Posts Tagged 'grain sweetened chocolate chips'

Pumpkin Brownies

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I found myself with a whole lot of of pumpkin to use up the other day – remains from the giant-sized can I was forced to buy when my grocery store ran out of cans for normal-sized people.  What else is a girl to do but purchase enough squash for a small army when pumpkin pancakes are on the mind?  I promised myself I’d bake something with the leftovers.  And so here I am!

There’s obviously LOADS you can do with pumpkin, but I wanted to get creative.  Actually, what I really wanted was a brownie.  But I couldn’t forgo the pumpkin mountain in my fridge to fulfill my chocolate-y desires.  How utterly wasteful that would be.

Then it hit me. Pumpkin. Brownies. Half fudgy brownie.  Half dense, pumpkin-y delight.  I was so very excited about my highly original, super fun, and simply ingenious idea. Then I found out Martha Stewart had already done it.   Of course she had.

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Not to be outdone by the diva homemaker, I set out to put my own twist on the pumpkin brownie idea.  And twist it I did!  Along with performing my standard Sweet + Natural adaptations to Martha’s recipe – whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose, Sucanat for sugar, etc. – I made a bunch of other changes to ensure I got exactly what I was looking for.  Added some extra spice to the pumpkin…used a bigger pan…but most importantly, eliminated the baking powder.  Martha’s brownie pics look too much like cake, right?  Now, I have nothing against cake.  Unless it’s trying to pose for a brownie.  In that case, believe you me, I will not be fooled.  I want fudge, not fluff.  No baking powder = lower rise = density-dense flavor-packed yumminess.  Yes.

Here’s my take on Pumpkin Brownies:

Base mixture:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup Sucanat

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Chocolate mixture:

6 ounces grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Pumpkin mixture:

1 1/4 cup pumpkin

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 11×7-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  For the base mixture, mix together whole wheat pastry flour and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together Sucanat, eggs and vanilla until well-combined.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until blended.  Divide this mixture into two bowls.  For chocolate mixture, melt chocolate chips and oil in a bowl.  Stir into one half of the base mixture.  (Note: If batter feels dry, just steal some base mixture from the remaining half and add it in.  I found the chocolate batter to be drier than the pumpkin batter, so this is totally cool to do.  The pumpkin batter is very generous and will not hold it against you.)  For pumpkin mixture, combine pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a bowl.  Stir into other half of base mixture.  Spread chocolate batter evenly into prepared pan.  Top with pumpkin batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 24 brownies.

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Success!  The no baking soda idea did the trick in making these Pumpkin Brownies brownies and not cakey, chocolate-and-pumpkin flavored squares.  They were indeed the fudgy, dense, pumpkin-y delights I set out to achieve.  They also just so happen to be orange and black – quite fitting for the upcoming Halloween holiday, wouldn’t you say?

What’s the most interesting brownie you’ve ever eaten?

P.S. After mentioning it in my last post, I’ve had a request to share my European vacation with you all. Now I know such a trip is totally unrelated to Sweet + Natural baking, but I’m highly tempted to oblige – mostly because I love reliving it! Would you guys be interested?

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Walnut Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies

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I finally did it.

I jumped on the Dreena Burton bandwagon! And let me just say how happy I am to be here. The woman is a genius I tell you.

It’s not like I was avoiding Dreena and her recipes. She’s ALL over the blog world, and I’ve done my fair share of oohing and ahhing over her creations. But I’m careful with my pennies and always felt I should make more use of the cookbooks I have before purchasing new ones. I guess that belief slipped my mind when I saw eat, drink + be vegan at the bookstore the other day. I knew I had to have it. So into my collection it went!

The first ed+bv recipe I set my sights on was for the infamous Super-Charge Me! Cookies. OMG – they were like little balls of nutritious crack. I would have loved to share them with you all, but since Dreena hadn’t posted the recipe on her site, no dice! So to celebrate my newfound Dreena love, I found another one of her cookie recipes that was on the internet to modify and write about.

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Oh, and wouldn’t you know, Dreena posted the Super-Charge Me! Cookie recipe this week? Go figure!  Or go make them.  You won’t regret it.

Anyway…

Here’s the recipe I followed to make Walnut Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies:

1 cup spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup Sucanat

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a large bowl, mix together spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, Sucanat and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together maple syrup, molasses, vanilla extract and canola oil until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Place spoonfuls of batter on cookie sheets and bake for 10-11 minutes. Makes 12 cookies.

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These cookies were YUM! After tasting my Maple Almond Butter Cookies and these, I am convinced that maple syrup = cookie perfection. It really adds a depth of flavor and keeps cookies wonderfully moist and gooey. Seriously, that stuff’s not just for pancakes.

The only thing I’d change about this recipe next time around is leaving the molasses out. I’m not buying that 1/4 teaspoon is making a huge difference when spread throughout 12 cookies. I mean, really, that’s 1/48 teaspoon in 1 cookie. You know? Other than that, A+.

What’s your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?

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Chocolate Carrot Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting

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So I’m back in NYC after two gloriously relaxing weeks visiting the fam in St. Louis – hooray for holiday break and vacation days to use up!  I could have stayed even longer – ahh, the life of no responsibility – but I do have to say, it feels good to get back to my usual routine.  Not gonna lie though, I’d be happy to go without the return of work tomorrow!  Oh well, c’est la vie, right?

Before I left STL and between holiday festivities, I made sure to squeeze in some more baking time.  You didn’t really think that Yogurt Glazed Carrot Cake was the only thing I whipped up while I was there, did you?!  That treat was for the sister.  This one’s for the dad.  And it comes with a back-story…

My dad e-mailed me a few weeks ago with a baking proposition.  One day last month, he was finishing up a working lunch with some colleagues when the dessert tray appeared at their table.  A richly dark, moist-looking cake immediately caught his eye.  Upon his asking, the waitress proclaimed it to be a “chocolate carrot cake.”  Now this was something Dad had never heard of before!  Intrigued and delighted, he ordered it on the spot and greatly looked forward to that first taste.

Much to his disappointment, said waitress later returned to inform him that his forthcoming dessert was actually a spice cake, not the carrot cake of his dreams. Well, poor Dad couldn’t get the thought of a chocolate carrot cake out of his mind, so he asked me (repeatedly) to bake one up when I came home.  And bake one up I did.  This version has cream cheese frosting, because that’s the way Dad likes it.

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My recipe for Chocolate Carrot Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cake:

3 cups grated carrots

3/4 cup agave nectar

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

Frosting:

12 ounces Neufchatel cheese

3 cups unrefined powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together carrots, agave nectar, eggs, egg whites, applesauce and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool in pans.

While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting by blending together Neufchatel cheese, unrefined powdered sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until smooth.  Once cakes cool, spread about a third of the frosting over cake #1.  Place cake #2 on top of cake #1.  Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

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Melty chocolate and carrot specks!

This cake was a huge hit around my house! The chocolate chips gave it some extra special chocolate sweetness and the cream cheese frosting was addicting!  I snuck a lot of licks from the bowl before it got to the cake.  You know, for testing purposes.  And though I made it for Dad, I think Mom may have liked it even more.  After a couple bites and some long, contemplative looks, she declared it the “best thing you’ve made yet.”  Don’t worry, I enjoyed some slices myself before she could polish it all off (j/k Mom, j/k).

What have you seen combined with chocolate that was somewhat surprising?

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Thumbprints

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I heart chocolate.

I heart peanut butter.

I know, I know, we all know this by now.

Lucky for me, my favorite holiday treat combines these two loves – Peanut Butter Blossoms.  You know the ones.  The crumbly, peanut buttery cookie with the sweet sugar coating and slightly melted chocolate kiss pressed right into the top.  YUM.  They’re on my Grandma’s cookie platter every holiday season and are always the ones I grab the second I walk in her door Christmas day. After giving her a big hug of course!

Fun fact – Peanut Butter Blossoms were the Pillsbury Bake-Off winner in 1957.  Hoo hoo!

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Here’s my adapted recipe:

1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/3 cup turbinado sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  In a large bowl, beat together shortening and 1/2 cup peanut butter until well blended.  Add turbinado sugar and beat until fluffy.  Beat in egg, milk and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together white whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend until combined. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheet.  Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.  Bake for about 8 minutes.  Note: You may need to press the indent in again when the cookies come out of the oven.  Mine stubbornly popped up a bit in there!  While the cookies are cooling, melt together chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons peanut butter.  Fill cookie indents with melty goodness.  Makes 20 cookies.

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They’re so cute!  Like little buttons.

These cookies are so soft!  And the chocolate-peanut butter filling is sort of truffly in texture once it cools.  It wasn’t all that peanut buttery though.  I think next time I’ll up the peanut butter to chip ratio or just melt the chocolate chips themselves to make the filling.

Do you have a favorite memory of Peanut Butter Blossom cookies?  

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Chocolate Peppermint Chewies

REMINDER – Don’t forget to send your BSI recipes to me by tomorrow, December 14 @ 7:00 PM EST!

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I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  I LOVE Christmas.  I love the white holiday lights and decorated store windows.  I love Christmas trees with presents piled underneath.  I love family time and the happy and generous feel of the season.  I love Christmas songs and Christmas movies on TV.  I love cozy fires when it’s snowing outside.  Ok…I realize the White Christmas dream doesn’t come true all that often, but it’s how I imagine the holidays to be anyway.  What can I say – I’m an idealist.

If there’s one flavor I love this time of year more than others, it’s peppermint.  To me, peppermint epitomizes the taste of the holidays.  I mean, really, what would Christmas be without candy canes?!  A little less joyful if you ask me. 

To honor peppermint’s reign over Christmastime, I choose it as this week’s BSI.  And I made Chocolate Peppermint Chewies!

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Whole Foods makes some chocolate cookies that I’ve been eyeing for awhile.  They have no flour and no butter or oil – basically just sugar, cocoa and egg whites.  I’ve never actually tasted them, but they always look awesome and I thought they’d be great cookies to add a little peppermint flair to.  I found this recipe with similar ingredients, so I decided to adapt it and give it a go. 

Here’s my naturalized, peppermintized version: 

2 1/4 cups unrefined powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cocoa powder

3 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

3/4 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix together unrefined powdered sugar, salt and cocoa powder.  In a separate bowl, mix egg whites, vanilla extract and peppermint extract.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with an electric mixer at low speed for 2 minutes – the batter should be shiny and smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to overnight.  Preheat oven to 350*F and spray cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.  Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto cookie sheet.  Don’t flatten and be sure to leave space between the drops – these cookies spread out in the oven!  (Note: I used cooking spray for my cookie sheets and suspect that made them like Slip ‘n Slides for the dough.  I’m thinking using parchment paper instead would prevent major spreadage.)  Bake for 9-10 minutes until tops are glossy and crackly.  Let stand for 3 minutes and remove to cool.  Makes 16 cookies.

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Check out those glossy crackles.

I’ll be honest here, I was a little skeptical of these guys when they came out of the oven – they looked all crunchy and stuff!  But my doubt quickly disappeared after a taste test – they weren’t crunchy in the slightest!  The edges are crispy, but still soft, and the middle is fudgy like a brownie!  And the peppermint flavor was a perfect match for the chocolate goodness.  It left my mouth feeling quite refreshed.

What’s your favorite peppermint treat for the holidays?

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Grain Sweetened Chocolate Chips

263727_8252-1Chocolate chips are such a throwback to childhood for me.  Remember making chocolate chip cookies with your mom and sneaking chips from the bag before they could make it into the mixing bowl?  And I was totally that kid who inspected every cookie in the batch to make sure the one – or two…or three – I choose had the MOST chocolate chips.  Who am I kidding?  I still am that kid. 

When I went to make my Espresso Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies, I had to think for a second.  Regular chocolate chips are sweetened with refined sugar… This blog is about baking with whole foods… Good ol’ Toll House wasn’t gonna cut it for these cookies.  Hmm…what to do, what to do?  So I moseyed on over to a health food store to peruse the baking aisle.  There were lots of baking chip options – organic, vegan, carob.  Most still contained refined sugar.  But then I stumbled upon exactly what I needed – grain sweetened chocolate chips!

The brand I found is called Sunspire.  Their chocolate chips are made without any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or additives.  And they’re sweetened with whole grain malted barley and corn – aka unrefined sweetener – instead of traditional sugar.  Bonus! – In addition to making these chips whole-foods-approved, malted grains are also supposed to let the pure chocolate flavor shine through rather than get dominated by regular sugar’s sweetness.  SidebarDid anyone else just picture a little white sugar crystal fitted with boxing gloves and sparring in the ring to prepare for its match against cocoa powder?  No?  Ok, just me. 

Here are the ingredients for Sunspire’s grain sweetened chocolate chips: Whole grain malted barley and corn, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, soy lecithin (a non-GMO emulsifier), and pure natural vanilla.  Short.  Naturally sweet.  And they taste like regular chocolate chips – maybe a little more cocoa-y.  I like it!

Do you know of any other chocolates or baking chips that are made with natural, unrefined sweeteners?

Espresso Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Mmmmm…the aroma, the flavor of coffee.  Cozy warmth on a cold morning.  The end of a long and delicious meal.  The perfect pairing for a freshly baked doughnut, still hot from the oven.

Ok…I have a confession to make.  I actually don’t drink coffee.  I’m one of those people who love the smell, but not the taste – it’s too bitter for me.  But I’m always intrigued by the coffee-chocolate combo and wanted to give it a whirl in cookie form.

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Before baking my Espresso Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies, I found a recipe that looked like a reliable base.  To make it Sweet + Natural, I subbed whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose and turbinado sugar for white and brown.  To make it Espresso Almond, I added some ground coffee and chopped almonds to the mix.  Oh, and because I don’t drink coffee, I don’t have it tucked away in my pantry and didn’t want to buy a whole container if it wasn’t going to be used.  So I snuck some home from the office.  Shhhhh.

Here’s how the recipe ended up:

2/3 cup turbinado sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon ground coffee

2/3 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  In a large bowl, cream together sugar and oil.  Beat in egg.  Add vanilla and blend.  Add dry ingredients in order, mixing after each.  Dough will be sticky, so refrigerate for 30 minutes or so to make it easier to work with.  Roll heaping tablespoons into balls, flatten to 1/3 of an inch, and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for about 8 minutes.  Let stand two minutes and remove to cool.  Makes 16 cookies.

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See the little coffee specks!  How cute.  The dough was totally brown before going into the oven, so I thought the cookies would be too.  But they morphed in there and came out cookie colored and flecked.  Magical.

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These Espresso Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies are really yummy!  Even as a non-coffee lover, I really enjoyed the depth of flavor the ground coffee brought to the table.  It seemed to make the chocolate taste even richer.  And they were perfectly soft on the inside with a slightly crispy edge – just the way I like my cookies! – and stayed that way for days.  The only thing I may change up in the future is trying a more finely ground unrefined sugar.  Turbinado is what I had on hand, but since its sugar crystals are larger than regular sugar crystals, they added a bit of texture to the cookies.  Not bad at all, but I’m curious how it would turn out with another type.  Any suggestions?

What’s your favorite flavor to make mingle with coffee?

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