Molten Chocolate Cakes 2.0

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so if your true love is chocolate, put away the boxed brownie mix and whip up these oozy chocolate cakes instead. Seriously – you have to trust me on this one. Super easy to make, and guaranteed to WOW. Plus, they can be prepped up to 2 days ahead and baked right before serving. Continue reading

Craving: Chocolate Chex Crunch

Chocolate Chex Mix Buddies

Maybe you’ve heard of this chocolatey-peanut-buttery snack mix as “Puppy Chow” or “Muddy Buddies” – but I think those are terrible names! So maybe “Chocolate Chex Crunch” isn’t very creative, but at least it’s descriptive (and a little more appetizing). Easier to make than Rice Krispies Treats, this Chex™ cereal recipe should be in every chocolate lover’s repertoire. Truth be told, I can’t stop eating the stuff – to the point where my kids have started to hide the container from me (“for my own good”). I use good-quality Ghirardelli semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, so the addition of vanilla (per the Chex recipe) isn’t really necessary. You can find the original recipe on the back of Chex cereals, or my version below. Continue reading

Festive Peppermint Patties

Festive Peppermint Patties

My Ivy-educated, strawberry-blonde sister-in-law Cele has a dry wit and too many talents to itemize, though right up at the top of the list would have to be baking (which she’d deny) and her signature Christmas Cookie Platter. Such precision! Every cookie is perfectly uniform, as if each dough ball were weighed and measured before being shaping into a crescent or whatever. And for me, the stars of Cele’s famous Platter (and the first to disappear) are her quarter-sized, chocolate-dunked peppermint patties. Continue reading

Healthy Cupcakes Take TODAY Show’s Top Prize!

Sue Walter TODAY Show

Can you believe it?? My “Too Good to Be Healthy” Black Bottom Cupcakes landed me on the TODAY Show last Thursday, as a finalist in Joy Bauer’s contest. AND -we won! (We, as in the cupcakes and me, and also as in shared honors with the nervous contestant #1 who fainted right before we went on air.)

Since everyone’s been asking me what the experience was like (and what was in that prize basket?), I thought I’d share some behind-the-scenes highlights.

The real stars of the day!

The real stars of the day!

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“Too Good to Be Healthy” Black Bottom Cupcakes

Lighter black bottom cupcake

Can you have your cupcake and eat it too? With these lightened up, nutrition-enhanced beauties, the answer is yes! You don’t have to tell anyone that you cut back on the sugar, or that you swapped out all the oil for fat-free Greek yogurt and puréed prunes. Just don’t do as I did and eat 3 cupcakes in one sitting; that kind of works against the whole “eating healthy” idea. Continue reading

Chocolate Buns

At the Thomas Jefferson School Science Fair earlier this week, students had the opportunity to make their own “Gak” – or polymer made from Elmer’s glue and Borax. It’s fun to play with for a while, until it ends up stuck to the car floor or buried at the bottom of a backpack.  At least with homemade bread dough and these magic chocolate buns, you get to play with your dough and eat it, too.  For a fun activity and tasty snack all in one, kids can help form the dough balls and stuff them with chocolate chips.  (Easy enough for a 7-year-old – see below.) Or for a special breakfast or brunch item, you could make the dough and form the buns the night before; in the morning, just bake for 20 minutes and serve hot and oozy.

Usually I make the dough for these buns in a bread machine – fast and foolproof. Just dump all the ingredients (except for the chocolate chips) into the bread machine bowl, set to “Dough” cycle and walk away. After about 90 minutes, the dough’s ready to form into balls or be refrigerated until ready to use.  Since not everyone has a bread machine lying around, this morning I tried making the dough with an electric mixer and dough hook. It took a little more “active time”, but the results were just as good. And for a fully unplugged and highly therapeutic version, you could mix and knead the dough entirely by hand, using the week’s frustrations to power the process. (Trying to get blue Gak out of beige carpeting comes to mind.)

Chocolate Buns

  • 1 Recipe multi-purpose Bread Dough (below)
  • Bittersweet chocolate chips (approx. ½ package)

Multi-purpose Bread Dough

  • ½ cup warm water (approx. 110-120ºF, like bathwater)
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • 1 package yeast (preferably RapidRise)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened or melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (not kosher)
  • 3 ¾ cups flour

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