UNLEASH THE INNER FOUR YEAR OLD (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles)

IMG_6921So… Has anyone REALLY ever died from eating cookie dough, or is someone out there just trying to damper our hopes and dreams? This is an honest question. I cannot tell you how many spoonful’s, cups, even POUNDS of cookie dough I have consumed in my life, and I’m relatively normal!

This whole salmonella thing (or salmon-In-Ella, as I pronounce it), is it real? TO THE INTERNET!!!

According to the CDC salmonella is estimated “to cause one million illness in the United States, with 19,000 Hospitalizations and 380 deaths.” Oh. Well. What’s my chances that I’ll actually get it… I might take them all for the love of the dough!

In my 24 years I have tried a lot of dough, in 2012 I was on the quest for the perfect low-fat chocolate chip cookie recipe. I strongly believed if the dough tasted good the cookie would come out good. You see, there is one problem with that theory, all cookie dough taste good, and even when it doesn’t taste spectacular it is still not that bad!!!IMG_6926

I strongly believe that cookie dough is the reason that I will never have abs. I can run 8 to 15 miles a day, and come home and “make cookies”, end up eating a good quarter cup of dough and wake up wondering why my weight loss plan is not working. Well, maybe I will add a mile or two to compensate for the doughy desire that I need to fill.

While today’s creation will not help your diet, it will not make you die of Salmonella and that’s a promise! This cookie dough is eggless, super creamy and covered in chocolate, what more could you want? This is the first time I ever made a cookie dough with sweetened condensed milk and I might look into using it more in the future, the dough is super smooth and creamy, what dreams are made of.

If your sweet tooth does not include a love for super sweet, sugary, creamy goodness, do not even bother with this. While it is perfect for the cookie lover, the average Joe of desserts might not find these too amusing. Kids, young adults, and all of my coworkers came begging back for more, and hopefully you will too!

Special Shout out to Zach who submitted this idea!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Have your cake and eat it too with these delectable truffles. Egg free will leave you worry free and quickly floating on a bed of happiness and chocolate. Makes roughly 4 dozen.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condense milk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

2 cups melting wafers for the outer shell (I used a bag of Ghirardelli that I found at Wegman’s)

Toping extras (mini chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, sprinkles, white chocolate)

Directions:IMG_6918

  1. Using a mixer cream together butter and brown sugar, make sure to mix till smooth, no brown sugar clumps!
  2. Add vanilla
  3. Mix in flour 1 cup at a time until incorporated.
  4. Mix in sweetened condense milk until smooth and incorporated with the dough.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips to taste.
  6. Cover bowl and refrigerate until dough hardens, 45 minutes to an hour
  7. Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls on a wax paper lined cookie sheet (I did not have wax paper, I used parchment paper, a slightly more expensive mistake)
  8. Place the balls in the fridge until the chocolate is melted.
  9. Melt chocolate wafers (microwave, double boiler, I’ll leave this method up to you)
  10. Using a toothpick or knife stick the balls into the chocolate until covered, remove and place on wax paper to dry.
  11. Once dry, keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  12. Best if eaten within 1-3 days of making.

Death to Cupcakes: A New Era Begins (Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes)

Last year, I called it. Just saying.

Its official Crumbs, one of the nation’s largest cupcakes chains, has closed its doors. It seems Americans are tired of this once trend. We no longer feel the need to have a portion sized, personal cake with frosting decorated to wow us. We no longer want art on a platter, we no longer feel the need to pay $3.00 for a cupcake. Americans are tired of your shit cupcakes, you’re out.

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So that leaves me wondering, what’s the next trend? Cheesecake on a stick would be awesome! But then we would have to find portable ways to keep it cool. Gourmet Brownies, that’s something I can get on board with. What about good ol’ fashion cookies? Nah, too… ordinary.

What do you think the next food trend will be? Well if you figure it out let me know… in the meantime…

Chocolate and peanut butter go together like Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise, Tom and Jerry and Beyoncé and Jay-z. It just works, the salty and sweet, sweet and salty, throw a little sea salt on top and you have an edible euphoria unlike any other.

According to The thechocolatestore.com Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year, which is approximately 11.6 pounds per person.  On the other hand according to the National Peanut Board (yes this exists), Americans spend $800 million a year on peanut butter, that’s a lot of jars! Obviously this paring is not going out of style any time soon!

Courtney’s coworker requested chocolate peanut butter cupcakes for his birthday and I am always more than happy to deliver. I made a rich chocolate cupcake using both dark chocolate coco powder, and regular coco power. I also decided that this needed a peanut butter filling, so a mock Reese’s filling was pumped into the middle of these suckers, topped off with a peanut butter butter cream.

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Chocolate Peanut butter cupcakes:

If you are allergic to peanuts, these will surely kill you. But if you are a chocolate peanut butter fanatic, these are sure to melt your heart!

Makes 24 cupcakes

The cake was adapted from: Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake recipe

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup Hersey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa powder

1/2 cup Hersey’s cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

 

Filling taken from a Wilton recipe:

1 1/2 Tablespoons warm melted butter

1/2 cup peanut butter room temp

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

 

Peanut-Butter, Butter Cream adapted from the wonderful Martha Stewart:

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1 stick of butter, softened

2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons whipping cream

 

 

 

Directions:

Cake:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
  3. Pour into cupcake liners or greased cupcake tins, fill 3/4 full.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle come out clean

Filling:

  1. Core the cupcakes using either a knife or a cupcake corer if you have one
  2. Melt the butter and mix into the peanut butter and confectioner sugar till combined
  3. Resist the urge to eat all of it
  4. Using a spoon, or a bag fill the cored cupcake with this mixture.

Frosting

  1. Mix butter and peanut butter together, add in confectioners’ sugar, and add in whipping cream.
  2. Whip till desired consistency
  3. Again resist the urge to eat it all
  4. Either pipe, or spread on cupcakes.

 

 

 

 

Drunken Banana (Fool Proof, Drunk Proof, Easy Banana Muffins)

It starts at eight am, the phone calls, the emails, the issues, the drama. From eight am till five you are chained. Chained to a chair (which between you and me is not that comfortable), and doused with other people’s problems and lit on fire. It sucks. Day in and day out we continue this pattern. Issue after issue, crisis after crisis, and not one person likes it; not you, not the person on the other end of the phone and definitely not your boss. But we wake up each morning and do it anyway because we are crazy.

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Anyways, ranting aside, we all hate work, that’s a given. But on the occasion we all like to do nice things for our coworkers,Martini recipe like bake them chocolate chip banana muffins for breakfast, to show them how much you appreciate them not literally lighting you on fire when you complain. But also on occasion you like to drink away a hard day at work, and three key lime pie martinis in you realize those muffins are not going to bake themselves.

 

Coworkers around the world, I have done you a favor. Drunk proof muffins!! *I think I am required by law to say that if you are under the influence take my ideas lightly, while it might be fun for me to make muffins and risk burning the house down, you might want to think twice about this idea.* After a few cocktails sprawled out on the chase lounge by the pool, those damn muffins still linger in the back of your head. Well have no fear, follow this recipe somewhat and your muffins will come out wonderful!

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 Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

These muffins are super simple to make and one of my house hold favorite. When the bananas go bad and the fruit flies start buzzing be sure to reach for this recipe and not waste those sweet, beautiful bananas.

Makes roughly 24 muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup butter, softened

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup packed brown sugar

2 Eggs

1 – 1/2 Cups mashed ripe bananas (bout 3)

3 Teaspoons Vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 Teaspoons baking soda

1 bag of chocolate chips (or less, to taste really)

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer cream butter and sugars
  2. Beat in eggs, bananas and vanilla.
  3. Combine mixture until combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips
  5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups half way
  6. Bake at 350* for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Wait 5 minutes before removing from pan.

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Island Time… (Toasted Coconut Key Lime Pie)

Paradise to me has always been on a beach. There is something so relaxing about the crashing sound of the ocean, the heated sand under you, and all of your cares washed out to sea. Paradise for me is located in a place I’d like to call home, Hawaii. Island time is really different than Eastern Standard Time. When work calls you at three in the morning, you can roll over and hit ignore and nobody cares. When you try to contact people at 9 o’clock island time, and no one answers, it is kind of relaxing. At 12 in the afternoon if you feel like going surfing on your lunch break, it’s expected.May 21 through June 1 I was lucky enough to go to Hawaii with my parents, a graduation present for finally finishing college. From May 21 to the 26 I was in Oahu, and from May 26 to June 1 I was falling in love with Maui.

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Waikiki from the pier

Oahu was nice, if you like the city. High rise building and double digit floor hotels rose off the beach like concrete giants. Honolulu could compare to a small New York City, with bustling storefronts, and business men and women struggling to predict the latest trend in there respected markets. While the city remained busy, the mountains kept a watchful eye in the background, reminding the workers that an escape was only a short drive away.

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The Waikiki beach, so idolized in movies and TV shows, appears nonexistent in this Jersey girls eyes. On the East Coast beaches can stretch as far as a half mile, but here you had maybe 20 feet until the water’s edge, if you were lucky.  A rocky coral lined the beach, which did not affect the standard surfer, but kept the midlife beach goer out of the water. I did take a surf lesson with Gone Surfing, and let me tell you, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am not weak by any means. I work out almost every day, and I pride myself on my toned body, but paddling the quarter mile out or whatever it may be killed me! Luckily the Gone Surfing team helps you get out, or I would never have surfed in Waikiki.

As you traveled away from the highly commercialized, somewhat polluted city the true colors of the island finally showed through. The island is beautiful! All of the beaches on the island are open to the public, and all of them have something unique to them. I would love to travel to the North Shore in the winter and see the giant wave’s crash on the beach and everything else around them. For now the lush green beauty of the mountains and the calm pristine beaches held me over.

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The pristine beaches of Maui

Maui was something entirely different, Maui was an island of dreams. As we flew in (it’s a 15 minute plane ride from Oahu) we could see sugar cane growing all over the island, and the mountains reaching into the clouds at a height of over ten thousand feet. On the ground it smelled sweet, a mix of sugar cane and plumaira filled the air. We stayed at the Honua Kai in Lahaina and trust me I would live there if I could. Golden sand beaches stretched on, with a sunset every night just over Molokai. There was a reef maybe 6 feet off the beach with the best snorkeling I have ever seen and I have snorkeled all over the world. There was turtles, parrot fish, the entire cast of Nemo, and even an eel or two, I was in fish heaven. On land the things to do greatly outnumbered my time spent there. The road to Hana highlighted my trip. 1 road, 68 miles, roughly 620 curves and 59 one lane bridges all to view the best of Maui. Scenic overlooks, arboretums, waterfalls, and a black sand beach are just a few things that made this drive so special.

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One of the many wonders of Hana

Without a doubt the most busy tourist section of the island was Front Street in Lahaina. We went there every night, may it be for entertainment, dining, or shopping, Front Street was the place to be. The Old Lahaina Luau was a wonderful interpretation of the islands rich culture through the best way they know how, dance. It was amazing to see these dancers contort their bodies, as well as tell the history of the islands all in a way that everyone could understand. I also managed to strike up a conversation with our “waiter” about snowboarding, which I found odd in Hawaii, yet loved.

The fruit in Maui is unlike anything I have ever tasted. On the road to Hana I stopped by a roadside stand and got 7 bananas for a dollar, 7!!! They were the sweetest, freshest piece of fruit I have ever tasted. I also stopped at a different road side stand and got a home grown avocado. This thing was huge!!! Nothing like the store bought avocado in Jersey this thing was the size of my face!! The pineapple drips juices like watermelon. After breakfast each morning I found myself having to wash up because I was covered in sticky juices from the pineapple I devoured. If I lived in Hawaii, the only thing I would eat would be fruit that I picked in the morning, avocado, and fresh fish, what else could I need?

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I was not leaving without a fight

I did not want to leave. In fact my father had to peel me off of a palm tree. I miss the 78 degree weather every day. I miss watching the rain shower come off the mountains in the mornings. I miss talking about surf, and the morning fishing report with the locals. I could move there for an extended amount of time and never run out of things to do. One day I will return only to make plans to live there for a year.

 

Coconut Key Lime Pie:

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One of my favorite desserts (Kona Coffee flavored ice cream aside) was Key Lime Pie that I had at Lahaina Fish Co. I normally don’t like key lime pie, but this was the epitome of island taste. It was so fluffy I thought it was cheesecake at first, but the taste cannot be denied. It had the light texture of damp clouds, and the flavor of tropical islands, definitely one of the most memorable desserts on the island.

Ingredients:

For crust:

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons of sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup toasted coconut

For the filling:

1, 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key Lime juice

Toasted coconut to taste

Directions:

To make crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl combine cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and coconut until combined.
  3. Spread with a fork in a greased 9 inch glass pie pan
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and let cool.

Make filling

  1. Whisk condensed milk and yokes until combined
  2. Add juice and coconut flakes and whisk again until combined.
  3. Pour into the middle of the crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Cool pie completely on a rack.
  5. Chill, covered for 8 hours.

 

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Which came first: Tequila vs. Revolution (Vanilla Lime Cupcakes)

One tequila, two tequila, three tequilas more, four tequila, five tequila, six tequila, floor.

Happy Cinco De Mayo, we Americans will spend it sipping margaritas, taking shots of tequila followed by sour faces, and the hugging of the porcelain express. Leave it up to Americans to take a holiday from another country and turn it upside down, IT IS NOT A MEXICAN DRINKING HOLIDAY.

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WARNING HISTORY LESSON AHEAD: In 1861 Mexico was going through an economic crisis, debt was not being paid, other countries were involved, it was not a good time. Good ol’ Napoleon III decided that France should take over Mexico because of the prime real estate next to the US. So the French army went over to Mexico and started a French vs. Mexican war. On May 5th, 1862 they Mexican army was surprised by the French in Puebla but somehow, although the Mexican army was out numbered, they defeated the French for the battle of Puebla!

Mexico City was still taken over by the French, until they decided that they did not want it anymore in 1866 then handed it back over to the Mexican government. Cinco de Mayo in Mexico serves as a day of Mexican pride where they hold parades and mock battles, but tequila is not a requirement.  END HISTORY LESSON.

America has a great way of taking something and blowing it out of the water. Alcohol companies did a great job taking a celebration of pride and turning it into a day of drunken stumbling in the US, but hey who can resist a good shot of patron?!?

Unfortunately tequila and cupcakes don’t match, just like tequila and anything creamy doesn’t match, trust me I tried. However what is a must have with tequila? Limes of course and despite the lime shortage this year I was able to snag a handful and make wonderful Vanilla lime cupcakes. So take a shot, and chase it with these vanilla lime cupcakes! Happy Drinking Everyone!

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Vanilla Lime Cupcakes

Since tequila and cupcakes lead to a sour blend, these cupcakes signify what comes after the shot, and I am not talking about a sour face! This vanilla cupcake is super light and goes down easy, while the buttercream Lime frosting is not too sweet, but chases the cupcake like a champ!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

Cake

1 2/3 Cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 Teaspoon baking powder

1/4 Teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon of salt

1 Cup granulated Sugar

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted

2 Egg whites

1/4 Cup vanilla yogurt

3/4 Cup Milk

2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract

Frosting

1 Cup Unsalted butter at room temp.

6 Cups Powdered sugar

Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed

Zest of 1 lime

Few drops of green food coloring

Small lime slices for garnish, if desired.

 

Directions:

Cupcakes –

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside
  3. Melt the butter.
  4. In a stand mixer (or a large bowl for a hand mixer) mix the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg whites, yogurt, milk and vanilla until combined.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until incorporated with no lumps.
  6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 the way with batter, bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Frosting –

  1. With a stand mixer beat butter until lite and fluffy.
  2. Add powder sugar, salt, lime juice, and zest and mix until creamy
  3. Mix in a few drops of green food coloring
  4. Transfer into a piping bag and frost the cupcakes when cool

 

Send Inspiration!!! (Perfect Chocolate, Chocolate Cake)

Lately I’ve gotten tired of the same old questions, “what’s new?” “Nothing”, “Whats up?” “Same ol’ same old.”, “Hows work?” “worky”. I need difference in my life, I need excitement. Luckily with the weather warming, cabin fever is finally wearing off and we can go for hikes and walks outside. Actually this past weekend I got to (re)plant potatoes with a local organic farm and got really, really sunburn – lobster status.

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Look! A wild Heron!

However even with this slight change in the weather I am still caught up in the mundane patterns of society. I don’t even know what to bake anymore, I’m running out of ideas, motivation is slipping from my slightly tan, and rather dry fingers. Bold statement warning: PLEASE SEND IDEAS! Ideas for baked goods, ideas for blog posts, give me a topic I can work with that. Give me a news article I can form something around that. I JUST NEED VARIATION IN MY LIFE. Okay boring rant aside I did get to make a pretty awesome cake recently. When you are 80 years old where do you see yourself? What do you hope to have accomplished in your life? To celebrate 80 years I made a 3 layered “zebra” cake for this wonderful lady (see photo below). This by far was the biggest cake I have ever made and the only time I made a tiered cake. I was actually stumped ealier in the week, I did not know what kind of support this cake would need. After a trip to A.C. Moore and $80 later I got the cake support I needed as well as a bunch of things I didn’t need. Image What I really want to tell you about in this cake is the chocolate. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate cake recipe. This is by far the richest, wettest, chocolatlyist cake I have ever had. This is not the first time I’ve used this recipe, Pair this with a peanut butter ganache you have a heart breaker. Pair this with a Bailys butter cream icing you have a dream. IMG_7964 Without further ado, Chocolate addicts please feast your eyes on the greatest chocolate cake recipe you may ever encounter   Hersey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake Recipe This will make a double layer cake easy. This time I paired it with a Bailys buttercream icing, it was a beautiful mixture of flavors. P.S. This is the same buttercream icing I use on the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. Ingredients: Cake – 2 cups sugar 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup boiling water Frosting – 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature 5 cups powdered sugar 6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream Directions: Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease 2 9 inch round baking pans
  2. In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt
  3. In a stand mixer mix eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet along with boiling water and mix, the batter will be thin, this is normal.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Cool ten minutes before removing from pan, wait an additional 15 before frosting.

Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer whip the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl down periodically.
  2. Add the powder sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing between each cup, until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the Baileys and whip until light and fluffy.

Off the Funfetti Bandwagon (Faux Funfetti Blondies)

Bold statement warning: I HATE FUNFETTI, damn you Pillsbury for turning your sprinkles filled boxed cake mix into a phenomenon.

It seems that everything is Funfetti lately, walking through the food store you can stumble upon: pancake mix, woppie pie mix, cookie mix and of course cake mix. Don’t get me wrong, I love the colors. Trust me; I would be the last person to say that baked goods are better without rainbows, however Funfetti box mix dampers the creativity of bakers.

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Example 1, Courtney:

“I NEED A FUNFETTI BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!” she exclaims with the excitement of a three year old.

“Okay, I’ll just whip up my own Funfetti recipe and…”  I knew that wouldn’t fly. As soon as the words left my mouth regret struck. What was I thinking? Funfetti is Courtney’s birth right, that’s the cake she has always had for her birthday.

“No! I want the box!” 21 years of age, 21!!! I am scared that she is going to lie down in the isle and start throwing a temper tantrum like a 3 year old. I grab the box in hope that a meltdown is avoided. One isle later my fears again are stirred up, “LOOK, FUNFETTI PANCAKE MIX !” Okay, Im not going to lie, I make pretty boss pancakes, growing up I have never used a box mix; even in college I never used a box mix. For Courtney’s birthday I used a boxed Funfetti pancake mix.

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As a baker who is obsessed with doing things from scratch, I firmly believe that Pillsbury has everyone brainwashed. If I make a white cake and throw some sprinkles in you will have the same effect! Home Made Funfetti is way more convenient than running to the store and buying a box, and Funfetti pancake mix is just pancake mix with sprinkles thrown in I CAN DO THE SAME THING!

This past weekend was a washout, at least 3 inches of rain and nothing to do but bake all day. Can you guess what Courtney requested? Funfetti blondies. First of all, my feelings about Funfetti are stated above; second of all, I am not a Blondies fan I am a chocolate fan! Why have vanilla brownies? That’s just a waste of potential chocolate dessert in my eyes.

I imagine that typical Funfetti Blondies would taste like cake, and most recipes I looked up did indeed require the boxed mix. As you can probably guess, I did not go that route. My blondies taste more like chocolate chip cookie dough, yes dough, not the cookies. I made these suckers on Saturday night and let me tell you, they tasted wonderful Sunday morning warmed up for breakfast!

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Faux Funfetti Blondies

Ingredients

1cup butter (room temp or slightly melted)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles as desired

Directions:

  1.        Preheat oven to 350.
  2.        Cream the butter and the sugars using a stand mixer
  3.        Mix in the egg and vanilla
  4.        Add in the flour, baking soda, salt and mix till combined. The dough will be dry.
  5.        With a spoon or your hands mix in the chocolate chips and sprinkles
  6.        Spread out in  a 9X9 greased pan and cook until just golden or 18-20 minutes