so next time (and you better believe I’m making these again!) I will increase the brownie batter.  I reflected those changes below.  These are the perfect brownies to enjoy with some ice cream, so when you make them, be sure to make some Almond Joy Ice Cream to pair them together!

Almond Joy Brownies
Source: adapted from Baking and Boys

¾ cup cocoa powder (recommended: Hershey’s Special Dark)

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon salt

3/8 cup coconut flour (could also use the same amount of all purpose flour)

2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

Pinch salt

2/3 cup toasted, chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with foil, and spray foil lightly with baking spray.

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat, and whisk together well.  Let stand 3 minutes.  Whisk in eggs one at a time, then add sugar and vanilla and almond extracts. Fold in salt and flour and stir until ingredients disappear into batter.  Spread half the batter evenly in pan.

Combine coconut, salt, and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl. Spread dollops of coconut mixture over the brownie batter.  Sprinkle chopped almonds over coconut mixture.  Spread remaining brownie batter over coconut mixture.  Smooth carefully with a knife.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  Let cool on a cooling rack, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Cut into squares.

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Almond Joy Ice Cream

I’ve always been a fan of Almond Joy candy bars, so I immediately bookmarked this recipe when I saw it.  Unfortunately, I got busy making other things and forgot about this one.  We recently had a faculty meeting where they handed out mini candy bars, and as I reached for an Almond Joy, I thought of this ice cream and put it on my list for that week.  Once I made it, I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long!  This is one of my favorite ice creams.  It actually reminded me very much of the German Chocolate Ice Cream I made a few months ago.  It was a standard custard recipe, made very rich by the coconut milk and dark cocoa powder.  Mixing in the almonds and coconut gave it just the right texture.  I added way more coconut than the recipe called for just because I like a lot 🙂  If you are a fan of Almond Joys, this is certainly the ice cream for you!

Almond Joy Ice Cream
Source: adapted from How to Eat a Cupcake

1 ½ cups heavy cream, divided

1 cup whole milk

½ cup unsweetened coconut milk

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

1 ¼ cups sweetened or unsweetened flaked dried coconut, divided

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 egg yolks

3 tablespoons cream of coconut

¼ teaspoon coconut extract

Pinch of salt

½ cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped (I used slivered almonds)

In a small saucepan, whisk together 1 cup heavy cream, whole milk, coconut milk, sugar, and cocoa powder.  Mix in ½ cup dried coconut and the vanilla.  Warm over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolved and small bubbles form around the edges, about 4-5 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining ½ cup of heavy cream until blended.  Whisk ¼ of the coconut-milk mixture into the yolks.  Then whisk the yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining coconut-milk mixture.  Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4-5 minutes.

Pour the hot custard unto a bowl and cool completely in an ice bath, 30-45 minutes.  Once the custard has cooled to room temperature, remove from the ice bath.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the custard to prevent a “skin” from forming.  Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

Place in an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.  After churning, stir in the remaining ¾ dried coconut, cream of coconut, coconut extract, almonds, and a pinch of salt.  Transfer mixture to a plastic container and freeze.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Oh, how I love the Pastry Queen!  I saw these cookies when I was flipping through her cookbook when I first got it for Christmas and immediately put them on my list.  They are so simple to make, and have helped me satisfy a chocolate craving in no time 🙂  I also like how easy it is to adapt them to your tastes.  You can make them very simple, or you can add in things such as coconut, various nuts, and chocolate chips.  I think these would even be good with white chocolate or peanut butter chips.  This time I kept the pecans that the recipe called for and added in coconut and chocolate chips.  I really liked them that way, and will keep trying new versions in the future.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies
Source: Pastry Queen Christmas by Rebecca Rather

2 cups whole pecans

3 large egg whites

2 ¼ cups powdered sugar

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Pinch of kosher salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and toast them for 7 to 9 minutes, until darker in color and aromatic.  Remove from the oven, transfer to a bowl, let cool, and coarsely chop.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large bowl, briskly whisk the egg whites until foamy, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the powdered sugar, cocoa, salt, vanilla, and pecans.  Using a 1-inch-diameter scoop, drop spoonfuls of dough 1 ½ inches apart on the prepared pans.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until set and shiny, with zigzag cracks on top.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the pans for 5 to 10 minutes.  Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.  The cookies will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container or 3 weeks tightly wrapped and frozen.

Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I first used these cookies as the crust for this Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake, but I started thinking about them again and thought they deserved a post of their own.  The chocolate peanut butter combination is irresistible to me, and it’s very good in cookie form.  I was particularly excited about these being flourless, which makes them naturally gluten free, so no adaptations were necessary.  These take almost no time to make, and will satisfy your craving in a hurry!  The chocolate and peanut butter flavors are nicely balanced, and neither is too overpowering.  I didn’t have peanut butter chips on hand, but I will definitely add them next time because I think it would improve the flavor even more.

Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Source: Baking Bites

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

¾ cup brown sugar

1 large egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, but I’ve always added it)

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons water

½ to ¾ cup chocolate and/or peanut butter chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and water until smooth.  In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except chips), including water and cocoa mixture.  Stir in chocolate and/or peanut butter chips.

Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly.  Bake for about 10-13 minutes, until golden brown at the edges.  Cool on pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen

Dulce de Leche Brownies

I’ve really been loving dulce de leche lately.  I just love the flavor.  It’s perfectly sweet and has a deep caramel flavor that adds a lot of depth to baked goods.  I’ve had these brownies on my must-try list for a while now, and I recently made a huge batch of homemade dulce de leche, I thought now was a good time to try them.  With 6 ounces of chocolate and some additional cocoa powder, these brownies were very rich and chocolaty, but you will get no complaints from me!  The dulce de leche added so much depth to the flavor.  It didn’t stand out, but rather added to the brownies and deepened their flavor.  I swirled in my dulce de leche a little more than necessary.  I need to be quicker on the marbling, but it didn’t affect the taste one bit.  These are some wonderful, ooey gooey brownies, and definitely one of my new favorites!  I would say that they’re more on the fudgy side, which is just how I like it.

Dulce de Leche Brownies
Source: David Lebovitz

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped, optional

1 cup dulce de leche

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch pan.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the chocolate on low heat until melted.  Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, followed by the sugar, vanilla, and flour.  Add nuts if using.

Pour half the batter into prepared pan.  Dollop one third evenly over the batter.  Swirl with a knife to marble.  Add remaining brownie batter on top, then drop the remaining dulce de leche in spoonfuls over batter.  Swirl slightly.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until knife comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  Cool completely, then cut into squares.


Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

DSC_1230

I have had my eye on this recipe for quite some time, and I decided to finally make it.  I could not for the life of me get a good picture of it, but it is quite delicious.  This cheesecake was more intense than regular chocolate cheesecake.  The caramel gave it a much deeper, richer flavor.  Making the caramel is the most time-consuming part of the recipe, but the rest is very easy.

I had a bit of trouble with the caramel.  The caramel seized up on me, but after stirring it on the heat, it broke up, and everything went smoothly after that.  Deb points out that the caramelized sugar adds so much more to the recipe, and I definitely agree. This cheesecake had a stronger, richer flavor than if you had simply added the sugar without caramelizing it.  It got rave reviews when I served it, and I will definitely make it again when I need a decadent cheesecake fix 🙂

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake
Source: Smitten Kitchen

1 crumb-crust recipe (recipe below)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Make crumb crust as directed in separate recipe, using chocolate wafer cookies instead of graham crackers.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook sugar in a dry heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a fork, until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden. Remove from heat and carefully add heavy cream (mixture will vigorously steam and caramel will harden). Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until smooth. Stir in sour cream.

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy, then beat in chocolate mixture on low speed. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 55 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.

Run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen and cool completely in springform pan on a rack. (Cake will continue to set as it cools.) Chill cake, loosely covered, at least 6 hours. Remove side of pan and transfer cake to a plate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cooks’ note:
Cheesecake keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Crumb Crust (I used these cookies to make a chocolate crust).
Recipe adapted from Gourmet, 1999

1 1/2 cups (5 oz) finely ground cookies such as chocolate wafers [I actually double this; I can never get enough cookie.]
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

Makes enough for a 24-centimeter cheesecake.

Chocolate Bailey’s Cheesecake

We recently went to a potluck event, and I eagerly signed up to bring a dessert.  Since it was so close to St. Patrick’s Day, I kept thinking I wanted to do something with Bailey’s.  I went back and forth between a cheesecake and brownies before ultimately going with this cheesecake.  What is even more exciting to me about this cheesecake is that it’s my own recipe!  I made this completely on my own without a recipe to guide me and it came out just as I hoped.  I wanted a full, defined Bailey’s flavor, so I was very liberal when adding it in.  I was happy with the way the flavor came out, and the chocolate was just enough to complement it.  I covered it with a chocolate ganache, and then piped the ganache (thickened with some powdered sugar) to decorate the sides.  Everyone kept telling me how much they enjoyed this, so I was happy to call it a success!

Chocolate Bailey’s Cheesecake
A Dinner & Dessert original

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

For the crust:

1 ½ cups chocolate cookie crumbs

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 teaspoons ground coffee

Combine all ingredients.  Press in the bottom of a greased springform pan.  Bake for 10 minutes, then cool while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

For the cheesecake:

4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

¾ cup heavy cream

¾ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liquor

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Fill a roasting pan with warm water and place in the oven on bottom rack.

Beat cream cheese on medium speed with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add sugar, mixing until incorporated.  Slowly add heavy cream, followed by the Bailey’s.  Finally, add melted and cooled chocolate.  Pour in springform pan.  Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until cheesecake jiggles slightly.  Turn oven off, and cool for at least an hour.  Place cheesecake in refrigerator overnight.

For the ganache:

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

¾ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into pieces

1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream Liquor

Place chopped chocolate in heatproof bowl.  Boil cream, then pour over chocolate.  Allow to sit for a minute, then stir until smooth.  Add butter, corn syrup, and Bailey’s and stir until incorporated.  Pour over cheesecake, then refrigerate about 30 minutes, or until set.

Optional: Reserve some of the ganache, and add powdered sugar until it reaches a frosting-like consistency.  Pipe decoratively on edge of cheesecake.