Baking with B: Chocolate Spice Cookies

Do you ever get tired of making the same thing, over and over again? (I used to feel that way about birthday cakes.) I was searching for something to serve during a recent family visit and none of my old standards were really grabbing me. Trying something new didn’t really appeal to me either- I didn’t have the time or energy for experimenting.

I was beginning to feel discouraged until I thought- hey, why reinvent the wheel? You know a lot of great classic recipes, B. Why not spice one up so you can have the best of both worlds?

I took my own advice. Literally. I whipped together the ingredients for my favorite butter cookie recipe (also featured here) and turned things up a notch. I’m pretty pleased with the results, too- these Chocolate Spice Cookies melt in your mouth just like a butter cookie, but taste like a gingersnap, with an extra splash of chocolate to keep things sweet.

Chocolate Spice Cookies (makes 28)

3/4 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. sugar

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 c. chocolate chips, melted

Cream together butter and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, sift together spices and flour and mix with wet ingredients, adding one spoonful at a time until ingredients are fully combined. Divide the dough and shape into two flat discs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove dough from refrigerator and unwrap. Use your hands to shape dough into desired shape, before placing on a parchment-lined cookie sheet approximately one inch apart. Press down each cookie with a fork before baking 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cookie rack until fully cooled.

Melt chocolate in a double-broiler or microwave until smooth. Dip each cookie halfway into the chocolate before placing on waxed paper. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.

B’s Tip: Just because I used chocolate chips doesn’t mean you can’t use your favorite baking chocolate or chocolate bar to make the melted chocolate! You may want to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies instead, or skip that step altogether and throw your chocolate chips into the dough before baking.

The best thing about making over a classic recipe like this is that the variations don’t have to stop there- you can change up the chocolate, switch out the spices, or add nuts or your favorite dried fruit for even more flavor. Your cookies don’t even have to be the same shape- I tried molding mine into logs before squashing with a giant serving fork, instead of the usual circular cookies I make. See? Spicing up your old routine can be addictive. I highly suggest you try it too. You never know what you might come up with!

Happy baking!

B

Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

Advertisements

What’s in my Beach Bag?

Guys, I live near a beach so I got this one down pat. (Ok so it’s not the ocean-only a lake- but it’s still pretty close.) I can’t get enough of the fresh air and sunshine after being cooped up indoors all winter, and apparently people around here feel the same way, because in the summer this place gets packed.

Lucky for me and my dog, we’ve lived here long enough that we know all the best places to steal a quiet moment to contemplate the water, listen to music, read a book, or simply enjoy the feeling of the sun on your skin.

Here’s some of what I take along to make the experience enjoyable:

  1. A large towel to sit on, although you may want to bring a second one in case you decide to go swimming.
  2. I read somewhere once that the majority of the skin’s aging process is largely attributed to sun damage so I never leave the house without sunscreen. Vanity aside, there’s also a history of skin cancer in my family which is exacerbated by my pale, pale skin.
  3. As such, my line of defense also includes a large floppy hat and sunglasses, although the glasses are mostly so I don’t get recognized. (Kidding!)
  4. Hydration is important so I always have two reusable water bottles; one for me and one for my dog.
  5. I practically never leave the house without a book, and if I’m going to the beach it’s almost certainly a guarantee. (I blog about what I’m reading all the time here, if you’re interested.)
  6. I have a little emergency kit that goes everywhere with me in my purse- I just pop it into whatever bag I happen to be carrying that day.
  7. As mentioned in this post, I’m kind of a grazer when it comes to eating, so I usually stash a granola bar or a piece of fruit in case I get too much sun, or feel like my blood sugar is too low.
  8. My beauty routine doesn’t involve too many lotions or potions, but I do enjoy indulging in a face misting spray to throw into my beach bag. It’s good for setting make-up on sweaty skin, a light cleanse after going swimming, or simply helps to cool you off after sitting out in the sun.

I keep my beach bag pretty simple- it’s hard to relax and enjoy yourself if you’ve brought too much to carry, or you constantly have to rummage around to find things.

Of course, depending on your lifestyle the contents of your bag may look a little bit different than mine. Maybe you’ve got some sand toys in there if you’ve got little kids in tow, or maybe you’ve got lots of food and drink for a picnic with friends.

Some of the stuff on my list may change if I have my dog with me. In that case, I’ll bring her water bottle (see above) as well as some treats and maybe a ball or a Frisbee to play with. Honestly, she’s pretty into hanging out on a towel with me which makes her a total beach bum.

The best part of my list, in my opinion, is the fact that I haven’t included any electronics and I don’t really plan to. I’m so attached to my phone that I’ve taken to not bringing it with me on my dog walks so I can enjoy the experience more. I might bring it along with me if I’m planning to meet up with friends and I need to be reachable; other than that, I prefer keeping my beach visits blissfully phone-free.

After all, what’s the point in staring at a screen when you’ve got that beautiful summer weather to breathe in and enjoy all around you?

KBwB-BFlower-50

I want to know what’s in your beach bag! Are the contents sweet and simple like mine, or do you really go on a big adventure when you make a beach trip? Have you even been to a beach? Let me know! I’m looking forward to your answers below, or in my inbox at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

For more tip on having more summer fun, I’ve got some ideas here. (As if you needed advice on how to have fun, right?!)

Baking with B: Chocolate Pudding Brownies

Isn’t it awesome when you can take something from your cupboard normally used for one thing and then make something completely different using that same thing?

If you don’t follow, then you obviously haven’t made these Chocolate Pudding Brownies where the secret ingredient is (not surprisingly) chocolate pudding. They’re super-soft and moist and honestly do kind of taste like chocolate pudding- if you bake them right, they have that soft, smooth pudding texture that gives the recipe its name. Apologies to brownie purists everywhere-my favorite brownie recipe is still this one-but for people that are short on time and looking for simple baking solutions, this is definitely one you should add to your roster.

Chocolate Pudding Brownies (makes 25 squares)

6 tbsp butter, softened

2/3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 box instant chocolate pudding powder (4-serving size)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth before beating in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and chocolate pudding powder. Combine with wet ingredients just until moistened. Spread evenly in a greased 8×8-inch pan and bake for 30 minutes until pick inserted in center comes out moist, not wet, with batter.

B’s Tip: Depending on how hot or cold your oven runs, you may want to check up on these babies frequently to make sure you don’t over-bake them. They’re still pretty tasty if you do, but the texture comes out kind of gummy and spongy instead of cake-y and moist.

These brownies are so ooey, gooey good that you should wait until they cool before cutting and serving, but if you just can’t wait why not pair one with your favorite ice cream or frozen yogurt for a brownie-licious sundae? Just add whipped cream and chocolate sauce and you’re good to go! Brownie points if you top it with a maraschino cherry. (See what I did there?!)

Happy baking!

B

Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.