Graeter’s Black Cherry Chocolate Chip

graeters black cherryThe following is a 100% true story.

Once upon a time, I tried some Black Cherry Ice Cream.

It tasted like dish soap.

The End.

I told this story to my pal Mary while we were out picking sweet cherries earlier this summer.  And I swear, later that very same day I got an email asking if I’d like to try Graeter’s newest flavor….Black Cherry Chocolate Chip.

For a refresher on Graeter’s, clicky here please.

Clearly, I took this as a sign that The Universe was listening to me say how awful I thought Black Cherry anything was and wanted me to reconsider my opinion.  And thanks to the magic of dry ice, insulated packing, and overnight delivery, I had a change of heart.

Here’s what Graeter’s had to say:

“Graeter’s ice cream is making 2013 a little sweeter with the addition of its newest flavor, Black Cherry Chocolate Chip. The new flavor is now available in The Fresh Market, Weis and Mars stores in the Baltimore area. 

The first new Graeter’s flavor in 3 years, Black Cherry Chocolate Chip, is all-natural black cherry ice cream made with heavy cream, pure cane sugar and loaded with fresh black cherries and Graeter’s signature dark chocolate chunks.

While the flavor is new, the process remains the same: churned in a French Pot, two gallons at a time, and hand-packed by the pint.”

And here’s what I have to say:

Done the Graeter’s way, velvet smooth ice cream is studded with tender black cherries and chocolate.  I’m not talking about a fleck of cherry or a chip of chocolate.  Oh no. I mean full on cherries and Graeter’s signature chunks of chocolate that are magically married to the ice cream as it churns in its happy little French Pot (am I the only one that misses Bob Ross talking about happy little trees?).

As a former Black Cherry hater I do not say this lightly, but this might be my new favorite ice cream flavor.  Thank you Graeter’s for the opportunity to make a new start with Black Cherry Chocolate Chip.  Finding out I was wrong has never been more delicious.

Don’t have access to Graeter’s where you live?  They will conveniently deliver it to your door.

Disclaimer:  I received complimentary ice cream from Graeter’s.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Freezer S’mores

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I went from being Type A to Type Meh in the span of just a few years.

Type A = super competitive; anxious about everything being just so; rigid and uptight.

Type Meh = more relaxed; content with things as they are or as they need to be; limber and fluid.

I see this change to varying degrees across the different parts of me.  But I think the change has maybe been most profound in the kitchen.

For example, Type A me would have read Sweetened With Honey’s recipe for Campfire Bars and been all kinds of fired up to make homemade graham crackers and marshmallow and then morph them into a fireless s’more.  Hell, I might have even flirted with the idea of processing my own chocolate….not really, or at least not seriously.

Type Meh me read the recipe and immediately discounted the notion of making graham crackers or marshmallow. There are perfectly fine graham crackers and marshmallow at that big store with all the food so conveniently laid out for me.  The time and effort I would invest into those projects could be better used stealing a nap on a weekend afternoon, sweeping under the sofa for small wooden toys deposited by Hurricane Libby, or being defeated by Level 29 in Candy Crush.

My point is that unless I specifically want to be challenged by a recipe, as in Ken’s Ginger Cream Cake, I’m going to look for ways to simplify a fussy recipe to make it fit into the limited amount of time and attention that I can offer.

What is the take away from this?  1) Not everything in life has to be a big production.  2) Even the smallest treats can be semi-homemade and full of love.  3)  I like to nap.

The correct answer is All of the Above.

Freezer S’mores

Inspired by Sweetened With Honey

BAH Note:  Since this is a Type Meh recipe, there are no exact measurements for anything on this one.  Take a leap and trust your own judgment.

  • graham crackers
  • marshmallow fluff
  • powdered sugar
  • semi sweet or bitter sweet chocolate chips

Combine marshmallow fluff with some powdered sugar in a bowl and beat to combine with a mixer.  Add additional powdered sugar until the fluff has thickened up to a frosting consistency.  It should be sturdy but not stiff.

Place half of your graham crackers on a sheet pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment (for easier cleanup).  Top each cracker with a dollop of the fluff. Top with a second cracker and transfer the pan to the freezer for approximately 30 minutes.

While the bars chill in the freezer, melt the chocolate and allow it to cool.  Dip each bar in the melted chocolate or use a pastry brush to paint the chocolate onto the bars.  Return the pan to the freezer for the chocolate to set.

Allow the s’mores to sit out for a few minutes before serving to soften just a bit.

{printable recipe}

Peanut Butter Cup

Peanut Butter Cup

Ok, so these happened.  But like many DIY food projects in my kitchen, I don’t know that I would ever make them again.  Especially when Trader Joe has the most delicious dark chocolate peanut butter cups on the face of the earth.  #seriously

To satisfy your own curiosity, you can check out this post on Sprouted Kitchen…it’s the recipe I worked from.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have Very Special Birthday Party to start fretting over since I failed to make arrangements with the Birthday Party Fairy.

Clodagh’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Mint Chocolate Chip

Disclaimer:  The good folks at Kerrygold provided me with a copy of Coldagh’s Kitchen Diaries and coupons for their fantabulous butter.  I highly recommend both.

I have found a new outlet to get baked goods out of my house….it’s called daycare.  Not that my coworkers have tired of being on the receiving end of what comes out of my kitchen.  It’s just that it’s good to have options. And now that my daily activities include daycare drop-off and pick-up, I can spread the love (and the calories) around a little further.

When The Mistah and I became parents, it was with less than 48 hours notice.  So where most parents have nine months to plan, prepare, and make arrangement for life after a baby arrives, we were winging it.  Our heads were still  spinning at the idea of a baby as we swept through the aisles at Target and Babies R Us to get the stuff that we thought we might need.  And even though the list of what you really need to bring a baby home can be rather short, those carts filled up pretty damn quickly.

So the buying tons of stuff part of becoming parents got taken care of.  And then we brought Lib home.  And the taking care of a little person got underway.  Which led to buying more stuff to take care of our little person.  It went on like this for a while.  And then one day, two and a half months had gone by and I needed to go back to work.

It was only after we became parents that I had any understanding about how hard it is to get an infant into daycare.  When you are able to estimate your child’s arrival in the world, you’ve got the luxury of time on your side.  You can go to a daycare and get a spot in their infant program.  When your family grows by +1 overnight, the stars need to align, the Universe needs to smile on you, and you need to make a wish upon a falling star to find a daycare center that has openings for an infant.

And as if I needed further proof that the Universe was smiling on our adoption, we managed to do just that. Now our child is charming her way into the hearts of the folks at daycare, one day at a time.  Seriously, she has her own fanclub at daycare…teachers from other classrooms come by to see her and say hello.

As her parent, I want to make sure I acknowledge the people who spend their day caring for my child so that I can spend my day at work.  And it never hurts to build a little goodwill for those days when my normally charming child chooses to be a devilish handful.

If you find yourself hankering for a little mint chocolate fix, wanting to say say thank you, or maybe even apologizing in advance for something that your child may or may not do in the days to come, these cupcakes have your back.

Clodagh’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries

BAH Note:  If you don’t have self rising flour in your pantry, you can substitute 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt.  My cupcakes sank in the middle as they cooled….that could have been my doing or not….I just used the frosting to camouflage that and nobody was the wiser.

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 2 ounces mini chocolate chips

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 9 or 10 baking cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next one.  Add the mint extract and then use a spatula to fold in the flour mixture until combined.

Divide the batter among the baking cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before turning the cupcakes out and cooling completely on a rack.

{printable recipe}

Mint Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Abby Dodge

BAH Note:  If you want a richer frosting, add up to an additional 1/2 stick butter.  Taste the frosting and if you want a mintier flavor, add another 1/2 teaspoon extract.

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 7 ounces marshmallow fluff
  • 3/4 powdered sugar
  • 1  teaspoons mint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • green food coloring (optional)

Combine butter and marshmallow in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium until completely smooth.  Reduce speed to low and add confectioners sugar, mint extract, and salt.  Continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.  If using food color, add it a few drops at a time and mix until the color is distributed.  Add more food color to get your desired shade of green.

Frost your cupcakes, garnish with mini chocolate chips, and enjoy.

{printable recipe}

Easy Lemon Curd

Easy Lemon Curd

I had to check my typing and make sure I did not title this post Easy Lemon Crud.  Because I have crud on my mind.  Our house has become a breeding ground for crud and crap thanks to the germs that our Tater Tot brings home from daycare.  Jokingly, the Mistah and I have taken to calling her Patient Zero every time she coughs in our face.  This is what happens when you watch Contagion, become acutely aware of how easily germs get transmitted, and spend a lot of up close and personal time with a germ spreader.

But you didn’t come here to read about crud.  No, I lured you here with the promise of easy lemon curd.

What I am about to say is meant as a compliment….this curd makes me think of the Tastycake Lemon pies that would sometimes find their way into my hands as a youngster.  These are not be confused with those other hand pies.  The ones that were drowned in a sugary glaze to mask the stale taste of dry pastry.  Sorry Hostess, I never was a fan.

Golden rectangles of thin crust sandwiching smooth, sweet filling with a hit of puckery tang….oh yeah, that’s the ticket.  Thanks to Southern Living, I can whip  up a batch of lemony happiness whenever the mood strikes me.  But since I can’t be trusted not to stand in front of the open refrigerator and eat this by the spoonful out of the container, I often need to ignore this mood when it strikes.

Instead, I go snuggle with Patient Zero.  It’s a different kind of happiness…crud, germs, and all.

Easy Lemon Curd

Adapted from Southern Living, February 2013

BAH Note:  As much as I can appreciate shoving this in your face straight from jar, you might want to serve it with something….maybe some Angel Food Cake?  Or I can see it being perfection in a Linzer Cookie.  Of course, a DIY hand pie is an obvious, and classic, choice.  Southern Living says this will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

I reduced the amount of sugar since I used Meyer Lemons.  If you are using regular lemons instead of Meyer Lemons, Southern Living calls for 2 cups of sugar.

The recipe has you cook the curd in the microwave, stirring it every minute or so.  I said it was easy, I didn’t say it wasn’t hands on. Keep in mind that you will be moving this bowl in and out of the microwave so if you have one with a handle (like a batter bowl) definitely use it.

If you prefer, you can transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook over medium low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, whisking constantly, until the curd thickens.

  • 1 cup lemon juice (from approximately 6 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs

Using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar in a medium microwave safe bowl until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined after each egg.

On low speed, slowly add the lemon juice and zest to the butter mixture.  The mixture will look curdled and broken so don’t worry that you’ve done something wrong when you see it.

Transfer the bowl to the microwave and cook on HIGH for 5 minutes, stirring every minute.  Continue to microwave on HIGH, stirring every 30 seconds, another few minutes until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Place plastic wrap directly on the curd to prevent a film from forming and chill in the refrigerator until cooled completely.

{printable recipe}

Brownie Cupcakes

Brownie Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie Riggs

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick of butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 325 degrees and paper 12 cupcake liners in a muffin tin.

Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and cook in 30 second increments on 50% power until completely melted.

While the melted chocolate mixture cools slightly, whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl until foamy.  Stir in the chocolate mixture until combined.  Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and fold the mixture until incorporated.

Portion the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the brownie-cakes have risen and are firm to the touch.  If you test with a toothpick, you should see some moist crumb stuck to your tester.

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then carefully remove the brownie-cakes from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Tartlettes

Lemon Tartlettes

Adapted from Sugarcrafter

BAH Note: Tracy got uber fancy and made a meringue topping for her tarts.  The next time I make these I might give that a try.  But I thought the tartlettes were sublime sans meringue…and it meant I didn’t have to fuss with the broiler.

BAH Tip: Don’t have a food processor to grind those cookies into crumbs?  A blender will work just as well.

  • 1 1/4 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice + zest of the lemons

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl and stir to combine.  Place 1 tablespoon of the crumb mixture into 8, 4-ounce canning jars or glass ramekins.  {You may have leftover crumb mixture.  If so, put it in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.}  Using a small spice jar (with a clean bottom), press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the jar.

Bake the crusts for about 5 minutes and allow them to cool while you make the filling.

Add the yogurt, sugar, salt, eggs, lemon juice and zest to a medium bowl and whisk until combined.  Divide the filling among the jars and bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until the centers are set.

Let the tartlettes cool to room temperature before serving.  Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

In my daily life, I try to be a good person.  I hope that each day I am able to find compassion, empathy, and patience for myself and those around me.  I’ll be honest, some days that is hard to do.  And being even more honest, some days I know it is hard for others to find compassion, empathy, or patience for me…especially those that spend the workday with me.  Because I’ve become the person in the office who avoids changing the bottle in the water cooler.

Not that this excuses my offense but why can’t companies make smaller cooler bottles?  I’m no featherweight but hoisting a 5 gallon bottle of water from the floor to the counter and then tipping it into the cooler is a workout.  Water weighs a lot…just ask the Google.  You’ll see that a gallon of water weighs just over 8 pounds.  Fractions bother me so I’m going to just round down to 8 pounds per gallon.  That means the standard 5 gallon bottle of water that comes off the truck at our office every month has a water weight of 40 pounds right off the bat.  The plastic bottle itself is nearly 2 pounds.  And I know this because I just ran upstairs with the office postal scale and weighed an empty water bottle.

So, 42 pounds.  Even if I remember to lift with my legs and not my back, that’s a lot of pounds to lift, move, maneuver, and pray the whole time that I don’t end up soaking wet.  Would it really be so difficult to roll out a line of 2.5 or 3 gallon cooler bottles?  We can send people into outer space.  We have technology that allows us to talk on wireless phones.  We have fiber optic lines thinner than strands of human hair.  But we have antiquated water cooler bottles.

Is it possible that I use baked goods to atone for my water cooler sins?  Could be.  Maybe if I bring in a batch of cranberry orange muffins I can buy another few weeks of my coworkers turning a blind eye to my water cooler crimes.

Cranberry Orange Muffin

Adapted from Cooking Light

BAH Note:  CL said to bake for 15 minutes at 400.  I don’t know what kind of crazy nuclear oven they have but after 15 minutes at 380 degrees (convection) in my Advantium oven, the muffins were nowhere near done.  I gave them another 7 minutes before my tester came out clean.  I used a combination of all purpose and white whole wheat flour, along with some wheat bran but you can easily use only all purpose flour…you’ll want two cups total.  Oh, and you can also sprinkle a wee bit more sugar on the tops of the muffins right before you slide them into the oven.  And while you’re at it, go ahead and zest the orange(s) that you juiced and mix that into the batter.  I thought it needed an extra bit of zip.

  • 1 ounce wheat bran (optional)
  • 3.5 ounces white wheat flour (if omitting the wheat bran, increase to 4.5 ounces, or roughly one cup)
  • 4.5 ounces all purpose flour (one cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped

Heat oven to 400 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with liners.

Combine the flour(s), wheat bran (if using), sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.

In a second bowl, or large measuring cup, add the oil, juice, and egg and stir to combine.

Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until the liquid is just incorporated into a lumpy batter.  Fold in the cranberries and spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until the tops of the muffins spring back when you press them lightly and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before turning the muffins out to cool completely.

{printable recipe}

Chewy Ginger Cookies

I wish I had an interesting story to tell you about these cookies.  But look at that picture.  What could I possibly say to convince you to make these if that picture doesn’t already have you heating up your oven?

Chewy Ginger Cookies

Adapted from The Flying Biscuit Cafe Cookbook

BAH Note:  Don’t go get in a hurry and forget to refrigerate the dough before you bake the cookies.  Without the time to chill the cookies will spread too much.

  • 1 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together 1 cup of sugar and the shortening until light in fluffy.  Add the molasses and then the egg, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl down.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix until just combined.  Transfer the bowl of dough to the refrigerator and chill for a few hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a small bowl.

Using a small ice cream disher, scoop the chilled dough and form into 2 inch balls.  Roll the dough balls in the sugar and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake for approximately 8 minutes or until the surface of the cookie crackles and the edges become firm and crisp.  Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for 10 to 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in an airtight container.

{printable recipe}

Ina’s Brownies

I had to hide this recipe after making Ina’s brownies once or twice.  They were outrageously good.  But when I made them this time, they weren’t what I remembered.  I rememeberd them being tall and cakey.  What I have on that plate up there is neither tall nor cakey.  It’s still outrageously good, but in a different way.

The beauty of the brownie is that it can be underbaked and still be a success.  Just call them ‘fudgey’ and people will think you meant for them to be that way.  I personally thought they improved after sitting uncovered for a day.

Ina’s Brownies

Adapted from Ina Garten

BAH Note: Don’t go down this road unless you can commit to making a LOT of brownies.  Or if you are willing to bust out a slide rule and figure out the math to scale the recipe down.  It would be a good idea to lay out a large sheet of aluminum foil on the rack under your pan just in case the batter ‘escapes’ from your pan.  I tell you this from my own experience…cleaning charred Ina’s Brownie batter from the bottom of the oven is no fun.

  • 1 pound butter (no, not a typo.  i told you this makes a LOT of brownies)
  • 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 extra large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Butter and flour the foil lined pan or spray lightly with cooking spray.

Melt the butter, 1 pound of semi sweet chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of the stove, stirring frequently.  Allow the melted mixture to cool slightly.

While the butter and chocolate melt, mix the eggs, instant espresso, vanilla and sugar in the workbowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, the salt, and baking powder, and set it aside.

Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the eggs and stir until combined. Stir the flour mixture into the batter.  Combine the remaining 1/4 cup flour with the 12 ounces of chocolate chips and stir into the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for 30 minutes or until a tester just comes out clean. Rotate the pan halfway through cooking.

Allow the brownies to cool for 30 – 45 minutes in the pan before carefully removing the foil and cutting the brownies into small squares.

{printable recipe}