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Bacon Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

My entire apartment smells like bacon right now. I texted that to my sister, who’s on her way over right now, and she replied with, “Is that a bad thing?”
No it is not. Not at all.

In fact, my cat keeps trying to find “stealthy” ways of getting to the giant pile of bacon i had formed on my kitchen counter. Now he’s given up and just staring at me eat one of these delicious balls of chocolate peanut butter bacon-y awesomeness. I was going to just do brownies frosted with peanut butter frosting and then covered in bacon, but i made a bakers mistake and didn’t grease the pan enough and just ended up tearing it apart with my hands. Now they’re balls of chocolate brownie covered in frosting and rolled in bacon bits. Maybe even better than my original plan?

It’s been a rough week. All i want to do is endulge this weekend, and it’s exactly what i’m doing. Later on today i’m going to check out Queens Kickshaw here in Astoria. When i first moved here, there seemed no prospect of anything cool opening up in the neighborhood. But now Queens Kickshaw and Queens Comfort opened up, and i cannot be more excited for something cool and hip to finally come to this super old greek borough.
I also live down the street from The Bohemian Hall beer garden and i will definitely be hitting that up today too since the weather has finally cooled down a little and i can wear pants!

A while back i made bacon chocolate chip cookies, but i always knew it would not be the last time i combined bacon and chocolate together. This time i wanted to do the trifecta of salty and sweet and threw in some peanut butter for good measure. The balls of soft chocolate brownie, covered in creamy peanut butter and rolled in crispy salty bacon pieces is perfect for….well, anything. Birthdays, anniversaries, funerals. Yes. They are even perfect for funerals. There i said it.

bacon peanut butter brownie bites

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60-72%), chopped coarsely
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal pan 9x13x2 pan (I like to lay down a bit of parchment too, for easy removal from the pan).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.
Configure a large sized double boiler. Place the chocolate, the butter, and the instant espresso powder in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. Mixture should be room temperature.
Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (DO NOT USE A WHISK) fold the dry into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.
Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with your spatula. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes (rotate the pan half-way through baking) and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Once cake has been cooled, start digging into the brownies with your hands! This was the most fun part of this whole delicious endeavor. Start breaking apart pieces of the brownies and transferring it to a large bowl. Once all the brownie has been taken out of the brownie pan and into a bowl, knead the brownies till it’s all broken up and crumbly. Form small balls with your hands and place on a cooling rack lined with a silpat or foil. Once all your balls have been formed, put them in the fridge to solidify so you can make your frosting.

Peanut Butter frosting:
* 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
* 1 cup creamy peanut butter
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* heavy cream

In a bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add in peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix until smooth-ish, then add in a little bit of cream until it gets frosting smoother. Add more cream until it gets to the consistency you desire.

Set aside the frosting and start frying up some bacon. I used an entire package of Boars Head bacon, which was about 10 strips of bacon. Once you’ve fried up all your bacon, chop it up into small pieces.

Take a brownie ball, roll it through your peanut butter frosting, then roll it through your bacon bits. Put completed brownie ball onto a baking sheet lined with something, or a lined container.

Keep at room temperature, lasts 1 week.


Spicy Whoopie Pies

WOAHHHH. I have not updated this blog in a long time. What is wrong with me? I’ve just been busy, that’s what. Last we left off, i was preparing to go to Japan. I had a fantastic time, and compared to the first and previous time i went, a 100% improvement. A lot more drinking and making friends. And of course eating DELICIOUS, DELICIOUS food.

[that is just ONE of the many meals that we had at our ryokan in Kyoto]

Once i got back from my trip, work became crazy, i had to catch up on paying bills, etc etc excuses excuses. Today is the first time i’ve baked anything since March! I feel so empty inside. I miss my baking.

So today since it’s raining and generally crappy outside, i planned to play around with a couple recipes for whoopie pies i found on the interwebs and man this is the ONE. I made a batch of normal classic chocolate with marshmallow filling and a batch of chocolate with spicy marshmallow filling, and those are the ones i’m going to focus on with todays entry because they are out of this world delicious. Rich, chocolately, fudgey cakes and in the middle sweet marshmallow goodness with a kick!

Spicy Chocolate Whoopie Pies
adapted from Tracy’s Culinary Adventures
{makes about 18 whoopie pies}

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
7 1/2 oz marshmallow fluff
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.

In a medium bowl sift the flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder together. (DN’T SKIP SIFTING. there will be lumps of cocoa powder in the cookies)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla extract until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.

Using a dough scoop or a melon baller or a spoon, drop the batter onto the prepared baking pans, 12 cookies per pan. Bake for 3-5 minutes, rotating the pan half if needed. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

In a kitchenaid or just a bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until incorporated – the mixture will become crumbly at first, just keep beating and it will come together. Add the marshmallow fluff and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the spices and mix until combined.
When the cookies have cooled completely, pair them up by size. Spread (or pipe) a dollop of the filling on the flat side of one cookie from each pair. Sandwich the cookies, pressing together to push the filling to the edges.

Blueberry Scones

I have been craving blueberries for a while and i have no idea why. I’ve also been craving scones, so why not combine the two and quit craving. I’ve never made scones before, so it was a whole new adventure. I’m not familiar with the actual process of baking them, so i crossed my fingers hoping that the end product would come out the way it should. And they did. I like mine a little doughy and was really happy they came out soft and pillowy with a slight chewy doughness to them in the middle, but with a little crisp on the outside. As the blueberries baked inside the dough, some of the juice released and gave the scones a little bit of a blue swirl. They were really pretty!
I also picked up some blood orange juice at Dean and Delucca near my job, and poured a blood orange glaze over the tops of them, which added some tartness. I love blood orange in everything, and it pairs well with blueberry.
I served them with a black tea and clotted cream. Mmmmmm.

Blueberry Scones
adapted from Baking Bites
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, chilled
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon zest
2/3 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into 6-8 chunks and add to flour mixture, tossing to coat. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until mixture is sandy and butter is well distributed, with no pieces larger than a big pea.
Add in milk, and lemon zest and stir until dough comes together. If dough is too wet, add an additional tablespoon of flour to the dough.
Either keeping the dough in your mixing bowl, or turning it out onto a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 1 minute. Flatten dough and add blueberries. Knead gently for 30-60 seconds to distribute them. Round the dough into a ball and flatten to about 3/4-inch thick. Use a knife to divide each disc into quarters and place scones on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 17-20, until scones are golden brown.

Blood Orange Glaze (optional)
1 tbsp blood orange juice
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Whisk glaze ingredients together until smooth, then drizzle over still-warm scones before serving.

Reverse Whoopie Pies

*sigh* Every now and then, i find a recipe on the internet that sounds really really awesome. Then i make it, and it turns out all wrong. I thought it was something on my part, but i’m pretty confident that i didn’t misread anything. The original recipe i found called for A LOT of flour and it just didn’t seem right. I made a test batch anyway, and sure enough it was way too dry and biscuit like. So i scrapped it and found a different, better, recipe.

The recipe i used for the chocolate frosting wasn’t something i had used before. I’m used to the thick frosting kind or a marshmallow frosting. This is more like a ganache frosting. I was skeptical at first, but once i ate one, i didn’t really care anymore. Very decadent! I rather like whoopie pies this way rather than their “normal” chocolate on the outside, vanilla in the middle version. Also: arm yourself with water or milk or coffee [i’d choose coffee]. They are rich and delicious.

Also, did i mention it’s my birthday? It’s rainy and gross outside so i’m not going out. Strictly a lazy bum day. Watching movies, making whoopie pies, and reading from my new Kindle that my bf got me for my b-day. Kindles are great! I was anti-Kindle for a while, but i can’t deny how cool these things are. They’re so lightweight and convenient. Now if it could only double as a tablet so i could read recipes off it.

Reverse Whoopie Pies
cake part adapted from Baking Bites
chocolate frosting adapted from myself

2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together egg, melted butter and sugar until mixture is smooth and has lightened slightly in color, about 1 minute. Add in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk and vanilla extract, then the remaining flour mixture. Mix only until no streaks of flour remain.
Drop rounded spoonfuls of the cookie batter onto prepared baking sheet, trying to make each even in size (1-inch balls are a good standard for medium-sized cookies). Leave 2-inches between cookies to allow for spread.
Bake for about 5-8 minutes, until cookies are set and edges are very lightly browned.
Cool completely on wire racks before filling.

Chocolate frosting
22 ounces [about 2 bags] of milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate chips in saucepan over low flame. Add vanilla, butter, corn syrup, heavy cream and mix together till smooth.
Remove from heat and keep in fridge for 15-20 minutes until cool.
Beat with electric mixer on high to a thick consistency.
Spread chocolate onto flat side of one cake, and sandwich another cake on top to form a whoopie pie.
Eat till there are none left.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

BEFORE I EVEN POST THIS RECIPE, i just want to say one thing: USE A LOT OF BACON. The recipe i found said to use 8 strips, but i think you need more. I mean, i did get the delicious bacon and chocolate combination i was craving, but it definitely could use more bacon. Bacon and chocolate just GO together. They’re the new ‘peas and carrots’. You can never have enough bacon! If i could wrap the world in salty, sweet, smoky bacon strips, i WOULD.

This recipe called to candy the bacon, which gets a little messy. I think the cookies would taste just fine without baking the bacon strips in sugar, if you want to be lazy and skip that step. But seeing a baking sheet filled with bacon covered in brown sugar made me drool, so it was worth it.

These cookies really hit the mark. Crispy on the outside, doughy and soft on the inside. I don’t know why i haven’t seen recipes for bacon chocolate chip cookies more often, now that bacon is the new food craze. I am not a stranger to the ways of bacon in chocolate, considering i work for Vosges who are famous for the bacon bar. I will definitely be bringing these in to share with my co-workers on Tuesday.

Bacon Chocolate Chip cookies
adapted from Quick Dish

For the bacon:
10-12 strips of bacon
1/2 cup light brown sugar

For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon warm water
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place bacon in a single layer on cooking sheet.
Cover bacon with brown sugar. Bake for 11-15 minutes or until crispy, making sure to turn bacon over after 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack for cooling. Once bacon has cooled chop it finely.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Sift flour and baking soda.
In a medium bowl, cream butter with the white and brown sugar.
Add vanilla, egg, and egg yolk to the bowl and beat until light and creamy.
Add flour mixture and mix well.
Add warm water, then add diced candied bacon and chocolate chips and stir until just combined.

Place golf ball sized balls of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove from oven and let cookies sit on the pan for a couple of minutes before placing on a wire rack.

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Brownies

Oh man. I totally didn’t mean to bake anything today, since i’m on a strict budget. Only 2 months, TO THE DAY, till i leave for Tokyo. I was going to go out and take some pictures and stop by Peter Pan Bakery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to satisfy my craving of their red velvet donuts. If you’re ever over there, you have to stop by that place. It’s donut heaven, a tiny polish bakery with old fashioned seating. Most of the workers there are polish and some pretty old-school Brooklynites [aka old men] hang out there and drink black coffee all day. Such a great place, and the donuts are cheap.

It took a lot of restraint not to pick at them, just watching them cool on my kitchen counter. I’ve been trying to practice patience when it comes to cutting things i just baked. But once the time had come to cut them up and serve, i tried one. The brownies are incredibly moist, bright red, and intensely decadent from the cream cheese. Like an intense red velvet cupcake. These actually might be the best things i’ve ever baked, hands down. Not gunna lie.

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Brownies

Red Velvet:
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour

Cream Cheese:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 8 inch pan. [i used glass]

Brownie layer: Add melted butter to a large bowl and add sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, mixing after each addition. Whisk the eggs into the cocoa mix. Mix in the flour until lightly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/3 to 1/4 cup of the batter for the cream cheese layer.

Cream cheese layer: Blend together cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Spread the cream cheese on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Put the remaining cocoa batter over the cream cheese layer. Using the tip of a knife, swirl through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.

If you have some left overs, wrap remaining brownies in saran wrap and keep in fridge.

Granola Bars

It was snowing today and i had the day off! I am also dead broke poor because i’m going to Japan in April, so i can’t really go all out with my baking every week like i usually do. I’m so excited to go again! I went around the same time last year and the experience was beyond all comprehensive words. It was my first trip outside the United States, so it was kind of a big deal. I think this time around i’ll be a little less overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to get to places and my issues with their currency, and party a little bit more. Last year we didn’t really go out at night or drink and i still had $300 left over. Thus resulting in not really returning with any presents for anybody. But not this time! I also bought a fancy schmancy new camera that i can’t wait to use over there.

Anyway, I really missed baking because last week i didn’t at all. I’m on a strict budget, but luckily i had most of the ingredients needed for this recipe, and it isn’t a whole lot. I always have a giant tub of Quaker oats in my cupboard, and honey. With granola bars you have a lot of room to be creative. You can pretty much add anything you want! I added semi-sweet chocolate chips to mine because i wanted a sweetness to combine with the saltiness of the nuts. I also used a container of mixed nuts instead of buying individual bags of specific nuts, which also saved me lots of money. The mix i had contained brazil nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, pecans, and almonds. For dried fruit i used pomegranate, cherries, and raisins.

These had everything i was looking for in a granola bar; chewy, crunchy, salty and sweet, and tart from the dried cherries. My cat watched, as usual.

Granola Bars
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chopped nuts* [you can use a mix of your own, or just stick with one kind. I bought Planters mixed nuts that contained cashews, peanuts, brazil nuts, hazlenuts, pecans, and almonds]
1/2 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup dried pomegranate
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter an 8×12-inch baking dish (lacking this, I used a 9×13-inch) and line it with parchment paper.

Chop or crush your nuts

Toss the oatmeal and your chopped nuts together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

While the mixture is still warm, stir in the honey, vanilla and salt until the mixture is well coated, then the dried fruit. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and press it down as hard as you can.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares — your best serrated knife is great for this.

You can store these in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or two, as you would cookies.