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Hi and welcome to Love and Bistros! A place to write about baking, travel, and living healthy. I have a major sweet tooth but I attempt to stay healthy in between desserts!
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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

When I start looking for recipes to bake, I try and keep in mind what my Princess’ favourite treats are. These include cupcake frosting (just the frosting), mini cupcakes, lemon loaf, ginger-molasses cookies, small chocolate chip cookies, and this undeniably delicious chocolate-chip banana bread. She enjoys it without chocolate too, but I like the addition of chocolate in anything and this time I added semi-sweet chocolate chips to the mix.

There are so many different versions of banana bread that you should definitely check out: Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked-Up Bread, Simply Recipe’s Bread, The Hungry Housewife’s Ultimate Bread, or even Not Quite Nigella’s Banana Bread Round-Up with 79 recipes. It makes my head spin… is yours spinning yet? I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart Living and never looked back – it’s easy to make and always comes out perfectly!

Preheat the oven to 177°C / 350°F and prepare your loaf pan. This recipe calls for 1 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, but you can split it up into smaller loaf pans or even a muffin tin – just account for the baking time. I simply spray my loaf pan with baking spray, you can use parchment paper, butter – whatever you like!

I like to get the dry ingredients out of the way first so in goes the flour, baking soda and salt and mix it all together!

Meanwhile, mush the bananas – or better yet, get someone else to do it! Princess took on this role and made sure to over-dramatically announce the hard work that went into it. Yes dear, it’s hard!

In a larger bowl place the room temperature butter and sugar, and mix it until it’s nice, light and fluffy. I used a hand mixer, but this recipe can be done all by hand as well!

Add the two eggs and mix some more!

Now dump the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture and stir just until combined. You definitely do not want to over-mix any kind of batter: this leads to a drier, tougher cake. Always mix until everything has just been mixed together.

Now, add the mushed-up bananas, sour cream and vanilla extract – and mix, mix, mix until combined again!

BEFORE adding the chocolate chips, mix a tablespoon or so of flour with them. This makes sure that the chocolate chips don’t sink in your bread, so that they’re evenly scattered throughout! Stir them into the batter. Instead of doing this, many recipes add the chocolate chips once the batter is already in the pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, evening out the top and bake in the oven for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes – until your tester comes out somewhat clean (chocolate will obviously be melted to it!). Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Stare at it. Smell it. Crave it.

Then turn it upside down and marvel at the goodness that just popped out of your pan. And try to turn it over. It’s heavy. I was worried that I was going to break it. Now let it cool some more.

I like to stare at my baked goods. Build up any cravings I might have inside. Marvel at what I just created.

And then eat! Bon appetit!

This ‘bread’ is so dense, delicious and moist! Best eaten in thick slices! The semi-sweet chocolate adds the perfect hint of sweetness and slathering it with salted butter while it’s still warm – it’s heaven! I ended up making two of these loaves and freezing one to save it for another rainy day. It’s so simple to make and totally worth the effort – and the perfect thing to do with old bananas! Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
1 9″x5″ loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (about 4) mashed very ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method

1 Preheat oven to 177°C / 350°F. Prepare loaf pan.

2 In a bowl mix the flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk.

3 In a seperate and larger bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until combined.

4 Add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add bananas, sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Toss

5 Add a tablespoon of flour to the cup of chocolate chips and mix. Add to batter.

6 Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes; or until cake tester comes out clean. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto rack to cool.

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The “Ones That Made Me Cheat” Cookie Recipe

The Ones That Made Me Cheat

This is my go-to chocolate chip recipe, I’ve had it for years and I had written it down from a magazine years ago. Since then it’s been rewritten, changed a little bit and it’s also very versatile. You can substitute white sugar for the brown sugar, omit the cocoa completely or add more, and of course the chocolate chips can be switched up for white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, M&M’s, or whatever else you have on hand. I’ve even made them with chunks of semi-sweet chocolate before.

Want to know a secret? I used to SUCK at making these. I sucked at making ALL cookies. Why? Because I was always worried about how DONE they were. I would feel them at the time they were supposed to come out, and I’d be afraid that they were too soft or too light coloured, and then I’d end up burning them. Even Pillsbury dough cookies. Ask my sister. We screwed up SO many cookies back in the day.

And then I realised that the trick isn’t in checking ‘how done’ the cookies are, it’s just trusting your instincts, and pulling it out at the time and not feeling them or looking at them until they’ve cooled down. Otherwise you’re just asking for disaster. Follow the times and you’ll be fine!

The Ingredients

Those are the lovely and scrumptious ingredients! I pre-heated the oven to 190°C / 375°F and prepped my baking sheet – which to me means placing a sheet of parchment paper on it and being done with it. To some it might mean buttering up a baking sheet or spraying it with baking spray – whatever floats your boat!

The Dry Ingredients

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix it with a whisk. Sometimes, when I’m feeling like a perfectionista, I sift the dry ingredients first, but whisking usually does the trick in order to remove any clumps found in the flour or the cocoa.

The Mixed Dry Ingredients

In a seperate and larger bowl, place the room temperature butter and brown sugar together. Forgot to take out the butter? Zap it in the microwave for 5 seconds at a time until it’s soft but not melted. You want it to have an easily spread consistency, like room temperature. 5 Second at a TIME. That’s it. Keep checking it.

Brown Sugar & Room Temperature Butter; Ready to be CREAMED!

I used a hand-held mixer, you can use a stand mixer or even do it all by hand! Just make sure it is a smooth consistency, creamy with no chunks of butter or sugar.

Add the egg and vanilla to the creamed mixture.

Add the egg and the vanilla, and then mix until there’s no trace of egg left and it looks like one delicious, creamy mixture. Then, add the flour mixture a third at a time, adding more when it’s just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, then look at the yummy chocolatey cookie dough goodness!

Mmmm, cookie dough! Just eat it like this!

Eat it like that… or add the chocolate chips in and mix it all with a wooden spoon!

Mmm, chocolate chips! Now mix, mix, mix!

Now, once it’s all mixed together, you can go ahead with baking it…. OR you can put it in the fridge and let the batter cool for a bit. I usually do this because I find my cookies bake a little better and the batter is easier to handle when it’s cooler. It also gives me time to run to the grocery store and pick up the parchment paper I just ran out of…

Scoop balls of the dough out of the bowl using a tablespoon, then roll it up like a ball, press it down into the baking sheet. The first batch (in the picture) I didn’t press it down enough, which resulted in thicker cookies. I find this batter doesn’t expand too much, so if you prefer a thinner cookie, press it down more!

Cookies! Flatten even more for thinner, wider cookies!

I bake mine exactly for 12 minutes – this gives me the chewy consistency that I LOVE! I love a soft cookie! If you prefer a bit more crispy, bake up to 15 minutes. And voila!

Cookies!

Let them cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, and then place them on a cooling rack for as long as you can resist them!

Today I came out with 18 cookies, but usually I make smaller cookies and come out with about 24 or so – Princess prefers smaller cookies! I like mine bigger! I leave a few of these cookies out and then freeze the rest – it’s the only way I won’t eat them all!

Delicious, Scrumptious Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
16 – 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of milk chocolate chips

Method

1 Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F. Prepare baking sheet.

2 In a bowl mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt with a whisk.

3 In a seperate and larger bowl cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth, about 2 – 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

4 Add the flour 1/3 at a time, beating until just combined each time. Stir in the chocolate chips.

5 Using a tablespoon, scoop out a ball of the dough, shaping it in your hand and dropping it on the baking sheet. Press down to flatten the ball and leave some room between the cookies to allow for expansion.

6 Bake cookies for 12 – 15 minutes, depending on how chewy or crunchy you prefer them. Cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet and then place on cooling rack. Eat!

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The Key to a Man’s Heart

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cupcakes

I have often heard the following saying:

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

When Mister & I started going out, I was a spoilt princess who didn’t cook very well – in other words, he wined and dined me most nights, and even when we stayed in we would order pizza or Chinese food. I never really had to cook dinners, it was more a novelty, like ‘I’m going to make dinner on Saturday!’ and it would be an elaborate affair that I would stress over all day, we would eat hours later than we should, but it always ended up as an amazing meal regardless.

As the years went on and with Princess making an appearance, it was duly noted that we should all start eating at home more, and of course, I would be the one to cook. Honestly, I never really enjoyed it. I would occasionally come out with something that was really good, but it was usually frozen foods or pre-made foods, and it wasn’t until I start cooking everything from scratch is where the actual enjoyment came in.

Having raw ingredients and turning them into something edible was a profound revelation to me. It was enjoyable and you could always customize it to your liking! Nowadays, I attempt to make everything from scratch, of course, there will always be frozen fish or chicken for a quick meal, some pre-made spaghetti sauce or pre-seasoned risotto, but for the most part, from baking to grilling to soups – it’s all from good old fashioned vegetables and meats and seasonings.

I also started baking a few years ago and even started catering my sweets to events and weddings. It  was a small business, but it required tons of experimentation – recipes all had to be made many times before deemed perfect, and at the time I had many taste-testers, none more instructive and opinionated than the Mister.

He offers the hard truth – he will tell you what he means and he won’t sugarcoat it. He will announce that the cake is too dry, the frosting not sweet enough, the cupcake needs work, or that it just tastes bland. Merci mon amour, merci for the many frustrating tears that helped me make amazing recipes.

If you could ask me what my favourite cake or cupcake would be, I would hesitate. There are so many choices and flavours and options – I couldn’t have just one favourite. If you asked the Mister, he would give you two options. Either anything with ‘Triple Chocolate’ in the name (he’s a serious chocoholic) or the following recipe, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cupcakes. In short, a brownie cupcake with a Reese’s peanut butter cup baked inside. Devilish, satisfying and rich beyond belief. Enjoy!

Warning: This might not be the key to every man’s heart, but according to many, it can easily persuade the majority of them.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Cupcakes

Ingredients for 12 Cupcakes:

  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 12 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Method

1 Preheat oven to 175°C  (350°F). Line a standard size muffin tin with cupcake liners. Melt the chocolate and butter by placing in a large heatproof bowl or a double boiler, and setting over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, it takes about 5 minutes.

2 Remove bowl from heat. Whisk in sugar and salt until mixture is smooth; whisk in eggs to combine. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa, just until smooth (do not overmix).

3 Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into each cup. Place 1 peanut butter cup on top, gently pressing into the batter.  Top with 2 more tablespoons of batter, covering the peanut butter cup completely.

4 Bake for about 35 minutes, rotating halfway through, and until a cake tester inserted halfway in centers (above peanut butter cup) comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool on wire rack. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

*This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes recipe: Mint-Filled Brownie Cupcakes, pg 122*

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I haven’t made this recipe in a while, and I won’t be able to enjoy one for at least a month or so while I’m on this diet, but be assured, the second the scale points me towards the goal weight, I will be baking a large batch of these! In the meantime, eat one for me and Mister!

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