A mom's journal of the sweet things in her life...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins (or Mini Bundt Cakes)

These muffins were adapted from the Baked cookbook. I've been curious about them for a while but I worried that the espresso flavor, as much as I love it, may have been too strong for my kids. So every time I had ripe bananas on my counter, I'd eye this recipe but then end up going back to  my old faithful banana bread recipe. Today I threw caution to the wind (and the incessant rain that has us stuck in the house looking for something to do). I kept the ingredients pretty true to the recipe but, instead of adding the instant coffee to the dry ingredients, I added it to the wet so that it would dissolve and ensure that no bits of the coffee granules made into the final product.
I was very happy with the results. The coffee flavor is very subtle - and unless you know it's in there, you may not even pick it up. These muffins are delicious and so moist and flavorful. Another great recipe to add to the list when looking for something to do with ripe bananas. I still have more bananas to use up so don't be surprised if you see a new Banana Bread recipe soon. But then again, don't be surprised if you don't either, you know what they say about the best of intentions. : )
Happy 'back to school' to all you moms out there. May tomorrow's new-found-freedom bring you much joy. 
Recipe for Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
(adapted from Baked - New Frontiers with Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)
1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. instant coffee granules
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips (recipe calls for 1 cup of regular chips)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan (or mini bundt pan) with nonstick spray.
In medium bowl whisk stir together bananas, sugars, butter, milk, egg and instant coffee.
In another medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together until combined. Make a well in the center and add the banana mixture. Stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Fill each muffin cup until 3/4's full. Bake in center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean. (For me this was 23 minutes). Move muffins to cooling rack and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on cooling rack.
Can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 days. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dessert Cheese Ball

It's not the most beautiful dessert to offer up at say a bridal shower where everything is expected to be pretty and girly. But I brought it anyway. I tried a version of this at a party once and was very pleasantly surprised. When my sister, girlfriend and I recreated it last summer while on holidays, we nailed it. Except we didn't have the right crackers to accompany this dessert. We pilfered the sparse pantry and settled for the only crackers we could find - vegetable thins or something along those lines. We were desperate. The onion and garlic flavor we were hoping to ignore completely over-powered the sweetness of the chocolate bar. In a nutshell, it was disgusting. Please don't do that. 
But when I saw Renee's pita chips flavored with sugar and cinnamon at the grocery store recently, I grabbed them knowing they were the perfect accompaniment. And it was high time to resurrect this cheese-ball. So I whipped it up, to go alongside a prettier more appropriate dessert that I also took to the bridal shower. More than anything, I was curious to see how people would react. Would they like it? Would it just sit there, untouched? Had I romanticized my memory of how delicious it was when I first encountered it a couple years ago?
It was a hit. So I guess I can rest assured that my sugar-loving-palette isn't completely warped. 
12 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
4 regular sized Crispy Crunch chocolate bars (Skor would be great too)
Chop candy bars into small pieces, set aside. Mix the cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with a spoon until smooth. Add approximately 1/4 of the crushed bars to the cream cheese mixture. Form into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until slightly firm. Just before serving, remove from fridge and roll into the remaining chopped chocolate bars. Serve with plain or cinnamon-sugar flavored pita chips. (Or some other plain cracker).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Two-Bite Brownies

We just got home a couple of weeks ago from our summer holiday, which consisted of 30 glorious, rain-free days in beautiful San Diego. We rented a house that had a swimming pool, a hot tub, an outdoor jungle gym, a trampoline and a sports court. We visited Disneyland, Seaworld, Legoland, the Wild Animal Safari Park and the beach. Our days were full of sunshine, and the perfect balance of activity and poolside relaxation. And when we got home, I asked my three-year-old son what his favorite part of our holiday was, and do you know what he said? Target! True story.
I'm not sure what that says about him. Moreover, I'm not sure what that says about me, as his mother, and what I've taught him in his 3 short years on this planet.
But I digress. This post is long-overdue. Well, not this post in particular, I just made these brownies like 5 minutes ago - but a post in general. My blog has been collecting dust as I'm just finding my way back to the kitchen after a 2 month hiatus.
These brownies are brought to you courtesy of the mother of my son's first crush. We were invited over for a play date last week and my friend served us these delicious Two-Bite Brownies. Of course I asked for the recipe, they were delicious and adorable. Perfect for portion control - if you can stop yourself from eating more than one - which, unfortunately, was not the case with me. But for those of you who may or may not be sporting a post-summer-holiday-muffin-top (like me) these are relatively harmless, as far as brownies go at 85 calories and 2.3 grams of fat per serving. But that's not the only reason you should make them. They're delicious and so very fast and easy to throw together. (I didn't even bother pulling out my mixer!!)

Two-Bite Brownies
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. instant espresso
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well-mixed. Add eggs, vanilla and instant coffee and stir until well-blended. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture and stir by hand until just combined. Spray mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon batter into muffin pan. Bake for about 12 minutes or until just puffed but still soft to touch. Do not over-bake! Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes before removing brownies from pan and allowing to cool completely on wire rack. Yield: 24 brownies.
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