Loaded Brownie Cookies

Sometimes a rainy, cold day just calls for baked goods.  These cookies are the product of a rather dreary Saturday.

Loaded Brownie Cookies | A Nerd CooksI first started thinking about brownie cookies when I saw my friend Kim, from Feed Me, Seymour, post these brownie cookies as a part of the virtual cookie swap that we both participated in. My cookies are a riff on a recipe that I blogged about in early 2013.  You can find those brownie cookies here.  The basic recipe comes from Joy the Baker’s original cookbook.

Loaded Brownie Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need:

  • 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini M&Ms
  • more chocolate chips and M&Ms, for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a glass bowl, using the double boiler method, melt the chocolate and butter.  Remove the bowl with the chocolate from the heat and allow it to cool for a minute.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

Back to the bowl with the chocolate: Whisk the sugar and vanilla into the chocolate until combined.  It’s going to look pretty grainy and not so great.  That’s okay.  One at a time, whisk in the eggs.  Things should be looking much more like brownie batter now.

All at once, add the chocolate mixture to the flour.  Stir until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips and M&Ms.

By the tablespoonful, drop the batter onto the prepared cookie sheets.  If desired, press a few chocolate chips into the top of the cookie.  Bake for 11 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the oven.  Again, if desired, press some more M&Ms into the top of the cookies.  Either way, allow them to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheets before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Loaded Brownie Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

The Pomegranate Palermo Cocktail

Thirsty Thursday is making a comeback on A Nerd Cooks!  It’s been entirely too long, in my opinion.  This drink is a twist on the Paloma cocktail.

The Pomegranate Palermo Cocktail | A Nerd Cooks

I found this recipe on The Kitchn, and modified it a bit.

You’ll need:

  • 2-3 oz. tequila
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 oz. pomegranate juice, optional
  • ice
  • 3 oz. pomegranate soda
  • lime wedge for garnish (optional)

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the tequila, lime juice, and optional pomegranate juice.  Shake until well-chilled.

Strain the contents of the shaker into a glass filled with ice.  Top with the pomegranate soda.  Garnish with a lime if desired.

The Pomegranate Palermo Cocktail | A Nerd Cooks

Skinny Green Bean Casserole – Updated!

Like so many other posts that I’ve shown you recently, this recipe was definitely deserving of a facelift.  It is a lightened up version of the traditional green bean casserole that gets served at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Despite it being “skinny”, this recipe tastes so much better than the original.  It’s so worth it to spend a little extra time and make everything from scratch rather than use canned condensed soup.  Additionally, this dish can be made vegetarian if you opt for vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Skinny Green Bean Casserole - Updated! | A Nerd Cooks

I blogged about this for the first time in 2012 (my original post can be found here), and the recipe originally comes from the blog Skinnytaste.

You’ll need:

Bread Crumb Topping

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup shallots, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Green Beans & Sauce

  • 2 lbs fresh green beans, washed, trimmed, and halved
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/3 cup shallots, finely diced
  • 16 oz. cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the topping, heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until they are softened.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the bread crumbs, cheese, and thyme.  Sauté for 5-6 additional minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Boil a large pot of water.  Add the green beans and blanche for 2-4 minutes.  Drain them into a colander and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the remaining 1/3 cup of shallots and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add the mushrooms, stirring to coat them with the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sauté for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms, stirring to coat.  Continue stirring for about a minute.  Slowly add the broth and milk.  Bring it to a low boil, and cook for about 3 more minutes, or until it starts to thicken up, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the rest of the grated cheese.

Add the blanched green beans and mix well.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper, if needed.  Pour everything into the prepared baking dish.

Top the beans and sauce with the toasted bread crumbs and bake for 30 minutes.

Dig in!  Trust me, this recipe blows the traditional green bean casserole out of the water.

Skinny Green Bean Casserole - Updated! | A Nerd Cooks

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies w/ Candied Pecans

When my blogger friend Christin, from Blue Crab Martini, invited me to be a part of a virtual cookie swap, I jumped at the chance!  I’m in full holiday baking mode over here, and couldn’t wait to share these cookies with you.  A peanut butter cookie with chocolate chunks is delicious no matter what time of the year it is, but I feel that the addition of candied pecans makes these a little special and perfect for the holidays.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies w/ Candied Pecans

These cookies are serious crowd-pleasers.  I’ve made them three times now, and they’ve been happily devoured each time.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies w/ Candied Pecans

This recipe is adapted from this one at Hearts in My Oven.

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3.5 oz milk chocolate bar, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup candied pecans (or other nut of your choice), roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

Melt the stick of butter in the microwave in 30-second intervals.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the melted butter, sugars, and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla extract, mix until just combined.

Little by little, add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Mix until everything is just combined.

Fold in the chopped chocolate and candied nuts.

Using a cookie scooper, or two spoons, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet by the heaping tablespoonful.  These cookies won’t spread much in the oven, so smoosh them down a little with your fingers if you want a flatter cookie.  I kind of like mine all heaped up (as you can see in the pictures), so I didn’t bother smooshing them.

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.  Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies w/ Candied Pecans

Be sure to check out all of the other delicious cookies from the lovely bloggers who participated in the cookie swap!

  1. 2014CookieSwapBadgeNonni’s Zuccarinis by Sugar & Something
  2. Coconut Orange Drop Cookies by Simply Fresh Dinners
  3. Vermont Maple Walnut Cookies by Driftwood Gardens
  4. Gingerbread Ale Cookie Sandwiches with Eggnog Cream by Blue Crab Martini
  5. Shortbread Bites by Tide & Thyme
  6. Apple Pie Cookies by Omnivore’s Cookbook
  7. Salted Caramel Brownie Cookies by Feed Me Seymour
  8. Dark Chocolate Cookie Bark by No Gojis No Glory
  9. Lemon Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies by DIY Faerie
  10. Fudge Cookie Balls with Chocolate Ganache by All in All
  11. Whole Wheat Nutella Cookies by Homegrown & Healthy
  12. Holiday Fudge by When’s My Vacation
  13. Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies by Adventures by Katie

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Chocolate Sauce

Just like I promised on Facebook and Instagram, here’s the cheesecake that I made for Thanksgiving!  I’m also going to show you what to do with that bourbon chocolate sauce that I posted last week!

Even though there was a thin layer of cheesecake in the pumpkin cake that I shared last week, this was my first attempt at a full-on cheesecake.  I was so happy with the way that it came out.

This cheesecake is creamy, nicely spiced, and not overly sweet.  The chocolate crust and sauce also complement the pumpkin flavor nicely.  Side note: pumpkin and chocolate were made for one another.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Chocolate Sauce | A Nerd Cooks

The cheesecake recipe comes from A Thousand Threads.  Check that post out, too, because it is one seriously gorgeous cheesecake.

You’ll need:

Crust

  • 24 Oreo cookies
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted

Cheesecake

  • 4 8-oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Bourbon Chocolate Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper.  Spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray, including the parchment paper.

In a blender or food processor, grind the Oreo cookies into fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter and blend again until the crumbs start to stick together.

Press the crust into the bottom of the pan in an even layer.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow it to cool a bit.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  One at a time, beat in the eggs.  Next, add the pumpkin, heavy cream, and spices.  Beat until just blended.  Take care to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times to ensure that everything is adequately mixed.

Pour the filling into the prepared pan.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the top of the cheesecake is puffed up and slightly golden.  The cheesecake will be done when it still jiggles a bit, but the top is firm.

Remove the cheesecake, still in the springform pan, to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cover and stash in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

Once the cheesecake is chilled, run a knife around the edge of the pan.  Remove from the springform pan, drizzle with Bourbon Chocolate Sauce, slice, and eat!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Chocolate Sauce | A Nerd Cooks

Bourbon Chocolate Sauce

Ahhh bourbon chocolate sauce.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…

Bourbon Chocolate Sauce | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe was on the blog Kleinworth & Co.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Bulleit)

In a small saucepan, combine the half & half and brown sugar.  Heat over medium heat until the sugar is totally dissolved and the half & half starts to bubble a bit.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the chocolate chips and vanilla extract to a glass bowl.  Pour the hot half & half mixture over the chocolate.  Stir vigorously until smooth.

Add the bourbon and stir to combine.

The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Though I’d highly recommend tucking into this sauce with just a spoon (kidding, sort of), I’ll show you what you can do with this soon.  Hint: it involves cheesecake.

Bourbon Chocolate Sauce | A Nerd Cooks

Pumpkin Cake with Cheesecake, Gingersnap, and Salted Caramel Topping

In case you’ve managed to avoid looking at a calendar lately, Thanksgiving is coming up later this week!  If the dessert portion of your menu is still up in the air (or if you want another dessert!), this one could be for you.

It’s delicious and impressive-looking, without being terribly difficult to make.  It is slightly involved, but well worth the effort.  Pumpkin Cake with Cheesecake, Gingersnaps, and Salted Caramel Topping

Let the record show that, despite his occasional complaints, Sean is encouraging my pumpkin-loving behavior.  He surprised me with the cookbook that this recipe came from; it just so happens that this cookbook is all about cooking and baking with pumpkin.

Pumpkin Cake with Cheesecake, Gingersnaps, and Salted Caramel Topping

This recipe comes from the cookbook Cooking with Pumpkin: Recipes that Go Beyond the Pie.

You’ll need:

Pumpkin Cake

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pumpkin Cheesecake

  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Other Toppings

  • 2 tbs turbinado sugar (granulated sugar can sub here)
  • 1/2 cup gingersnap cookies, coarsely crushed
  • 1/3 cup caramel sauce

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.  Set aside.

For the cake layer, combine the 3/4 cup sugar, teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves.  Mix just to incorporate.

Add the 3/4 cup pumpkin, egg, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla extract.  Using a hand mixer, beat for 1 minute.  Scrape the sides of the bowl down periodically, if needed.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top slightly with a spatula.

For the cheesecake layer, using a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, 1/4 cup of pumpkin, 1/4 cup of sugar, and teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice until smooth and creamy.

Add the cheesecake mixture in an even layer on top of the cake batter.  Smooth slightly.  Sprinkle the top with the turbinado sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the center is set and not jiggly.

Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once it’s cool, run a knife around the outside of the cake to loosen it.  Then, pop the springform pan off and lift the bottom, along with the cake, out from the pan.  When you’re ready to serve the cake, sprinkle the top with the crushed gingersnaps and drizzle the caramel sauce.

Pumpkin Cake with Cheesecake, Gingersnaps, and Salted Caramel Topping