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Make Them Merry With This Dark Chocolate-Pumpkin Holiday Cake

Does your family love the holidays? Make them merry with this decadently delicious (and oh-so-easy) dark chocolate-pumpkin holiday cake.

When the holiday season rolls around, I make sure my pantry is stocked up with all the staples needed for holiday baking: all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, butter, cocoa powder, and every kind of chocolate you can think of!

Pumpkin is a great seasonal ingredient to showcase in holiday baked goods, but I decided to add a twist to this dark chocolate-pumpkin holiday cake: chopped pistachios! Just the right crunch to make this rich holiday cake even merrier for the tongue. I think this is going to become a new family favorite for Christmas morning (if it lasts that long).

Bob's Red Mill Flour and ingredients for dark chocolate-pumpkin holiday cake

Dark Chocolate-Pumpkin Holiday Cake Ingredients

Like every recipe, it’s always easier to bake or cook when you have all your ingredients ready to go (aka mise en place). I use the best ingredients I can find.

dark chocolate-pumpkin holiday cake

Like rich, dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

dark chocolate-pumpkin holiday cake

Raw, shelled pistachios. Organic free-range eggs — and Bob’s Red Mill flour.

Bob’s Red Mill products have always stood for quality, so it’s one of my go-to ingredients when I get into high gear for my annual holiday baking bonanza. And while I do like to experiment in the kitchen with flavors and textures, I don’t want to experiment with key ingredients – like all-purpose flour – that are essential to baking success. I trust Bob’s Red Mill products and I really like that they have several options for a wide variety of flours, including organic and gluten free.

Every baker has to have all-purpose flour on hand; it’s a kitchen staple and can be used for virtually every baking need. I like that Bob’s Red Mill’s All-Purpose Flour is unbleached and organic. It’s freshly milled from organic hard red wheat – and both the bran and the germ are removed. That leaves the endosperm, which is then made into white flour.

And it’s not enriched with any additives. That means you can trust it to produce high, well-textured loaves of bread equally as well as it produces light, airy baked goods. (It’s the same high-protein flour used by professional bakers!) Click here to download a $1 off coupon for any Bob’s Red Mill product!

When you use quality ingredients in your baking and cooking, you can see it and taste it. I know I can depend on Bob’s Red Mill to deliver every time I open my oven door.

dark chocolate-pumpkin holiday cake

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Dark Chocolate-Pumpkin Holiday Cake

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 12 servings


2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups dark chocolate chunks or chips
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped


Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray with flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached All-Purpose White Flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar. Add melted butter, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined. Fold in pumpkin.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Whisk until there are no lumps. Fold in dark chocolate chunks and chopped pistachios. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Level with spatula.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until cake has risen, crackled and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Store in airtight container for a few days. Makes about 12 servings.


Chicago Mix Brownie Cookies

Happy National Brownie Day, y’all! I am excited to share a recipe for brownie cookies that I’ve “jacked up” with some Garrett’s Cheddar cheese and Caramel Crisp popcorn!


My advice: buy a larger bag than what you need for the recipe. If you’re like me, half of it will be gone by the time you start baking in the kitchen. It’s hard to resist Garrett Popcorn!


The contrast of savory Cheddar cheese and sweet Caramel Crisp popcorn is genius on its own. But wrapped inside a brownie cookie takes it to a whole other level of decadence and goodness.

Chicago Mix brownie cookies


Chicago Mix Brownie Cookies

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 16 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen cookies


12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups Garrett Popcorn Chicago Mix flavor


Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips on high for about two minutes. Stir with a spatula to facilitate the melting process. Continue heating in microwave in additional 30-second intervals, and stirring after each interval. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Stirring after each interval will ensure the chocolate melts evenly and the chocolate will continue to melt while you are stirring. Stir until completely melted; set aside and let cool.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or mixing bowl of a stand mixer), beat together butter and brown sugar (about two minutes on medium speed). Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined.

With mixer on low speed, alternately beat in chocolate and flour mixtures. Mix just until combined. Fold in the Chicago Mix popcorn. The dough will be very thick and the popcorn will begin to breakdown in the batter.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, two inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for two minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.


Rum-infused Bing Cherry & Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake

Growing up, I remember visiting relatives who lived on this massive farm. At least to a young kid, it seemed like the farm was so huge that it could have been a country all to its own. The one thing I remember most from those visits was the fun I had climbing a cherry tree in the back yard.

Not being much of an outdoorsman at age 10, I was proud that I could climb the tree on my own and hold court among the cherry blossoms. I thoroughly enjoyed picking fresh cherries from the tree and savoring their natural sweetness.

I’m sure if I had actually lived on that farm, I would have had the daily chore of cleaning up fallen cherries off the ground. And that might have ruined what was to become my life long love affair with cherries.

To this day, I love anything with dark, sweet cherries. So when cherries are at their peak, I get swept away walking through the produce aisles at the grocery store. Just luck at these cherries! Can you blame me? Rum-infused Bing Cherry Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake_5 I actually bought a bag of sweet, dark Bing cherries and some Ranier cherries. I washed and pitted the cherries, freezing the Ranier cherries for a recipe on another day. Rum-infused Bing Cherry Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake_4I decided to macerate the Bing cherries in some Captain Morgan® 1671 rum. It’s a new, limited edition rum blend that commemorates Captain Morgan’s last flag ship, The Satisfaction. This Caribbean rum has aromas of sweet oak and dark fruit – with hints of chocolate. That makes it perfect for this olive oil cake with Bing cherries and dark chocolate chips. Rum-infused Bing Cherry Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake_2 Macerating is just like marinating. I took a canning jar and filled it with pitted Bing cherries. Then I topped it off with Captain Morgan 1671 Rum. I let cherries soak for a few hours, but you could also let it soak overnight in the refrigerator. Just don’t throw out the rum after the cherries are done macerating! By itself it makes for a nice sipping companion while you’re baking – or a great addition to an ice cold Diet Coke. Rum-infused Bing Cherry Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake_1 This batter is quite thick, so use a sturdy spatula or spoon when you start to incorporate the chocolate chips. You could also mix the Bing cherries into the batter, but I prefer to layer them evenly on the batter to ensure nearly every bite of this rich cake has a burst of rum-infused cherry in it.

I wonder what cherry-inspired desserts Martha Washington made for George? This cake is definitely good enough for even the most presidential guests at your dinner table. Rum-infused Bing Cherry Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake_3 I like to serve this cake while it’s still warm. The chocolate, cherries and rum make for a seriously decadent flavor combination. Fresh Bing cherries and Caribbean spiced rum. Now that’s what summer should taste like! Rum-infused Bing Cherry Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake_hero_a

Rum-infused Bing Cherry & Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake

Rating: 51

Yield: 12 servings

Rum-infused Bing Cherry & Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake


3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 and 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips, divided
2 1/2 cups fresh Bing cherries, pitted


In a resealable container, soak Bing cherries in 1 cup of rum. Let cherries macerate for at least a few hours, and up to 24 hours.

Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly coat a 9" round cake pan with butter; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar for a few minutes, letting air incorporate into the mixture. Add vanilla, olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add dry mixture to the wet mixture. Mix until combined; batter will be thick. With a spatula, stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.

Pour half of the batter into your prepared baking pan. Spread about 2 cups of cherries evenly. Save 1/2 cup of macerated cherries for a garnish. Spoon remaining batter over cherries; it's okay if the fruit peeks through the batter.

Bake until lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes in a convection oven. If you use a non-convection oven, baking time will take a bit longer.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from cake pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Cut cake and serve with reserved Bing cherries as garnish. Put remaining chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; heat on HIGH for 60 to 90 seconds or until melting process has just started. Remove from microwave and stir with teaspoon until completely melted. Drizzle warm chocolate over slices and Bing cherry garnish; serve immediately.

 Disclosure: I was given a free sample of Captain Morgan® 1671 Commemorative Blend to review. I get no additional benefits for talking about this product or company. All opinions about this product are 100% my own.


S’mores Marshmallow Pop’ms

The arrival of summer means that s’mores season is in full bloom. It’s almost impossible to ignore the grocery store end-cap displays stacked with Hershey bars, marshmallows and graham crackers. No one ever said s’mores were subtle!

I don’t think I’ve been near a real camp fire since I was a teenager. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the iconic foods you can make with an open flame. This recipe was inspired by the new stackable, flat marshmallows. You’ve seen them; they’re marketed as an easier way to make s’mores any time of the year. A marketing message I can get behind!

s'mores marshmallow pop'ms

All you need is three ingredients (chocolate chips, graham crackers and marshmallows) and 90 seconds in the microwave to feed that childhood craving for a sweet treat.

Start by melting a cup of Hershey’s milk chocolate chips in a microwavable ramekin. After 90 seconds, stir the chocolate chips to facilitate the melting. If needed, heat in additional 30-second increments and stir until melted and smooth.

s'mores marshmallow pop'ms

You could use your fingers, but I’ve found that to be really messy. So I recommend taking a small fork and piercing a marshmallow, then dipping it in the chocolate until the bottom is coated.

s'mores marshmallow pop'ms

Then dip the marshmallow, chocolate side down, in the graham cracker crumbs.

s'mores marshmallow pop'ms

Shake off the excess crumbs, and set the s’mores marshmallow pop’ms on a plate with the chocolate side facing up. Repeat the process with remaining marshmallows.

s'mores marshmallow pop'ms

Before you know it, you’ve got 2 dozen bite-sized portions of s’mores goodness to share with your family. Or not. That’s totally your call.

S’mores Marshmallow Pop’ms

Rating: 51

2 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

3 s'mores marshmallow pop'ms



Pour the graham cracker crumbs in a ramekin or small plate for dredging. Set aside.

Pour the chocolate chips in a microwavable ramekin. Cook on HIGH for 90 seconds in the microwave. Stir the chocolate chips to facilitate the melting process.

If needed, cook in additional 30-second increments, followed by stirring, until chocolate is melted and smooth.

Using a fork, pierce a marshmallow on one side. Then dip the other side of the marshmallow in the chocolate, followed by dredging in graham cracker crumbs. Shake off loose crumbs, and put on a plate.

Repeat with remaining marshmallows to make 24 s'mores marshmallow pop'ms.


Reimagine Your Caramel Blondie Bars

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hershey’s®. All opinions are 100% mine.

In the early 1900’s, Chicago was known as the Candy Capital of the World. With so much rich – and decadent – confectionery history, I’m always eager to learn the stories behind some of the most popular candy brands.

I was amazed to learn that the Lancaster Caramel Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was founded by Milton Hershey in 1886. It was his FIRST successful candy company and established him as a successful businessman.

He would later launch the Hershey Chocolate Company – the one most of us know today – as a subsdiary of the Lancaster Caramel Company. When he sold the Lancaster Caramel Company in 1900, he kept the Hershey Chocolate Company because he thought there was a large market for chocolate confections. Ol’ Milton was indeed a candy genius!

Now Hershey’s® has launched a new line of soft caramels, Hershey’s® LANCASTER Soft Crèmes, inspired by Milton’s original recipe. They come in three flavors: Caramel, Vanilla and Caramel, and Vanilla and Raspberry.

You can find lots of fun information about the new LANCASTER Soft Crèmes online, including a variety of sweet recipes and a $.75 coupon toward purchase.

I sampled both the Vanilla and Raspberry and Caramel flavors. The Vanilla and Raspberry cremes are great right from the package, but I decided to try the Caramel cremes featured in a recipe for Caramel Blondie Bars. I made a few minor modifications, but the recipe is very straightforward and makes it easy to whip up a fun treat for the family.

Caramel Blondie Bars with Hershey's LANCASTER Soft Caramel Cremes

Caramel Blondie Bars


  • 20 LANCASTER Caramel Soft Cremes, cut and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room tempterature
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick spray to ensure easy removal. Set aside.

Remove the wrappers from caramel candies. Cut each caramel into quarters. Toss the caramel pieces with 1 tablespoon flour to keep the pieces from sticking together.

LANCASTER Caramel Cremes cut into quarters

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat well.

In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the web mixture. Beat until well blended. Fold in the caramel pieces.

Spread the batter into your prepared baking pan. Using a spatula, ensure the batter is evenly spread in the pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Caramel Blondie Bars fresh from the oven

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 16 bars.

Caramel Blondie Bars cut into 16 bars

Overall, I really liked this recipe. Folding the caramels throughout the batter gave every bite a delicious burst of caramel. My only suggestion for improvement would be to add a cup of Hershey’s® Milk Chocolate Chips to balance the decadent caramel flavor. YUM!

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Are you part of the Burger Nation?

This post brought to you by Private Selection. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Burgers are every bit as American as hot dogs or apple pie. Everywhere you travel in these great United States, you’ll find local interpretations on what makes for the best burger toppings and flavor combinations.

Now Private Selection® and the Kroger Family of Stores have teamed up and are inviting customers to share their favorite toppings and taste combinations on their Burger Nation microsite and to “Make Your Grill Mark on the Nation.” Private Selection® offers artisan-inspired gourmet-quality meats, cheeses, desserts and cooking ingredients.

My Burgers Are NEVER Boring

While a burger can be fairly simple, I’ve found that layering and the right combination of ingredients is the secret to burger success. The latest original burger creation to come out of my kitchen is the Turkey Burger with sun-dried tomatoes and minced onions. Pan-fried in Worcestershire sauce, it’s served on a toasted pretzel bun and topped with crispy, thick-cut bacon and crunchy peanut butter.

Out. Of. This. World. Crazy. Good. It has just the right amount of sweet and savory, and overloaded with contrasting textures.

What’s Your Ultimate Burger?

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Kroger has launched the Burger Nation Sweepstakes to help customers create the ultimate burger at home. One lucky winner will win a brand new Weber® Summit® E-670™ Gas Grill so you can create your own delicious flavorings of the nation’s best burgers using Private Selection® products — right in your own backyard! Private Selection® culinary ingredients offer premium quality without a premium price.

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The Private Selection® brand is available exclusively at the Kroger Family of Stores and affiliated stores, including Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Fry’s, Gerbes, Pay Less, QFC, JayC, King Soopers, Owen’s, Ralphs, Smith’s and Fred Meyer. Live discovery sampling events, including sampling a signature burger, will take place at select stores across the nation. Find your nearest local store using the Store Locator.

Save Room For Dessert

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Every recipe, quick tip or Burger Nation sweepstakes submission earns a coupon for a free Mason Jar Dessert. Mason Jar Desserts are available in 10 flavors, including Cherry Crumble, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownie, and Salted Caramel Cheesecake. I want to try them all!

Click to enter the Burger Nation Sweepstakes now!

Official Rules 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Offered only to legal residents of the 50 U.S. including D.C. (except FL, NY, RI, AK and HI), 18 or older. Void in and to residents of FL, NY, RI, AK and HI, and where prohibited by law. Participants must have a participating Kroger Shopper Card which may be obtained without cost. Begins on or about 9:00 a.m. ET April 28, 2014 and ends on or about 8:59 p.m. ET June 6, 2014. Limit 1 entry per person/Shopper Card account/household per day, across all banners. Limit 30 total Sweepstakes entries per person/Shopper Card account/household during the Promotion Period. For prize details, odds of winning, and limitations, see complete Official Rules. 

Remember to Like Private Selection® on Facebook and Follow Private Selection® on Pinterest for more great Burger Nation recipes and tips.

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Jazzy Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jazzy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with dried cherries and cinnamon

I would never call a chocolate chip cookie boring to its face…

but I might talk about it behind its back.

Have you ever craved something sweet and decadent but your brain and your mouth weren’t on the same page? Let me explain my predicament.

Yesterday my mouth really wanted to taste a chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven, but my mind was saying “how effin’ boring!” I personally don’t like confrontation, but when it involves my mind vs my mouth I step in to broker the peace.

As much as I really wanted to taste a chocolate chip cookie, I couldn’t muster the excitement to make a “plain ole chocolate chip cookie,” so I decided to browse the pantry for inspiration. That’s when I came across an unopened package of dried tart cherries, which I picked up over the holidays thinking I might make a cherry-banana bread or something equally festive. [I guess I failed to get that done, so I’ll move it onto my 2014 holiday checklist for future consideration!]

Next to the dried cherries was my Sam’s Club-sized Quaker Oats Old-Fashioned Oats. And for a moment, I thought maybe I’ll make a cherry crisp or cherry cobbler. But that wasn’t my mission; I still wanted that chocolate chip cookie. So I thought why not combine them all into a chocolate chip cookie with oats (nice for added chewiness and fiber) AND the dried tart cherries (a nice counterpoint to the semisweet chocolate chips). My mouth was calling my brain “genius” and my mind was congratulating my mouth on having such good taste. Finally my stomach had to break up this mutual admiration society to get the recipe in motion.

Jazzy Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Because the inspiration for this recipe was to break out of the ordinary and try new ingredient combinations, I exchanged the butter I would normally use for some extra virgin olive oil. And I added a heaping tablespoon of ground cinnamon to play off the tart cherries to create a subtle cherry crisp flavor note.

mix ingredients for Jazzy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a one-bowl recipe that is easy to mix by hand. Simply put all the dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips and dried cherries) in a very large mixing bowl. Whisk together to combine. Then add the wet ingredients. Stir to combine thoroughly, then fold in the chocolate chips and dried cherries.

If you don’t have a cookie scoop, you could take about 1 tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball. I tested both techniques in the first batch and found that the cookies were more uniform and held together better on the baking sheet when I used the cookie scoop. Another trick for less mess: In addition to lining my baking sheets with parchment paper, I put parchment paper underneath the wire racks. That way any crumbs from the cooling process fall onto the parchment paper.

I also used a food styling trick that I learned watching some Food Network show: reserve some chocolate chips before folding them into the batter. Then put a few chips on top of each dough ball. That way each cookie will have chips on top, making it more visually appealing.

Jazzy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies by coffee mug

These cookies may look small, but they are dense and chewy. And nearly overflowing with chocolate chips. I rarely recommend “less chocolate” but in this recipe you could easily use half as many chocolate chips as called for in the recipe and you might not notice a difference in the taste.

I decided to call this recipe Jazzy Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies because with the addition of the dried tart cherries, rolled oats and ground cinnamon, this cookie is anything but boring.

What ingredients would you add to a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe to take it from drab to fab?

Jazzy Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jazzy Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies


2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup dried red tart cherries
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)


Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, olive oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined and the dough is moist. The dough will be dense and crumbly. Fold in the cherries and chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop, place dough balls (roughly equivalent to 1 tablespoon of dough) on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.


Attack of the Blobbs!

Ina Pinkney’s Blobbs Brownie Cookies Recipe Revealed

Ina Pinkney Taste MemoriesChicago’s very own Ina Pinkney, aka The Breakfast Queen, invented “Blobbs” in response to the gourmet brownie craze of the 1980s. What are Blobbs?

“A mounded cookie/brownie with 2 kinds of chocolate, walnuts, pecans and chocolate chips,” Pinkney writes in Taste Memories: Recipes for Life and Breakfast. “When baked, they held the domed shape created by the ice cream scoop I used to measure them out. They became firm on the outside and amazingly soft on the inside.”

Over the course of 33 years, Ina’s became one of Chicago’s most beloved restaurants; it closed its doors on December 31, 2013. Blobbs was the recipe requested most by Ina’s customers. Pinkney never divulged the recipe, until now.

Ina dishes out some fascinating stories and some of her most delicious recipes in her memoir/cookbook, Taste Memories.

Ina Pinkney

Rating: 51

25 minutes

Cook Time: 17 minutes

Yield: 26 blobbs brownie cookies


4 ounces unsalted butter
9 ounces dark chocolate (about 60 percent)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 ounces flour, a scant 3/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, large
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 ounces chocolate chips
5 ounces pecan pieces
4 ounces walnut pieces


Melt butter and chocolates slowly in a bowl in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stove top; cool to room temp.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl; stir vigorously. Set aside.

Whip eggs in a mixer on medium/high speed until lighter and creamy.

Add superfine sugar slowly to eggs; continue whipping until very light and creamy. Add vanilla to egg mixture.

Combine chocolate chips and nuts in a bowl; set aside.

When the egg mixture is ready, change the whip to a paddle. Add chocolate-butter mixture, combining on low. Then gradually add the flour mixture on low.

Add the nut mixture and mix well. Finish by hand to be sure it's all combined at the bottom.

Pack mixture into a 2-inch ice cream scoop, scraping off excess. When released from the scoop, the mixture should hold its shape. Place mounds on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes. The tops should look a little dry and lighter in color. You also can freeze the unbaked blobbs and bake them from frozen.


Heavenly HALO Olive Oil Cake

Heavenly HALO Olive Oil Cake Recipe #PompeianVarietals #ad


Heavenly HALO Olive Oil Cake Recipe #PompeianVarietals #ad

When I was asked to create a recipe for a new flavor of premium extra virgin olive oil, I jumped at the chance. I love baking with olive oil because it makes cakes so rich, moist. The folks over at Pompeian have created a premium line of mono-varietal (i.e. produced from a single grape) extra virgin olive oils called the Pompeian Varietals Collection. This new line is meant to celebrate the unique flavor profile that a single type of olive provides, while allowing the consumer a chance to learn about the unique journey behind each bottle.

The collection consists of three types of olives:

  • Arbequina – a mild-bodied extra virgin olive oil with a round taste of fruitiness and a delicate sweetness.
  • Picholine – a medium-bodied extra virgin olive oil with a fruitiness and hints of herbs that works well with meats or sauces.
  • Koroneiki – a full-bodied extra virgin olive oil with robust fruitiness and a peppery finish that is perfect for soups or salads.

One of the cool things about Pompeian Varietals is that you can track the story of the olives from harvest to your table. You can uncover the history behind each bottle — starting at the mill, country and harvest date and ending at your very own kitchen table.

The olive oil I selected for my recipe was Arbequina. Arbequina is native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Arbequina olives produce an extra virgin olive oil that is intensely aromatic and its flavor profile strikes a delightful balance between grassy and peppery notes, finishing with a buttery almond flavor.

I thought that this particular olive oil flavor profile was perfect for an almond-olive oil cake – so I created a recipe for what I am calling Heavenly HALO Olive Oil Cake with a Brown Butter, Citrus & Almond Glaze. HALO stands for:

  • Honey,
  • Almond,
  • Lemon and
  • Orange

In both the cake batter and in the glaze, the honey, almond, lemon and orange come together in harmony with the olive oil for a symphony of (almost) sinful flavor.

Heavenly HALO Olive Oil Cake Recipe #PompeianVarietals #ad

The recipe is simple and you don’t have to bring out the stand mixer. Everything combines easily by hand in just a few mixing bowls.

When you taste the cake, you can tell that it’s made with olive oil because it’s so moist. And you don’t have to smother the cake in glaze because there’s a delicate sweetness to the cake itself that comes from the buttery almond flavor of the Pompeian Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Heavenly HALO Olive Oil Cake Recipe #PompeianVarietals #ad

I absolutely loved how this cake turned out and can’t wait to use the other Pompeian Varietals in my cooking. The other Pompeian Varietals are stronger, bolder in their flavor profiles and lend themselves more to savory dishes. But the Arbequina olive oil is so light and versatile that you could use it in almost any baking recipe.

What’s your favorite recipe for baking with olive oil?  If you use the Arbequina extra virgin olive oil in your next baking recipe, be sure to share it here on Baked Chicago. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Now pardon me, but a slice of cake and a cup of coffee are calling my name….LOUDLY.

Heavenly HALO Olive Oil Cake with a Brown Butter, Citrus & Almond Glaze

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Heavenly HALO Olive Oil Cake with a Brown Butter, Citrus & Almond Glaze


For Cake:
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
grated zest of 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup orange juice
For Glaze:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dry roasted almonds, chopped


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Generously grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt to thoroughly combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs to break up yolks. Add brown sugar and whisk it thoroughly. Add the olive oil and whisk until mixture is lighter in color and thickened (about 1 minute). Whisk in vanilla and almond extracts, followed by lemon zest and orange juice.

Add dry ingredients to the mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Continue whisking until batter is smooth and emulsified.

Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Cake is done when it pulls away from the sides of pan and springs back lightly when touched. A cake tester or toothpick inserted should come out clean.

Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in pan, then remove it and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.

While cake cools, make the glaze. Melt butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. When butter is melted, lower heat and watch carefully until it turns a light tan color. Swirl in pan while heating to distribute heat evenly. It should smell slightly nutty. Turn off the heat and let it cool. It will continue to darken.

In a medium bowl, whisk milk with the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Slowly whisk in butter and lemon juice. Stir in chopped almonds. Spread the glaze on top of the cake and let it set.


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Our 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts EVER!

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever

Do you dream of chocolate? Then this recipe roundup is for you!

If you said that chocolate is one of my favorite ingredients to create with in the kitchen, then you’d be right. I especially enjoy dark chocolate, but I’m not a chocolate snob so you’ll also find recipes featuring milk chocolate, white chocolate, semisweet, bittersweet and a variety of the darkest, dark chocolates I find. Chocolate is so versatile and a real crowd-pleaser. So when you’re baking for family, friends or any large crowd, it’s a pretty safe choice to use it as a featured ingredient.

Last month was National Chocolate Lovers Month and we had so many people share their favorite types and brands of chocolates. I can tell you, or you can see from the comments directly, that everyone had a strong opinion about which was the absolute best.

Here’s a roundup of Baked Chicago’s 10 Most Popular Chocolate Dessert Recipes. Tell me which is your favorite in the comments section below, and you’re automatically entered in a random drawing for an assortment of Scharffen Berger Chocolates. YUM!


#10 – Brownie Pops

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - brownie pops


#9 – Double Chocolate-Buttermilk Muffins

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - double chocolate buttermilk muffins


#8 – Salted Caramel & Pretzel Brownies

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - salted caramel and pretzel brownies


#7 – Cherry Cabernet Brownies

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - cherry cabernet brownies


#6 – Dark Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - dark chocolate chunk pumpkin bread


#5 – Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - chocolate lava mug cake


#4 – Chipotle Chocolate Brownies

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - chipotle chocolate brownies


#3 – Bourbon, Bacon & Pecan Brownies

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - bourbon bacon pecan brownies


#2 – S’Mores Mug Cake

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - s'mores mug cake


#1 – Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Orange-Chocolate Ganache

Baked Chicago's 10 Most Popular Chocolate Desserts Ever - pumpkin bundt cake with orange chocolate glaze


Chocolate Guinness Stout Mug Cake

chocolate Guinness Stout mug cake

On St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Irish! Here in Chicago, we take the holiday very seriously. We’ve got a South Side parade, a downtown parade and we even dye the Chicago River green. After a weekend of getting your drink on, how about a sweet Guinness-infused treat you can make in less than 2 minutes in your microwave? Try this Chocolate Guinness Stout Mug Cake for a decadent dessert that’s perfectly portioned for one!

The malt of the Guinness Stout Beer intensifies the flavor of the chocolate. There are several kinds of stout beers: dry (Irish), imperial (Russian), porter, milk, oatmeal, coffee, oyster and even chocolate stout. Chocolate and beer often makes for a great combination in recipes. Served warm and topped off with chocolate syrup and whipped cream is delish. This chocolate Guinness stout mug cake is super moist, but feel free to pair it with a pint!

Need to feed a crowd? Try these Stout-Glazed Brownies.

chocolate Guinness Stout mug cake

Chocolate Guinness Stout Mug Cake

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Yield: 1 serving


6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
splash of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
6 tablespoons Guinness stout
chocolate syrup and whipped cream for garnish


With a small whisk or fork, mix all the ingredients in a microwave-safe beer mug until batter is smooth.

Cook on HIGH in a microwave for about 90 seconds. Do not overcook or the cake becomes rubbery.

Let cool slightly, then top with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Sláinte!


Peanut Butter Lava Mug Cake

Sometimes cooking isn’t pretty. But that’s okay as long as it’s delicious. And that’s exactly the case here with this recipe for Peanut Butter Lava Mug Cake. It looks like a disaster, but it tastes rich, gooey and delicious.

For all of the peanut butter lovers out there (raise your hands high!), happy National Peanut Butter Lovers Day. In the midst of this cold winter, we get a single day that is meant to satisfy us until we get to Peanut Butter Lovers Month in November. That’s a long time away, but if there’s any food stuff worthy of the wait it’s peanut butter!

Sometimes you want a quick sweet treat but you don’t want to make an entire cake. This mug cake is the best of everything:

  • Cooks in 2 minutes for the impatient among us
  • Rich, decadent and uses the same quality ingredients you’d use in a full-size version
  • Great portion control for anyone who can’t be trusted with more than a single-serving

The “lava” in this recipe is the rich peanut butter that you plop in the bottom of the mug, so when it’s inverted it ends up on top of the cake. Do you wanna go mega-Pompeii-style? Add some chocolate syrup for more choco-lava goodness. Now that’s a delicious disaster I can’t wait to taste!

peanut butter lava mug cake

Peanut Butter Lava Mug Cake

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Yield: 1 serving


2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips


Spray the inside of a large microwave-safe coffee mug (at least 16 ounces) with non-stick cooking spray.

Place peanut butter in the bottom of the mug. Set aside.

In a small microwavable bowl, add the butter and brown sugar. Heat on HIGH for 45 seconds, then stir with a fork. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Stir in cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into coffee mug.

Microwave on 50% power for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until set. Don't overcook. If additional cooking time is needed, do so in 20- or 30-second intervals. Invert mug onto a plate. Serve immediately.