Mini Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake (& Vanilla Bean Ice Cream)

Several years ago I bought a fancy Pampered Chef stoneware mini fluted pan at a garage sale for like ten dollars. I promptly put it in a cupboard and mostly forgot about it because I have a standard bundt pan as well and if I’m honest, I simply don’t make many bundt cakes other than the delightful lemon one from a few years ago. If I’m more honest, the exhausting trial and error of finding that lemon bundt cake kinda turned me off to the entire style of cake for a while.

In any case, I eventually came across an amazing looking chocolate chip cookie double-bundt cake creation from Sprinkle Bakes and her description of the flavor was basically “yes please”. Chocolate chip cookies in pretty cake form? Please put that in my mouth.

On the other hand I certainly don’t need to make the double-layer version because if I have that much cake around I will just eat it. (M would probably not consider this a problem, to be fair.) I have fantastic willpower when it comes to not buying food that is terrible for me, but I have almost no willpower for anything in my line of vision at home. Things I have learned about myself over the years are summed up by “it’s easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist it.”

But I don’t want to avoid it completely, obviously, which is why I made the “mini” version. I put the mini in quotes because six of these mini cakes is the same amount as one standard bundt, which means each cake really serves two people. A fantastic way to test out my “new” pan and a new recipe all the while being fairly confident it’ll be delightful because both Pampered Chef and Sprinkle Bakes are extremely reliable. Fortunately, my hypothesis was correct.

All the comforting flavor of a chocolate chip cookie baked into a pretty fluted bundt. It is just the kind of cake to pair beautifully with ice cream, and I opted for vanilla bean for the pretty speckles and traditional flavor pairing. I shared my recipe below, but feel free to pair with your favorite store-bought variety instead. If vanilla seems too plain, chocolate is always a good bet, or you could pair with strawberry for a summer flavor and some fun color. One cake and a large scoop is a perfect dessert for two, and is a wonderful way to end a celebratory day.

Since there is no leveling, frosting, or really any extra presentation required, this is a fantastic option for those times you need to need a less time-consuming but still impressive dessert. It also travels well since there’s no frosting to fall off or glaze to slide around, and is quick to assemble once you arrive at your destination. You could even scoop the ice cream ahead of time to save on required utensils and remove the need to let your ice cream soften beforehand. Plop on a scoop, drizzle on some chocolate sauce, and you are all set for a flawless and decadent experience. It would also be a super cute addition to a couples’ dinner party, if you’re in to the host(ess) gig.

As you may have noticed, I molded my ice cream into heart shapes. Since I made this for our anniversary dessert, I like to do a little something extra to make it special. If you’re interested in this, just line mini cake pans of your choice with plastic wrap, then spread softened ice cream (if you’re using homemade, just do this right after churning) into the pans and freeze until firm. They melt quick once they’re out and near the hot fudge sauce, so only assemble right before you’re ready to serve.

Next time you’re in the market for a cake, I highly recommend you give this one a try (whether you invest in the fancy mini-bundt pans or not.)

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Gleefully borrowed from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes six 4.5″ mini bundt cakes (or one standard bundt cake)

Ingredients

Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed

3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sour cream (full fat)
2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

Toppings
Hot fudge sauce
Vanilla bean ice cream (recipe below)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and flour one standard bundt pan, or a 6-well mini fluted pan.
  3. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until completely combined.
  4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition.
  6. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until completely combined, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  7. Add the flow mixture, mixing on low speed just until combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Batter should be thick.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes for mini bundt cakes (or 40-50 minutes for a standard bundt), or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out mostly but not completely clean. Don’t over-bake or cakes will be a bit dry.
  9. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. When ready to serve, top one mini bundt or slice (I like to warm mine briefly in the microwave) with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce and a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream. Share with a friend (or eat it all yourself, I won’t judge.)

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until completely combined.
  2. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator until thoroughly cold, or overnight. (Overnight is better as it will allow the vanilla bean flavor to really permeate the mixture.)
  3. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a cold freezer-safe bowl (or cake tins lined with plastic wrap) to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.
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Oatmeal Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

January is often a time for change; new diets, new fitness routines, new personal and professional goals. I am no exception to this rule, but this year I have a slightly different goal in mind with regards to my eating and this blog.

Off and on I’ve struggled with healthy eating, to the point that it’s been hard to feel good about eating anything that isn’t a plain vegetable. We are so inundated by “guilt-free” and “skinny” and “clean-eating” recipes that it starts to feel like every food is measured by how terrible of a person I am for eating it. This year, I’m done with that. Fat is not the enemy, carbs are not the enemy, and if I’m going to eat dessert then why the heck would I want it to be “skinny” or “light”. If you see me using these phrases here, please point them out. I know that changing my relationship with ingredients is not a one-woman task, and if you want to join me in this endeavor, I welcome all the help I can get.

In light of that, here is an extremely normal cookie recipe because if you’re going to have a cookie, have a proper cookie. (Those “skinny” recipes never work anyway, since most of the time people just eat twice as many of them.) Peanut buttery goodness complemented with the rustic flavor of oatmeal and the chocolatey crunch of peanut butter M&M’s, these are sure to please any peanut butter fan.

I’ve been making the standard peanut butter cookie recipe on the back of the Jif jar for as long as I can remember (even saving a label when my Costco started carrying Skippy instead), and it’s still one of my favorites. I usually add chocolate chips (and nix the sugar crosshatching) because nothing is better than melty chocolate and soft peanut butter cookie in one cozy mouthful. However, I also super love oatmeal cookies, and have featured a couple different ones on this site. Inspired by that flavor palate, I opted to adapt this recipe towards some oatmealy delight.

Largely the same as the original, I substituted some of the flour for some extra oatmeal mostly for texture purposes. I never pack brown sugar for cookie recipes, which I think blends nicely for the oatmeal pairing, but if you prefer a sweeter flavor then by all means pack that sugar firmly into your measuring cups.

For texture and color and always-welcomed chocolate, peanut M&M’s are a fun addition. I’ve also used peanut butter M&M’s and regular ole’ chocolate chunks, both with delicious success. Smooth peanut butter is my preference, but use chunky or add some chopped roasted peanuts if you’re in to that. Playing up the peanut flavor instead of just sugar is a nice twist on an old favorite, and it makes them great for hiking too.

Celebrate your progress towards your first month of goals, console yourself over the lack thereof, or just welcome in a new month with a batch of these cookies. Enjoying life is so much more than doing everything “right”, and a proper cookie is always a welcome lift in the day.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

Adapted from Jif
Makes about 3 dozen large cookies

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cup peanut butter (Jif or similar; I’ve never tried it with a “natural” sort)
1 cup shortening
2 1/2 cups unpacked light brown sugar
6 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 eggs

3 cups peanut M&Ms1

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine peanut butter, shortening, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat until completely combined.
  4. Add eggs and beat until just combined.
  5. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Dough should not stick to your finger if you press it; add additional flour 1/4 cup at a time if necessary.
  6. By hand, stir in M&Ms (so they don’t break.)
  7. Use a 1/4 cup cookie scoop to add balls of dough to cookie sheets (I could only fit about 8 on a pan), flattening the tops slightly.
  8. Bake 13-15 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned; remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Store in an airtight container up to one week, or in the freezer for longer term storage.

Notes

Or any one of the following: peanut butter M&M’s, regular M&M’s, chocolate chunks, chocolate chips, roasted peanuts, etc. Mix and match to your heart’s desire.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

Cold weather means warm soup, and warm soup calls for warm breads. I love a hearty soup, stew, or chili when the cold days hit, and I always take the opportunity to make a bread side to go with it. Beer bread and cornbread are my go-to options, but after seeing this recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to set those aside and give these a try.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe immediately piqued my interest, combining my love affairs with both sweet potato and olive oil, and perhaps giving me an excellent chance to make use of my extensive Olivelle oil collection. Thanksgiving offered a large audience and so I set off to try it out.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

For my first attempt, I stuck largely to the original recipe, tweaking only to a sweet cream butter infused oil for half of it, and substituting rosemary for the sage. Paired with a rosemary herb butter, they were a delicious compliment to the usual Thanksgiving suspects, and I would definitely make that version again.

However, I had a hunch that my favorite maple and chipotle duo would work splendidly here, and gave that a try next. A hint of sweet from the syrup and a little kick from the chipotle turn this is into a perfect side for chilis or more Mexican-inspired soups. (They would be awesome with enchilada soup, for example.)

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

Since I was pairing mine with a spicy chili, I kept the biscuits with just a little kick to pull the flavors together. If you have other ideas, or just want all the heat, feel free to increase to your heart’s content.

Leftovers (if you don’t eat them all straight off the pan) can be enjoyed for several days, and are delightful on their own with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, or your favorite maple butter. Better yet, top them with a fried egg and a dollop of goat cheese along with that syrup, and you have a breakfast of champions.

Olive Oil Biscuits {{Baking Bytes}}

(I made that maple butter shown above, but it wasn’t 100% what I wanted. If I perfect the recipe, I’ll be sure to get it up here.)

Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

Adapted from The Speckled Palate
Makes about 16 biscuits

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree
2-4 Tbsp maple syrup
olive oil to 1 cup (use an infused oil for extra flavor!)

3 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle power, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with a silicon baking mat (or parchment paper.) Set aside.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, pour desired amount of maple syrup.
  3. Pour in olive oil until combined total is 1 cup. (e.g. if you used 4 Tbsp maple syrup, you will add 3/4 cup olive oil to total 1 cup)
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together sweet potato and liquids until combined and smooth.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and stir until mixed, then continue to stir another 30 seconds.
  6. Lightly flour a cutting board or counter and press or roll dough into a rectangle 1/2″ – 3/4″ high.
  7. Using a 2″ biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits. Gently reshape scraps in order to cut as many biscuits as possible.
  8. Arrange biscuits at least 1″ apart on prepared baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned and biscuits are golden.
  10. Remove to a cooling rack to cool briefly, then serve warm with your favorite chili our soup.

{Slow Cooker} Chai Butternut Squash Soup

With more than two weeks of traveling and a semi-unplanned fitness and blog hiatus behind me, I’m ready to jump into the new year. I am still working on my 2018 goals for all areas of my life, but rest assured that my biweekly schedule here is unharmed. I’m excited to share new recipes and cooking adventures with all of you, and have some fun series planned throughout the year. (If there’s something you’d love to see featured, let me know!)

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Winter hit Montana in full force while I was in much wetter parts of the country, but I welcome the cold and white climate of this time of year. Skiing and crisp winter runs are sure to be abundant over the next couple of months, and like any sane person I love coming home to a nice warm soup.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe is souper easy (ha) and extremely tasty. Thick and filling, it warms you from the inside out with its cozy spices and sweet squash flavor. Start a batch before you head out on your winter adventures, and within 20 minutes of getting home you’ll have this deliciousness ready to eat.

Prep time is minimal, but if you want to speed things up a bit I definitely won’t judge you for buying pre-diced squash. Since the soup is pureed anyway, I don’t bother peeling the carrots or apple but you can if you wish. This soup is also very forgiving, so if you have space in the slow cooker feel free to add a few additional carrots or apples to the mix.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

The chai spice mix is very simple and allows you to tailor it to your preferences. Raise or lower the proportions to suit your tastes, or ditch certain spices entirely. I made this mix for the soup, of course, but it’s also delicious in oatmeal, smoothies, milkshakes, lattes, hot chocolate, or anything you can dream up. It keeps just as long as any of your spices would, so don’t be afraid of the excess. I used closer to two tablespoons for a nice strong spice flavor, but I recommend starting with half the amount so you can find your perfect balance.

An immersion blender makes quick work of pureeing, but you can use a food processor or regular blender if you are careful. Work in small batches and allow the soup to cool briefly before blending.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Warm in both flavor and temperature, this soup is great on its own or alongside a nice crusty bread and a light salad. The leftovers reheat well which makes it perfect for meal-prep, presuming it wasn’t all scarfed up the first day.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup

Adapted from Give Me Some Oven
Makes about 6 quarts

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash (3-4 lbs), peeled, seeded, and diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large apple, cored and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp chai spice (below), to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne, to taste
2-4 cups vegetable stock

1 (15oz) can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk1
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients (start with 2 cups broth) except coconut milk to large slow cooker and stir gently to combine.
  2. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until squash is tender.
  3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely (or carefully use a regular blender and small batches.)
  4. Stir in coconut milk (you can start with just half of it, if you prefer) and additional spices as necessary. Add more vegetable broth to thin soup to your ideal consistency.
  5. (If you added more spices, allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.)
  6. Serve warm, topped with additional coconut milk and chai spices, if desired.

Chai Spice Mix

Adapted from A Dash of Megnut

Ingredients

1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake or whisk until well combined.
  2. Store in an air-tight container until ready for use.

Notes

If you are not vegan and not a fan of coconut milk, you can substitute half and half instead. Start with 1/2 cup and increase as desired.

DIY Hot Chocolate Mix

Perhaps the quintessential cold-weather beverage, hot chocolate has long been a favorite of mine. I drink it much less often as an adult since I prefer to eat my calories rather than drink them, but on a cold and snowy day, hot chocolate is still a delicious way to warm up. These days I find most of the store-bought mixes to be far too sweet, and so I set out to make my own.

All the popular Pinterest items used non-fat milk powder, so I gave that a shot. I had reservations on how well this would work because it’s the milk fat that makes proper hot chocolate into the creamy delight we look for. As expected, the non-fat versions tasted far too watery to me. I knew I wanted to include milk powder since the goal was not to have to heat up milk every time I wanted a cup, and so I checked to see if whole milk powder was a thing that exists.

Helpful, Amazon has my back and I promptly ordered what I presume is basically a lifetime supply. Fortunately it is shelf-stable for quite a while (or you can freeze it) so I had no qualms about order it. After a couple iterations to get the cocoa:sugar ratio down, I landed on my perfect concoction. Not too sweet, very chocolatey, and pleasantly creamy without the hassle of heating milk or the requirement to have a splash of heavy cream on hand. (We almost always do, but I realize the average person does not buy heavy whipping cream by the half-gallon.)

This recipe easily scales, so you can make less for a small amount or scale it up and give it away as gifts. Add a cute jar and a tag with instructions and you have a wonderful small token of appreciation. It keeps for at least 6 months (that’s how long my batch lasted) so you can stock up for the season ahead. All the convenience of those pre-made mixes and the ability to tailor the amount of sugar to your preferences; a win-win if you ask me.

DIY Hot Chocolate Mix

Makes about 8 servings

Ingredients

for mix
3/4 cup whole milk powder
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa powder (regular works okay too)
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar2

to prepare hot chocolate
12 oz boiling water
3-4 Tablespoons mix

Directions

  1. For the mix: whisk together milk powder, cocoa powder, and sugar until well combined. Store in an airtight container.
  2. For hot chocolate: Add 3-4 tablespoons mix to the bottom of a large mug.
  3. Pour in 1-2 ounces of boiling water, and mix until well combined. (A handheld milk frother works great for this.)
  4. Pour in remaining boiling water, and continue to mix until completely combined.
  5. Enjoy immediately with your favorite toppings. (And a splash of Baileys, for the adults.)

Notes

You must use whole milk powder, the non-fat stuff is useless. Whole milk powder is the key to creaminess without having to heat milk every time you want to prepare a cup of hot chocolate.

I prefer my hot chocolate a little less on the sweet side; if you like yours more like a store-bought version, use 3/4 -1 cup sugar .