I want to thank each and every one of you for the kind words over the past week. I’m happy to tell you guys that the Waldo Canyon Fire is 55% contained (!!) which is absolutely insane! I don’t think anyone expected this much progress so quickly.

It was a crazy scary week and even though we were a relatively safe distance from the fire, our bags were packed and by the door. I took the below photo minutes before they announced that the fire had done exactly what we all hoped it wouldn’t do: it “exploded” and made it’s way into a neighborhood. It was the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen. They had to evacuate 26,000 people in a matter of minutes. Horses were being let loose because their owners had no other option. It was awful to watch on television and I can’t even imagine being one of those people who watched fire going up their street as they drove away.

It’s also been truly amazing to see this community work together. The news would say “Firefighters need socks!” and within minutes the #waldocanyonfire stream on Twitter would be filled with photos of cleared out store shelves. If you are looking to donate, check out HelpColoradoNow.org. And Erin will be doing a bake sale for the High Park Fire starting on Sunday – I’ll be sure to remind you because I know you want to bid.

So about these bars.

This is the second time in the past few months that I’m going to tell you something is pretty much German chocolate cake frosting spread onto a crust and baked. (First time here!) And just like that time, I decided to make these based solely on the recipe name and then was all WTF once I got halfway through the recipe. I really don’t know why I do this to myself.

But the bars are awesome so I guess that’s all that matters! Like I said, it’s like the pecan frosting you put on German chocolate cake but with chocolate chips included and then that’s baked on a shortbread-ish crust. They were so easy to throw together and they’re pretty much foolproof if you’re looking for something easy to maybe take to a 4th of July BBQ.

One year ago: Pina Colada Fruit Salad

Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chunk Bars
from The Modern Baker
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
For the topping:
  • 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups pecans coarsely chopped
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9—13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
To make the crust:
  1. Sift together the flour, baking power, and salt; set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. On the lowest speed, beat in the flour, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix only until the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth.
  4. Put the dough into the prepared pan and press it to all the sides. Bake until it is puffed and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack while you make the topping.
To make the topping:
  1. Place brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Start whisking in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla; then fol in the coconut, pecans, an chocolate.
  2. Spread the topping evenly over the crust.
  3. Bake until the filling is set and brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Cool the pan on a wire rack. Use the parchment to lift out of the pan an cut into squares.
9

These may very well be my favorite cookies ever. I’ve only ever gotten M&M cookies from the cookie aisle and while those are great, they aren’t soft. And I love a soft cookie!

Tracey shared this recipe a couple weeks back and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. I finally remembered to buy some M&Ms (at Lowe’s of all places) this past weekend and made them as soon as I walked through the door. And I’m not even going to try to lie about it – they didn’t survive the weekend.

A nasty wildfire broke out in this city that I have come to love and I have been absolutely glued to the TV. I lived the first 26 years of my life on the Gulf Coast so I’ve never seen anything like this! It’s amazing in a completely horrific way.

But back to the cookies – I haven’t cooked, baked, anything else all weekend because I can’t walk away from the TV. These cookies are literally the only thing I ate. And I’m not complaining because they are so good! They’re a little different from your typical sugar cookie in that they include cream cheese, which I guess is what keeps them so soft? It also adds a little bit of a tang that is fantastic with the super sweet M&Ms.

As of writing this, Colorado has 10 wildfires burning. If you are able to help at all check out HelpColoradoNow.org. If you are local to the Springs, Springs Bargains has been keeping a post updated about donation locations and volunteering.

Two years agoLettuce Wraps

Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
  • cups 11¼ oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cups 10½ oz sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
  • 2 oz cream cheese cut into 8 pieces
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and still warm
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups M&M's
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the â…“ cup of sugar (for rolling) in a pie plate or similar dish; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine 1½ cups of sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl. Pour the warm butter over the cream cheese mixture and beat to combine. Beat in the oil then the egg, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to start folding the dry ingredients into the wet. When the dry ingredients are partially incorporated, add ¾ cup of the M&M's to the dough. Continue mixing until a soft dough comes together.
  4. Use a cookie scoop to portion out about 2 tablespoons of dough, roll quickly into a ball, and roll through the sugar you set aside earlier. Place 12 cookies on each baking sheet. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten the dough balls into discs that are about 2 inches in diameter. Press 2 or 3 more M&M's into the top of each cookie.
  5. Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The cookies should not brown but the tops will be puffy and slightly cracked. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to the rack to cool completely.

10

This is the pie I made for my birthday. I had it for lunch and dinner yesterday. And it was awesome.

It’s so not something I’d normally choose to make for myself. I’m a big fan of the grocery store cakes with the thick white buttercream but I’ve been dreaming about this pie for weeks now. It was time to make the dang pie.

I thought this was going to be very labor intensive – I mean, a name like Chocolate Truffle Pie just sounds intimidating, right? But it wasn’t at all. If you can melt chocolate in the microwave, you can make this pie. There is a lot of waiting around but the best things in life have to sit in the fridge overnight. Or something like that.

The pie is fantastic, as I’m sure you can imagine. It’s a graham cracker crust (my favorite!) with a chocolate truffle layer and then a chocolate mousse-ish layer. With whipped cream on top! It’s super rich but it’s perfect for anyone with a deep love of chocolate. I do recommend using a chocolate you absolutely adore since it’s, well, pretty much the only ingredient.

Also, buy a massive container of heavy cream. I had to make two trips to the grocery store just for heavy cream the day I made this. And that, my friends, is not fun with 3 little people in tow.

Two years ago: Birthday Cake Ice Cream

Chocolate Truffle Pie
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 20 graham crackers I used about 1¼ cup crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
For the truffle filling:
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
For the whipped chocolate filling:
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • cups heavy cream divided
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the whipped cream:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
Garnish:
  • Shaved chocolate
Instructions
To make the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Grind graham crackers in a food processor until fine. Add butter and continue pulsing until the mixture is moistened. Press into bottom and up the sides about halfway of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Cool completely before moving on to the next step.
To make the truffle filling:
  1. Put chocolate in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate. Let sit for about 1 minute then stir until smooth. Spread into the cooled crust. Freeze until firm, 20-30 minutes.
To make the whipped chocolate filling:
  1. Heat chocolate, ½ cup of the cream, and vanilla in microwave for 20 second bursts, stirring between each one, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Be careful not to overheat! Let cool before proceeding.
  2. Beat the remaining cup of cream on until thick. Add the chocolate mixture and continue to beat until soft peaks. Spread this over the truffle filing and refrigerate overnight.
To make the whipped cream:
  1. Beat cream and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form. Spread or dollop over pie as you wish. Use a grater or vegetable peeler to make chocolate shavings for garnish (optional). Store in refrigerator until serving.
11

It’s Secret Recipe Club reveal time again! I really lucked out this month. Cooking Mimi is the blog I was assigned and it is filled with the kind of recipes that my boys love: simple but delicious! I had such hard time choosing which of her recipes that I wanted to make and added quite a few to my bookmarks (like this Sweet and Spicy Chicken) but ultimately I went with her Chocolate Cream-Filled Cake.

She sold me on this one when she said it was like those tasty Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. My husband and I have this weird thing where we hide boxes of Swiss Cake Rolls in each other’s closet and then laugh hysterically when the other person finds them. It never gets old. But anyway, he’s been gone for awhile now so there have been no Swiss Cake Rolls in the house.

And let me tell you, it does taste like a Swiss Cake Roll. But better! Because, in my world, a thick layer of buttercream is better than a thin glaze. The cake and the filling taste exactly like the rolls though!

The recipe is interesting because it doesn’t include any eggs so I was a little worried about the texture. I actually forgot that it didn’t contain eggs until I sat down to write this and since I consumed a massive amount of this cake,  I think it’s safe to say that there is no noticeable difference in textures.

I halved the recipe and made it in an 8×8 square pan, then just sliced that in half to get the layers. I did end up making a little extra filling and frosting though which should come as no surprise.

Chocolate Cream-Filled Cake
Ingredients
For the cake:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups water
For the filling:
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup shortening or softened butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the frosting:
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1/3 cup milk
Instructions
To make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 9" round cake pans and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add oil, sugar, vinegar, vanilla and water. Mix just until smooth and divide evenly between pans. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely before filling and frosting.
For the filling:
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together flour and milk. Cook over medium low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Let cool completely.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together the cooled flour mixture, shortening or butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat on fairly high until the filling is fluffy.
For the frosting:
  1. In a clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together the butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Alternately add the sugar and milk until the desired consistency is reached.
To assemble the cake:
  1. If desired split cake layers in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place bottom layer topside down on plate. Top with all of your filling if making a two layer cake, use 1/4 if making a four layer cake. Repeat as necessary until all cake and filling is used. Frost as usual, slice and serve.



19

This week’s frozen treat isn’t actually frozen but it’s a fun way to serve your frozen goodies this summer! And super simple, I promise!

I love those waffle cone bowls – you know the ones? I swear my life changed the day I realized I could buy those at the grocery store. They turn what is usually a sad event (the end of a bowl of ice cream) into a happy one (“yay! I get to eat the bowl!”). I won’t even allow myself to buy them anymore because they increase my ice cream consumption waaaaay too much.

I went searching for edible bowl ideas recently for my boys and was so excited to stumble upon this one! One ingredient. No lie. Just chocolate.

(You need balloons too.)

All you do is melt the chocolate, spoon a bit of chocolate on wax paper to act as the base of your bowl, and then stick a chocolate-dipped balloon on top of that base. They chill for a little while and then you pop the balloons!

So easy and my kids were so excited about them!

One year ago: Cosmic Brownies
Three years ago: Avocado Feta Salsa
Four years ago: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Chocolate Cups
from Bakerella
Ingredients
  • 6 small balloons water balloons are perfect
  • cooking spray
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Blow up balloons to desired size of your bowl. Wash and dry the balloons. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Melt chocolate chips; cool slightly.
  3. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
  4. Drop a small spoonful of chocolate on the wax paper. Dip one balloon into the chocolate; place on the spoonful of chocolate and press down to secure it well.
  5. Place in fridge and chill under chocolate has hardened, at least a couple hours. Once hardened, pop each balloon and carefully remove them from the bowls. Serve with your favorite ice cream!
14