Tag Archives: Dessert

Delicious, Decadent, Chocolate Fudge Brownies

The theme of this weekend was absolute and total indulgence. Which, yes, isn’t healthy if you do it all the time – but once in a while (in moderation) is 100% ok. The husband and I went out to dinner on Saturday night and Sunday night – for two amazing meals with my dad and my brother. When we got home on Sunday, we were both craving something sweet – so we decided to make brownies. This was a team effort – the husband helped me in the kitchen so the brownies would get done faster!

Now generally, I’m not a fan of boxed brownies – they never compare to what you’d get at a bakery or what you can make from scratch. And sometimes they end up tasting really dry and processed. But trust me when I say that these brownies (made from a box mix) are the real deal. You would never guess that they are “boxed brownies”! And it’s all thanks to The Fat Witch Bakery at Chelsea Market in New York.

These are seriously the best boxed brownies I’ve ever had. My husband and I love this mix – the brownies turn out super moist, dense, and just melt in your mouth. You can add fun mix-ins too – like nuts or extra chocolate chips – pretty much anything you want! The other great thing is none of the ingredients are weird or sound like chemicals in this mix – everything in the mix is something you’d probably find in your own kitchen.

To make the brownies, you need: 1 box of mix, 1 stick of butter (7 Tbsp), 3 eggs, walnuts (or other mix-ins), cooking spray to grease the pan.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease baking pan (8×8 is what we used). Empty bag of chocolate chips (this comes with the mix) into a sauce pan and add butter. Melt over low heat over the stove top (or microwave), stirring constantly.

Step 2: Once the chocolate has melted, set aside to cool

Step 3: Pour contents of dry ingredients (from mix) into a medium sized bowl. Add 3 eggs and mix until smooth. It kind of reminded the husband of vanilla pudding when it was done.

I tended to agree with him, don’t you?

Step 4: Combine the chocolate with the eggs/dry mix. If you want to add in any other fun ingredients – do it now!

I decided to add in chopped walnuts

Step 5: Pour the batter into your greased 8×8 pan and bake 30-35 min until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool and cut into squares. Enjoy!

Here is the batter, ready to bake…

And the brownies are done! They looked so good, it was so hard to wait for them to cool.

Like a land of chocolate… Once we cut the brownies, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them. I plated two for my husband

And then made him wait while I took another picture…

Then he finally got to eat. He was happy 🙂 This is seriously the best brownie mix in the world – and while you can’t beat making brownies from scratch, these come in at a close second! I’d love to hear what more experienced bakers think about this mix – try it and let me know. In the meantime, I think I’ll enjoy the brownies today as a pre-dinner snack. They’re just too good to leave on the counter!

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Guilt-Free Mini Apple Pies

Sometimes, there’s nothing more comforting than warm, gooey apple pie. I think Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of all the pies – apple, pumpkin – they’re all so warming and tasty! I’ve never made pie before at home, but in my new attempt to broaden my baking skills, I decided to give it a shot a few nights ago. When I found this recipe from Hungry Girl for individually sized, guilt-free apple pies – I knew I’d be trying it out. I couldn’t believe that each pie has only 110 calories, 0.5g fat, ~10g sugars, and 2g protein!

The recipe starts with 3 cups of peeled, cored, and diced Fuji Apples

So, of course, apples are low in calories and good for you, but what else makes Hungry Girl’s recipe so guilt-free? I think she has 3 main secrets:

  • Using egg roll wrappers instead of pastry crust. Now – to be fair, the egg roll wrappers don’t taste exactly like puff pastry when you bake the pies. But it’s close enough, and with 1 scoop of fat free vanilla ice-cream, you can’t tell the difference.
  • Using butter spray instead of actual butter (each spray has 5 calories)
  • Using only 2 Tbsp of added sugar – trust me, you don’t need more than that.

You can find the full ingredients list at Hungry Girl’s website here.

Now – for the directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Step 2: In a medium nonstick pot on the stove, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt with 1/2 cup cold water. Mix until ingredients dissolve. Add apples and stir. Bring to medium-high heat and, stirring frequently, cook until apples have softened, 7 – 10 minutes.

This is what the apples looked like when they first started cooking

And after 10 min they looked like this!

Step 3: Reduce heat to low and, stirring often, cook until thick and gooey, 1 – 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool. I was amazed that it was so easy to make such gooey, yummy apple pie filling.

Step 4: Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with foil and/or spraying it with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Step 5: Place two egg roll wrappers flat on a dry surface. Set out a small dish of water. Dip your finger into the water, and run it along all of the wrapper edges. (Repeat as needed while preparing your pockets, as it will help seal them.) Starting 1/2 inch from the bottom, place about 1/3 cup pie filling along the bottom half of each wrapper, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the sides. Your open faced pie should look like this:

And now for the close-up:

Step 6: Fold the top half of each wrapper over the filling, so that the top edge meets the bottom and the filling is encased with a border on three sides. Dab each border with water, and fold each inward about 1/4 inch to lightly seal. Press firmly along the borders with the prongs of a fork to seal completely. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat this process with remaining wrappers and filling, for a total of six mini pies.

Step 7: Spray the top of each pocket with 3 sprays of butter. Bake in the oven until edges begin to brown, 15 – 18 minutes.

Once they come out of the oven, they look like this:

Step 8: Allow to cool for 5 minutes. I decided to take another picture while I was waiting for them to cool. Aren’t they cute?

Step 9: Top with additional cinnamon and cool whip free (or Dryer’s Slow Churned Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – which is what we used). With the cool whip free, your pie will have ~110 calories. With 1/4 cup of Dryer’s Slow Churned Vanilla, your pie will have ~160 calories.

And it tasted as good as it looked! This was absolutely delicious – the perfect guilt-free indulgence.

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Guilt-free Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

As many of you know (and as you can probably tell from my recipes, I’m not really a baker. But this past weekend, while I was feeling a bit sluggish and gloomy – partly because of the weather, but mainly because I was sick – I decided to make some fun treats that would make me feel better. I was also inspired by a friend’s comment about making “healthier” desserts, so I started looking for more guilt-free versions of desserts we all love. And I came across a great recipe from Hungry Girl for guilt-free chocolate cupcakes, and decided to give it a shot.

Now, in general – I’m not a fan of processed ingredients, fake sugars, ingredients I can’t pronounce, etc. But I figured I’d follow Hungry Girl’s suggestions for this recipe and see how it turned out. Once in a while – a slightly processed but lower calorie dessert is probably not the worst thing in the world – especially if it comes in the form of a cupcake. That would be my only disclaimer in this recipe – that it’s not really an all-natural cupcake. But – disclaimers aside, it tasted AMAZING. Just like any other cupcake I’d get at a bakery! And it was really easy to make. AND the best part – each large cupcake is only ~120 calories! (More notes on how the low calorie-goodness is achieved later in the recipe).

First – The Ingredients

You can find the ingredients list here. Also – this recipe is being featured in a link party at Sweet as Sugar Cookies! Yay!

The Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a tall glass, combine cocoa mix with 2 oz. hot water. Stir until cocoa dissolves. Add 6 oz. cold water and stir well. Set aside.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, egg substitute, sweetener, and salt. Add the hot cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth.

The mixture might be slightly thinner than your normal cupcake batter – but don’t worry – it’s supposed to be that way.

Look at all that chocolatey goodness 🙂 Ok on to Step 3: Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups and/or spray with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute cake mixture among the cups.

Step 4: Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes (mine took about 18 min), until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

I loved how much the cupcakes rose – they looked so cute while they were cooling.

Step 5: To make the glaze, put marshmallow creme in a small dish. Add soymilk and mix well. I had to use a small whisk to get the glaze mixed properly because the marshmallow creme is really sticky.

Step 6: Once cupcakes have cooled completely, drizzle marshmallow glaze over them. Top each cupcake with 1/4 tsp. chocolate chips and 1 mini marshmallow. (Note – I used probably a 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp chocolate chips and no mini marshmallow)

How delicious do those cupcakes look?? And the best part is, each cupcake only has ~120 calories, 13g sugar, and 2g fat. My husband couldn’t even tell the difference between this cupcake and any other cupcake – and to tell you the truth, neither could I. This was an amazing guilt-free dessert.

Decorating the cupcakes was pretty fun too. And now the million dollar question: what makes Hungry Girl’s recipe so low in calories and guilt free? My guess is that – there are a few secrets:

  1. There’s no added oil in the recipe
  2. The added sweetness is mainly from the 25 calorie hot chocolate and the 1 Tbsp of sugar – which is only 45 calories (so a total of 70 calories in the ENTIRE recipe)
  3. The normal 1-2 eggs you add to prepared cake mix is replaced with egg substitute – which is mainly egg whites and …
  4. You don’t even use all the cake mix!

Pretty ingenious – I have to give Hungry Girl credit for making such a delicious and guilt-free cupcake – thanks Hungry Girl!

I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the cupcakes – I was proud to have one of my first successes as a baker! Meanwhile, my husband devoured the cupcake below right after I took a picture of it. Yum!

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Foodie Friday Giveaway: Gourmet, Organic, Specialty Chocolate from Fearless Chocolates!

This week, I have an AWESOME giveaway to share: some of the best organic, gourmet chocolate I’ve ever tasted from Fearless Chocolates! But first, of course, I have to announce the winners of last week’s giveaway. Last week’s giveaway had THREE winners! Congrats to….

Arushi – our grand prize winner!

And our runners up – Emily and Emily! 🙂

Congratulations to all of you! Just be sure to send me your mailing addresses, and you should be receiving your all-natural protein shakes in a few weeks. Thank you so much to everyone who entered!! And of course – you all have another chance to win in this week’s giveaway: FIVE gourmet, organic, specialty chocolate bars from Fearless Chocolate.

Yes, one lucky winner will end up with a stack of chocolate just like this from Fearless (ok – maybe not a stack quite this high 🙂 ). Fearless Chocolate is really a unique company. Not only is their logo an elephant (how cute is that!), but they are on a mission to produce organic, raw, high-quality dark chocolate with amazingly inventive and vivid  flavors that will surprise and delight all chocolate lovers.

The awesome folks at Fearless Chocolate sent me five of their chocolate bars to try (and one lucky winner will receive all five chocolate bars as well!) Each bar is flavored with exotic spices and superfoods, and are 100% Kosher, dairy-free, gluten-free, raw, soy-free and all use mineral rich, unrefined whole sugars. And of course, the chocolate is luscious and tastes great.

The flavors are:

  • 75% Dark as Midnight: A deep, rich, earthy chocolate that just melts in your mouth and only has 2 ingredients!
  • 70% Matcha Green Tea & Peppermint: A wonderful combination that marries two great flavors – and you can really taste the green tea which is pretty cool.
  • 70% Super Seeds: Made with hemp, chia and flax – this bar has a great nutty flavor while providing the benefits of three Omega 3 powerhouses
  • 70% Exploding Coconut: This one might be my favorite – although all of the flavors are amazing. This chocolate has actual raw, organic coconut flakes in it, covered with dark cacao.
  • 70% Sweet & Hot Hibiscus Ginger: The biting spice of Ginger sparked with the fruity and floral notes of the Hibiscus flower. It will keep your tastebuds intrigued!

There are two other things about Fearless Chocolate that just makes them a stellar company: 1) All of their chocolate boxes/packaging is made from 100% recycled paper and will bio-degrade in 6 months. 2) Fearless donates a 1% “bite” of its annual profits to change-makers suggested by their customers. You can even suggest organizations yourself on their website here. So by entering this giveaway, you’ll be receiving a fantastic product AND supporting a good cause!

Now the important part:

To Enter: You can enter in one of three ways –

  1. Subscribe to The Picky Eater via RSS or via email
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@pickyeaterblog)
  3. Like The Picky Eater on Facebook

Leave a comment letting me know which option above you chose! Note – if you already are a subscriber, follower, or like The Picky Eater on Facebook, just leave a comment indicating that – it will count as one entry :)

For Extra Entries:

  • + 1 Entry if you share this post on Facebook or Twitter
  • + 2 Entries if you invite 5 or more of your friends to like The Picky Eater on Facebook!

This giveaway will be open for TWO weeks. It will close on Thursday, February 24th at 11:59pm PST. I will be selecting the winner at random (via random.org) and will contact them via email. I’ll be announcing the winner on Friday, February 25th when I launch my next giveaway! Be sure to enter today–you’ll LOVE these delicious, good-for-you, gourmet, organic chocolate bars!

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Lunch at The Crepe House!

This Saturday, we spent the day in SF before going to a holiday party hosted by one of our good friends in Lower Pac Heights 🙂 We started the day at REI – shopping for our upcoming trip to New Zealand!! After all the shopping, we were STARVING! So for a late lunch, we stopped by The Crepe House on Polk Street (recommended by my brother).

I have to say, the crepes we got totally hit the spot. A low key, cozy spot in Nob Hill – it almost looks like a coffee shop from the outside vs. an amazing crepe place! The owners and people who work there are super chill and nice – you just walk up and order, and they bring the food to your table. The menu is really cool…

I love how colorful and creative it is! And they have TONS of offerings and are willing to customize things to your liking too! We started off with two large hot teas

LOVE the ginormous coffee mugs! The two crepes we got were awesome. One was the Pesto crepe: filled with cheddar, tomatoes, avocado, pine nuts, feta, pesto and spinach!

You can’t see the filling in this picture but it was seriously the most flavorful filling / crepe I’ve EVER had! And of course, you can’t get crepes without getting one dessert crepe. So we got the Banana Nutella Crepe with Walnuts and Strawberries (with whipped creme on the side!)

It seriously doesn’t get better than that! Thanks to The Crepe House for an awesome lunch!! If you’re ever in SF – you should definitely check this place out. We’ll definitely be back again soon 🙂

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Foodie Friday Giveaway: Gourmet Chocolate Gift Box (the perfect holiday treat!)

Can you believe it’s almost Christmas already?! I feel like 2010 has totally flown by – it’s crazy to me that it’s already December 17th! And of course, today is Friday 🙂 So get ready everyone – this is my last Foodie Friday Giveaway for 2010! Woohoo! And let me tell you – we’re definitely going out with a bang on this one. But of course, first – the winner of my last giveaway was… Sarah!!


Congrats Sarah! Just send me your mailing address and your cookies should arrive soon! Thanks again to everyone who entered!! I hope everyone’s having fun with my weekly giveaways 🙂 Soo – here’s your final chance to enter and win for 2010 – with Madécasse Madagascar’s amazing gourmet chocolate sampler pack!!

This gourmet chocolate gift box includes 4 bars of amazing chocolate (their most popular flavors!) Explore their rich 44% Dark Milk bar and their fruity 63% and 70% cocoa chocolate bars. And – for a change of pace, tickle your tastebuds with a savory crunch: cocoa nibs rolled in natural sea salt! In addition to these 4 bars (63% cocoa, 70% cocoa, 44% milk, and sea salt & nibs chocolate), you’ll also receive 8 assorted mini squares of chocolate and a vintage style Madagascar post card!!

Here’s what some of their bars (and part of the gift package) looks like up close:

I love how their packaging is so rustic and simple! The folks at Madécasse Madagascar were kind enough to send me their 44% milk, their sea salt & nibs bar, and mini squares of the 70% cocoa bar to taste – and I have to say – this is some of the most delicious and creamy chocolate that I’ve ever had! And the coolest thing about Madécasse Madagascar (other than the fact that their chocolate is amazing) – is that all of their chocolate is sourced and made IN Madagascar! Why Madagascar? Because many experts consider Madagascar cocoa the best in the world. Sadly, even though 85% of the world’s cocoa comes from Africa, less than 1% of the chocolate is made there. Well, Madécasse Madagascar is on a mission to change that – and all of their chocolate is sustainable and fair-trade!

So – by eating this chocolate (and entering this giveaway) – you’re supporting a very worthy cause as well 🙂 Isn’t that the perfect holiday gift? So be sure to enter this giveaway today!!

Now the important part:

To Enter: You can enter in one of three ways –

  1. Subscribe to The Picky Eater via RSS or via email
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@pickyeaterblog)
  3. Like The Picky Eater on Facebook

Leave a comment letting me know which option above you chose! Note – if you already are a subscriber, follower, or like The Picky Eater on Facebook, just leave a comment indicating that – it will count as one entry :)

For Extra Entries:

  • + 1 Entry if you share this post on Facebook or Twitter
  • + 2 Entries if you invite 5 or more of your friends to like The Picky Eater on Facebook!

This giveaway will close on TUESDAY, December 21st at 7:00pm PST. I will be selecting the winner at random (via random.org) and will contact them via email. I’ll be announcing the winner on Tuesday night, as part of my last blog post for 2010!

Be sure to enter ASAP! These gourmet chocolates are the perfect holiday treat! 🙂

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Amazing Cherry, Almond Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Cookies!

So, ok, technically cookies aren’t healthy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t eat them! As most of you know – my philosophy is: everything in moderation. So one or two amazing freshly baked cookies once in a while (especially during the holidays) is totally warranted! Life isn’t about deprivation – it’s about enjoying real, whole foods and delicious treats on occasion 🙂 And for me – I will totally indulge in sweet treats – but I just try to pick things that are made with real butter and real sugar and doesn’t have any weird ingredients that I can’t pronounce. Which makes homemade goodies some of my favorite desserts to enjoy!

When my friend brought over these cookies, I thought they were freaking amazing. And even better with a tall glass of milk! So I had to share the recipe with all of you. The recipe comes from Epicurious, and I love all the variety in the ingredients! Here’s how they turned out…

How good does THAT look?? I couldn’t decide which lighting I liked better so I put both pictures in haha. I love how the cookies are so chunky and delicious – every bite has a surprise in it!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

And for the directions, just go to the recipe on Epicurious. I think I’m going to whip up a batch of these and take them to my next holiday party over the weekend! What are your favorite cookie recipes?? I’d love to hear from you!

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And if you’re looking for amazing gluten-free chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, be sure to enter my giveaway here!

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