What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Upscale Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse! Americans have this uncanny obsession with chocolate and peanut butter. Some even crave it often. It may be the creamy sweetness of cocoa blended with the saltiness of roasted peanuts. Who knows? Whatever the reason, the allure is undeniable. Throw in vanilla pudding and whipped cream showcased in a parfait glass for eye appeal. It all adds up to an easy, upscale dessert that makes an everyday experience extraordinary. I find small juice glasses an appealing portion-control guide.
UPSCALE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE
16-20 Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, wrappers removed and candy chopped
1/3 cup peanuts
1/2 cup chocolate fudge sauce
1 3.4-ounce package Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling Mix
1 3/4 cups light cream
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup whipped topping
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
Choose 4-6 glasses or cups, depending on portion preferred. Divide peanuts equally between glasses. Layer with 1-2 dollops of chocolate fudge sauce. Set aside. In a chilled bowl, empty contents of pudding mix. Gradually add 1/2 cup light cream, beating on low speed with a hand mixer. Mix until well blended. Add peanut butter and beat until creamy. Gradually add remaining 1 1/4 cups of light cream. Beat on low, increasing speed as it incorporates. Continue beating for 3 minutes. Pudding will thicken. Gently fold in whipped topping to create air bubbles. Next, fold in chopped candy, reserving a few pieces to use as garnish. Spoon pudding into glasses, layering over fudge sauce. Garnish with candy chunks and mini chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie! In a world of “super-size” portions, this one is really worth defending, especially on hot, summer days. The oven is on for less than half an hour with results that leave your home smelling like a bakery. Sometimes you just don’t have time to make several batches of cookies. By baking all the dough in an iron skillet, the end result will still yield enough for a crowd. Cut the giant cookie into pie-size portions with a scoop of ice cream on top or divide it into squares for finger-food munching.
OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP SKILLET COOKIE
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup chocolate and peanut butter chips, mixed
1/8 teaspoon sea salt crystals
Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 10″ iron skillet. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Continue beating until creamy. In another bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk until blended. Slowly add dry mixture to wet ingredients until flour is incorporated. Add oatmeal to dough. Blend well. Fold in chocolate and peanut butter chips. Spread cookie dough into the greased skillet. Top with mixed blend of chocolate and peanut butter chips. Sprinkle with sea salt crystals. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: French Toast Bananas Foster! For that daily dose of potassium you get in bananas, think French Toast for breakfast. With an added twist of Bananas Foster, you may feel as though you’re dining on a private balcony overlooking the French Quarter in New Orleans. It’s that good! For starters, I used Hawaiian sweet bread for its unique fluffy texture. By soaking the slices in a custard-style egg mixture and browning them in a buttered iron skillet, the results were luscious.
FRENCH TOAST BANANAS FOSTER
Ingredients for Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons dark rum
3-4 bananas, cut into thick slices
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 smidgen nutmeg
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Do not scorch. Add brown sugar; stir. Gradually bring to boil and add cream, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, about 4 minutes. Turn heat to lowest setting. Add maple syrup and dark rum. Stir until smooth. Add sliced bananas, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook until tender.
Ingredients for French Toast:
4 slices Hawaiian sweet bread, sliced thick
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/2 cup half and half cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons butter
Mini chocolate chips
Whisk together eggs, half and half cream, and vanilla extract. In a shallow dish place 4 slices of Hawaiian bread, single layer. Pour custard egg mixture over bread; turn bread to coat both sides completely. Let moistened bread rest to soak up liquid. In an iron skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter on medium-low heat. Transfer the soaked bread to the skillet. Cook until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes per side. Add butter as needed. If cooking in batches, transfer browned French toast to a wire rack on a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200° oven. To serve, place a piece of French toast on a plate. Cover with banana sauce and dollop of whipped cream. Top with a second slice of French toast. Add more banana sauce. Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate chips, and pecan pieces.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Eagle Brand Chocolate Fudge Sauce! Have you had your chocolate “fix” today? This homemade sauce can be served over ice cream, banana splits, fresh fruit, pound cake, or even drizzled into your morning coffee. The secret ingredient, Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, is really no secret. It has been around since 1856. Truth. It was originally invented as a safe and wholesome milk product for the military. The fact that it provided nourishment for infants and children was a bonus. Besides, when Elsie the Cow became the spokes-cow at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, its popularity spread all over the globe. Every kitchen pantry should keep a can or two on the shelf.
EAGLE BRAND CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE
1 14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a 2-quart glass measuring cup, combine sweetened condensed milk, chocolate morsels, butter, and water. Microwave on High power for a total of 3 minutes, stirring at one-minute increments. Add almond extract and vanilla extract. Microwave 30 seconds longer. Stir until smooth. Serve warm. Pour extra sauce into a jar; cover, and refrigerate.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Frangelico Fudge Topping! It may have been awhile, but the smooth taste of Frangelico Italian liqueur is not forgotten. Need I remind you it has the same hints of chocolate and toasted hazelnut you practically eat out of a jar? Think Nutella, silly. If it were a cocktail, it would go by this name, with an added punch of alcohol. And since we’re talking dessert, let’s move on to this amazing fudge topping that works on anything from ice cream to waffles. Now I’ve got your attention.
FRANGELICO FUDGE TOPPING
1 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
12-ounces evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
Combine butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and Frangelico liqueur. Stir well. Serve immediately over desserts or waffles. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake! You know you love chocolate. Who doesn’t? If you find yourself avoiding baked goods due to its wheat content, worry no more. This cake is completely flourless. The results are rich, chocolaty, and extremely satisfying for any sweet tooth craving. Dust it with powdered sugar and garnish each slice with fresh strawberries for a gourmet finish. Hurray for Chocolate!
GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
15-ounce can organic garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for dusting
1/4 cup almond slices (optional)
Fresh strawberries, garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″ round cake pan. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 2 minutes on high. Stir after 1 minute. Repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans and eggs. Blend until smooth, about 4 minutes. Add sugar and baking powder. Pulse to mix. Pour in melted chocolate and almond extract. Blend until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Transfer batter to the cake pan. Bake 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Sprinkle with almond slices. Garnish with whipped cream and strawberries.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: X-tra Large Chocolate Chip Cookie! Here’s to the Cookie Monster in all of us. If you live your life on a grande scale, this recipe will easily become a family favorite. My husband said, “It’s like indulging in a giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup!” I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun with a cookie recipe. By baking the dough in an iron skillet, the edges got a little crispy while the center stayed super-chewy. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this came straight from the neighborhood bakery. Fill up a glass of milk and indulge yourself.
X-TRA LARGE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt crystals
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ iron skillet with two tablespoons butter. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla to blend. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Stir in peanut butter and chocolate chips. Press the cookie dough into the prepared iron skillet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a golden color and edges are crisp. Check with a toothpick to be sure the cookie is cooked through in the center. Remove from oven. Let cool 10 minutes; loosen edges. Turn onto a round pizza pan. Reinvert back onto a platter, slice, and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats! Do you get weak in the knees over chocolate? You may be tempted once you taste this salty sweet confection. One little piece will have you rolling your eyes in delirium. The crust keeps this bar crunchy, kinda like a shortbread cookie. And the sea salt crystals form a balance that is unrivaled! This recipe has a few shortcuts, so it can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. No baking is required. Don’t hate me!
UNRIVALED CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TREATS
Club crackers, whole
1 cup crushed Club crackers
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut, flaked
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
16-ounce can of Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt crystals
Put one layer of whole Club crackers on the bottom of a 7″X11″ pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, coconut, milk, and melted butter. Boil ingredients for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool. Form a layer of caramel mixture over crackers. Put another layer of Club crackers on top. Frost with canned frosting, sprinkle with pecans and sea salt crystals. Store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Raspberry Pots de Crème! A taste of France is knocking on the door, and it arrives at your table in a little porcelain dish. The rich dark chocolate, with a hint of liqueur, satisfies that sweet craving at the end of a meal. Top off each pot de crème with luscious whipped cream, fresh raspberries, and a mint sprig for an extraordinary dessert that is sure to please.
RASPBERRY POTS DE CRÈME
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch sea salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
4 tablespoons bourbon whiskey or preferred liqueur
1 1/3 cups half and half
1 pint raspberries, fresh
1/4 cup raspberry jam
In a blender combine eggs, sugar, salt, chocolate chips, and bourbon whiskey. Blend to break up chocolate. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil. Do not scorch. Pour milk into blender while it is running. Blend 1 minute to cook eggs and dissolve chocolate. Immediately pour into small coffee cups or porcelain ramekins. Refrigerate 3-4 hours until firm. Warm the raspberry jam for 20 seconds in the microwave oven. Add fresh raspberries to make a sauce. To serve, place a dollop of whipped cream over the chocolate. Spoon raspberry sauce over whipped cream. Garnish with fresh mint sprig.