Pretzel Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars.

That title is a mouthful

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of delicious.

Sometimes, I expect myself to give lengthy, eloquent blog posts. Here’s a story, let’s have a laugh or poignant moment, now let me tie it into a baked good and tell you why you should bake and then consume it.

By “sometimes”, I mean “usually.” And by “usually,” I mean “always.”

I’ve never been very succinct.

I’m giving myself a break, a mental break. I know that if you’ve stumbled down the page this far, you’ll probably like the recipe. These bars are dense, thick, satisfying, comforting. Let them be a rainy-day treat, enjoyed with a cup of tea by an open window, or a sweet square to slow down your crazy mornings.

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Pretzel Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes an 8×8 pan

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup mini pretzels

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the brown sugar and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla.
  3. Mix in flour, oats, salt, and baking soda. As the dough begins to come together, slowly add the milk and mix until the dough forms.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Press into the prepared baking dish. Arrange the pretzels on top of the dough, pressing in lightly. Bake for about 17-20 minutes, until edges are brown. Cool completely and cut into squares. Devour.
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, revisited.

[PSA: Wordless Wednesdays has moved to currently unnamed Friday in honor of this recipe.]

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Hi, my name is Cakey, and I’m perpetually five years old.

I like to make messes. I like to play with the bubbles in the sink when I wash dishes. This weekend, I bought two coloring books. Last week, I ordered chicken strips for dinner with friends. When I was at a boy’s house, he asked what I wanted to drink – of course, I asked for a juice box. Part of me still wants to scream when I sit down in the dentist’s chair. A very large part of me.

Eventually, adult mode kicks in – flour is swept up, Anna Karenina is opened & read, and yes, please, I would like a side salad.

Oh, and packing for school happens.

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It’s that time of year again, when all my friends leave for college, leaving a week between me having friends and me heading back to campus. Thus, separation anxiety sets in, sadness ensues, and my oven mysteriously turns on.

I went back to the start to revisit one of my very first recipes. Kathryn & I baked it with the idea of sending some of it to a boy. Strangely enough, I baked it again this time with the same intention, for the same boy who is once again going to be six hours away from me for a few months. C’est la vie.

At least this time he’s fully aware of the intention behind the banana bread. I’m twice as alluring when I’m holding a freshly baked loaf of one of his favorite foods.

Feminine wiles, indeed.

Enough of the romance mush. Allow me to turn your attention to banana mush instead.

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I made a few more tweaks from the recipe I originally adapted from the great Joy the Baker, although very few. There seem to be varying opinions on the addition of vanilla extract to banana bread – this time, I added it to deepen the sweetness of the bananas. Self-control is null and void when it comes to vanilla.

Happy accident! My four pound Nestle chocolate chip bag (finally) ran out, leaving me with no choice but to chop up some dark chocolate sitting in my fridge. Chopped chocolate is, to me, more aesthetically pleasing than

This has become an all-butter/no oil recipe. A lot of bakers like using oil in breads and muffins to keep them moist (hold up, I hate that word with a passion. Unfortunately, it’s the only one that conveys what I’m trying to say), but then you miss out on the flavor the butter gives.

Finally, I added a crumble. Banana bread covered in sugar, oatmeal, and walnuts makes it a little more special.

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It’s as spectacular as it was before, only better. Do I contradict myself? (Very well, then I contradict myself.) This is probably the best banana bread you’ll ever eat – the perfect balance of sweet banana, smooth peanut butter, and just enough chocolate to round it out.

I’m still five years old when I make this bread, considering I had to taste-test it. Several times. This might’ve fueled my recent child-like spontaneity.

Embrace your inner child.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (printable recipe here)
makes 1 loaf pan (can use a cake pan or muffin tin)
originally from Joy the Baker
adapted from yours truly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 4 medium) mashed oh-so-very ripe* bananas
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Optional oat-nut topping

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combing flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate medium mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas, yogurt, peanut butter, and melted butter.
  4. Beat in eggs, then sugars, until mixture is smooth.
  5. Barely fold the wet ingredients into the dry, until the mixture is mostly combined but a few flour streaks still remain. Fold in chocolate and nuts.
  6. If desired, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, walnuts, and oats for oat-nut topping. Set aside.
  7. Pour batter into prepared baking pan; sprinkle with oat-nut topping or brown sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Invert loaf onto a wire rack to cool completely. Devour.

*NOTE: If your bananas aren’t yet ripe but you’re craving banana bread anyways, place them (skins still ON) on a baking sheet and stick them in a 350 degree F oven for about 35 minutes. The peels will turn black, but the inside will be ripe and sweet (and very easy to mash). Proceed with recipe.

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Black banana peels, mmmmm.

 

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Hey, you! Yes, you! What do you think of my tweaks – unnecessary or delicious? Do you have a favorite banana bread recipe or add-in of your own?

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

This is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Not only was this my first time using the ice cream maker that’s been sitting in our basement for a year, but it was my first time ever making homemade ice cream and the first I’d even touched a vanilla bean.

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It felt like a literal recipe for disaster. It felt like diving blindfolded into an ocean infested with sharks with open wounds. It felt like sword-fighting a pirate with one arm tied behind my back and an inch of wood beneath my feet. It felt like…well, you get the picture.

That aside, the world didn’t end. Yes, it was a struggle. There was a little bit of screaming, a little bit of lip-biting, and a good many frustrated sighs.

I’m not selling this recipe very well, am I?

But look at you. You have the cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth – yet there’s that upturned chin, that grin of impetuous youth. Oh, I believe in you. (Whoops, I have How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on the brain! The whole musical is on my iPod. Hee hee.)

Really, though, I believe in you. If I can handle this, so can you.

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Truly, in retrospect, it wasn’t bad at all. Making food brings out the perfectionist in me almost more than any other activity, especially when dealing with long direction lists and expensive ingredients like vanilla beans.

(Admittedly, I am a disgusting perfectionist to a fault. To. A. Fault.)

Here’s a run-down (along with additional commentary mostly based on the things I muttered to myself under my breath). After combining the milk and heavy cream (also known as heavy whipping cream) in a sauce pan (see, that’s easy!), you take the vanilla bean, use the sharp tip of a knife to slice it open lengthwise down the middle, and scrape out the little black seeds into the pan with the milk and cream. Don’t forget to add the pod in, too! After you bring it to a boil, let it simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Take a breather. Do some jumping jacks. Feed your cat.

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When the time for simmering is nearly up, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until thick and smooth. The egg yolks will make it incredibly thick. Gently pour in one cup of the hot milk liquid in with the eggs, mix it together, and return it to the sauce pan. Don’t cry when you spill. Stir, stir, stir. Ah, yes, success! It’s starting to look like ice cream. And smell like ice cream. Except it’s not quite ice cream. Yet. Patience.

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(You can’t tell, but I was using a Winnie the Pooh measuring cup. And proud of it.)

Once it’s really thick, transfer it to a bowl and let it come down to room temperature before adding the vanilla extract to ensure the best flavor. From there, allow it to chill completely – up to 6 hours – before allowing the ice cream maker to do its thing.

Thus, one mental breakdown, lots of shouting, many drips, and an infinite number of hours later (ok, maybe only 24 hours)…

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Literally the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. The creamiest, the tastiest, the sweetest, the most flavorful – just the best. Vanilla bean ice cream is my favorite to begin with, but this is a whole new level of yum. Beautiful little vanilla bean flecks, although virtually undetectable when going on feel alone, are the key to turning (or should I say churning?) this frozen treat from good to great.

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All that stress for nothing.

You’d think I’d have learned by now.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (printable recipe here!)
from the Cuisinart’s Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker recipe booklet
makes about 14-1/2 cup servings

[NOTE: Keep in mind that most ice cream maker freezing bowls need to be frozen for up to 24 hours before you make your ice cream, or at least the amount of time it takes to completely freeze the coolant liquid. The maker won’t do its thing unless the bowl is completely frozen.
You can substitute a lower-fat milk for the whole milk (I used 2% since I couldn’t find whole milk) or half-and-half for heavy cream. Keep in mind that this will change the texture and taste of your ice cream.]

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine the milk and cream in a medium sauce pan. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise; use the blunt edge to scrape out the seeds into the sauce pan with the milk and cream. Stir in the bean pod as well.
  2. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently (but not constantly).
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg yolks, and sugar. Using a mixer, beat on medium speed (about 2 minutes) until the mixture is smooth, thick, and pale yellow, similar to mayonnaise.
  4. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk/cream mixture; discard. Measure out one cup of the hot liquid. With the mixer on low speed, pour the liquid into the egg mixture in a slow stream.
  5. When thoroughly combined, pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan; stir to combine with the remnants of the cream.
  6. Cook, stirring constantly, on medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla extract. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly on the custard; chill completely.
  7. Once chilled, pour the custard into the freezer bowl, turn the machine on, and let mix until thickened, approximately 25-30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refirgerator. Remove from the freezer and allow to warm at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving. Devour.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

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My blog felt a little empty without the combination of peanut butter + chocolate chip. Thankfully, these bars have remedied that.

I’d wager that the best things in life are the simplest, like feeling cool grass beneath your toes, having a guy hold the door open for you, sitting in silence with the people you love, waking up to the sound of rain. And strangely enough, the things that are worth it are the most difficult, the most heartwrenching, the most frustrating.

Lucky for us, these bars are both simple and worth it. Why? Here’s a list.

  • chocolate
  • peanut butter
  • one bowl
  • one bowl
  • peanut butter
  • one bowl
  • chocolate
  • one bowl
  • peanut butter + chocolate

And here’s a picture, too.

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Observe the texture. Observe the chocolate chips. Observe the lovely aroma. (Whoops, you can’t do that, can you?)

The peanut butter and chocolate combination sold me right off the bat. No star-crossed food-lovin’ here – peanut butter and chocolate were clearly made for each other. Food soul mates. Then I saw the tablespoon of vanilla extract and very nearly swooned. Vanilla makes me weak-kneed.

Speaking of weak knees, I’ll be honest: initially, these were made for a boy (what I lack in charm I make up with baked goods) BUT, most unfortunately, my plans were foiled when my parents informed me that, instead, we’d be taking them to my cousin’s birthday party. “What? No, of course I didn’t have plans for these, I was just…baking stuff. Because I actually have time to. All right, we can take them to the party…”

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Regardless of how my plans were thwarted, these did not disappoint. After 22 minutes of baking, the toothpick came out clean, and although I freaked out a little because I still thought they were underbaked, they weren’t. The edges puffed up while the middle remained miraculously soft and gooey. Peanut buttery, chocolate chippy, buttery, deliciousy.

Have I mentioned they’re made in one bowl? All the goodness of cookies without the fuss. Perfect if you’re lazy (like me) or in a hurry (like most of humanity). Not too much chocolate (let’s be honest, is that ever possible?), just enough peanut butter (although adding another tablespoon or two wouldn’t hurt too much), and more than enough sweetness. And CRAZY GOOD.

Clearly my cousins thought so, considering all of them were gone within an hour.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (printable recipe here!)
from Averie Cooks

[Note: Honestly, I laughed out loud when I saw you could scramble the egg if you mix it in while the butter is still too hot. But apparently it can really happen – make sure the butter is cooled!
Baking time will also depend on how gooey you want your center. I’d wager they could be baked up to 30 minutes if you want a more-set center. Just keep an eye on them.]

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • heaping 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 6 – 7 ounces (about 3/4 cup) semi-sweet or dark chocolate (chips or chopped)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter (about 2 30-second intervals). Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool before adding the egg (to prevent it from scrambling).
  3. Stir in egg, sugars, and vanilla extract until well combined. Stir in peanut butter.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate.
  5. Scoop batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until center is set and golden (or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean).
  6. Allow bars to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes. Cut into slices and devour.

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Easy Strawberry Biscuit Shortcake.

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Confession: I’ve never been a fan of strawberry shortcake, which is probably akin to saying I hate America or summertime or butterflies. I mean, for whatever reason, the strawberries always taste more like fake syrup than real fruit. My biggest issue is the tasteless cake’s texture – every shortcake I’ve ever eaten has been incredibly dry, and even when it’s soaked and soggy from the infiltrating strawberry juice, it still seems to be devoid of any flavor or pleasantries.

Whew. Feels good to get that off my chest.

Another confession, or perhaps merely a deprivation due to the sin of my parents: I’ve never eaten fresh strawberries before. I’ve had pounds of fresh vegetables, and I’ve eaten raspberries and blackberries fresh off the bushes in front of a friend’s house, but…never fresh strawberries. Riding in the backseat as we drove through the country when I was a kid, my mouth watered whenever we passed a pick-your-own-berries path or fresh berry stand. Yet for all the desires in my childish heart, I never summoned up enough courage to ask my parents if we could go berry picking out of fear of being shot down.

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And that, my friends, brings us to this week, when my mother came home after a day with her sister, bearing strawberries that her previously mentioned sister (aka my aunt) had gotten that day. And holy. Cow. I will never look at store-bought strawberries the same again. So juicy, so flavorful! Gah! Maybe I’ll plant some. (Uh, on second thought. No, I don’t have time for that.)

The arrival of fresh strawberries meant only one thing to my father: strawberry shortcake. Desperate to bake something after a long day folding boxes at work, I happily obliged, although he complained that they wouldn’t be made out of Bisquick (the horror!). Along with the strawberries, my aunt had also given me a bag full of cookbooks; conveniently, I found a strawberry biscuit shortcake recipe in one of them and got right to work. On a whim, I threw in a dash of cinnamon and added more flour because what was supposed to be a mound looked a bit like a ball of wet flour. Drop drop drop on the baking pan…and 14 minutes later, they were ready to go.

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Typical strawberry shortcake dealio: dish, biscuit, strawberries, biscuit, strawberries, whipped cream. Unfortunately, we seemed to be lacking in whipped cream so I substituted vanilla ice bean ice cream (I’m un-American even when I’m trying to be American…ugh). Having two enormous shortcake biscuits left after making an enormous mound for my father, I decided to make a smaller one for myself just out of curiosity.. Dish spoon mouth – and oh man, one bite cured me of my strawberry shortcake aversion. The biscuit was crunchy on the sides and very top, incredibly soft and flavorful. It tasted like something, something good – slightly sweet with a bit of cinnamon kick. Not cardboard, but fluffy, a cross between cake and an abnormally delicious sugar cookie, the perfect seat for a tumble of strawberries and an obscene amount of whipped cream.

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It didn’t take long for my father to come to the same (loud) conclusion. No Bisquick shortcakes in this house.

It’s officially the weekend, and you deserve an easy, delicious bowl of sweet happiness. Go ahead.

Strawberry Biscuit Shortcake
adapted from The Best of Country Cooking 1999

(Note: this is a small recipe that can easily be doubled or even halved if desired. Only use a dash of cinnamon! The number of shortcakes will vary with how big you make the mounds.)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour (all-purpose or a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash salt
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cold
  • 4 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
  • whipped cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet; set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture begins to look like coarse crumbs.
  3. Stir in 3 tablespoons of milk plus the vanilla vanilla until a thick batter forms. If it still seems too wet, at up to an additional 1/4 cup of flour.
  4. Drop the batter in mounds onto the baking sheet and brush with remaining milk.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes until you can get them off the sheet without breaking them.
  6. To serve: place one of the biscuits on a plate or in a bowl; top with strawberries. Place another biscuit on top of that one; top with more strawberries and whipped cream. Devour.

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Sugar-Doodle Cookies.

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I have a confession: I only made these so I could take a big, fat spoonful of cookie dough.

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Yep, like one of those spoonfuls.

I know, I know. Salmonella and sugar comatose and who could forget that one cookie dough overdose encounter? But when I’m right in the middle of that wondrous bloodbath from Mother Nature (sorry, guys, and everyone else who has weak constitutions and just visualized that phrase), I want grease and meat and sugar – but not at the same time, mind you.

Enough of my hormonal cravings. Let’s talk cookies.

These are the soft, sugary cousins of the snickerdoodle. I will unashamedly admit that I’ve always loved sugar cookies (well, properly-made sugar cookies) for their simplicity. These are even better than your run-of-the-mill sugar cookie…and definitely not a hard, tasteless one. Who wouldn’t like a cookie that tastes like straight-up sugar, butter, and vanilla?

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Oh, and you only need one bowl. None of that “in a separate bowl” nonsense.

The original recipe yields one dozen “generous-sized cookies”, but even after making 20 tablespoon-sized ones, I had enough dough remaining for 9 cookies half the size of my face. If you’re feeling generous, you’ll probably end up with 15 or 16. (Unless I’m doing it wrong. Which is always a valid possibility.) Regardless of how many are made, these are incredibly simple but incredibly delicious…soft, sweet, comforting.

It also calls for bread flour, something I have none of but will hopefully acquire in the future. If you have some on hand, use it! Bread flour will make the cookies softer and chewier. I wouldn’t recommend omitting the salt, either – just a pinch of salt will make the vanilla & sugar more pronounced through its small bit of contrast.

Also, my pictures suck. Mine weren’t pretty enough to photograph…mostly because I had eaten/given away most of the pretty ones.

See? Shoddy photography and unfortunately unattractive cookies. Sigh.

See? Shoddy photography and unfortunately unattractive cookies. Sigh.

Don’t let them fool you, though! Just because they look like beige disks doesn’t mean they will taste bland, or even remotely bland. Let them surprise you.

Only after I put these in the oven did I have the idea of rolling them in (more) sugar. There’s always next time, though.

(The cookie dough stomach ache was worth it, by the way)

Sugar-Doodles
from Averie Cooks
makes 2 dozenish cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons cream or milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour (all-purpose can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • Sugar for rolling, optional

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and mix until creamed.
  2. Add egg, cream/milk, and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour(s), baking soda, and salt; mix until just combined.
  4. Transfer dough to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (up to 5 days).
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with cooking spray. Scoop the dough into mounds the size of your choosing on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until pale golden and edges have begun to set. (It’s ok if they appear slightly undercooked – they will firm up as they cool) Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Devour.

Guest Post(!!): Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies.

CAKEY’S NOTE: Hi! We’re taking a break from our normally scheduled programming from the world of my kitchen and brain and giving you, with great pleasure, Cakey Bakes’ first-ever guest post, brought to you by my dear friend & partner-in-crime Kathryn, & I wouldn’t have anyone else for our first guest post. I happen to be horrendously jealous of her (don’t tell her!) art, writing, fashion, and sweet-talking skills, not to mention her dedication to everything she endeavors upon. She’s been a huge encouragement to me when it comes to blog matters as well as real-life stuff, and she’s let me use her iPhone to take pictures countless times. She is smart, clever, and all-around fabulous in every sense of the word. Oh, and she knows how to spell “pomegranate”, unlike yours truly. So without any further ado…

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Kathryn: I’d like to consider myself a balanced health-freak.

Which means I work out for an hour and a half a day, eat organic and whole foods (no gluten here), and feed my cat non-chemical-doused food. I do yoga, peruse healthy-cooking blogs, volunteer at the local environmental outreach and Humane Society – if you’re looking for “organic”, here I am…or as granola as a girl who likes designer fashion and jazz can get.

Uh, yes, I’ll take “break-in at Tiffany’s” for 100, please?

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But where’s the balance, you ask? In these cookies.

These decadent, delicious, sexy cookies provide the balance.

There is nothing even remotely healthy about these treats, which is why I love them so much. Smooth cocoa and rich dark chocolate combined with the dash of salt create a surprisingly soft, gooey center. And the pomegranate arils? Perfection. A little burst of tangy-sweet in every bite. Don’t be intimidated by the pomegranate, please! She may look dangerous, but trust me. You can handle her.

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Horribly, irrevocably seduced yet?

Good.

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Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies (recipe from How Sweet Eats)

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (melted)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup pomegranate arils

(*alternatives: replace half the butter with coconut oil, switch out a lower-fat/whatever margarine for the butter, use whole-wheat OR oat flour. You can also replace up to 1/3 of the flour with almond flour, for those of us who can’t have gluten.

Dark chocolate is healthy for you. Don’t replace that sucker with anything. Shut up and enjoy it.)

Directions:

1. Cream together the melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy.
2. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Add pomegranate juice and mix until combined.
3. Fold in chocolate chips and arils. Refrigerate dough for 2-4 hours (or less/more)**.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, roll the dough into balls and set on baking sheet.

**I made a batch without refrigerating and they turned out fine. They were actually softer without the chill, so…take that advice as you may.

Tip: freeze any leftover dough for slice-and-bake chocolate fudge pomeganate cookies up to two weeks later!

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Pair with milk, a good book, and enjoy the decadence, lovelies.