Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

IMG_2533“Did you MAKE these?!” my father asked with his mouth full, turning the the half-eaten object in his hand from side to side with an expression of glee.

“Um, yes.” I replied.

“What is IN them?”

“Dad, they’re banana slices dipped in chocolate. And frozen. That’s it.”

“Really?!”

“Really.”

“You could sell these at [name of expensive restaurant in our town] for lots and lots of money. Seriously, serve them up on a fancy platter and no one would ever know the difference.”

“Haha.”

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All jokes aside, these frozen chocolate banana bites have serious show-stopping potential, despite their short list of ingredients and the minimal effort involved in making them. All I did was melt together some dark chocolate chips with a little peanut butter (because in my world, where there is chocolate, peanut butter must follow), dunk banana slices in the mixture, and sprinkle a little shredded coconut over the tops. Then I froze them. Thirty minutes later I had a Tupperware full of delicious chocolatey treats that my family couldn’t believe I had created all by myself. Of course in reality it was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life, practically kinda sorta.IMG_2540

These really are some of the easiest treats I’ve ever made, but they taste so fantastic! According to my (questionably hyperbolic) father, they just might be “the best” things I’ve ever made. The frozen banana tastes remarkably similar to vanilla ice cream, tucked inside a shell of dark chocolate with just a hint of peanut butter. The coconut sprinkled on top was the icing on the cake for our family, but if you aren’t a coconut fan (oh, the horror!) just leave it off. Although you probably didn’t need me to tell you that, you intelligent people you.

So basically, in a matter of 15 minutes you can be popping these babies in the freezer. No sink full of dirty dishes, no oven heating up your house, no excessive amount of time suddenly robbed from your day. And you get a ton of frozen chocolate banana bites out of it. You’re welcome!IMG_2556

Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

2 bananas, sliced into 1/2-inch disks

1 cup chocolate chips

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter*

Shredded coconut, for sprinkling

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.

Place the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (or use a double boiler if you have one). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Working quickly, use a fork to dip each banana slice in the melted chocolate and coat it entirely, then transfer to the prepared cookie sheet. When all the banana slices are covered in chocolate, sprinkle with shredded coconut if desired.

Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has hardened, and then transfer the banana bites to an airtight container. Enjoy these straight out of the freezer!

*If needed, you can omit the peanut butter and melt a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil along with the chocolate instead.

 

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No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

IMG_2440I’m sitting here in shorts and a tank top, the thermometer reads 78.4 degrees, and I have an awesome tan line on my neck/shoulder from wearing a side ponytail all day while out in the sun (<—fail). So basically, for all us Pacific Northwest wussies, it’s a sweltering summer day. Sorry if you happen to live in Phoenix or something and would give up an arm and a leg to have a 78.4-degree day right about now, but up here in the land of clouds and drizzle we consider this a hot day indeed. Or at least I do. But I still love it!

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Even though I really do enjoy the warmer weather, it certainly doesn’t make me too excited to turn on the oven for a baking project in the middle of the day. Instead I turn toward no-bake desserts like these awesome little energy bites. The good news about these treats is that they aren’t full of fat and sugar to weigh you down. They’re made with a super short list of fresh, healthy ingredients and are gluten-free, vegan, and contain only natural sugars. (If you’re making them gluten-free, be sure to use gf oats!) You do need a food processor for these, but if you don’t have one don’t worry. Just try these other wonderful energy balls instead!IMG_2451

My family went nuts over these cookie-dough-like bites. They’re perfect as an after-dinner treat or as a little snack to pick you up from an afternoon slump. You could even grab a few for breakfast! I love how in a matter of minutes I can be eating these delicious, nutritious little balls in a house that hasn’t turned into a sauna from a 350-degree oven. It’s almost like eating chunks of oatmeal-chocolate-peanut butter cookie dough, but the ingredients are actually good for you…summer eating at its finest!IMG_2444

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

Makes about 24 small bites

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup quick-cook oats

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup dates (about 12 dates, or 86 grams)

2 tablespoons water*

Shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips, or extra cocoa powder for rolling (optional)

Directions:

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for the water. Process until the mixture clumps together. Add in the water and pulse until incorporated. Pinch off pieces of the mixture and form into small balls (I ended up with about 2 dozen). Roll in shredded coconut, chocolate chips, or cocoa powder if desired. Store the bites in the refrigerator.

*To make the bites a little sweeter, substitute 1 tablespoon agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup for 1 tablespoon of the water

(Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

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Since I was little, I’ve been a notorious cookie-dough lover. Whenever my mom and I  baked cookies I would do whatever I could to make sure I ended up with a sufficient number of tastes before the cookies made it into the oven. That meant licking the spatula, licking the spoon, scraping the bowl, and forming the dough balls with my fingers so that I could have an excuse to lick them, too. It’s a wonder I never got salmonella! No matter, I loved my cookie dough. Once in a blue moon I managed to convince my parents to buy a roll of Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough, which always seemed to taste so much better than any homemade dough. Most likely because of all of the artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives. But boy did that dough taste good!

I wish I could say that I’ve overcome my cookie dough addiction, but sadly I have not. In all honesty I much prefer cookie dough to actual cookies, which is too bad since cookie dough contains raw eggs and I know I shouldn’t be eating it. Sigh. The good news is, there are more of my kind in the world! Other cookie dough addicts! Like Lindsay Landis from Love and Olive Oil, who wrote an entire cookbook full of eggless cookie dough recipes! My dream come true. This recipe for cookie dough fudge is from her book, and it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. I can only handle eating one tiny delicious square at a time since it’s so rich…it tastes exactly like you’re eating a hunk of raw cookie dough! Also, since it’s eggless there’s absolutely no risk of making yourself sick…unless of course, you eat the entire pan. And with this fudge, I wouldn’t blame you.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

Yield: one 8″x8″ pan, about 36 servings

For the cookie dough:

1/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

2 Tbs half-and-half

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

For the fudge base:

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup butter

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup half-and-half

4-5 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (for topping the fudge)

Directions:

Line an 8″x8″ baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang around the edges. Set aside.

For the cookie dough, in a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, salt, and half-and-half. Stir in the flour, mixing just until combined. Fold in the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Set aside.

For the fudge base, in a medium-sized saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, salt, and half-and-half. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be smooth. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla. Add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. (The more powdered sugar you add, the sweeter and thicker the fudge will be). Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes before proceeding.

Fold the cookie dough into the fudge mixture. If you like chunks of cookie dough, gently fold so that the two mixtures aren’t completely combined; if you want a uniform fudge, mix the cookie dough in completely. Press the fudge into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips and gently press them into the dough.

Chill for 3-4 hours. Then lift the fudge out of the pan, invert onto a cutting board, and slice into squares. This fudge can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator!

(Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, originally from The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook)

Caramel Pretzel Turtles

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I’ve always wondered why in the world of baking, “turtles” referred to a combination of caramel and pecans. I’ve heard of turtle ice cream, turtle sundaes, and turtle brownies and could never understand what caramel and pecans could possibly have to do with turtles. Until I made these Caramel Pretzel Turtles and had a revelation. When pecans are whole, they look a lot like a little turtle shell. Mystery solved! I could be wrong about this, but let’s just say I’m right because it makes such perfect sense. I love it when things actually make sense, unlike the facts that:

A fat chance and a slim chance are the same thing

Feet smell and noses run

We play at recitals and recite at plays

Quite a few and quite a lot mean the same thing

We fill out forms by filling them in

We drive in parkways and park in driveways

The word lisp has an “s” in it

It’s nice to know that these Caramel Pretzel Turtles actually have a legitimately logical name. And I can guarantee that when you pop one of these salty, caramel-y, chocolatey, nutty little turtles into your mouth, everything will feel right in the world. These are dangerously delicious turtles, my friend.

Caramel Pretzel Turtles

Yield: 24 candies

2 dozen pretzels (I like to use the square kind)

2 dozen Rolos

2 dozen shelled pecans or M&Ms

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or baking mats. Place pretzels onto cookie sheets and top with Rolos. Bake for 3-4 minutes, or until chocolate is shiny but still maintaining its shape.

Immediately press a pecan or M&M onto each pretzel. Allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate is set.