Energy Balls

Energy Balls 3

Nailed it!  These energy balls are perfect for a bite on the go, or if you just realized you forgot to eat today …… (Hello Hayley).  This is the perfect recipe for a little creative flexibility.  We don’t like raisins, so you won’t find any here but they could easily be used in place of cranberries or the dried cherries.  The only thing that matters is that you use 2 cups of dried fruit – use any combination you like.  With all the peanut allergies in schools and restrictions with it (Hello Liv), you can easily replace the peanut butter with any nut butter you like.

Energy balls 2

A big part of the success story is your ingredient source …. Rancho Vignola has amazing nuts, seeds, and baking products.  Make sure you have great quality supplies.                                         Nope, this isn’t a sponsored post, I just love their products!

  • 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 cup oats (I use a combination of quick cooking and large flake oats)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried cherries (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted coconut flakes
  1. Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  2. In a separate small bowl stir peanut butter and honey together until smooth and well incorporated.
  3. Stir into dry ingredients, and mix well.  Again, I find your hands the best tools you’ve got.  Make sure you mix well …. those pesky little sesame seeds like to hide in the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Once you’ve got it all mixed, form balls and roll in the toasted coconut.  I find it helps to put a little coconut in my hands too and that really helps it to adhere.

Energy Balls 1

Store in the fridge for up to a week, or keep them in the freezer for a couple of months (if they last that long).

 

 

Irresistible Turtle Cheesecake

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Not sure how a cheesecake can be creamy, delectable and somehow light at the same time.  As an added bonus, it’s easy to make.

 

3 cups cups finely crushed chocolate wafers (or use a combo of graham and chocolate wafers)

3 Tbsp. butter, melted – use your judgement, may take a little more to get the crumbs to stick together
1/4 cup caramel sauce (plus more for drizzle)
1/4 cup chocolate sauce (plus more for drizzle)
1 cup chopped and roasted pecans
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 eggs
I used a 9 1/2″ springform pan for this cake – depending on the size of your pan, you may need to adjust slightly for the amount of crumb.
Heat oven to 325°F.
Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 1-1/2 inches up side of 9 1/2 inch springform pan.
Sprinkle toasted and chopped pecans over crust layer, and top with the caramel sauce.
turtle cheesecake 1

I used a combination of chocolate and graham crumbs and really loved the way it turned out,

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each one, until really smooth.  Pour over caramel layer in crust.  With an offset spatula smooth the top.
I always like to bake my cheesecakes in a water bath – this makes them even smoother and creamier, as well as less likely to crack on top.
turtle cheesecake 2
TIP – Double wrap your cheesecake pan with foil, then set in large roasting pan.  Put this in your preheated oven, and ONLY THEN fill with hot water until about 1/2 way up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake 1 hour 5 min. to 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.
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When the cake is completely cooled, remove from springform pan and sprinkle reserved pecans over.  Then drizzle with both caramel and chocolate sauces.  Irresistible.
turtle cheesecake 5
You can be as creative as you like with both the caramel and chocolate sauces.  They are easy enough to make, but if you are inclined to take it easy on yourself, just buy them.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf

Still trying to use up zucchini???  Here is a winner, hints of my Mexican Chocolate cake in this loaf, with a bit of cinnamon added to the chocolate and coffee flavours.  If any loaf recipe uses up 2 cups of zucchini it has to be healthy, right??

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf 2INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder (instant)
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (squeeze all the moisture out)
  • 1 cup good quality chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  (you don’t have to do this step but I like the way it helps remove the loaf from the pan cleanly)

METHOD

Grate your zucchini and allow it to sit while you do everything else, so important to remove the excess liquid.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf

In a large mixing bowl stir the brown sugar into the melted butter and mix until all the sugar has dissolved, then add the eggs one at a time.  It is really important to add the butter before the egg so you don’t cook the egg!  Stir in the vanilla and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, espresso. Whisk to make sure it is all blended together.

Stir dry ingredients into the brown sugar mixture until just combined.  Gently fold in the zucchini and the chocolate.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf 3

 

This makes a VERY thick mixture, but don’t worry, it will be moist and delicious.

Pretzel Bark

 

You might want to call this pretzel crack, because it is totally addictive!!  We make it for a Christmas treat to share with family and friends, but I’d advise you to make enough to keep for yourself too …

Pretzel bark

INGREDIENTS:

  • About 8 ounces (half of a 1-pound bag) mini pretzels, broken into smaller pieces, more or less to cover the pan
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups (one 12-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 11X17-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Cover the bottom of the pan in a layer of broken mini pretzels. Set aside.
  2. In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and brown sugar. When the mixture starts to gently simmer and bubble, let it cook for 3 minutes without stirring. Immediately pour the hot caramel mixture over the pretzels in a back and forth motion to cover most of the pretzels (a few empty/dry spots are ok as the caramel will fuse together during baking).
  3. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the hot caramel and pretzels. Let the chocolate chips sit for 2-3 minutes until they melt. Use an offset spatula or rubber spatula to gently spread the melted chocolate over the toffee. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Let the toffee cool completely at room temperature then refrigerate if needed to help the chocolate set up. Break the toffee into pieces and try not to eat the whole batch.

(I found this recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

Best Chocolate Oat Cupcakes

Chocolate Oat Cupcakes

If you call these a muffin, and focus on the oat flakes you could even consider this a breakfast item ….but I don’t know if you’d get away with that in my house.  Putting oat flakes into these chocolate muffins may make them a healthier snack, but they are still a treat!

  • 1 cup quick cooking oats (not rolled oats)
  • 1 3/4 cup very hot strong coffee (use decaf if you like)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten and best at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 TBSP real cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (mini ones melt best, but if you like a bit of a chunk of chocolate in there use the larger ones)

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tins and set aside.

In a bowl, combine quick oats with VERY hot coffee.  Stir well and set aside, covering to keep warm.

In separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt cocoa powder and cinnamon.

In stand mixer cream butter with both sugars, using paddle attachment.  Beat until light and creamy.  Add vanilla and eggs.  Mix well.

Add dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Add hot oat/coffee mixture and chocolate chips, mixing it in by hand.  If you used mini chocolate chips and your oat mixture was warm enough they will melt, however if you used larger ones you will still have mini bits which I thought was perfect …

Spoon (or use ice cream scoop) mixture into paper liners, filling about 2/3-3/4 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, just until an inserted toothpick comes out almost clean.

Allow to cool in muffin tins.

These are great with pretty much any topping, or even left alone.  Today I made them with a raspberry buttercream icing and they were a real hit.

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I think these might be my new favourite cookie. I usually go for a crisper cookie, but these are soft and chewy and absolutely delicious.

Deliciously soft and chewy

Deliciously soft and chewy

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2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup fine coconut flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate
(We really like a fine bit of chocolate throughout, so we grated it, but if you like it a bit chunkier, just roughly chop it)
1 cup pecans, chopped
large flake sea salt for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl … Flour, oats, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon and kosher salt. Stir well to combine.

In large mixing bowl cream butter with the 2 sugars. When this is light and fluffy add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla.

Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture until well combined. Stir in pecans and chocolate.

Roll into 2″ balls and place on cookie sheet, about 2″ apart. Gently press down slightly.

Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes.

The minute they come out of the oven, quickly toss on a bit of sea salt for garnish.

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Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Pecan Glaze

A hint of cinnamon, a whiff of coffee, and a moist delicious chocolate cake - doesn't get much better than this!

A hint of cinnamon, a whiff of coffee, and a moist delicious chocolate cake – doesn’t get much better than this!

CAKE
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup cold coffee, or espresso
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have it – use 1 tbsp lemon juice and fill to 1/2 cup with milk)
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt cake pan well and dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.

Melt butter (2 sticks) in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in cocoa. Add coffee and whisk until smooth, then remove from heat. Whisk in separately sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl, then sift again into cocoa mixture and whisk until just combined (don’t worry if there are lumps).

Pour batter into cake pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 45 to 55 minutes. (Leave oven on just to roast pecans.)

Cool cake in pan on a rack 20 minutes, then loosen edges with a thin knife and invert onto a plate.

GLAZE

2 cups chopped pecans (71/2 ounces) Roast lightly until slightly browned – set aside.
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, then stir in half-and-half and confectioners sugar. Add chocolate and cook, stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in pecans and salt. Cool glaze until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Spoon glaze over top and sides of cake (cake will still be warm) and spread with a small offset spatula or knife to cover completely.

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