Quick, easy chocolate fudge cookies


Sometimes you want a cookie without all the fuss.

Searching for something quick and easy to bake last weekend, I stumbled upon this recipe for chocolate fudge cookies. They’re made using a box cake mix, of all things (gasp!), but they turned out absolutely delicious — and can be customized in all sorts of ways.

Had I had a bag of those addictive mint chocolate chips on hand, I would have happily tossed them in — but this recipe is pretty great as-is! I just added a little vanilla extract to the batter because vanilla makes everything better; it’s science.

If you want a quick treat using items likely already in your pantry, I present you with . . .


Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:
• 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or mint, or any other kind)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease or line cookie sheets.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, eggs and oil until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Yields approximately 24-30 cookies.



I’m linking up with Beth Fish Reads’ Weekend Cooking feature, a great way to check out new blogs and fabulous recipes. Be sure to stop by for more mouth-watering posts beginning Saturday.


Pistachio chocolate cake — pretty, green and delectable

My latest obsession is printing out recipes, friends. I can’t say that I always make the recipes, but I have created a mighty fine collection of those items I’ve placed on my “to be baked” list. At the moment, Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes are next up on my list . . . mostly because I’ve gotten more into spicy foods lately. Oh, how the palate does change!

But a long-running item on my “TBB” list is the pistachio cake from The Pioneer Woman, that purveyor of all things delicious and heart-warming. We all know she’s my hero — and I once made Spencer stand in line for four hours with me to meet her — and her recipes, when I actually give them a whirl, are always so tasty.

And this pistachio cake is no exception. After running over to the grocery store with Eric, my sister’s boyfriend, to track down some non-sugar-free pistachio Jell-o (the sugar-free varieties don’t have enough in each package for the recipe), I set to work after dinner.

Only there was little work to be had.

The recipe is, miraculously, very simple — and I think that’s why I printed it out in the first place! Grab your white cake mix (any brand), a box of pistachio Jell-o, some eggs, oil, orange juice (unusual), chocolate syrup — and bam! You’re done. Bake that baby. Congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Just don’t put it in the oven at 8:15 p.m., like I did. You’ll soon find your family members circling the oven like vultures, cursing you for making them wait until at least 9:30 for dessert. But it wasn’t my fault. Plus, “American Idol” was on — and my tears of happiness for those kids and their parents might or might not have made up the “secret ingredient” in my cake.

But now I’m just channeling The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake. Which I haven’t read. But really want to.

And now you need to go make this.

I baked this recipe completely as-is, though I cheated and did cover it in chocolate frosting! And I couldn’t find our bundt pan, so I used a long bread loaf pan. Worked just fine. The cake itself is moist and very good, but it needed a touch of sweetness. I frosted just the top of the cake so, when cut, each piece has a thin band of chocolate goodness across the top. Perfection! (Oh, and I added two drops of green food coloring to make this extra green. I wanted major greening going on.)


Pistachio & Chocolate Cake

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Ingredients:

  • 1 box White Cake Mix
  • 1 package (4 Ounce) Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix
  • ½ cups Orange Juice
  • ½ cups Water
  • ½ cups Vegetable Oil
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • ¾ cups Chocolate Syrup (such As Hershey’s)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bundt pan.

Mix all ingredients but chocolate syrup and beat for two minutes on medium-high. Pour 3/4 of the batter into the bundt pan.

Add chocolate syrup to the remaining batter and mix well. Pour chocolate-laced batter on top of the pistachio batter.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Note: You can use a knife to swirl chocolate batter into the pistachio batter for more of a marbled design.


Creamy, sweet ricotta cheesecake cupcakes — with walnuts

Just after Christmastime, I made one of my favorite purchases of the year: new calendars. Choosing one is almost impossible for me, so I usually wind up with five or six lining the walls of my office or bedroom. The greatest find of 2011 is my cupcake calendar, though — 365 days of cupcake recipes and delectable photos!

Since I started pulling apart my page-a-days, I’ve kept all sorts of delicious concoctions for future trial and error. And last Friday I found myself wandering the grocery store with this recipe in hand, intrigued by the odd combination of flavors.

Anything with graham cracker crumbs is all right by me, friends. In fact, that’s what really prompted me to save this recipe in the first place: the promise of graham-and-honey goodness. I already had many of the ingredients on hand, by some miracle, so it was just a matter of finding the orange extract and ricotta cheese.

Don’t let a mention of “cheese” freak you out. Ricotta is creamy and sweet — the same filling used in cannoli. Adding in the walnuts gives these cheesecake desserts a nice texture, too, and some added crunch — and I love the hint of orange in the cheese batter. After trying one, Spencer mentioned that almond extract might taste delicious instead of the orange . . . and he’s probably right. I think I’ll try that next time.

The original recipe from the calendar stated this recipe would produce a dozen cupcakes, but that was so wrong. After filling 12 muffin liners, my batter hadn’t even been dented. I quickly whipped up another batch of the graham/honey/butter combination and made 12 more. The recipe below reflects my changes because I couldn’t, in good conscience, lead you kind folks to believe you’d have only a dozen of these babies when done.

Though the ricotta cheesecake cupcakes won’t help me fit into my bridesmaid dress before September, they will help me sleep better. I recommend consuming a half dozen before bedtime for sweet, sweet dreams.


Ricotta Cheesecake Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from The Cupcake Calendar by Sellers Publishing

Ingredients:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp. margarine, melted
4 tbsp. honey
2 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp. orange extract
1/2 cup walnut halves

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place 24 baking cups in muffin pans.

In a food processor, combine the cracker crumbs, margarine and honey. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each cup, pressing firmly into the bottom. Chill until set.

In a large bowl, beat the ricotta with an electric mixer until soft. Then beat in the eggs, confectioners’ sugar, and orange extract. Fold in the walnuts. Spoon the mixture into the cups.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack. Chill until ready to serve.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Makes 24 cupcakes.


Spicy pumpkin cookies are heavy, delicious — and sure to please

Friends, family and occasional visitors of write meg! will know that I’ve become a bit of a nut about pumpkin. I can’t tell you quite when my obsession with the gourd began, but I do know that I’ve become known in some circles for my devotion to all things pertaining to that bright orange vegetable.

And, you know, I have a reputation to uphold.

Months after I began my search, I finally found cans of pumpkin — not pumpkin pie mix, friends, but just plain ol’ pumpkin — at my local Safeway this week. I have this booklet filled with cookie recipes and, since it’s officially fall, I knew it was time to try my hand at these little babies.

Though cupcake-baking has lately superseded any of my other culinary attempts, I’m trying to branch out and make/bake other things. So I won’t weigh 600 pounds in the near future, for one, but also so my family can have a well-balanced meal every now and then. Cookies and cupcakes do not a dinner make. (Um, most of the time.)

For the moment, though, I just can’t shake my fascination with dessert — and my excitement at the prospect of actually being able to make something like this on my own. My latest batch of goodies come in the form of Spicy Pumpkin Cookies, a recipe I pulled from a tiny Betty Crocker booklet, “Great Cookies,” I’ve kept in my purse for weeks. Yes, I seriously walk around with cookie recipes on my person at all times . . . just in case, you know, I get the urge to bake.

And I do get that urge. I do.

And now you can, too.


Spicy Pumpkin Cookies

From Betty Crocker’s “Great Cookies booklet” (2010)

Prep time: One hour

Start to finish: One hour and 30 minutes

Yield: About 30 cookies

Ingredients:

1 box (1 lb. 2.25 oz.) yellow cake mix with pudding in the mix
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
1 cup vanilla creamy ready-to-spread frosting
Ground nutmeg or cinnamon for garnish, if desired

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheet with shortening. In large bowl, mix cake mix and pumpkin pie spice. Stir in pumpkin and butter until well blended. Stir in raisins, if desired.

2. Drop dough by generous tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet.

3. Bake 11 to 12 minutes or until set and light golden brown around edges. Cool 1 to 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Frost with frosting. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon.

Meg’s notes:

Delicious! This is a heavy cookie — not light and fluffy — but I think that works well for the autumn-infused pumpkin flavor. The recipe was very simple and I left out the raisins, since no one in my house is a fan. I was a little generous with the frosting, but can anyone ever be too generous with frosting? And I think the creamy vanilla was a great complement to the cookie. Overall, very tasty — and I’d wager a crowd pleaser. Mine took longer to bake than 11-12 minutes — it was probably more like 15 — but keep an eye on them . . . the bottoms brown quickly.