Easy Fudge for Last Minute Treats

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Everyone needs a go-to recipe for those holiday dessert emergencies. And, yes, there are dessert emergencies – those times when you forgot you said you’d take dessert to a party, when you need a quick hostess gift or when the stresses of life call for an indulgence. This fudge fits the bill. Yes, it takes a few hours to set up, so it truly isn’t a last minute, but the hands-on requirements are short and then you can rush around doing whatever else you forgot while it sets. And it keeps for days, so you can make a batch and have it ready for when you need it.

This was the only fudge we made when I was growing up, and it is pretty much foolproof. As soon as my mother trusted my brother and me around a hot stove, she let us make it totally on our own. And it always came out right. The marshmallows ensure the fudge will work. Someday I will make real fudge, with no marshmallows, but not during the busy holiday season.

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Yes, this is one of those annoying recipes that use half a can of evaporated milk. Feel free to double the recipe so you use the whole can. I imagine you could buy the small five-ounce can and make up the rest with regular milk, but I have never tried that. I think it would probably work, but don’t quote me.

There isn’t much else to say. The fudge is sweet, very, very sweet. And it is chocolatey and well, fudgy. Use the darkest chocolate chips you can find, and good vanilla extract, as they are the only flavors beyond sweet. Then cut the whole shebang into tiny squares and wrap them up for gifting. Or eat them.

Print the recipe here.

Five-Minute Fudge
Makes 30-45 small squares
Doubles easily

If you want to make a double recipe, use a 5 to 6-quart saucepan and pour the fudge into a 9 by 13 inch pan.

¾ cup (6 oz.) evaporated milk
1⅔ cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups chocolate chips, semisweet or dark
1½ cups mini marshmallows
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Lightly grease a 9-inch square pan. Line the pan with parchment if you want to turn the fudge out of the pan to cut it. Set aside.

Combine evaporated milk, sugar and salt in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes, still stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, marshmallows and vanilla extract. Stir until marshmallows melt and mixture is smooth.

Pour into prepared pan and level top. Let cool to room temperature for about 4 hours, or until firm. Cut into small squares, removing from pan first, if desired. Store in an airtight container for about a week.

Deep Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies

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My mind was wandering the other day as I was cooking dinner. I wondered if anyone had actually made any of the recipes I have on the blog. And then I thought about all the food blogs I read. I can probably count on one hand the times I have actually made anything off of them. I decided I needed to make more of an effort to actually make some of the recipes and then either blog about them or comment on them to the original poster.

I had been thinking about these deep dark chocolate cookies since I read about them on The Monday Box in early November. They are part of a post explaining the traditions behind Chanukah and the chocolate gelt that children traditionally receive during the holiday. Wendy, the author of The Monday Box, painted her cookies with edible gold glitter to resemble the foil wrapped chocolate coins.

I couldn’t forget her descriptions of the deep, dark chewy cookies. I had all the ingredients, so I decided to make them one evening. I cut the recipe in half. I do this a lot of times when I don’t want a huge amount of treats hanging around the house, tempting me.

It would have worked beautifully, except I somehow used the full amount of baking soda. Yes, baking soda is a leavener, which should make things rise. But if you use twice as much as you need, it makes things very, very, very flat. As in so flat that the mini chocolate chips in the batter were the high points. Note to self – don’t mix up cookies while you are doing two other things.

The flavor was there in the flat cookies, so I saved them to top ice cream sundaes and mixed up another batch. This time I was careful to pay attention. The cookies baked up into chewy, dark chocolate disks of deliciousness.

I got about 24 small cookies from the half batch – I made them about half the size of the original recipe. Next time I might make the full batch, but for now I am satisfied with the smaller amount of cookies. Those are the amounts I am posting in the recipe below. I did increase the vanilla extract. I like the added depth this gives to dark chocolate baked goods. Visit The Monday Box to get the full recipe. Or you can just double all the amounts listed.

Recipe Note:
I adapted the recipe from The Monday Box. She in turn adapted it from Something Swanky. I love the evolution of recipes as we change them to suit us.

Print the recipe here.

Deep Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies
Adapted from The Monday Box
Makes 24 small cookies

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons hot water
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment.

Stir flour, cocoa powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.

Beat olive oil and egg with an electric mixer until slightly thickened, 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla extract and mix until sugar is no longer gritty.

Stir in flour mixture until almost combined. Add dissolved baking soda mixture and stir well. Add chocolate chips to dough.

Use a small cookie scoop or a spoon to place dough on baking sheets. Leave room between the cookies for them to spread.

Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes, or just until edges are set. The cookies will puff up and then crack as they are close to being done. The tops will not look completely baked, especially inside the cracks.

Cool on pans until room temperature. Store cookies in an airtight container for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Almond Topped Chocolate Chip Muffins

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A few months ago I asked Calvin if he wanted something new for school day breakfasts. He eats lunch late, so it is always a challenge to find something that will hold him over all morning. He suggested chocolate chip muffins with almond extract. I figured a few chocolate chips were okay as long as I threw in a few whole grains. With those parameters I took the concept and ran with it.

I have been tinkering with this muffin recipe for several months. I have used various combinations of whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and almond flour. I put oats in the batter, and then I put more oats in the batter. I put chocolate chips inside and on top, then just inside. I made umpteen variations of the crumb topping. I played with the sweetness level. Some versions were a little too grainy, others were too sweet or not sweet enough. Some topping attempts fell off the muffins as I took them out of the pans, some sank into the batter and others melted and ran off in the oven.

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The final recipe (at least for now) is a tender, almond-scented muffin full of chocolate chips and topped with a buttery almond topping. The batter has both oats and whole wheat flour, along with a moderate level of sugar. I used oil in the muffins, but butter in the topping for flavor.

We still aren’t tired of these muffins, and we have been eating them for breakfast and snacks for at least two months now. If that isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Download or print the recipe here.

Almond Topped Chocolate Chip Muffins
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 12 muffins

Muffins:
1½ cups buttermilk
1 cup oats, quick or old-fashioned
¼ cup oil
1 egg
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Topping:
¼ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup rolled oats, quick or old-fashioned
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Mix the buttermilk and oats together in a large bowl and set aside while you gather your ingredients and make the topping.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 standard muffin cups and set aside.

Make the topping:
Use a food processor, mini chopper or a pastry blender to mix together the almonds, oats and granulated sugar. When the mixture is fairly finely ground, with the almonds mostly broken up, add the butter and mix until everything starts to clump together slightly and looks like coarse wet sand. Refrigerate topping while you mix the muffins.

Add the oil, egg, sugar, almond extract and vanilla extract to the oat and buttermilk mixture. Mix well.

Mix the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a small bowl. Add to oat mixture and stir gently. Do not beat or you will end up with tough muffins. When the flour is almost completely mixed in, add the chocolate chips and stir until there are no streaks or pockets of dry flour.

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Divide batter evenly among the greased muffin cups, which will be almost full. Use a measuring tablespoon to divide the topping between the muffins, using about 1 tablespoon per muffin. Keep most of the topping toward the middle of each muffin. If the topping is compacted into mounds, use your finger to break them up slightly.

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Bake the muffins for 13-15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and bounce back when touched lightly. A toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin will come out with just a few moist crumbs, if you can manage to miss the chocolate chips.

Let muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes to firm up a bit. Then remove them from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two days. After that the muffins will start to get dry. Freeze for longer storage. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours, or in the microwave for about 20 seconds per muffin.

 

Happy Experiment – Double Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

I came up with this recipe back in August, but haven’t had a chance to make it again until now. I wanted to recreate my results before I posted it, since the recipe was a total experiment. Those don’t always turn out the second time (or sometimes even the first time).

I had a lot of brown bananas when I came up with the recipe. I had succumbed to the ridiculously low price for a bag of overripe bananas at the grocery store. Of course, when I got home, I realized that I had more bananas than I knew what to do with. I made a double batch of banana bread and still had a bunch of bananas left over.

My brother and sister-in-law were in town that week, so I decided on banana cake, since we would have extra help eating it. I started with a recipe for banana cake that my mother clipped from the newspaper eons ago. There is no indication what paper, or what year. I ended up changing it so much that the only resemblance to the original is the fact that it has bananas in it. I exaggerate, but not much.

Mom never put an icing on this particular cake – she usually sprinkled chocolate chips and pecans on top right before she put it in the oven. I decided to take that one step further and make the cake chocolate too. I reduced the flour and sugar and replaced them with the same amount of cocoa. I also substituted half of the remaining flour with white whole wheat flour. I added vanilla, doubled the bananas and stirred chocolate chips into the batter, as well as sprinkling some on top.

The cake was a success, except somehow Rich ended up not getting any. He has been asking for me to make it again ever since, so he could try it. When I made it again, I decided to make cupcakes, for easier serving. I like the cupcakes better than the cake and probably will always make cupcakes with this particular recipe. I did include baking directions for the large cake so you can choose which to make. Which do you prefer – a cupcake or a piece of cake?

Double Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
From the Cook’s Life
Makes 18-24 cupcakes OR one 9 X 13 cake

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4-5 medium bananas)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)
½ cup natural cocoa powder
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pans and set aside.

Beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat again until well combined. Add bananas and mix well.

Mix all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to banana mixture and stir gently to combine. Do not beat. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups about half full for shorter cupcakes, or about three quarters full for taller cupcakes. You will get about 24 shorter cupcakes, or 18 taller ones.

Divide the remaining chocolate chips among the cupcakes, using 3 to 4 each.

Bake cupcakes for 10-15 minutes, until tops spring back when touched lightly. Do not overbake or cakes will be dry.

Cool cupcakes about 5 minutes before removing from pans to cool on racks.

Cake Variation:
Spread the batter into a greased 9 by 13 inch pan, leveling the top. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips over the cake. Bake 25-30 minutes, being sure not to overbake the cake – bake only until middle is set and springs back when touched lightly. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack.

 Download the recipe here.