baked s’mores – not just for the campfire

Kat and I had a girl’s night last night while Daddy-O was at the Stanford/ASU game.  We baked homemade mac/cheese (her all-time favorite meal) and settled on the animated version of A Christmas Carol for after dinner entertainment.

But what of dessert?

Ice cream?  Too cold.

Popcorn?  Too last Friday night.

Baked S’mores?  Why, yes, please and thank you!

These are pretty much a no-brainer.  You don’t really need a recipe.  Just keep your eyes on the s’mores at all times lest they quickly turn to ash under the broiler.

©zouptonuts

©zouptonuts

Baked S’mores

Ingredients:

  • Graham Crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate pieces (Hershey, Dove, you choose)
  • Parchment paper for easy clean-up

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat broiler to 500° F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Break crackers in half, placing one half on baking sheet and reserve other half to top your S’more.  (Or, bake both sides and eat them open-faced.)  Place one marshmallow on each cracker.  Heat under broiler until tops of marshmallows are golden brown.  Turn off oven and remove pan.
  3. Top melted marshmallow with the chocolate pieces of your choice.  For these I used dark chocolate Dove candies.
  4. Slide pan back in the oven for 25 -30 seconds, or until chocolate starts to melt.
  5. Remove and top with remaining graham cracker halves to complete your S’mores.
  6. Indulge!

©zouptonuts

©zouptonuts

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homemade chocolate buttercream frosting

I’m a pretty low-key when it comes to birthday celebrations.  I like to keep it simple.  Party of three, please:  Me + Husband + Kiddo.  It’s all good that way.  They took me to dinner, bought me a couple of gifts, and we ate cake; the cake they baked and of which I was tasked with frosting.

Frosting my own birthday cake is not offensive to me in the least.   Being asked to do so insures I don’t have to eat store-bought frosting, and I get to play with butter and sugar and cocoa.  What’s not to like about that?.

This recipe is a staple…tried and true.  Everyone has these stock items in their pantry and they go together in less time than it would take to run to the grocery store for one of those gritty, over-priced, pre-packaged frosting containers.  The quantity easily frosts a 9 x 13 sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes.  For a round layer cake, I might bump up the ingredients a bit to allow for frosting between layers.  Enjoy!

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Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 2/3 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 c cocoa, unsweetened
  • 1/3 cup milk (I use 1%)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamy.
  2. Add sugar and cocoa, mixing well.
  3. Stir in milk in portions, stirring each time.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Spread on cooled cake or other items needing frosting.
  6. Lick the bowl.

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nutella sandwich cookies

Despite the beauty of technology and the ability I have to catalog and cross-reference all my recipes online, I still keep a big, honkin’ three-ring binder full of recipes I collect from various places.  I don’t know why.  I guess I’m a tactile kind of person.  I need the tangible product; the book, the magazine, the sheet of paper.

With some regularity, I add to the file, or go through it for inspiration I’m just not finding on the internet.  That’s hard to believe given how much great cooking and baking there is out there in the vastness of the web.  Anyway, being in an old-school kind of mood, I was flipping through clippings the other day looking for something to bake.  I haven’t baked in a while.  It’s summer.  It’s hot.  I swore not to turn my oven on until October.

But I have yet to master baking on the grill.  And we needed something to occupy us as the days of summer wind down and the start of school looms.  And what better way to take a little girl’s mind off the looming start of school than by baking.  With Nutella!!!!

These cookies are simple and delicious and it’s taking all the willpower I can muster not to eat more than one.  A day, that is.  They’re brownie-like and chewy and that Nutella center is heavenly.

I like Nutella.  A lot!  Eat them with milk icy cold from the fridge.  Enjoy!
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Nutella Sandwich Cookies (recipe courtesy Radically Simple)

Ingredients:

  • 13-ounce jar Nutella
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups self-rising cake flour (I used regular self-rising flour)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.  Beat together 3/4 cup of the Nutella, butter, and egg.  Slowly add the flour until a wet dough forms.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently, adding more flour if necessary; the dough will be sticky.  Divide the dough into 18 pieces and roll each into a perfect ball, flouring your hands as you go.  Place several inches apart on the baking sheet.

Bake 10 – 12 minutes, until firm.  Cool 10 minutes on the sheet.

Using a serrated knife, split each cookie in half horizontally.  Spread each bottom half with 1 tsp Nutella.  Replace the tops, pressing lightly.

Serve!

platedcookies©zouptonuts

***Baker’s Notes:  On the baking time, err toward the lower end.  My first batch stayed in closer to 12 minutes and I thought they were a little harder to slice in half because they were crisper.  For a softer cookie, I’d recommend 10 minutes.  Also, next time I’d use all-purpose flour on my hands to roll them into balls.  Self-rising flour contains salt and rolling them with the self-rising flour gave the outer part of the cookie a hint of salty flavor.  That’s not a bad thing if you like the sweet/salty combination.  Just a head’s up to anyone who would rather not taste a hint of salt in their cookie.

cocoa fudge cookies

Two or three times a year we have a “movie night” in our cul-de-sac.  A neighbor has an inflatable outdoor projection screen.  They stream Netflix  through their iPhone and….well, I don’t know how all the techie stuff works, but I do know I got to watch Cars II on a gorgeous spring evening with a lot of other families and their kids, noshing all sorts of tasty treats.  That’s one of the rules:  bring a treat to pass!  There’s never a shortage of food…or wine, for that matter!

This time around we opted to bring cookies.  I was scanning the contents of my pantry and spotted the unsweetened cocoa, which became my inspiration ingredient because I’m always looking for an excuse to add cocoa to baked goods.  A quick Google search turned up these little lovelies from Cooking Light.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised when they baked up thin and crispy because the picture provided with the recipe clearly presented a thin cookie.  But I was surprised to bite into one and discover, between the crisp exterior, an almost brownie-like inside.  Thin, yes, but soft and chewy and nicely contrasting to the original texture.

These cookies were delicious on their own and perfect for dunking, but given their crispy outsides I think they’d also be perfect for making a sandwich cookie.  Maybe even an ice cream sandwich-type cookie.  I didn’t try it, but I would think the outer cookie would hold up nicely if you added a layer of ice cream after they’ve cooled completely.  Serve immediately, of course.  Cookies and ice cream are not meant to be eaten slowly.  Enjoy!

Cocoa Fudge Cookies (courtesy Cooking Light, January 2002)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
  3. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

cocoa_cookies©zouptonuts

Nutritional Information (provided by Cooking Light):

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 78
  • Calories from fat: 31%
  • Fat: 2.7g
  • Saturated fat: 1.6g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 0.8g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Carbohydrate: 13.4g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Cholesterol: 7mg
  • Iron: 0.5mg
  • Sodium: 54mg
  • Calcium: 12mg