My name is Shawnda and sometimes I eat cookies for breakfast.
But only sometimes. Usually on days where I’ve said something like, “I thought about running 4 miles, I half-way earned it!” (The things we tell ourselves, huh?)
These cookies could lovingly be called “Road Trip Cookies.” Because a gas-station granola bar somewhere between Houston and Lafayette inspired them.
And since I knew there would be a weekend of calorie-bomb debauchery in New Orleans ahead of me, they just seemed like a smart idea. At least, smarter than the Funyuns that I usually get.
Just like in that granola bar, the combination of dark chocolate, tart dried cherries, and a sprinkle of sea salt is completely amazing. But unlike that granola bar, they aren’t trying to hide under a healthy label.
These are cookies. Made with butter. And chocolate.
I took one of my favorite chewy cookie dough recipes and loaded it with a bag of 63% [swooooon] Guittard Dark Chocolate Chips, cherry-flavored craisins (because holy crap, dried cherries are $18/lb!), and finished them with a sprinkle of sea salt straight out of the oven.
Chewy, rich, sweet, tart, and salty. If that doesn’t say “breakfast” and “the perfect road trip food,” then I don’t know what does.
Salted Dark Chocolate & Cherry Cookies
Thick and chewy cookies studded with dark chocolate, tart dried cherries, and sprinkled with sea salt.
Calories: 243.0 | Fat: 11.0g | Fiber 2.9g | Protein 2.5g | Carbs 36.5g
12 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 oz dark chocolate chips
7.5 oz dried cherries (or 1 1/2 bag Cherry Craisins)
Preheat oven to 325.
Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicon mat.
Place butter and sugars in a mixer bowl, mix on medium high until well-combined, 2-3 minutes.
Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Add chocolate chips and cherries, just until combined.
Chill dough 15 minutes. Scoop scant 1/4-cup dough balls onto a lined baking sheet (my scoop is just under 1/2 cup and I break the dough into 2).
Bake 12-16 minutes, until the edges brown and the center is still soft.
Sprinkle with salt when they come out of the oven.
Let cool on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Raise your hand if you have been hoarding cherries! [raises hand]
[shoves cherry in mouth, wipes fingers on jeans, raises other hand]
If you’ve ever wanted to make fresh cherry or strawberry cupcakes, you’ve probably run into similar problems: the surprising lack of recipes out there with natural ingredients and real fruit. Because if it’s anything the food industry can do, it’s really process the &^%$ out of something.
(Don’t get me started on Pistachio Muffins that contain absolutely no pistachios whatsoever.) (YOU CAN’T JUST DUMP GREEN FOOD COLORING AND ALMOND EXTRACT INTO MUFFIN BATTER AND CALL IT PISTACHIO MUFFINS.)
[takes deep breath, smooths hair]
There’s no reason to use Jello, extracts, and unidentifiable chunks of [fruit]-flavored not-fruit at the height of cherry season.
I took my favorite cake recipe (the 1234) and folded fresh cherry puree into the batter along with the tiniest amount of almond extract. The result was a fluffy, moist, pink cake using only real cherries and actually tasted like cherries.
Until I dumped a bunch of chocolate glaze on top and then it just tasted like my morning 2-mile run never happened.
Fresh Cherry Cupcakes
Moist, fluffy, and pink cupcakes made with fresh cherries.
1 lb cherries, pitted
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plain yogurt*
3 1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
6 egg whites (can use 4 whole eggs instead but the yolks might slightly affect your color)
*An equal amount of buttermilk or sour cream would also work. I no longer buy buttermilk and just substitute nonfat Greek yogurt in all recipes.
Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tins with ~30 (sorry) cupcake liners.
Cream butter and sugar together for ~3 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl a couple of times.
Place pitted cherries and lemon juice in the blender or food processor and process until mostly smooth.
Stir the yogurt into the cherries.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract to the butter and mix until uniform.
Add half the cherry mixture to the bowl and mix, switching the speed to low and adding half the dry ingredients.
Scrape down the bowl and repeat.
If you want to add 1-2 drops of food coloring, here is the time to do that - you don't have to, but if you don't think your batter is pink enough, just add 1 or 2 drops (I added 1 drop of Americolor Red Red).
Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners and bake ~18 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center cupcake comes out with only moist crumbs attached.
I hope you get a chance to thank a serviceman or woman this Memorial Day weekend. And buy them a drink.
Because there’s no such thing as too much appreciation when it comes to our veterans and service people.
Our freedoms aren’t by any means free. And without those fine folks, life would look a whole lot different to most of us.
Thank you to my cousin Justin, who has retired into a career of protecting and serving the good people of Sulphur Springs, Texas. And thank you to my brother-in-law Chris. And thanks to Jason’s cousin’s husbands (whew!) Scott and Daniel for their current and continued service. And let’s not forget the big, fat, gigantic “I just don’t know how you ladies do it but I’m sure glad you do” to Amanda and Sarah.
And a shout out to the heavens to my Uncle Sam and PaPaw.
We’re spending the early part of our weekend celebrating a PreK-4 soccer season with swimming and some truly (truly truly!) outrageous, fudgey brownies. Then on Monday, we’ll head over and let Landry plant a flag on my PaPaw’s grave.
Have a safe and thank-filled Memorial Day weekend, friends!
Triple Chocolate Cookie Dough Brownies
Dense, fudgey, and incredibly rich brownies studded with triple chocolate cookie dough and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
1 18.3 oz brownie mix + required ingredients (oil, eggs, and water) or your favorite brownie recipe that can be baked in a 13x9
1 lb triple chocolate cookie dough (I used Specially Selected brand from Aldi)
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 (or the temperature at which your favorite brownie recipe bakes).
Spray a 13x9 baking pan with baking spray.
Mix your brownie recipe according to package/recipe directions.
Add the chocolate chips to the batter.
If pre-formed, chop the cookie dough balls into quarters and run the mixer for 5-10 seconds to distribute into the batter (if spooning from a bowl, drop by small spoonfuls into the batter and then mix well).
Spread the dough evenly into the baking pan and bake until the center is set and a knife inserted into the center comes out with very moist crumbs - this was 10 minutes over the baking time recommended by the mix I used.
“Is it Balemtime’s yet?! Can we make chocolate tweats?”
I didn’t think a 4-year-old could get more excited about something that wasn’t Christmas- or dinosaur-related. But I was wrong. It’s because there’s chocolate.
And Master Yoda.
She is my kid, after all. Although only one of us would choose broccoli & ranch over chocolate. Spoiler: IT’S NOT ME.
She picked out “chocolate writing cupcakes” to make for our friends after seeing a picture over my shoulder. And heart-shaped pancakes for Balemtime’s Dinner at home.
The one-bowl, deep, dark chocolate cupcakes are coated with an insanely messy chocolate glaze. Then decorated with melted white chocolate. Perfect for you and about 20 of your other favorite Valentines. I mean Balemtimes.
Chocolate Valentine's Cupcakes
Rich chocolatey cupcakes, perfect for your Valentine.
For the cupcakes:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used nonfat Greek yogurt)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
For the glaze:
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1-2 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350.
Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners (I got 21 cupcakes).
Whisk the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl until mixed well.
Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
Scoop batter into the liners, filling ~2/3 full.
Bake ~18 minutes, until the tops spring back when touched.
Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
Microwave the heavy cream until hot, 1 minute.
Add the chopped chocolate and corn syrup and let sit for 3 minutes.
Stir until smooth. If there larger chunks remain, let the chocolate sit another minute or two.
Let the glaze sit about 5 minutes and then dip the cooled cupcakes into the chocolate glaze, returning to the rack to set. You'll have leftover glaze.
Microwave the white chocolate in a small bowl until melted and smooth.
Transfer to a sandwich bag, twist the bag closed, and snip a very tiny corner off the bag.