reeses peanut butter cup brownies

Um. I don’t really have some deep and unequivocally witty story to tell about this recipe. They’re kind of my downfall. You know when you don’t just want dessert, but you crave it to the point where you need something intensely chocolaty and melty (and oh-did you-say- peanut butter?) in your belly? That’s just what it has to be. Just put down whatever you’re doing and make brownies, then eat peanut butter chips and put what’s left in them, and cover them with reese’s cups- but make sure you buy a big bag so there’s leftovers for later. Nope, I’m not fooling around.
(Sorry there aren’t more pictures. I was too busy eating)
If you’ve ever been to Levain Bakery, then you’ll appreciate that these brownies taste exactly like the dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookie. If not, then all I can say is that this recipe is akin to a heaping 6oz mound of under-baked chocolate dough thoroughly studded with peanut butter chips. Fin. 
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
just hardly adapted from here
9-12 Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins, Cups, preferably mini of what you can find
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Unwrap the Peanut Butter Cups. When you put the brownies in the oven, put the peanut butter cups in the freezer. This will help the chocolate not melt as much.
Sift together the flour, unsweetened cocoa powder and kosher salt. Set aside.
In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the light brown sugar, sugar, melted unsalted butter and vanilla extract on medium speed for 3 minutes.
Add in the eggs, at a time.
Slowly add in the dry ingredients on low speed. Then take a spatula and fold the ingredients together.
Add in the peanut butter chips and fold them in.
Spread the batter into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Cool the brownies for a cooling rack.
Once they’ve cooled for 20 minutes, press the peanut butter cups on top of the warm brownies in rows of three.
Cool the brownies completely before cutting into pieces. If the peanut butter cups start to melt a bit, don’t worry. If they start to melt too much, place the brownies in the freezer for a couple of minutes to stop the melting.











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Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake

My friend Karen and I came to the conclusion that you know food network chefs are lying about whether or not their food is good when their reaction to tasting it is saying things like “this really is such a good temperature,” “that tiny drop of lemon really makes the dish,” or “the consistency is perfect,” instead of actually eating it. There should really be some type of barometer on the side of the TV, letting us rate the perceived deliciousness of each dish by our interpretations of people’s facial expressions as we sit an gossip about things of lesser importance as if we were regulars on The View.  I don’t really know what that has to do with anything at all, but I did find myself sampling many many foods as I baked through this long weekend. I visited my friend in Long Island who I went to Italy with (took the LIRR for the first time!) and had my first red mango. When I got home I made this gingerbread cake, which is really quite tasty; the pears become caramelized on the top and form a gooey crust, and the cake underneath is perfectly moist and spiced. Although it was good, I went out afterwards and bought Ben and Jerry’s milk and cookies and cookie dough ice creams because the cake just didn’t do it (I don’t know about you, but I don’t really crave gingerbread cakes). It’s like choosing between a chocolate lava cake and a slice of a fruit tart. They’re both delicious, and the tart is perfect to impress, but really, who are you kidding? 

Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake
from Gourmet
For topping
2 1/2 firm pears (preferably Bosc)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
For cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup molasses (preferably mild)
1 cup boiling water
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Make topping:
Peel and core pears and cut each into 8 wedges.
Melt butter in skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Reduce heat to low, then sprinkle brown sugar over bottom of skillet and cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes (not all sugar will be melted). Arrange pears decoratively over sugar and cook, undisturbed, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together molasses and boiling water in a small bowl. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes, then alternately mix in flour mixture and molasses in 3 batches at low speed until smooth.
Pour batter over topping in skillet, spreading evenly and being careful not to disturb pears, and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
Cool cake in skillet on a rack 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of skillet, then invert a large plate with a lip over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert cake onto plate. Replace any pears that stick to skillet. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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pumpkin whoopie pies

I’m a little embarassed for a few reasons, among them that I’m such a blogging slacker (I honestly think I need to make a schedule or something), and also having the first thing I write to you about in nearly a month be called whoopie pies. I really don’t understand why they can’t just be called what they are- cookies that are basically just cake, with frosting in the middle. Or something normal that I’m not embarrassed to say to people as I hand them out. Cookie cupcakes? Maybe. I’ll think of something.
Anyway, I digress from the re-emergence of pumpkin into my life. As soon as the weather dropped, I went to the supermarket determined to make something fall-like- I can be very festive, you see. I had no idea what to make, but I grabbed a few cans of pumpkin off the shelf and Googled as many pumpkin-related desserts as I could. Pumpkin pie? Too overdone. Pumpkin bars? Pumpkin cookies? Pumpkin cheesecake? My research skills began to disappoint me.

The idea of whoopie pies didn’t impress me at first either; I usually know them as being filled with a fluffy cream (almost like denser whipped cream) rather than a frosting, and I just don’t like light things in my dessert. I know that sounds awful. But dessert is dessert. If you want something light, eat fruit. So I kept looking and found a variety of recipes that called for a more frosting-like filling made of cream cheese and butter. This recipe has just that, and really tastes just like pumpkin-pie cakes with cream cheese filling. They’re so so good. But really, please call them something else when you make them. 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
from Rachael Ray
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, 1 stick melted, 1/2 stick softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, separated (the 1/2 tsp is used for the filling)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt
1-2/3 cups flour
4 ounces cream cheese, chilled
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
 In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the baking powder, the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour.
 Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, make 24 rounds of batter total for the two baking sheets (12 each). Bake until springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the cream cheese. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 2 pinches salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
 Spread the flat side of 12 cakes with the cream cheese frosting. Top each with another cake.
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lupa, sprinkles, and chili and sea salt brownies

A lot happened this week, between my birthday, dinner at Lupa, and my first Sprinkles cupcakes. I think this is the first time that it actually sounds weird to say my age- although sometimes I may act like I’m 30, 17 years sounds so old (in comparison to 16, that is).  But for my birthday itself, I went out to dinner downtown at Mario Batali’s restaurant called Lupa. I dont mean to shock anyone here, but I honestly think it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. We started with Prosciutto di Parma, and Broccoli Rabe with Stracciatella cheese. After being rejected from ordering a glass of Prosecco (I still need to wait a couple birthdays for that one) and thus taking over my mom’s glass  we moved on to our meal- I ordered Bavette Cacio e Pepe, which basically means linguini with cheese and pepper. I had been hearing of this dish for ages, about how it was incredibly simple (there’s only cheese, pepper, pasta water, and butter!) but delicious. And it was. It will be again when I go back. It made me reconsider everything I cook- why do I bother with fancy ingredients or spices or anything of the sort when mixing cheese, pepper, and water will combine to make a mouth-watering dish? Seriously.
 Afterwords, I tried my first cupcakes from Sprinkles, a new bakery from California that just opened on the upper east side. We split 4 varieties; vanilla-vanilla, red velvet, chocolate hazelnut, and chocolate peanut butter.  I was back 2 days later and tried the chai latte, pumpkin, and german chocolate flavors. I think it’s safe to say I approve.

 I don’t understand, though, when it stopped being summer. As far as I’m concerned summer isn’t over until the 21st, which means it should still be 80 degrees outside. I wore shorts a few days ago, half in an attempt to will the warm weather back, and also because I have only one pair of pants, which I couldn’t find. I’m completely unprepared. And even though I make a dent in my local ice cream store’s supply no matter which season, I had been wanting something a little warmer  and with which you can use the phrase “right out of the oven”. It just sounds so much more comforting than “I’m going to let the ice cream sit for 15 minutes so it’s not rock hard”.
 And while these brownies certainly do taste delicious while from from the oven, they also have a little heat from cayenne pepper. It’s not like youre going to be wiping tears from your eyes from the heat, but they have a tiny kick of an aftertaste that lingers on your tongue and makes you want another bite.
Kate’s Impossibly Fudgy Brownies with Chili and Sea Salt
from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite
These brownies are intensely chocolatey, fudgey (hence the name) and so so addictive. Don’t let the chili deter you.
Makes 24 (2-inch) squares
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 ½ cups sugar
3 larges eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Maldon salt (sea salt), for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a microwave or in the top bowl of a double boiler, melt together the butter and chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Meanwhile, combine the flour, kosher salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl.
Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large mixing bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla; whisk until smooth.
Fold in the dry ingredients and continue folding until no lumps remain.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle all over with Maldon salt. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted into the Allow the brownie to cool completely in the pan before cutting into 2 by 2-inch squares.
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Grilled Pork with Arugula-and-Grape Salad

I know I’ve been showering you all with (really really) good recipes lately. Real food recipes, too; ones that don’t include “2 sticks butter” as an ingredient. I hope you’ve tried a few already, because I’d hate for you to fall behind, especially with this one- pork marinated in thyme and balsamic vinegar, grilled, and covered with crumbled blue cheese, arugula and grapes.

 At home we always get in a rut with dinners- I think I’ve had the same pork chop dish (marinated and broiled) at least nearly 20 times in the past few months. Don’t get me wrong, they’re always delicious, but I felt like a change in pork chops was in order for a new school year, which, by the way, started last thursday.
I highly doubt that any of you will be as excited as me by this news, but today for lunch I had the first bagel I’ve had in over 10 years. It was life changing. I told everyone; most people thought I was crazy- “why is this girl talking to me about a bagel?”. Those who knew me better weren’t terribly surprised. But because I’ve been missing out for so long and have so much catching up to do concerning bagels, please eat them. For my sake. I need to make up for lost time. 
Oh. I forgot to mention that my birthday is tomorrow- I’ll be 17. I don’t know. I’m not a big birthday person. It feels so weird celebrating myself. But I’m going out to dinner with my mom to Lupa- Mario Batali’s restaurant in the Village. I couldn’t be more excited.
Grilled Pork with Arugula-and-Grape Salad
from Food Network Magazine
Try this with any type of blue cheese, goat cheese, or anything delicious… Parmigian shavings. I’ll stop myself.
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 5-ounce boneless pork chops
3/4 cup red seedless grapes, halved
4 heaping cups baby arugula
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese
Combine the shallot, vinegar, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil, starting with a few drops and adding the rest in a steady stream.
Put the pork chops in a shallow dish and season all over with salt. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme and 3 tablespoons of the dressing. Coat the pork and set aside to marinate for 5 minutes.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the pork until cooked through but still moist, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Add the grapes and arugula to the remaining dressing and toss to coat. Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter or individual plates; top with the salad and sprinkle with the gorgonzola
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miso glazed salmon

I think I’m getting writer’s block in anticipation of the start of school next week. I just don’t know what to say to you all except cook and eat while you can. I myself have been baking and writing. And watching tv. I took a few walks in there too. I went to the movies this past week to see The Help, and while it wasn’t the greatest movie ever, my dad and I did take one thing away from it- a craving for fried chicken. Mmmm. In Crisco. It just gets better and better, doesn’t it?
But I have been trying to try some new recipes before I start getting busy and complaining about schoolwork again. I’ve always had miso-glazed fish at restaurants, but I never realized how easy it is to make at home. This recipe in particular takes about 10 minutes or less to prepare and the flavors are just as good as any restaurant-made dish. The miso kind of melts into the salmon and creates a delicious sweet flavor, while forming a bit of a crust on top. And it’s so so healthy. You could probably substitute other varieties of fish as well, but salmon works beautifully. It may not be the best looking dish, but it’s so good.
Miso Glazed Salmon
from Bon Appetit (except they use salmon steaks over there)
Vegetable oil
4 (I was worried the 4 and 8 world blend together. Dont get 48oz!) 8oz salmon fillets
1/3 cup white miso
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Kosher salt
4 lime wedges (for serving)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; brush lightly with vegetable oil. Place salmon on prepared baking sheet. Whisk miso, mirin, vinegar, ginger, and sesame oil in a small bowl to blend. Spread half the miso mixture over salmon; season lightly with salt. Turn salmon over and spread with remaining miso mixture; season lightly with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
Position an oven rack 6″–8″from broiler and preheat. Broil salmon, turning once, until golden brown and just opaque in center, 10–12 minutes total.
Transfer salmon to plates and serve with lime wedges.
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zucchini bread, easy chocolate cake, no-bake cookies, and a hurricane

I hope, for your sake, having a hurricane blow through the northeast meant little more than wind and rain. My mom, nervous as she was, harassed me until I got all the necessities- flashlights, batteries, matches, water bottles, etc, along with enough food to feed us for a good number of weeks. Of course, we slept through what we heard was a night of heavy rainfall and woke up and had our morning coffee while watching the news. It was a bit anti-climatic, I’ll admit. Plus, the only real impact the hurricane had on us was making us put on a few pounds, because my mom and I, shut up in the house for two days, had nothing better to do than cook and bake. And eat. We started with a pot of chili. It was the best my mom has ever made, although I must say that I helped. We basically threw in everything that was in our shelves, and it seemed that the more we put in the more appetizing it became. I know I’m probably not whetting your appetite with this one. Then, we made zucchini bread, which was beyond delicious, perfectly spiced and super moist. On the second day it seemed to have even more flavor, and by the third it was just irresistible. Now it’s just gone. Actually, the recipe made two loaves, both of which we already ate. So good. Then we made chocolate cake, which was incredibly chocolate-y, rich, and I think the moistest cake I’ve ever had. It tasted almost like a brownie, but was a lot lighter and more fluffy. We didn’t realize until after eating it that it was a vegan cake (no butter, eggs, milk), and neither will you. It’s one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had- and we didn’t even put frosting on it. Actually we tried, but as it turned out the frosting had expired and thus we discovered the cake was extremely flavorful and didn’t need it whatsoever. By the time we made no-bake cookies, which I love, our taste buds, and as it turns out, our arms, were pretty tired, since we apparently didn’t thoroughly mix the peanut butter into the batter, and the result was a not exactly uniform cookie with huge globs of peanut butter inside. Albeit delicious, by the third dessert we were in dire need of a salad, or vegetables, or something. For the love of God. Thus, my mom would like to interject with her theory that the impact of hurricanes should be measured by a person’s weight gain during their in-house quarantine. According to her, this was a 3 pounder. Yum.
Zucchini Bread
just adapted from Paula Deen
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2-3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup (preferably toasted) chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.
Easiest Chocolate Cake
just hardly adapted from Organic and Chic by Sara Magid
I know that technically this cake is “vegan”,  but please pretend you don’t know that. It is so so good. And it has no butter in it (we even swapped out the oil for olive oil- all healthy fats!- but not on purpose- we ran out of the other stuff. And it was still delish).
2 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
2 cups organic cane sugar
1 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract
2/3 cup organic canola oil
2 teaspoons organic white vinegar
2 cups cold water
1 cup chocolate chips- OPTIONAL (semisweet, dark chocolate, milk chocolate- whatever’s on hand)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, or place liners in 2 muffin pans for 24 cupcakes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the vanilla extract, oil, vinegar, and cold water.
Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. The mixture will be quite wet, but this is okay. Fold in chocolate chips, if using.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. For cupcakes, the baking time is 24 to 26 minutes.
Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.
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