Espresso Chocolate Bran Muffins

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I was walking to the mailbox yesterday to post a birthday card. Through slush & ice. Down my mile-long driveway. Okay, it was an easy stroll. And on the way back I ran into my not-quite-elderly or else in really great shape & elderly neighbor. She engaged in small talk. Eventually she asked what I study & when I replied “Global Environmental Policy” she responded: “Is that like… Al Gore stuff?”

Yes, folks. It is indeed a bit like “Al Gore Stuff.”

Though, only a fraction of us study climate change. Some of us study energy, some conservation, some international institutions, some water, and those of us that are particularly cool study agriculture & food.

Speaking of which, this week we’re actually studying the EU decision making process on GMOs. Which shall serve as a transition to delicious muffins made with organic whole wheat flour. And probably GM wheat bran… but I wouldn’t know, because it’s not labeled!

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These muffins are a one bowl, three measuring cups (because I use a 1/4 & 1/2 cup for everything) , throw it together in a jiff kind of recipe.

As muffin recipes should be.

And they’re dairy-free, whole wheat, bran muffins. Hello, sorta healthy.

With CHOCOLATE in them. And ESPRESSO. Which probably explains my use of caps right there.

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And the most important part is that I now have espresso-laden, semi-healthy muffins to take to campus Wednesday & Thursday.

I usually forget to pack any food at all and survive off overpriced soy lattes & bagels sold on campus. And by the end of the day my stomach feels cramped & ready to implode/explode. And my journey begins at 6 (wake up) & ends around 10 (get home). But fear not this week! I have prepared with muffins, tabbouleh, hummus & pita! Oh me oh my!

Also, these muffins make the house smell glorious. In all their chocolatey, espresso, fresh-baked goodness.

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Espresso Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins

Inspired by The Kitchy Kitchen
Makes 12 Standard Muffins

WET:
1/2 Cup Oil (i use canola)
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Brewed Coffee (cold)
1/2 Cup Soy Milk
2 Tbsp Ground Espresso
1 Egg (i use ener-g)
2 Tsp Vanilla

DRY:
1 2/3 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2/3 Cup Bran (I used half oat & half wheat)
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
3/4 – 1 Cup Chocolate Chips*

*I used dairy-free chocolate – half Ghirardelli Semisweet Chocolate Chips & half chopped Ibarro Mexican Chocolate. The Mexican chocolate is full of granulated sugar & adds a nice sugary crunch to the muffins.  Feel free to use as much chocolate, or little as you like – keeping in mind that it may affect the volume of the batter.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line muffin tray with muffin papers.

Combine all the wet ingredients in a medium/large bowl. Add all the dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips.
Combine thoroughly. Stir in chocolate Chips.
Spoon batter evenly into muffin papers. Should all be about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 18 – 22 minutes or until muffins spring back to a light touch (or toothpick comes out clean method).

Now, NOSH.

With a cold glass or milk or hot cup of coffee.

Contains caffeine. Please, enjoy responsibly : )

All gone!

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

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These peanut butter oatmeal bars are the best. Ever. I could eat the whole pan. Or half. Since I did do that, already.

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Mom’s been making them since I was little.

Straight from a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook she’s had forever. With it’s deep red cover  & worn looking pages.

My brother Fred & I would devour them. Because they’re a perfect comfort food treat.

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Full of oats. And peanut butter. And topped off with a hard layer of just enough chocolate.

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It’s easy to eat 1/2 a pan because they’re not too sweet, just sweet enough, and almost fool you into thinking they might be healthy.ish. And the flavors of peanut butter & chocolate flood your mouth as your teeth sink into the soft, chewy bars.

They’re a good choice for a sneaky breakfast treat.

This is the second time I’ve made them vegan and they’re perfect. They taste more or less exactly like the original recipe.

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 ener-g egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup almond or soy milk
1 cup AP flour
1 cup oats (i use quick oats)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13×9 inch pan.

Beat shortening & peanut butter until well-creamed. Add sugar and continue beating until light & fluffy. Add egg, milk & vanilla and beat to incorporate into fluffy peanut buttery goodness.

Add flour, oats, baking soda & salt – slowly. Beat until well-mixed & smooth.

Spread mixture evenly in your greased pan. It may be a bit thick so spread carefully.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven.

Spread chocolate chips across the surface while still hot. When the chocolate has softened/melted, after a few seconds, spread evenly.

Let cool & allow chocolate to harden before cutting into bars…

Before devouring in huge bites!

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Double Chocolate Cupcakes

 

These cupcakes were luscious. I used my forever go-to recipe from What Would Cathy Eat? and made a chocolate “buttercream” icing using aristocrat cocoa powder, shortening, earth balance, coconut milk, vanilla & powdered sugar. Yum.

 

I promise to post some new recipes soon! And they probably won’t involve chocolate!

 

Is everyone getting excited for Thanksgiving? Or should I say feast your face off day? I am : )

Magical Brownies

Wow, it’s been a month. I’d tell you I’ve been busy, but I’d be lying. It has been an eventful month though. Don’t worry, I won’t disappear again. I have some great recipes to share for summer 🙂

What happened this May:

  • My oldest brother got married! Now, I have a wonderful big sister : )
  • Stephen graduated the SAME DAY from Penn State. And I had to miss it : / Bridesmaid duties.
  • But then I helped him move out of his apartment in State College.
  • I scheduled my classes for the first semester of my Global Environmental Policy  program at AU.
  • And bought the books for one of my classes… not including the one yet to be released. I also started to read one of said books… A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (it’s pretty fantastic).

These are celebratory brownies!

These are amazing brownies!

These are magical brownies! (No, not “special.”)

These are the brownies I never thought I’d ever be able to make from scratch 🙂

Let alone, make vegan.

They can be enjoyed by themselves. With a nice glass of your milk of choice. Or topped with a huge scoop of ice cream & some fudge sauce <—- yes, please. Brownie sundaes ❤

And make them I will, again and again and again for the rest of my life… so long as chocolate is available. I read an article recently that said the demand for chocolate is increasing so rapidly that the production of chocolate won’t be able to meet the population’s “needs.” Apparently, cocoa farmers/producers are straining their farms to produce greater quantities of cocoa than they realistically have the capacity to produce. AKA, the cocoa plants need more TLC than they’re receiving & are becoming weak. I wish I could remember where I read this. I’m sure, in our modern age, you can “GOOGLE” it.

Magical Brownies

1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips + (1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips optional)

1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder

4 Tbsp Coconut Oil

4 Tbsp Neutral Oil (Veg/Canola/Olive)

2 Ener-G Eggs

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup AP Flour

1 Tsp Baking Powder (scant)

1/2 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Vanilla

1/4 Cup Almond Milk

Directions:

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper & preheat oven to 350.

In a double boiler, over low heat, melt chocolate chips with cocoa powder, coconut oil, and vegetable oil.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, prepare Ener-G eggs (or flax eggs). Set aside.

In a medium-sized, mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder & salt.

When the chocolate is completely melted, add to dry ingredients.

Add the ener-g eggs, vanilla & almond milk.

Stir to combine completely. Add additional chocolate chips (for best results… aka chocolatey-ist) and stir.

Pour batter (it should be a bit thick) into lined pan.

Bake until toothpick/knife inserted in center comes out clean. EDIT: About 35 – 45 minutes.

I suggest checking on them every so often. I’ve baked them in a le creuset enamel pan & a glass pan and the time varied a bit.

Now cut them and….. (oh yeah, let cool a bit)…. NOW….

Devour!!!

Okay, I’m running to the grocery store so I can make these again today. These pictures are making my stomach RAWR!!

Vanilla Birthday Cake

This beauty was Stephen’s birthday cake! His birthday was April 4th, haha. And I believe I made this cake somewhere around the 5th or 6th. And am now posting it on the 26th. Oh well, good things come to those who wait – you!

I think I made this cake just to use the multi-colored heart-shaped sprinkles I picked up from the Farmer’s Market. Way cuter than ordinary, run of the mill, multi-colored sprinkles! Oh, and because I tried to make this beautiful Chocolate Guinness Bundt cake & failed. Hard. I’m sure the recipe is usually wonderful. I blame the Nordic Ware Cathedral Bundt Pan. Nooks & crannies galore.

The vanilla cake turned out moist and flavorful. And the ganache was delicious… I mean, it was chocolate ganache… of course it was delicious. I usually use Cathy‘s Chocolate Ganache recipe (my favorite) but had just run out of maple syrup & powdered sugar making treats for a bake sale. So I made a variation that worked out quite well. It was a bit thinner without the powdered sugar so I stuck it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up.

We couldn’t stop eating this cake. If you have a keen eye you may notice the last picture only has one piece of cake missing but the others have two. And there’s already chocolate smeared across the bottom of the plate! What can I say? It was yummy!!

Vanilla Birthday Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Makes one 8×8 sheet cake. 

  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Grease 8×8 cake pan.

The ingredients are listed in the order of addition. In a large bowl combine almond milk & vinegar. Let sit for about 5 to minutes until milk curdles slightly. Add vanilla & oil. Stir to incorporate oil. Add salt & sugar and stir to combine. Sugar should begin to dissolve. Add flour, baking soda & baking powder. Combine thoroughly. Pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until light golden in color and knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool before spreading ganache.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp Almond Milk
  • 4 oz  Chocolate, use best quality for best results
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp White Sugar

Melt all ingredients together in a double boiler. If you’re making this cake in your boyfriend’s apartment & find yourself without a double boiler… or even the means to create a makeshift double boiler… melt very slowly over low heat directly on burner. Some may recommend the 30 second increment microwave technique but I never use it. I’ve tried in the past with disastrous results. And since you’re using the best quality chocolate you can find, proceed with caution!

If you find that your ganache is not firming, place the mixture in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or freezer for 5 to 10, to speed along the process. It will still have a slight gooey quality at room temperature but will not be runny.

Once the cake has completely (or mostly, for those of you with as much patience as me!) cooled, pour the ganache on, to cover completely. Spread to make even, if necessary.

Decorate with desired sprinkles and serve!! Sooooo yummy.

Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate

I made a recipe on my To-Make List!!! And boy oh boy was it fantabulous. Pre‘s Raw Macaroons are divine. And the ingredient list is too. These vegan, raw coconut macaroons are like a sophisticated, grown-up Mounds candy bar except so much better & much healthier. I followed Pre’s recipe almost to a T (well I halved it to a T), using slightly more coconut oil & semi-sweet (still vegan) chocolate. Seriously, they were even better than I imagined. They melt in your mouth. Oh, and I also bought dried nettle leaves to make tea after a recommendation on her blog. I think I might love her.

I used organic, unsweetened, unsulfured, shredded coconut. Shredded coconut is much smaller than the longer pieces that you usually see when you buy sweetened coconut & they’re crisper because they’re drier. Sweetened coconut is usually coated in corn syrup, which makes it sweeter, moister, plumper and ultimately less healthy. Combined with coconut oil & maple syrup, the crispy unsweetened flakes are the way to go.

I also used organic extra virgin coconut oil, which can be quite expensive! According to www.live-the-organic-life.com virgin & extra virgin coconut oil are pretty much the same thing, with no industry standard processing. However, virgin coconut oil (VCO) is much different from refined coconut oil (RBD). According to the website, refined coconut oil is of a lower quality, undergoes greater processing, and will clog the pores if used for external use (ie moisturizer). RBD stands for refined, bleached, and deodorized so the oil also loses much of its smell (which I supposed could be handy if you don’t want everything you make to taste like coconut). I think I’ll still choose virgin. Virgin coconut is physically extracted with no chemical processing and the oil remains unrefined in a more natural form. It smells wonderfully delicious.

Pre’s recipe can be found here. I highly recommend it!

I obviously haven’t mastered chocolate drizzling. And mine kind of look like chocolate covered bananas! Lol. I bet they’d be delicious with almonds, hazelnuts, or more chocolate hidden inside. Maybe some kind of raspberry filling? Oh, they’re perfect the way they are too. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Cookies

I wrote this post about forever ago… okay the same time that I made the Lemon Drop cookies… when was that? Just before Christmas? I never posted it because I forgot to take pictures. Well I’m posting it without the pictures! The next time I make these I will be sure to take pictures & add them to the post!

December 14, 2011 (according to my handy wordpress editing log)

What could be more different from a Lemon Drop than a super rich & chocolatey cookie? I find opposites make great pairings. I think most people feel that way? Mom wanted me to make her some cookies to take to a work meeting and I wanted to take some to Kutztown. I had already made the Lemon Drops but that was a small batch and split in half, there weren’t nearly enough to take to mom’s function. So I decided to make a Double Chocolate Cookie which is actually a triple chocolate cookie but we won’t go there.

I made a douuuuble batch of these douuuuuble chocolate cookies (aka the recipe below is for a double batch) so there would be pleeeenty to take some to Kutztown and still leave plenty for the meeting.

I also decided to scrub the oven door today. I was tired of not being able to watch my cookies bake. So I took some white vinegar & some baking powder & an old rag & some elbow grease and things got really gross. But now I can see my goddamn cookies.

Double Chocolate Cookies

  • 1 1/3 Cups Vegetable/Canola Oil
  • 1 1/3 Cups Unsweetened Applesauce (which btw I don’t get, why would you need to sweeten applesauce… apples are already sweet)
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Cocoa Powder (or 1/2 Cups each, dark & dutch)
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Cup Ghirardelli Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (oh dear lord, ecstasy) (also, did anyone else realize there’s a second “r” in GhiraRdelli? The more I look at it, the weirder it becomes.)

These cookies are simple. Like most cookies. Except french macarons. Which really aren’t that bad either.

Preheat oven to 325 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine oil, applesauce, sugar & vanilla. Add the rest of your ingredients and stir until combined. VOILÀ! Now chill the batter until it’s workable. Create balls, whatever size you like 😉 The cookies will spread so obviously don’t put them too close together. I know you’ve made cookies before, you know the drill. I DO recommend using parchment paper.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Definitely let cool a bit. They’re pretty soft.

Stephen loved these cookies, which probably isn’t saying much, since he eats most anything. But the ktown boys ate them up when we went camping so I took that as a good sign.