Since it’s still November, I’m still allowed to make pumpkin things. I recently had an early morning class field trip, so I decided that it would be nice to bring some muffins along. I had a few very ripe bananas, so my initial plan was to find a good banana muffin recipe, but during my search I found something even better: a pumpkin banana muffin recipe. To make the muffins a little more interesting I decided to add some chocolate chips and walnuts. Basically whenever I can add nuts or chocolate, I will.
The muffins turned out fairly dense and quite moist which was great. The original recipe called for whole wheat flour, or at least a combination of white and whole wheat. I typically jump at the chance to use whole wheat flour, but in this instance I had just bought some white flour that I wanted to use up, so I used all white. I love recipes that are adaptable to what you have on hand!
A few years ago, when I was just taking a real interest in baking, I decided to bake several different cookies and bars to have on hand around Thanksgiving. My family always hosts Thanksgiving at our house, and we typically have several house guests for the entire long weekend. This means that we not only have to cook for the main event, but we have plan meals and snacks for four days straight. This is when stashes of cookies comes in handy.
That year I found this recipe for pumkin bars on the Martha Stewart website and it seemed easy enough for a beginner. Let me tell you, these did not dissapoint. While some of the other cookies I made lingered for most of the weekend, these bars were gone within one day. I have since made them for various groups of friends and family and they get raves every time.
Do yourself a favor, when you get in a pumpin mood, give these a try! They are great warm from the oven, or even cold from the freezer. And by the way, they only use one cup of pumpkin from the can, so I love to use the leftover canned pumpkin to mix into my morning oatmeal!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
Make one 9 x 13 pan, about 20 bars depending on size, from Martha
2 cups AP flour
1 Tbs pumpkin-pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9 x 13 brownie pan with parchment (it will make it much easier to get them out).
Combine the flour, spice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Cream butter, then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla.
Alternate adding batches of the pumkin and dry ingredients. Mix to combine, but try not to overmix the dough.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour batter into parchment lined pan. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then cut and serve!
This graduation season was a big deal for my family because my older brother graduated Law School. Exactly what my family needs, another lawyer… But seriously, he definitely took the road less traveled during law school, not necessarily by choice, but because he had tremendous obstacles, and that made all the difference. We are all very proud of his perseverance, and are crossing our fingers that the Bar goes smoothly and employment in the field of law is on the horizon.
Graduation = Celebration
Celebration = Special Dessert
I asked my brother for his flavor profile of choice for his special dessert and his answer was: chocolate. Typical. I decided to combine a couple recipes that I found recently: mocha shortbread, and mocha icebox cake. I used the mocha icebox cake recipe, but nixed the coffee, so it was just chocolate. And rather than using chocolate ship cookies, I made a couple batches of mocha shortbread to layer with the mascarpone mixture. Then to add even more texture, I introduced some mini chocolate chips.
Chocolate Mascarpone Icebox Cake with Mocha Shortbread
Ingredients for Mocha Shortbread (you will make 3 batches of this total)
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs AP flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbs instant coffee granuals
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Ingredients for filling
2 cups heavy cream
12 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 10 oz bag of mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.
Start with one batch of mocha shortbread baked in the bottom of a 9 in spring form pan to act as the bottom crust of the cake. Cream together room temp butter and sugar. Add the rest of the shortbread ingredients. Mix until clumpy, then press dough into the bottom of the spring form pan.
Bake 20 minutes and set aside to cool completely.
Make a double batch of the mocha shortbread on a cookie sheet to break up and use as layers in the cake. Allow to cool completely before layering in cake.
Prepare the filling by mixing together all ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Mix until it is the consistency of a heavy whipped cream. Remove a third of the mixture to a different bowl, and add a cup of mini chocolate chips to the third for the middle layer of filling.
Use the shortbread in the bottom of spring form pan as the bottom crust and add half of the filling from the “plain” bowl without chocolate chips. Spread it out evenly and break up pieces of the shortbread from the cookie sheet to layer on top of the filling.
Add the portion of the filling with chocolate chips on top of the shortbread. Then repeat another layer of shortbread. Finish off with the rest of filling as the top layer.
Garnish the top of the cake with a handful of chocolate chips, and place in the freezer or fridge to allow to set. If you freeze it, allow at least a half hour for it to soften up before serving, or move it to the fridge a couple hours before serving.