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.
Cookies and craft beer. That’s what Landry leaves out for Santa. The jolly old elf’s tastes sure have changed over the years!
30 years ago, his choice of treat while making the brief stop at our house was always a glass of milk and a slice of chocolate pie. I remember asking my dad why we didn’t leave cookies out like everyone else did.
“He eats cookies all night, Shiner. By the time he makes it to Texas, he’ll be hankerin’ for somethin’ different.”
(Yep, my dad still says “hankerin.” And yep, I had a nickname that would end up the name of a popular beer. Go look up foreshadowing if you need to and then giggle.)
You can be sure, though, if something had prevented Santa from visiting our house, a fear we 4 kids secretly had… and all secretly had pre-pinned fault on my troublemaker sister Kristen, that chocolate pie would have never gone to waste.
Because coincidentally [wink wink], it was also my dad’s very favorite pie.
We were pie people. So on Christmas Eve, before and after we visited my MeMaw & PaPa’s house to open gifts, we baked pies. And when we woke up before dawn on Christmas morning, there was always a single bite of chocolate pie left on the plate – fueling our belief in Santa that much longer.
Because no way in hell would my dad had ever left a perfectly good bite of chocolate pie behind. (I can just see that heavy-whispered argument go down between my mom and dad, as much tradition in our house as the slice of pie itself, no doubt: Don’t eat it all! Why not? Because! Because why? Because it needs to look like Santa ate it! BUT IT’S CHOCOLATE PIE!!!)
The Santa of today prefers cookies and a glass of Texas beer on his brief stop in Katy, Texas. So cookies he will get. Chewy cookies studded with butterscotch chips, pecans roasted in browned butter, and a sprinkle of salt over top.
As for the beer, Santa will get a tall frosty mug (unless he decides to bring me those fancy beer glasses I’ve been wanting) of our homebrew Cousin Eddie’s Christmas Ale – it’s a strong ale flavored with oak, bourbon and vanilla bean. Although, at a whopping 9% ABV, he’ll probably have to settle for a flight glass unless he wants to stick around a while
Merry Christmas Eve!
Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies
Thick and chewy cookies studded with pecans roasted in browned butter and butterscotch chips.
For the pecans
6 oz pecan halves, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp butter
For the cookies
2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt, plus an extra pinch for sprinkling
12 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
12 oz pkg of butterscotch chips
Preheat oven to 375.
Over medium heat, brown the butter in a small sauce pan, scraping the bottom occasionally to prevent the milk solids from sticking and burning.
When the mixture has turned a nice amber color, turn off the heat and stir in the pecans until complete coated.
Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.
Roast for 7-10 minutes, until browned and fragrant.
Let cool and set aside.
Lower oven temp to 325. Line two baking sheets (I move the pecans to a bowl and wipe down the "pecan pan") 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 butterscotch chips and peanuts until distributed.