Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Miss me yesterday? Normally I post on Wednesdays and join a bunch of blog parties… but I decided to switch things up. Typically, today I would be be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. But… the challenge ingredients didn’t work well with our current dietary habits so I decided to skip out this month. You should stop by and check out the challenge though, there are, as usual, some delicious and fantastic recipes posted!

Today, I’d like to wish my wonderful, loving, best friend and boyfriend Bryan a very Happy Birthday!

Bryan — Thank you for being so wonderful! … and eating all my failed attempts at baking your favourite cake. Love you immensely!

To celebrate his birthday I’ll be making yet another attempt at making his absolute all-time favourite cake (His mom’s recipe). The pictures come from my last, and most successful, attempt at making the cake so far. My brother and I served the cake at a birthday lunch we hosted for Nana back in August. The cake went over really well despite the fudgy texture.

Nana, her sisters, and my brother Matt getting ready to enjoy their chocolate cake! (For Nana’s birthday gift, Matt and I hosted a lunch for these lovely ladies. They all loved it and had a wonderful afternoon!)

The recipe may look simple enough. But you see, I’m a terrible baker. It never seems to come out right.

At first, I tried to make the recipe, but changing some of the directions (I tried to melt/boil ingredients on the stove-top instead of in the microwave). I tried to fiddle with the ingredients (using only lard instead of adding some butter and vice versa). Less sugar maybe? Usually I get the cake right. It should be fluffy (not fudgy, which is what happened last time). The frosting is generally the tough part. It frequently comes out soupy (it should be thick). What I’ve learned… mother knows best when it comes to her own recipe! Stick to it.

What makes this cake so amazing? It’s chocolately (cake and frosting). It’s fluffy. It’s oh so sweet. And when Bryan’s mom makes it, it’s one of my absolute favourite desserts. But most important, this cake reminds me of Bryan’s wonderful and welcoming family and my trips to New Mexico.

Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups sugar  – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup lard (Crisco)  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 milk added to 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice)  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 eggs  – approximate cost $0.50

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 6 tablespoons milk  – approximate cost $0.20
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 pound or 454 grams icing sugar  – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup chopped pecans  – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the cake batter.
    1. Stir together sugar, flour, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Bring butter (or margarine), lard, cocoa, and water to a boil. (NOTE: Bryan’s mom melts the ingredients in the microwave. She also notes that she uses margarine and butter-flavoured Crisco sticks. I melt the ingredients in a pot on the stove. I have used butter and a generic brand of lard)
    3. Stir butter mixture well.
    4. Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the butter mixture.
    5. Mix well using an electric mixer.
    6. Slowly add (while continuing to mix):
    7. Buttermilk (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that you can use milk added to one-half tablespoon of lemon juice as a substitute — I use this recommendation)
    8. Vanilla
    9. Eggs (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that she uses one-half cup of egg beaters)
    10. Bake in 11×13 oblong pan for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Prepare the frosting.
    1. Bring butter or margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil in the microwave. (NOTE: For whatever reason, this direction is a must! I’ve tried melting these ingredients in a pot on the stove many times. Each attempt was unsuccessful, resulting in a liquidy frosting that never stuck to the cake. Use the microwave and the frosting will turn out thick every time.
    2. Mix well with electric mixer.
    3. Add icing sugar, vanilla and chopped pecans.
    4. Mix well with electric mixer.
  4. Pour icing over HOT cake.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 15 servings (approximate cost: $0.52 per serving).

ALMOST Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week, I attended a potluck dinner. The theme was St. Patrick’s Day – so green and/or Irish foods were a preferred contribution.

Generally, I contribute a savory food, something that can be a side dish or a main course. However, this time I decided to go with a (green) dessert. I was in class prior to the potluck and needed something that would be easy to transport and didn’t require refrigeration.

I’ve wanted to try making gluten free cookies for a while and decided this was a good opportunity. And it’s a good thing I wasn’t serving the cookies to anyone with an intolerance, because, as it turns out, these cookies did contain gluten. As I was researching gluten-free cookies, I realized the spelt flour (that I had bought in the healthy food section at the grocery store next to the gluten-free flours and cake mixes) contains gluten! According to The Kitchn:

“Spelt has a reputation as a “healthier” grain, but as far as gluten-free cooking goes, it’s out. It is a direct relative of wheat, and while its protein content may be higher and therefore better for those of us without a gluten intolerance, it will cause problems for those with gluten-intolerance. One interesting note, however, is that some people who simply have a mild intolerance say that they can tolerate spelt better than wheat. But you should still avoid it completely when cooking for those with a gluten or wheat intolerance.” (from “Cocoa to Cornstarch: Are These 10 Ingredients Gluten-Free?” on The Kitchn)

A few other things “went wrong” in the process. First, I realized after adding the green food dye that it was also mint-flavoured. This ended up not being an issue because both Bryan and I like mint. And I let my classmates know about the flavour ahead of time. Second, although the dough was green, the cookies turned out golden-brown with a green center. They didn’t look very festive. Next time, I will take them out of the oven sooner so they retain a bit more colour.

So, while these cookies were not, in the end, gluten-free… they were a delicious first attempt. (Bryan asked me to tell my classmates that they were terrible so we could have more at home). However, I promised to make these cookies again soon. However, the next batch will be truly gluten-free, substituting a bit more of each of the other flours to remove the spelt flour.

ALMOST Gluten Free Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup salted butter, softened  – approximate cost $1.50
  • ½ cup brown sugar  – approximate cost $0.25
  • ½ cup cane sugar  – approximate cost $0.45
  • 1 egg  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  – approximate cost $0.15
  • 20 drops of mint-flavoured green food dye  – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum  – approximate cost $0.50
  • ½ cup spelt flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • ½ cup coconut flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup almond meal flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 150 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips  – approximate cost $1.25

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and cane sugar.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, and mint-flavoured green food dye.
  4. Stir until well blended.
  5. Mix together the xanthan gum, spelt flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, almond meal flour, white rice flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and sea salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture ½ cup at a time, mixing well each time you add flour.
  7. Add the chocolate chips when the flour is completely blended with the butter mixture.
  8. Use an ice cream scoop to make spheres of cookie dough.
  9. Place each scoop of dough onto a non-stick baking sheet (about 5 centimeters apart).
  10. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cookie is golden (the dough on the inside of the cookie will be green).
  11. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet.
  12. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
  13. Enjoy immediately and pack a few cookies away for later!

Makes about 15 cookies (approximate cost: $0.50 per cookie).

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Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are hearts and flours. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, I’m sharing a gingerbread cookie recipe I got from my friend Kas (with slight modifications).

  • The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon ground cardamom in addition to the other spices. However, I left this out because I didn’t have the ingredient readily available in my pantry (and it was Family Day, so I couldn’t go to the store to buy some).
  • I used fancy molasses instead of unsulphured molasses.
  • I baked the cookies for 8 1/2 minutes (which made for crunchy cookies, but I would have preferred they turned out soft like Kas’s cookies).
  • I used lactose-free milk instead of regular milk.
  • I used cane sugar instead of white sugar.
  • I used sea salt instead of table salt.

Kas’s Piparkakut cookies are amazing. She tends to make them around Christmas and, if you’re lucky, you get a pack of cookies as a gift. this year, I had the privileged of making a double-batch of cookies with her during a visit. I’m not great at baking, so it was nice to go through the process with a pro (it is her family’s recipe after all!). The ones we made over the holiday were decorated with sprinkles and divided between the two of us. I gave a few away, but Bryan and I kept most of that batch for ourselves.

So, after getting the stand mixer a few weeks back, I decided it was about time that I try making these cookies at home. So on Family Day (this past Monday), I enlisted Bryan’s help with some cookie making. One thing I must point out is that the cookie dough is just as delicious as the cookies themselves. As we were rolling out the cookies, Bryan and I enjoyed many tastes of the dough before it even made it into the oven! We just got our first set of cookie cutters and made several shapes: hearts (as per the Improv Challenge), stars, multi-pointed stars and a shape we cannot agree on (I think it’s candy — Bryan thinks it’s a bone). At the end of the night, we’d sampled so much dough that we were too full to sample the finished cookies! I may have had cookies for breakfast on Tuesday morning, just to make sure they tasted ok.

A single batch, we found, was wayyyyy too many cookies for the two of us. So I’ve given a few to friends as taste testers of my first batch.

Kas and her partner got half a dozen. I was upfront with her about the changes I’d made. Their verdict? Not bad for the first batch! And they didn’t miss the cardamom too much, They only complaint was that I’d left them in the oven a touch too long and they were a bit crispier than they should be. I was already aware of this.

Another half dozen went to my childhood best friend and her sister. Our visit was unplanned, but I was glad to have a few cookies to share with them. They had also tasted a few that I had made with Kas over the holiday and had a point of comparison. They too thought the cookies were pretty good!

Finally, I gave another half dozen to my friend and her four-year old son when I went to babysit last night. She, as far as I know, hasn’t tried a cookie yet, but they also seem to be kid-approved! I allowed him to have one cookie during my visit last night and he savored it over about half an hour.

Hooray for a successful batch of cookies!

Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 ¼ cups cane sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • ¼ cup fancy molasses – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 large egg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons lactose-free milk – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (and a bit extra for rolling the cookies) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger – approximate cost $0.10
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.05
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.03

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar, and molasses until well mixed and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and lactose-free milk and stir until well mixed.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, sea salt and pepper in a separate large mixing bowl.
  5. Slowly add the flour and spice mixture (1/2 cup at a time) into the butter and molasses mixture, mixing constantly until the two are well-combined.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (the dough should be about 1cm thick).
  7. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies.
  8. Gently peel away the unused dough.
  9. Work the unused dough into a ball.
  10. Place cookies on a cookie sheet.
  11. Bake cookies for 7 1/2 minutes (until golden brown but still soft).
  12. Remove cookies to a wire rack.
  13. Repeat steps 6-12 until you use up all of the dough.
  14. Cool cookies completely before packaging or enjoy warm.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie-cutter shapes (approximate cost: $0.15 per cookie).



Cookbook Review Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy and Delicious Food, by Nisa Burns

Today, I’m sharing with you my first ever cookbook review! for my first review, I chose a cookbook that reflects my goals for this blog. The cookbook shares easy to make, affordable, and nutritious foods and is directed towards university/college-level students who are living on their own for the first time.

Kitchenability 101:

The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy and Delicious Food

By Nisa Burns

ISBN: 0985643005

List price: $17.95

Synopsis

Kitchenability 101 is a book after my own heart. Author Nisa Burns, recently a student herself, writes about healthy, affordable, and easy to make recipes for students (both who are experienced or new to cooking)

Overview

The book is divided into seven chapters that help the reader choose the right food for the right occasion:

  • Orientation
  • Wake-Up Call
  • Grab and Go
  • Choose Your Major
  • Amazing Grazing
  • Cram Sessions and Study Groups
  • Party!

The orientation section is especially helpful for beginner cooks. It lists the equipment you will need (indicating whether it is appropriate for a kitchen or a dorm room), cooking techniques you will use for the recipes in this book, and other very helpful information. It reminded me that I really need to buy a whisk!

The recipe sections are very well thought out to accommodate the student lifestyle. The Wake-Up Call section is filled with quick, easy, and healthy breakfasts, the Grab and Go section features easy to make food that you can take to class, meetings, etc. The Choose Your Major and Amazing Grazing sections feature main course meals (likely intended for dinner, but great whenever you have time to make them). The Cram Sessions and Study Groups and Party! sections feature foods that you would make in large batches and is easy to share.

Because this book has a strong focus on sharing food with others and is directed towards new cooks, I would have liked to see a bit more about common food-related allergies or intolerances. This sort of information could help the reader identify which foods are or are not acceptable for a particular occasion.

Writing style

I love the way that Nisa introduces each recipe. That is, each one is introduced with a short personal narrative about the context in which she prepared and served the recipe. For example, the Pumpkin Muffins, which I’ve tested and will share with you later in this post, she tells the reader about a Halloween party she attended with her boyfriend, the costumes they wore, and the food they contributed. This story is very relatable for the reader because of the common scenario and her casual writing style. Her casual approach to writing helps make the recipes seem feasible for the readers. In fact, I chose to bake the pumpkin muffins first because I find baking challenging, and second because Nisa made them sound so easy to prepare, I figured that even I could make these and it would turn out alright.

Recipes

I love the way that Nisa has thoughtfully organized each recipe. Most recipes have a three-page layout. The first page (on the left side of the book) is a list of ingredients, the second page is a vibrant and gorgeous photo of the final product, and the third page is the directions. Why do I like this setup? Because it makes it easy to have the book in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking. With the essential information on the left side of the book, you can place an object on the right side of the book to hold it open while you work, making easy to refer back to the ingredients and instructions pages.

In addition, the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The cooking techniques are common and written in plain language. And the ingredients are all common, easy to find items that a student could likely afford to purchase at their local grocery store.

Testing a Recipe

Now for the fun part of the review… I tested the Pumpkin Muffin recipe!

As I’ve mentioned many times before, baking is not my specialty. I tend to stick to cooking meals and will avoid making a dessert or breakfast that involves ingredients such as flour, baking powder, sugar, etc, in combination.

So why, then, did I choose to make these muffins? Because it was a challenge, because I consider myself a beginner in this category, and because I wanted to see whether Nisa’s recipe and directions could help me become a better baker.

I stuck to the exact recipe. I had most of the ingredients readily available in my pantry or fridge. I did have to add cream cheese to my grocery list for the week because it’s something I normally don’t keep on hand.

I made the muffins first thing in the morning before a day full of classes and left them on the counter to cool all day. The cat knows not to get on the counters, so I wasn’t worried that she would be interested and sneak a taste. Instead, when I got home, Bryan greeted me at the door telling me how wonderful the pumpkin muffins were. Oops! I had forgotten to mention to him that they were not ready for sampling. No worries though, it was just one.

How could I be upset? I was already ecstatic that they had turned out! They were perfectly cooked through, moist, and no lumps of flour. Hooray!

I made the frosting that evening and frosted the muffins (leaving a few unfrosted just in case) and then put the muffins to the test!

One for myself, one for Bryan, and I packed one up to share with a classmate.

I thought the frosting was too sweet (and I was a bit worried about the possible negative effects of the dairy with my lactose sensitivity). However, the unfrosted muffins were amazing and I enjoyed them very much. Bryan enjoyed the muffins either way. He liked them without the frosting as a breakfast food and with the frosting for a snack or dessert. My classmate tried the frosted muffin and loved it! She even asked if I could share the recipe with her. I assured her it would be making an appearance on the blog.

My overall impression of the recipe?

  • Easy to make
  • Ingredients I would (mostly) have on hand and are readily available at the store
  • Delicious (and moist) snack for breakfast or dessert
  • Recipe is clear and easy to follow
  • Smells delicious when baking and it was nice to come home to the smell permeating my apartment
  • Looked very pretty without too much effort (remember, I’m not great at baking, so I don’t have much experience decorating baked goods)

And, at long last, here is the recipe!

Pumpkin Muffins

Recipe is posted with permission from PR by the Book – Austin

What You Need

To make the muffins

  • 3 1/3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.75
  • 2 tsp baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil – approximate cost $1.00
  • 4 eggs – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 tsp cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tsp nutmeg – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger or a dash or dried – approximate cost $0.10

To make the frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese – approximate cost $2.50
  • Splash of milk – approximate cost $0.05
  • 3 or 4 cups powdered sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tsp vanilla – approximate cost $0.50

What You Do

As with any cake batter, you mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients. Then you mix the dry and wet ingredients together by slowly adding the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Don’t try to mix them all together at one or your batter will be lumpy with bubbles of unmixed ingredients. Believe me, a bit of baking soda or salt is gross!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Slowly add the sugar to the wet mixture, along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  4. Once all is mixed well, add the dry ingredients by half-cupfuls to the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on low to make sure the batter is completely mixed.
  5. Place paper cupcake holders in a muffin tin, then pour the batter into the muffin holders. Each should be about two-thirds full.
  6. Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, until they have risen. Use a knife to check the center; if it pulls out clean, they are done.
  7. While the muffins are in the oven, make the frosting. Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and add a splash of milk for a smoother consistency. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer.
  8. Once the cream cheese mixture is smooth, slowly add the powdered sugar and mix.
  9. Add the vanilla, and mix again until smooth.
  10. When the frosting is at a spreadable consistency, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
  11. Once the muffins are done, let them cool for approximately 40 minutes. Do not frost the muffins right away, or the heat will melt the frosting.
  12. Frost each muffin.

Makes one dozen muffins (approximate cost: $0.95 per serving).

Maybe I have a smaller thank average muffin tin, because this made 18 muffins (approximate cost: $0.63 per serving)!

Summary

But the big questions are: Would I recommend this cookbook? Would I make these muffins again?

Yes, I would, to both. This book is a great introduction to home cooking for students. It tells you what you need to start out depending on your living situation, features easy to make recipes, and readily available ingredients. Perhaps not as intentional, the recipes are affordable for students. While the recipes are mostly directed towards students who are learning to cook, there is much to offer for those who already know how to cook but are looking for recipes that are healthy, affordable, or just new to the reader. In addition, the book is affordable for its intended audience. It’s something a student could afford on their own or ask a family member to purchase for them at the next upcoming occasion.

As Nisa suggests, her Pumpkin Muffins are a great party food. I would make a double batch of the muffins to share with others (half frosted, half not to suit a variety of tastes). I would make them just for Bryan and I to pack with our lunches or as a quick breakfast before catching the bus to school.

Overall Rating

4.5/5

Want more?

Check out Nisa’s websiteFacebook PageTwitter Profile and YouTube Channel

Guest Post from Ginger Bakes: Chocolate Drizzled Mocha Cookies

Today, I’m very excited to introduce the very first ever guest post on The Cook’s Sister! Welcome Mel from Ginger Bakes!

Sound familiar? That’s because I nominated Mel’s blog for the One Lovely Blog Award back in October!

Mel and I are both participants in the monthly Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, which is how we met. We both visit each other’s blogs regularly now. And we both own some very cute kitties that like to check out the tasty treats we share on our blogs.

Mel is a fantastic baker and I’m always amazed with her creations, they’re both delicious and beautiful! Check out a few of my favourites:

Now, the part you’ve all been waiting for… the guest post and Mel’s fantastic cookie recipe that she’s sharing with us today! Take it away Mel!


Hi! I’m Mel and I’m the one behind Ginger Bakes. I found Amber’s blog on my first Improv challenge and have been following her ever since. Especially when I discovered she is a fellow Ontarioan! So when she was looking for a guest poster I jumped at the chance!

I am an avid baker, and it’s no secret that one of my favourite things to bake are cookies. They are also the perfect goodies to share. Our neighbor and friend is moving out of province and sent me home with some baking supplies saying that she would never use them up before she left.  For me it was the perfect excuse to bake something up to send her way. Since she is driving out, I needed it to be portable and travel friendly (to last the three day drive!), but also still super delicious.

Enter these slice-and-bake cookies. Easy to put together, drive friendly, and still indulgent with the chocolate drizzle. Also the hint of espresso makes it a justifiable treat for breakfast. 😉 It also makes a small batch, so it’s perfectly sized to stretch out over a long drive or if there is only a couple people in the house and you don’t want cookies sticking around for all eternity. Having said that, these also freeze beautifully and the recipe doubles wonderfully.

Chocolate Drizzled Mocha Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Chocolate Mocha Cookies - Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Chocolate Mocha Cookies – Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened (approx. $1)
  • ½ cup sugar (approx.  $0.16)
  • 1 egg  ( approx. $0.24)
  • ½ tsp. instant espresso powder ( approx. $0.08)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour  (approx. $0.32)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder (approx. $0.40)
  • ½ tsp. baking soda (approx. $0.01)
  • ¼ tsp. salt (approx. $0.01)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, melted (approx. $0.75)
Chocolate Mocha Cookies - Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Chocolate Mocha Cookies – Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Method

  1. In a large bowl, or in the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined.
  2. In another bowl, combine the espresso powder, flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add it to the butter mixture until it’s all combined.
  3. Shape the dough into a log, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (or if you are impatient like me, 30 minutes in the freezer)
  4. Preheat the oven to 350o F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the chilled dough, and with a sharp knife cut into 2mm/ ½ in slices. Arrange on your prepared sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool a couple minutes on your tray, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Once the cookies are cooled, put the melted chocolate into a disposable piping bag or a heavy duty freezer bag with the corner snipped, and drizzle over the cookies. Let the chocolate set, then enjoy!

Total approximate cost: $2.97 for 24 cookies

-Mel

Chocolate Mocha Cookies - Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Chocolate Mocha Cookies – Baked and Photographed by Ginger Bakes (http://gingerbakes.wordpress.com)

Improv Challenge: Zucchini and Brown Sugar

I’m excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are zucchini and brown sugar.

My recipe this month isn’t exactly creative. Instead, I opted for something much more sentimental… my Nana’s Zucchini Bread recipe (with a slight modification). The original recipe calls for white sugar, I’ve substituted brown sugar for the purpose of the challenge, and it worked out great!

Nana’s not sure where the recipe comes from anymore. She thinks she might have got it from one of her sisters, who possibly got it from my Great Grandmother. Either way, it’s been in the family for a while and I enjoyed many many pieces of zucchini bread as a child, especially in the fall when Nana picked the zucchini fresh from the garden.

Growing up, I thought zucchini bread was one of the healthiest treats. Why? Because it’s got vegetable pieces in it. Therefore, it must be healthy. Right? I was a bit surprised going through the recipe when I saw how much sugar it calls for. Not exactly healthy. It won’t kill you to enjoy the bread once in a while either though. Just something I will likely choose to enjoy in moderation instead of abundance, like I did as a child.

I’ll likely experiment with making a healthier version of the recipe at some point. Substituting the white flour for whole wheat, or maybe a gluten-free flour. Try cutting out some of the sugar. But that’s for another day when I’m not scrambling to make something delicious for the Improv Challenge.

Excuse me while I got enjoy some fresh from the oven zucchini bread for breakfast. I just baked it this morning!

Nana’s Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs – approximate cost $0.60
  • 2 cups white sugar (I used brown sugar for the purpose of the Improv Challenge) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, skin included – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 cup oil (I used canola oil) – approximate cost $0.40
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla – approximate cost $0.30
  • 3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup walnuts – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and grated zucchini in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Mix until well combined.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Pour the bread mixture into two (greased) loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 1 hour (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean).
  9. Allow to cool before serving.

Makes 2 loaves, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $3.30 per loaf or $0.41 per slice).


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