Healthier Cherry, Almond and Cashew Bark

Let’s talk about two dreaded words “eating healthy”.  If you’re like any normal person, you probably cringe at the word and it sorta terrifies you (at least, it did for me!).  I think society these days has made the concept of eating healthy so much more difficult and confusing with changes in dietary recommendations every couple years and new research on diabetes, heart disease and other chronic disease always coming out.  It’s hard to keep up with all of it!
A couple ways to make it easier to eat healthy is to remember these recommendations:

  • keep it simple – try to stay away from foods with a lot of ingredients and especially those that you don’t recognize.
  • keep it fresh – fresh foods, are always better than processed food! Fresh foods are lower in sodium, sugar, and free of preservatives.
  • homemade is best – when you eat out, or buy already packaged foods, you can’t control the ingredients that go in there.  By making things yourself at home, you can control the salt, sugar, and contact with other ingredients that aren’t good for you.

Now, I agree, homemade is not always the easiest, and sometimes you have to pick your battles. For me, if I’ve worked a 12 hour work day and the only thing I’m craving is Chinese takeout, I just go for it. But if I’m home on a Saturday and find free time on my hands, I love to meal prep and bulk make snacks.  Eating healthy is all about finding what works for you, whether it is home cooking everyday, or just starting a weekend meal prep that’ll last you a couple days. 


One of my favorite snacks to make is this dark chocolate, cherry, almond, and cashew bark.  It was born out of wanting a more even distribution of chocolate whenever I ate trail mix.  I hated having a handful of just dried fruit, or too many almond or just not enough chocolate.  This recipe is made with only 4 squares of chocolate (think like half a Hershey’s chocolate bar) and will last you the whole week! I grew up with people always telling me that chocolate was terrible for you and would give you acne and so on and so forth.  The truth is, it all depends on the type of chocolate! Dark chocolate is actually really good for you (in moderation, as everything is, haha), the key is just to choose a brand that is low in sugar. The cherries, or any dried fruit in general help give the bark some natural sweetness and are a good source of fiber; make sure to only buy dry fruit that hasn’t been sweetened (it will usually say if there’s been extra sugar added on the packing, so keep a look out for it!).  I know cherries and almonds are the classic combination, but I love the addition of cashews.  They’re heart healthy and help give a creaminess to the bark that makes it that much more delicious. I am addicted to the salty-sweet combination, so the final finishing touch to this bark is just a sprinkle of sea salt on top.  If you’re sensitive to salt, need to avoid it, or just don’t like salty snacks, leave it out!


This bark is perfect in every way.  It keeps well, it’s healthy for you with no refined sugars, and is pretty much as minimally processed as foods get.  It also takes only 20 minutes and is legitimately 3 steps. I’ve included photos to help guide you, I find that it’s always less daunting to try out a new recipe when you’ve got photos to compare your product to at every step!


First thing, gather up your nuts and dried fruit and roughly chop them.  I cut the cherries into quarters and the nuts in half.  You can go as large or as small as you want, but I find that these sized pieces are best to make sure you get at least a good amount of cherries, almonds and cashews in one bite.

 Then, melt your chocolate in the microwave and sprinkle your nuts on top.  It’s going to be a pretty densely packed bark, just because I’m trying to keep the chocolate at a minimum and make the majority of the bark nuts and dried fruit. Don’t forget that last sprinkle of sea salt!

Then, just pop in the fridge for 15 minutes.  When the chocolate has solidified, break into large pieces and you’re ready to devour. Seriously, it’s that simple!

HEALTHIER CHERRY, ALMOND, CASHEW BARK | Makes 3-4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup pitted dried cherries (no added sugar)
  • 4 oz dark chocolate (I look for the one with the lowest amount of sugar)
  • A pinch of sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Roughly chop up almond, cashews, and cherries. They should be chopped into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat dark chocolate in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time and taking out before all the chocolate is melted.  Let the residual heat of the already melted chocolate melt the remaining chocolate.  This will ensure a smooth and luscious chocolate texture.
  3. Pour melted chocolate on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper.  Spread the chocolate out as thin as you can get it (I picked up the sheet pan and tilted it side to side to help the chocolate spread, it’s the easiest way!). It should be spread out very thin (almost paper-thin).
  4. Sprinkle chopped nuts and cherries over the melted dark chocolate and then press the nuts and fruit into the chocolate.  This will make sure everything stays inside the melted chocolate and doesn’t fall out when you try and eat it. It should be pretty densely packed! Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Pop into the fridge for 15-20 minutes until bark is solidified. 
  6. Once bark is solidified, break into large pieces and you’re ready to eat!
  7. Store bark in an airtight container in the fridge and it will pretty much keep indefinitely.

*Recipe can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled to meet your needs.

Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Not quite sure that there’s anything better than chocolate in this world.  I mean, chocolate is up there along with surprise snow days, long walks on the beach and lazy Sundays. Anyone that said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend clearly never had these double chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate ganache.  Yep, I said it, the “g” word, gasp! Laden with butter, it used to be one of my favorite things to eat before I became lactose intolerant.  These days, I make do with dark chocolate squares after dinner, close my eyes and pretend like I’m licking the chocolate ganache off a spoon.

This chocolate cupcake and ganache recipe stems back to my bakery days, when I worked at one bakery in Minnesota. They served the best cupcakes, and this recipe is inspired by the light and fluffy, but still intensely chocolate-y cupcakes I would make. The key to these chocolate cupcakes is fresh baking soda.  I’m not even joking, one time, I had baking soda left over from who knows when, and my cupcakes ended up flatter than Flat Stanley. It was a sad day for all of us in the Chung household craving cupcakes. Lesson learned: always use fresh baking soda!


Okay, maybe I lied, the frosting is more of a buttercream frosting with an identity crisis.  It tastes just like a chocolate ganache, but way easier to make than ganache.  The problem with ganache is that you can so easily burn the chocolate, or overcook the cream, or even worse, the ganache might not even come together after all the effort you spent perfectly heating up that cream and chopping your chocolate into slivers. This one just requires room temperature butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and an arm looking for a good workout.


For my cupcakes, I chose to pipe the frosting on, but you can dip, whip, or spoon the frosting on in any way you would like.  Heck, you could probably skip the frosting altogether and just eat a bite of cupcake and lick the spoon you used to make the frosting.  This is really a whatever-you-want type of recipe.  Since baking is always such a precise measurement, I think that there’s a sort of beauty in decorating something that suits your taste and style.  There’s nothing better than taking a step back from your finished masterpiece and feeling utterly accomplished and satisfied.


As I’m nearing the completion of my first month of work, I can tell you its been an uphill battle the whole way.  Some days, all I can do is relish in the small victories of the day, and secretly wish I had a time machine to make time pass faster. Once I’m in the kitchen though, the stress and worries of the day melt away.  I guess the whole point that I’m making is, don’t forget to take some time for yourself! And also, eat a chocolate cupcake or two 🙂

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES | Makes 12 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS
cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp baking soda (FRESH)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil, or any other neutral tasting oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup hot coffee (instant is fine)

frosting:

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Whisk together.
  3. Add egg, sugar, vegetable oil and buttermilk together into another large mixing bowl and mix well.
  4. Alternate adding hot coffee and dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, starting first with the dry ingredients.
  5. Line cupcake tins with liners and fill each tin 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when poked in the center of a cupcake.
  7. Let cupcakes cool before frosting.

frosting:

  1. Beat butter until creamy (usually 5-8 minutes for me by hand).
  2. Add in cocoa powder and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Alternate adding in powdered sugar and milk and whisk until a fluffy frosting is achieved.  If mixture looks try, at additional milk 1/2 tsp at a time. If mixture looks wet, add additional 1 tbsp powdered sugar at a time.
  4. Either spoon chocolate frosting on, or pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
  5. Frosted cupcakes will stay fresh for up to 5 days covered a room temperature.

Happy Eating!

Puppy Chow Ferrero Rocher Truffles

I say Ferrero, you say Rocher.  I say Puppy, you say chow! Now, imagine those two decadent treats fused together into one amazing, can’t contain myself, need to eat the whole bowl, chocolate truffle.  They’re addicting, they really are.  I brought them to work yesterday and they were gone before lunch time (who says dessert can’t come first?).


These “Ferrero Rocher” truffles were made with ingredients I have lying around in my pantry and I promise are in your pantry too. It comes together in less than 15 minutes, which basically means that if you’re in a pinch and need a sweet fix or a dessert to bring to that potluck, it’s your lucky day. I’m not sure if anything else can top a 15-minute dessert, but these babies are also vegan and gluten-free! No, you don’t have to make them vegan or gluten-free, mine just happened to be, and they were delicious.  No one complained, in fact, everyone was too busy trying to hide extras up their sleeves. 


I’ve been pretty busy lately, which I guess, when you’re working two jobs, that can happen, so I apologize for the lack of new posts!  I really can’t complain though because I get to learn about non-profits, and also write fun environmental health articles (check them out here!).  I am always so happy and humbled when I think about the field that I’m in, there really isn’t anything better than being able to improve public health. Sometimes it does get stressful and I always find myself running back to the kitchen.  There’s just something so calming about having flour up to your arms or fingers coated in melted chocolate (anyone else with me?). 


Speaking of stress, with all the awful stuff that’s happening right now about separating children from their families, it’s hard to remember the good.  But, we can’t forget that we each have a voice and there are things that we can do to help, starting from just a phone call.  I can’t imagine the pain that these families are feeling, and if you’re also needing a little sweetness to help get you through the day, these truffles will definitely help!  Make them tonight, you don’t regret it, and then share them tomorrow to help bring a smile to everyone  🙂 

A word about melting chocolate: Chocolate is finicky, especially when melted.  Here’s a pro-tip when it comes to melting chocolate, never zap it in the microwave for more than 30 seconds at a time. ALWAYS stop microwaving before all the chocolate has melted, otherwise you risk burning your chocolate and having to throw it all away. Instead, use the residual heat from the already melted chips to melt the rest of the chips just by stirring for a minute or so.

PUPPY CHOW FERRERO ROCHER TRUFFLES | Makes 12-15 truffles 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks*
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ cup rice Chex – roughly crushed*  
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate – melted*
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon and a pinch reserved separately
  • 2 tbsp cashews – crushed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place peanut butter and chocolate pieces into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals until chips are just beginning to melt. Mix together and let residual heat melt remaining chips
  2. Pour crushed rice Chex into melted peanut butter chocolate mixture and mix until evenly coated
  3. Add in powdered sugar and a dash or cinnamon into the Chex mixture.  Mix until mixture starts to clump
  4. Roll Chex pieces into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Freeze for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix 1/8 tsp cinnamon with melted chocolate
  6. Roll frozen balls into melted chocolate, place on parchment paper and sprinkle with crushed cashews
  7. Place in fridge until truffles are solidified, about 15-20 minutes
  8. Store in an airtight container in fridge for up to a week (if they last that long!)

*Both the melted chocolate and chocolate pieces can easily be substituted for your chocolate of choice (milk, dark, vegan). While I used rice Chex, regular Chex will work just as well, but keep in mind that the treat will no longer be gluten-free without the rice Chex! 

Enjoy!

Vegan Dark Chocolate Orange and Pistachio Cookies

Vegan Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Yes, these cookies are vegan. No, I’m not joking. Promise (really!). I guess I should confess, I’ve been on a vegan kick lately.  Vegan savory dishes, vegan desserts, and for a hot second vegan purses (which turned out to be a scam -_- ) All else aside, these cookies are REALLY, REALLY good. I brought them to share with my friends at school and they were hooked onto the chocolate-y, nutty, orange-y flavor. In fact, none of them even noticed they were vegan until I casually mentioned that they didn’t have any eggs or butter.


I originally got the inspiration from my best friend, who happens to love the orange and pistachio combination.  She actually doesn’t like chocolate (I know, I was shocked too, but now I just make baked goods without chocolate in it for her, haha), but I LOVE chocolate, so I knew I had to incorporate dark chocolate as well.  This is just my personal opinion when it comes to chocolate, but I think that buying chocolate bars and chopping it up yourself just gives the best results. You get large melty pools of chocolate, but also tiny pieces that get all mixed into the dough and are like hidden gems when you bite into the cookie. So, it is really up to you whether or not you want to use chocolate chips, or buy a bar and chop it into pieces.  Just make sure that if you’re making these cookies for people who are strictly vegan to check your chocolate and make sure there is not dairy in it (believe it or not, some dark chocolate still have a lot of dairy in it!).


Don’t leave out the orange zest in this recipe.  I know that sometimes the combination of orange and chocolate can feel strange, but the zest doesn’t change the texture of the cookie at all and really helps brighten up the flavor of the cookie!  The best thing about this recipe is probably the fact that you SHOULD bake these cookies right away.  Yep, that’s right, no chilling ladies and gentlemen.  Normally chilling intensifies the flavor and I’m all for it, but in this case, it actually makes the pistachios soggy and not very nutty at all.  However, if you want to chill your cookies, or forget them in the fridge because you had to do laundry (this girl here), they will still taste really delicious 🙂


New York is finally starting to show signs of spring.  Today was the first sunny day in awhile and I’m BEYOND ecstatic.  It’s still too cold for dresses and sandals, but at least I didn’t have to wear a second jacket going outside. The flower beds outside of my apartment are starting to sprout tulips and the pop of color really just makes it feel that much more spring-y. My apartment itself doesn’t get much sunlight, so I’m headed out to soak in some vitamin D. Hopefully spring is just around the corner for everyone.  And in the mean time, if you’re craving something citrus-y, make these cookies!!!!!! They’re so good!!! PROMISE!

VEGAN ORANGE DARK CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO COOKIES | Makes 1.5 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 3/4 cups of chopped vegan dark chocolate
  • 3/4 cups of shelled chopped pistachios
  • 1/3 granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F) and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, combine white sugar and orange zest.  Work together with hands until sugar takes on the fragrance on the orange zest.  Then add in dark brown sugar, vegetable oil, water, molasses and vanilla extract into the bowl and mix well. 
  4. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined. 
  5. Mix in pistachios and dark chocolate pieces until well incorporated.
  6. Portion out golf-ball sized dough balls and place at least 2 inches apart from each other.
  7. Sprinkle tops of cookies with sea salt or kosher salt
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges are just beginning to brown, and the center is just set.
  9. Let cool before storing in an air-tight container.
  10. Cookies will stay fresh for up to a week in an air-tight container.

Enjoy!

10-minute Chocolate Rice Krispie (Gluten-free!)

Are you into rice krispies?? I am! The chewy, marshmallowlly, super buttery, decadent, stuff-your-face kind of rice krispies. All on board? Okay! This will literally take you 10 minutes (I timed it…). It’s truly the most un-glorious of all ingredients, chocolate rice krispies, marshmallows and white chocolate, but somehow, when you combine it all into one giant pot, it turns into liquid gold.


When my grandma used to make these for me as a child, they would be insanely delicious right out of the pot, but then after a few hours (luckily they never made it that far), it would turn rock hard.  This always puzzled me as a child, but it was nothing a zap in the microwave couldn’t fix.  Now, as a student, sometimes I get to the point where I’m either too busy, or too lazy to soften rice krispies in the microwave.  Lucky for me, there exists this wonderful thing called the internet and after hours of scouring the web (and I MEAN hours), I figured out the best way to keep rice krispies soft and chewy.


I’ll spare you the food science details, but basically the key to great rice krispies is to make sure that you’re not overheating the marshmallows.  You want them just melted, but anything beyond that will result in hard-not-so-yummy rice krispies.  Now, the great thing is that just melted = less cooking time = less work for you, yay!


Unfortunately, this recipe isn’t vegan or vegetarian, but, it can be made gluten-free! Just make sure you buy the rice krispie brands that have been certified to be gluten-free. I think that I used regular General Mills cereal which wasn’t gluten-free, but I definitely know that there are brands in the supermarket that certify their cereals.


I happen to think that a pop of color makes everything just that much more fun, which is why I crushed up some freeze-dried raspberries to sprinkle over the rice krispies.  Freeze-dried fruit also makes for an excellent alternative to sprinkles (if you’re out), or if you would rather just stick with naturally colored toppings 🙂

10 MINUTE COCCA RICE KRISPIES | Makes 12 large rice krispies

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups marshmallows
  • 6 cups cocca krispies
  • 1 cup white chocolate – melted
  • 1/4 cup freeze dried raspberries – crushed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Over low heat, melt butter. Add in marshmallows and gently stir until 90% of the marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and stir until all marshmallows have melted.
  2. Add in cocca krispies and mix well
  3. Press into an 8x8in pan and cool
  4. Once cool, cut into rectangles and dip into melted white chocolate
  5. Sprinkle with crushed freeze-dried raspberries for a pop of color
  6. Rice krispies will stay fresh for up to 3 days in an air-tight container

Enjoy!

The Best Browned Butter Blondies

 I’m not going to lie, moving to a brand new city is hard.  While New York has been amazing, there are definitely things that I’m struggling with in my new home.  For instance, learning how to shop effectively cause groceries cost a million dollars, but also learning that I can’t just buy 5 bags of food at once because I only have 2 arms.  Or the fact that I realllllllllly have to work on my breathing exercises when the subway decides to evacuate because of police incidences, or even scarier when the subway breaks down underground and I’m stuck in the dark for half an hour.  I do think though, the hardest thing has been the nagging feeling of loneliness that occurs when you first move to a place where you don’t have many friends.


This past week and weekend, I was definitely feeling way more homesick just cause I felt like I wasn’t really fitting in at my school and also because even after budgeting, making ends meet was still the hardest thing in the world. BUT, I guess the world knew what I needed because the two loveliest new friends that I met came over for a baking and Great British Baking date. Sitting around the dining table and laughing about random things just brought me the greatest joy the world.  Also, we chose to make brown butter blondies, which legitimately are like GIANT, WARM HUGS (how can you get better than that).


These blondies, which are adapted from Food52’s recipe, have been my go to recipe since day one in terms of comfort dessert. They can be adapted so easily for whatever you’re in the mood for (nuts, chocolate, white chocolate, fruit, pretzels, chips, honestly everything but the kitchen sink), and when I need a pick me up, it’s dark chocolate chunks all the way. So, my friends are long gone, and it’s just me and the last piece of brown butter blondie, but it’s beautiful souls like them that truly make a place home.


In other news, I’m loving Columbia’s public health program! I was so worried that public health wasn’t the right choice, but I’ve loved everything from learning about the history of public health to discussing the economics of public health (more on that later). OH and can we talk about how New York City is literally dessert heaven?? Where else are you going to find a doughnut store next to a cookie shop next door to a cupcake bakery??
And for those of you who can’t, try out these brown butter blondies, they’re not a perfect substitute, but do come darn near close! They’re chewy, caramel-y, marbled in chocolate and oh, so delicious that you might even want to hide your pan.

*PRO TIP ON HOW TO BROWN BUTTER: Browning butter is hard! The best way to brown butter is to use a small or medium sized sauce pan and cut the butter into smaller sized cubes before placing in pan and melting to help the butter melt evenly.  You’ll start to hear small crackles and pops when the butter begins to brown and it’ll look like the white “foam” layer on the top of the melted butter is slowly “boiling” off.  After awhile, the crackling sounds will begin to die down and you’ll be able to see light golden specks on the bottom of the pan, remove the saucepan immediately from heat and the residual heat will bring the brown butter to a perfect dark golden color.

BROWN BUTTER BLONDIES | Adapted from Food52 | Makes one 10″ cake tin

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • Heaping 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks or bars chopped into bite-sized pieces

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 (F).
  2. In a medium sized sauce pan, brown butter* (refer to note above) and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Then add in both brown sugar and white sugar into sauce pan and mix browned butter and sugars together thoroughly. Let cool for 10-15 minutes (this is an important step, otherwise your eggs will curdle!)
  4. Add in vanilla and salt into pan and again mix thoroughly.
  5. Crack both eggs into the pan and whisk or beat mixture together until it takes on a shiny consistency (that will mean that the eggs have properly emulsified the mixture, basically, it means when you bake it, the butter won’t leak out of your blondies and be a gross mess).
  6. Then stir in flour and once flour is thoroughly incorporated, fold in the chocolate chunks.
  7. Pour into pan and bake for 25-28 minutes. Blondies are done when surface looks golden and flaky (depending on how much chocolate you put in the blondie, a toothpick will not come out clean no matter what).
  8. Let cool before attempting to cut into it otherwise blondie pieces will come out gooey and uneven.
  9. Blondies will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Enjoy!

Healthy Double Chocolate Banana Bread

 Double chocolate banana bread:
Yesterday was July 4th, and today I’m wishing that it was the weekend again. Not just because I spent the weekend soaking in the sun, baking up the storm, and eating as much food as humanly possible, but also because there is a lovely construction crew outside of my window.  They start promptly at 7am every day, and the construction workers are NEVER late. Seriously…like not even 7:02 am…please give me those extra 120 seconds of sleep. All that aside, I’ve seriously got some weekday blues.


I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling down, or when things suck, I can always find comfort in chocolate and some mindful meditation. But, I don’t always want to eat an entire bar (or two) of chocolate myself, and some times, I want to wallow in pity while still eating healthy.  This is the genius creation that I came up with, vegetarian, low in sugar, high in chocolate, and packed with lots of fruit – I give you double chocolate banana bread! It’s super chocolatey without being overwhelmingly sweet, and just a hint of banana comes through.  It’s basically the best way to show Monday (or any day) who’s the boss. You will be the envy of everyone at the office, eating your double chocolate banana bread, sipping your tea/coffee and basically kicking ass. You got this.


DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD | Makes 8-10 servings
INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup ripe bananas mashed (~ 2 bananas)
  • 3/4 cup neutral tasting vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s special dark)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F) and grease a 9x5x3 inch bread pan
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil and bananas. Whisk everything together until creamy.
  3. Add baking soda and salt to wet mixture and incorporate thoroughly.
  4. Add in cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and flour and mix in until there are no more streaks of flour in the mixture
  5. Pour mixture into bread pan and sprinkle top with more chocolate chips if desired.
  6. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Run a knife around the edges of the bread pan so the loaf will come out clean when it’s cool.
  7. Bread will keep for 5 days in an air tight container or up to a week in the fridge.  Baked bread can also be sliced and frozen. Simply pull slices out a couple hours in advance and you’ll have a nice chocolatey treat waiting for you 🙂

Enjoy!

the best chewy chocolate chip cookies

 I’m pretty sure I have a chocolate chip cookie obsession. Not just the “I love to eat chocolate chip cookies” obsession, but the full-blown, “make ten batches of chocolate chip cookies and then proceed to frantically give them away otherwise I’ll eat them all” obsession. Chocolate chip cookies were the first cookies I’ve ever baked, and I still think they’re the best cookie. You can’t go wrong with them, yes, there are a lot of different types of chocolate chip cookies out there (crunchy and thin, thick and chewy, lots of chocolate, no chocolate at all), but I’m positive that there is a type out there for everyone.


To avoid doing homework during college (oops…), I’d always try out new chocolate chip recipes and test them out on my roommates. They were THE best taste testers since some of them really liked a lot of chocolate chunks, one of them didn’t like any chocolate, and they were always willing to gobble up cookies coming straight out of the oven. This recipe is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, thin and chewy, but with still soft centers studded in large pools of molten chocolate…a hint of vanilla and just a sprinkle of sea salt on top. Ugh, I am guilty of eating way too many of these in one sitting.


These are super simple to make, and the addition of molasses is a game-changer, I promise you! If you just DYING to have chocolate chip cookies as soon as possible, you can go ahead and bake them after a 30 minute chill in the fridge, but I would definitely recommend not going less than 2 hours of chilling.  The chilling allows the gluten in the dough to relax and the flavors to emulsify, which leads to a softer cookie and has some serious caramel flavor.


MY FAVORITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES | Makes approximately 1.5 dozen


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (make sure it’s fresh or your cookies will end up flat and sad)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp unsulfured blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter – softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks or chopped pieces from a chocolate bar
  • Kosher or sea salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium-sized bowl
  2. In separate bowl, combine dark brown sugar, granulated sugar and molasses. Use hands to rub sugars and molasses together until well mixed (mixture should look uniformly like light brown sugar)
  3. In large bowl, cream butter either in stand mixer (medium-high speed) or by hand until it is the consistency of mayonnaise
  4. Then add in sugar mixture and beat together until butter is light and fluffy (3-4 min with mixer, 8-10 by hand)
  5. Add in egg and vanilla and then mix until just combined – do NOT over mix!
  6. Add in dry ingredients in 3 batches, mixing well after every addition (put mixer on low speed for this)
  7. Add in chocolate and mix in pieces by hand, over-mixing the dough will cause the cookies to be tough
  8. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days
  9. Pull out dough 30 minutes prior to baking to bring it to room temperature and preheat oven to 350 (F)
  10. Roll dough into a little bigger than golf-ball sized balls and place on lined cookie sheets, giving them at least 3 inches apart to spread out in oven
  11. Gently flatten each ball with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with sea salt
  12. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden and the center still looks a little soft. Cool the cookies (if you can!) on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

Julia Child’s Banana Bread

 Have you ever felt so sad, that it seemed like your heart gained an additional 100lbs and your stomach dropped to the bottom of the ocean, deep, deep down, unable to be saved? I received this kind of news the other day, heart-wrenchingly painful, and almost too much to stomach. But I realized that the point of hearing this news, was to help lighten the burden, so one person wouldn’t have to carry it all. After all, 10 people carrying one burden is so much easier than just one person carrying it all.


So, instead of running away from this news, I gave thanks for being surrounded by wonderful people in life and the chance to help make things right. Still, we can’t help but still feel sad and at some points, helpless. At times like these, I always find myself drawn back inside the kitchen, as if I could use the heat and warmth of the oven to ward away the bad news. Baking is an escape, yet at the same time, an activity that helps me think, process and reflect on the news that I have heard and figure out the best actions to take.


Today, it felt like the only person that I could turn to was Julia Child and her delicious banana bread (with just a couple modifications!). For me, banana bread has always been the perfect balance between elegant and homey. Bananas are not used as a typical baking ingredient, making them a little bit fancy, but a dash of vanilla and a handful (okay, maybe two or three handfuls) of chocolate turn it into one of the best comfort desserts in my opinion. There’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into fresh and fragrant banana bread, and discovering molten pockets of luscious chocolate. Today I made this, for Julia Child, for the people that I love, and for me. A small piece of comfort in an entirely shaky and unknown world.


MOLTEN CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD | modified from bon appetit
INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large, I find mashing them with a fork on a plate is easiest)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks (not chips!)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and oil a 9x5x3″ loaf pan
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, add chocolate chunks and make sure individual chocolate pieces are coated in flour (this will ensure they don’t sink to the bottom of the loaf pan while baking)
  3. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, vanilla and oil in a large bowl until smooth
  4. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined
  5. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top
  6. Bake for 60-70 min or until a toothpick/fork/skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean (be careful not to overbake, or bread will be dry!)

Let cool (if you can!)
Enjoy