Double Chocolate Biscotti

The first time I tried a biscotti, I was probably 6 or 7, and needless to day, I thought it was pretty awful. It hurt my teeth and it’s taste had a slight resemblance to cardboard, there just wasn’t enough sugar for my juvenile taste buds.biscotti3 biscotti2

Now, on the other hand, I love biscotti, but I pretty much love any excuse to eat a cookie for breakfast. The stark contrast of hot, full-bodied coffee and sweet crunchy biscotti is just so satisfying. So what if it’s not a balanced meal, so what if I ate 10 3 with my coffee this morning, who cares, we all die at some point right? Eat the darn biscotti! biscotti4

Double Chocolate Biscotti

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 and line a sheet pan with parchment (or spray with coconut oil cooking spray).

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until evenly combined. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl in between each addition.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter/egg mixture in 3 stages, making sure the dry and wet ingredients are evenly combined each time.

Add the chocolate chips. Eat some of that mouthwatering dough.

Shape the dough roughly into the size of a 12×4 inch log and place of prepared sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let the biscotti cool for 10 minutes. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the biscotti into 1/2 inch pieces and lay flat on sheet pan. Bake again for 5-10 minutes. Flip biscotti and bake once for for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and let the biscotti cool completely. Grab a big ole cup of joe and enjoy the world’s best morning.

original recipe here!

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Mom’s Carrot Cake

Every year on June 1st, my father’s day of birth, my mom would make carrot cake. He really loves carrot cake, which was great because so do I. My moms carrot cake is unlike other, boring, bland carrot cakes that, if you’re lucky, might have a few walnuts. No, her’s is packed full of delicious little surprises at every bite.cc3cc7

Probably the best part about my dad’s yearly carrot cake was the the left overs. I would get up the next morning, hungry for one thing and one thing only. You guessed it: carrot cake. Holy moly, if you though carrot cake was good for dessert, try eating it for breakfast. Superb!cc1 cc2cc5

Mom’s Carrot Cake (kind of)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups raw cane sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extracts
1 1/4 cup oil of your choice (I used olive)
3 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, canned or fresh

Cream Cheese Icing

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered cugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup walnut pieces
12 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease three 6 inch cake pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, spices, salt and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs and vanilla.

Using a spatula, mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Add in the carrots, raisins, walnuts, coconut and pineapple and mix until all of the fun stuff is distributed evenly, but do not over mix.

Pour the cake batter evenly into each cake pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when cake is poked. Let cool completely.

For the Icing, place the cream cheese, butter and vanilla bean paste in the bowl of a stand mixer (or hand mixer) fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium until combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add in the sifted powder sugar and continue to mix. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, by hand mix in the remaining ingredients.

When cake is completely cooled, de-pan and slice each cake in half to get a total of 6 layers. Plop a little bit of icing on the first layer, spread it around and repeat. For the the top cake layer, use the underside of one of the cake layers to get a nice flat top. Ice the cake and viola!

The best part about this recipe, is because of all of the chunky goodness on the icing, no matter how you ice it, it will look great! I finished mine off by covering three quarters of the outside of the cake with left over walnut pieces. Coconut looks great as well.cc6 cc4

Strawberry Shortcake

When I was a kid, I longed for the hot summer days when my mom would let us buy ice cream. It wasn’t often, but when it happened, there was no happier kid on the block! I guess from an early age I just always knew, I was different: I am in love with food. ss7 ss6

My ice cream preferences would change, depending on setting, practicality (no one wants a drippy ice cream cone) and of course, what my big sister was getting. Even though she used to push me down the stairs in laundry baskets, toppling me to my premature death, I still looked up to her, for whatever reason. I copied her unfortunate taste in anime on everything, and boy did my sister love strawberry shortcake. I don’t mean the delicious, real strawberry shortcake you get at a restaurant, I’m talking the pre-packaged, food color-laden, Good Humor brand crap.ss4 ss5

Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves a little childhood nostalgia now and then, but I think I’ll leave that to saturday morning cartoons and ingest food that I know all of the ingredients to.ss2 ss3

Strawberry Shortcake

2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup half & half
1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened

4 pounds strawberries
1/2 cup sugar

Remove the ends of the strawberries and quarter them. Place them in a bowl with the sugar, mixing to coat eat strawberry piece in sugary goodness and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 baking dish.

In the bowl on a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and butter and mix on medium/low speed until the mixture takes on a course, sand-like appearance.

Slowly add the egg and half & half, mix until just combined. The cake comes together very quickly, be careful not to over mix.

Spread the cake mixture out into the greased baking dish and set aside. Using the same bowl and paddle, mix the second amount of flour, sugar and butter together to make the streusel topping. When crumbly and evenly combined, top the cake batter with the streusel.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean when poked.

Let the cake cool, top with strawberries and ice cream or whipped cream (or both) and enjoy!ss8 ss1

No Bake Granola Bars

I don’t know about you, but I love sugar. I also love real food. What I love even more, is satisfying my sugar cravings with real food that tastes like it should be bad for me, but it’s not. Spoiler alert: pretty much anything that comes pre-packaged is bad for you, even the “healthy” granola bars at my beloved Trader Joe’s. The problem is all of the unnecessary sugar, preservatives and fillers they throw in, but they taste so good! Alas, I have solved the problem for you.bars2bars5 In an effort to eat something relatively healthy, or at least all natural, I made no bake granola bars. These puppies are packed with so many nuts that they keep your hunger at bay, helping you resist the box of doughnuts in the staff break room. Resist the temptation my friend, resist. Plus, if you’re going to eat doughnuts, at least be a DIYer about it.
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My motto is: if you’re going to eat sweets, make them yourself. Jk, I don’t have a motto. But seriously, instead of falling victim to the trap that is corporate America and injecting your body with toxic, made-in-a-factory crap, try whipping it up yourself. Chances are, it will taste better anyway. I know, I know, I’m lazy too and I don’t like to make everything from scratch. Good thing these only take all of 5 minutes to make.bars6FullSizeRender

No Bake Granola Bars

3/4 cup almond butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup honey
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup walnut pieces (raw or toasted)
3/4 cup almond slivers (raw or toasted)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds (raw or toasted)
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 cup unsweetened dried blueberries (or dried fruit of your choice)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Throw everything into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl) and mix on medium/low speed until everything comes together into a loose ball.

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread out the granola mix evenly on to the sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night, or at least 2 hours.

Remove from fridge and transfer the granola bar slab from the sheet pan to the counter. cut strips out of the slab to your desired size. Individually wrap bars in plastic, or place in parchment lined tupperware with parchment in between each layer. Store in fridge.

Now grab a couple and go for hike!bars1

4th of July Parfaits

The 4th of July is always an interesting holiday. You have the over-the-top patriotic types yelling “‘Merica!” every chance they get, the soccer moms in their token american flag Target t-shirt, the people who just want an excuse to get wasted celebrate, and then, of course, you have everyone else. No matter which category you fall into, everyone’s gotta eat! And what better way to start off the day of commemorating our nations independence than with a…wait for it…bomb breakfast?p4p1

Now, this probably won’t work for all of the partiers out there who need a little more substance to soak up their pursuit of 12 hours of alcohol consumption, but it is definitely one way I’ll be celebrating all year.p5

4th of July Parfaits

Fresh blueberries
Fresh strawberries
Plain greek yogurt (or vanilla of you’re feeling fancy)
Granola, store bought or homemade

This recipe couldn’t be easier, simply grab yourself a mason jar and start layering: strawberries, yogurt, granola, yogurt, blueberries, yogurt, granola. Bam! These little treats would also be great for brunch, mini patriotic parfaits anyone?p2 p4

Pain Au Chocolat

The pain au chocolat, or for the non-pretentious (unless you’re actually french) chocolate croissant, is by far, one of my favorite dessert/breakfast foods. It is also one of my favorite pastries to make. I didn’t catch my oven on fire this time, and I’m happy to say that these little bad boys turned out pretty darn delicious. I mean, seriously, what’s better than chocolate wrapped in flakey layers of butter? NOTHING.c10

c11I spent the better part of my day making the pain au chocolat and even though I will never get back those precious five hours I could have spent binge watching Orange is the New Black season 3 contributing to society and helping the poor, it was totally worth it.c1 c2 c3 c5c7

Pain Au Chocolat

3 1/2 ounces water (105-115 degrees f)
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
2 1/2 ounces bread flour
1 1/4 ounces sugar
3/8 ounce salt
6 ounces milk
3/4 ounce water
1 pound bread flour (or all purpose)
10 ounces butter
chocolate chips
1 egg

Start by making a sponge: add the water, yeast, 2 1/2 ounces bread flour and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit about 30 minutes. The mixture should be lumpy and, when ready, have small bubbles on the surface. The bubbles are a sign of the yeast activating, no bubbles = dead yeast.

When sponge is ready, add the salt, milk, water and 1 pound bread flour. Mix on medium speed with a dough hook attachment until combined. Do not over mix. You want the dough to be moist and lumpy. If dough is too dry, add a little bit of water, one teaspoon at a time.

When ready, place the dough on a vegetable-sprayed piece of parchment paper and cover with a vegetable-sprayed piece of plastic wrap. Let sit in a cool place for 1 hour. Alternately, you could refrigerate the dough overnight.

With your butter, cut each stick hotdog-style, then cut again to get 4 even slices. Lay the butter out flat on a large piece of plastic wrap, making a rectangle shape. Cover with another large layer of plastic wrap and beat the butter with your rolling pin until the butter is a smooth, pliable texture.

When dough is ready, place on a floured surface and roll it out to twice the size of the butter. Lay the butter on one half of the dough and fold the other half over it. Pinch the sides of the dough to enrobe the butter. Roll out the dough to a long rectangle shape. Make a 3 fold with the dough by folding one side 2/3 of the way down, then folding the other side over it. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Do this two more times.

After 3×3 folds, roll dough out to 1/4 inch. Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut out small rectangle shapes. The size of the rectangles depends on how big you want the croissants, I made mini croissants. You can roll out the individual rectangles more if they are too small, or too thick. Add a small hand full of chocolate chips to each piece and fold over itself, similar to the 3 fold.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees f.

Place croissants on a sheet pan with parchment paper. Make egg wash by whisking together one egg, a splash of water and a pinch of salt. Brush the top of each croissant with egg wash and place in an enclosed area to proof. I made a small batch and placed my croissants on my toaster oven with a bowl of steaming water under the sheet pan. The main goal is for the croissants to be covered in a humid environment. Croissants are fully proofed when they have roughly doubled in size and when they resemble jello when shaken. Depending on the temperature of the room and size of the croissants, this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Place croissants in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees f and continue baking until done. Croissants are done when they are a deep golden brown; they will feel very light if you pick one up. Celebrate the wondrous feat you have just overcome by eating all of them!c12 c9

Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding

So I almost burned my house down trying to make croissants the other day…let’s back up. Croissants are one of my favorite viennoiserie items to make. They’re kind of a work out, extremely time consuming and particularly satisfying. Blood sweat and tears go into every batch of my croissant dough (not really) and I wouldn’t want it any other way…jk, it would be great to have a sheeter.

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Anyways, here I was on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, having spent hours laminating and rolling out my dough, finally able to jump in the shower and rinse off the two inch layer of flour accumulating over my skin when I smell it. The smoke. No biggie, I only had one sheet pan and too many croissants so I just threw some on the pizza stone, a little bit of butter must have dripped down to the bottom of the oven causing a tiny bit of smoke, right? Wrong. A lot of butter dripped, so much so that, faster than a knife fight in a phone booth, my oven was engulfed in flames. I thought to myself: WWSD (what would Sean do, my fire-fighting older brother) and had no idea so, naturally, I googled it. FYI, if your oven catches on fire just turn it off and leave the door closed.bp4

Basically, I completely ruined my croissants and thus Brianna’s not-so-famous Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding was birthed.bp3 bp2

Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding

2 cups raw cane sugar
5 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup golden rasins
4 cups cubed croissants, let stale over night
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup pecans, chopped

Vanilla Bean Sauce:
1 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon madagascar vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350.

Add the cubed croissants to a large bowl with the cane sugar, eggs, whole milk, raisins and vanilla. Mix together and let sit for 15 minutes.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, remove from heat and mix in the brown sugar and pecans.

Pour the croissant mixture into a medium size casserole dish and then top with the brown sugar and pecan mixture.

Bake 45-60 minutes, or until set. The bread pudding should jiggle slightly when done.

To make the sauce, add the melted butter, sugar and egg to a small sauce pan and heat on medium/high until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste.

When bread pudding is ready, allow to cool slightly, top generously with vanilla bean sauce and enjoy!bp5

*recipe adapted from this one