Chocolate Covered Pretzel Cupcakes

I have a lot to talk about today. Like, tons of important issues.

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First, I think we really need to discuss the winner of the Super Bowl yesterday. I am referring, of course, to BEYONCÉ. Oh my goodness, girl – sorry, I mean Sasha Fierce – KILLED it out there yesterday! Honestly, I was won over within the first 10 seconds of her act (I’m not really a hard sell), when she managed to stay standing in her skyscraper heels on that tiny platform . . . which, oh, right, was also moving. During that time, I tried to picture myself in Beyoncé shoes. Every scenario ended with me toppling over onto the ground. Which is why the organizers of the Super Bowl will never ask me to perform (because, clearly, I possess the necessary talent).

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But in addition to Beyoncé’s extreme skill at standing, there was also holographic Beyoncé, and ripping-her-clothes-off Beyoncé, and, of course, this very highly anticipated reunion: Beyoncé and her live singing voice. Ooh, sorry, that was low of me. No, of course, I’m talking about the reunion of Destiny’s Child(!), which occurred for about a minute. But oh, what a beautiful minute. Continue reading

Santa’s Cookies!

When describing my perfect day, I leave it to the expert, Buddy the Elf: “First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle.”

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Oh yes, I love pretty much everything about this season, especially today, which, hello, is Christmas! Merry Christmas, everyone!!! I wish all of you a time of rest, relaxation, and never-ending Christmas cookies with family and friends. Continue reading

Salted Caramel Christmas Brownies

Salted Caramel Christmas Brownies

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I am just a little obsessed. Just a teensy, tiny . . . okay, maybe medium-sized-ly, perhaps colossally, ridiculously obsessed with salted caramel. It is sweet. And salty. Gooey, rich, an amazing melding of buttery caramel and that surprising bite into a delicate flake of sea salt. Salted caramel is, pretty much, absolutely perfect – poured into thumbprint cookies, slathered in between layers of cake, whipped up to frost cupcakes, and, today, drizzled over fudge brownies.

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I first encountered the idea of baking brownies in cookie cutters from this amazing list entitled “38 Clever Christmas Food Hacks That Will Make Your Life So Much Easier” aka my favorite webpage of the past month. Because, although I have attempted to lead you astray by baking things like Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake and German Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies, I am actually quite the lazy chef.

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Like, ughh do I really have to wash out the KitchenAid bowl in between different cookie batches? And, hmm, should I get out the candy thermometer for this caramel, or can I just guesstimate? (By the by, judging by the damage I generally incur on my saucepans, I’m guessing that the answer is: get out the thermometer).

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In any case, I’m treating this list of Christmas Food Hacks as someone’s early Christmas gift to moi (you should really check it out too – there’s Crockpot French toast!). I was especially excited about the cookie cutter brownies, because, last year, while shopping for the essentials at Target last year, I managed to pick up a very nonessential silicon muffin tray with Christmas-themed molds! Color my Little Miss Christmas (S)elf Ecstatic. As a side note, I should never shop for the essentials at Target because they have clearly employed my evil twin to spill all my secrets and tell them everything I could possibly want to buy – even things I didn’t know existed! Continue reading

German Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies (and Cookie Contest Updates!)

Today was a most exciting day! Last week, I found out that my recipe for S’mores Rice Krispie Squares made it to the final round of the Dallas Morning News Holiday Cookie Contest! Today, all the finalists brought our cookies to Central Market to be taste-tested by the judges.

I didn’t end up winning, but I still had an incredible, sugar-filled time. First, I was very honored to be a finalist alongside all of the cookie hall-of-famers in attendance.

Secondly, no cookie competition is complete without samples, and boy, did this one deliver. Check it out:

My rookie status definitely revealed itself when sampling time came around. While the repeat finalists were armed with tupperware and their running shoes to collect as many cookies as possible, I didn’t even have a napkin in my hand, and so started piling cookies directly onto my . . . hand. Whoops.

Luckily, about five cookies in, I spied a stack of paper napkins, and started filling those up. I finally found an empty plate, and, later, a plastic takeaway box from Central Market. Crazy times. Suffice it to say, I don’t think I’ll need to make/eat any more cookies for approximately two months. Except, really, I shouldn’t kid myself. All the finalists also (very kindly) shared their recipes, and I am super excited to try them out and hopefully adapt some for my blog!

Finally, the lovely contest organizers held a raffle, and I won this book that I was totally eyeing:

I may or may not have squealed and jumped up in a rather unbecoming manner when I found out. Get excited, because this signifies many fun cocktail recipes in your future. Thanks to Dallas Morning News and Central Market for this fantastic opportunity! Thanks also to the lovely Alexa for telling me about the contest in the first place.

Today’s cookie recipe is one that I submitted to the contest in the “Decadent” category.
Even though they didn’t make the finals, I still think they’re pretty bangin’. Can I use that word to describe cookies? I think yes.

These are a spin on the traditional German Chocolate Cake. Truthfully, I’ve never been much of a German Chocolate Cake fan. I always wondered why the inventors put in pecans and coconut instead of . . . well, more chocolate. But, after eating the incredible four-layer cake – one of which was German chocolate – that my sister got for my birthday, I started changing my tune.

I got the idea for a thumbprint cookie from one of my absolute favorite cookie recipes: Martha Stewart’s Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel (ahhh salted caramel!!!). I adapted the recipe to make a chocolate thumbprint cookie rolled in coconut flakes, filled with the evaporated milk frosting, and topped with pecans.

The baked coconut adds an amazing texture to these cookies, and I am (surprisingly) a big fan of the filling as well. These are a definite winner in my book/stomach. Happy Friday! Off to eat more cookies!

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Favorite Fudge Brownies

I have a confession. This is big time…but I think we’ve reached the point where I can divulge these types of secrets. Here goes: I have always preferred brownies from the box to homemade brownies. Always. It doesn’t matter if the brownies have cheesecake, peanut butter, excessive amounts of chocolate chips, or even if they’re from a restaurant (actually, especially restaurant brownies…ugh), they’ve just never been as good as the box mix brownies.

So, when my friend Bernard (hi Bernard!) requested that I post a brownie recipe, I was scared. Outwardly, I was smiling and saying, “Yeah, of course, I love brownies!”…but really, I was thinking, ‘I do love brownies. Brownies from the box. The Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Box. FAMILY SIZE.’

And then…I started researching like a mad person. My google search history is now filled with searches like “Cakey vs fudgy brownies number of eggs” and “How do I make fudgy brownies???” I guess that’s not such a bad search history to have.

Especially because these searches did, in fact, yield a bounty of results. It turns out that there are actually three categories of brownies: 1. Cakey (ew), 2. Fudgy, (yay), and 3. Chewy (what?). And then I couldn’t figure out which one I liked better: Fudgy or Chewy?

Fine cooking described fudgy as “dense, with a moist, intensely chocolatey interior” and chewy as “moist, but not quite as gooey as a fudgy one.” First, please stop using the m-word. Secondly, I’ll take one of both, thanks.

Hey, where’d that brownie go? Oh, that’s right. In. my. BELLY.

But really, here’s what I learned:

  1. More fat = fudgier. Ain’t that the truth (if you replace the “f” in fudgier with a “p”). Thus, I used butter and melted chocolate chips (in addition to a tiny bit of cocoa powder).
  2. The development of a brownie crust while baking depends on how much you beat the batter after the eggs are added. This is because beating the eggs forms a meringue, also known as the elusive brownie crust. More beating, more crust. And I do love those brownie crusts.
  3. Less flour = less cakey. My recipe calls for only 1/2 cup all-purpose flour in the entire recipe!

These brownies . . . have a light, delectable crust. And then. Fudge heaven. I know it’s a bit (extremely) presumptuous to call these “Favorite” Fudge Brownies, but I actually like them as much as (or maybe more than? gasp) my trusty Betty Crocker box. And that is saying something. Continue reading

S’mores Rice Krispie Squares

You already know about my love of all things s’mores.

But here’s something I haven’t told you (for fear that you won’t be my friend anymore): I am a fiercely competitive individual. Once, when I was about eight years old, I convinced my opponent (and, yeah, I guess she was my friend) in Monopoly that I could build hotels on any of my properties without owning all three of the same color block. By the end, she owed me $8000. I know, despicable, right?


Don’t say anything yet. We haven’t even talked about one of my favorite games of all time: Taboo. I pretty much turn into a monster whenever I play this game. I am that girl. Yeah, the girl who is blaring out all these random words that don’t even relate to the description because she doesn’t trust anyone to describe the target word besides herself and is hoping one of these words she’s screaming out will somehow hit the mark. And then she swears profusely when she doesn’t get it right. Quite. Obnoxious.


Though, in my defense, my scream-out-every-possible-word strategy does often work. And, top secret tip: People always crack up when the target word is “bimbo.” Like, every single time. So, every time the person giving the hints starts laughing, I shout, “bimbo!” Pretty sure my success rate is at least 1%.

But, back to the whole competitive thing. Even though evidence points to the contrary, I’m not actually telling you incriminating stories about myself just for the sake of it. I’m actually building up to the fact that I developed this recipe for the “incredibly easy” category of the Dallas Morning News Holiday Cookie Contest! My awesome friend Alexa, who is from Dallas and thus, super in the know about these things, told me about the contest, and my competitive side immediately started rearing its ugly head.


Unfortunately, it found its enemy in my procrastinating self, and thus, I may or may not have started thinking about this recipe a couple of nights ago. Sooo I’m not getting my hopes up. I am, however, quite enjoying these bars. Graham cracker crust + marshmallowy rice krispies + melted chocolate = love.

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Figgy Chocolate Granola Clusters

I don’t believe in diets. You may be thinking, ‘Has she looked at her recipes lately? Clearly, she doesn’t believe in diets.’ Yeah, yeah.  Seriously, though. I used to believe in diets – stretches of time where I would eat lots of salads and count my calories (something my lazy self is really not cut out for).

In the past couple years or so, though, I changed my food philosophy. I wanted a sustainable, healthy eating lifestyle with ample room for splurges. Like, perhaps, eating three pastries a day? Probably the biggest splurge ever.

Oh, and also, the food consumed this past weekend? Whatever. Everyone knows that birthday weekends are the single biggest allowable splurge in the year.

Okay, so maybe I’m not such the healthy lifestyle model. But who is?

The point is, I’m now trying to make more healthy, delicious food, in order to eat more healthy food. Genius, right? So, in the spirit of healthy eating, I made these granola clusters!

I used applesauce to replace a lot of the oil, plus I used figs (love) to help bind the granola together. In a twist of events (me not reading the labels of products I purchase), I ended up with steel-cut oats instead of my regular rolled oats. And…they were delicious. But, you can use whichever oats you prefer.

Also, with this recipe, you can break up the granola into whatever size chunk you desire. I now have 1) granola bars, 2) granola clusters I can grab by the handful, and 3) small breakfast cereal-sized granola. Perfect for an indecisive person like me. Continue reading