Chocolate Chip Caramel Walnut Banana Bread

Chocolate chip caramel walnut banana bread is pure decadence! Why eat plain banana bread when you can dress it with chocolate chips, walnuts, and caramel sauce!?!  bigger So I decided to share this with you sooner rather than later because, well because this was SO good and it’s worth sharing right now!

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It’s been too long since I last shared my banana bread recipe, and since then I’ve made some adjustments and changed the recipe a bit. And adding caramel sauce, chocolate chips and walnuts made it extra amazing!

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Let me tell you about the people I bake for (a.k.a my family). For example for this banana bread, some wanted chocolate chips and walnuts but no caramel sauce, others wanted walnuts and caramel sauce without the chocolate chips, still others wanted all three together. And of course I’m such a good daughter/sister and I want to please everyone with my baking.  

So I made two loaves and then ended up putting some caramel sauce on the one that had chocolate chips and walnuts as well. It is SO good! Very, very rich though so I’m not saying that you should make your banana bread like this all the time. But sometimes you just need a decadent dessert. The chocolate chips taste amazing with the banana, and caramel sauce always makes everything better. Personally I love the combination of chocolate and banana as you can see here. As for the walnuts, I always add them in banana bread because I’m pretty much nuts 4 nuts. 🙂 That extra crunch makes it taste that much more amazing. You can totally leave them out if you don’t prefer them, I won’t judge. 🙂

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As you can see, ever since I made homemade caramel sauce for the first time here, I’m trying to incorporate it in everything. I LOVE caramel sauce, I can eat it with a spoon right out of the sauce pan. Talking from personal experience here. 🙂

Please, please give this banana bread a try! It is super moist and delicious!

Chocolate Chip Caramel Walnut Banana Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda + a few drops of lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 over ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 1 cup (or more if you prefer) chocolate chips

Caramel Sauce:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream, warmed slightly, either in a small saucepan or microwave
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl mix together flour, salt, and baking soda. Put a few drops of lemon juice over the baking soda and watch it fizz up. Sift all the dry ingredients into another bowl. Cream together the butter, oil, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, vanilla, bananas, and cinnamon. Mix until combined. Fold in the dry ingredients into the wet. Blend the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips in the batter.  Scrape into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You may find that you may need to lower your oven temperature after a while and/or cover your loaf with aluminum foil to prevent the top from burning and to let the inside bake thoroughly. While the banana bread is baking, make the caramel sauce. In a large non stick sauce pan combine the sugar and water, cook over medium low heat until the sugar dissolves without stirring ever! Just swirl the pan around. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium high and let it bubble away until it turns a deep amber color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to low at this point and add the warm heavy cream slowly. Be careful because it will bubble vigorously. Keep whisking until everything is combined and turn the heat off. Add the butter, salt and vanilla and whisk in until the butter melts. Set aside to cool completely. Once the banana bread has cooled, drizzle with your cooled caramel sauce.

Slice and enjoy! 

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Caramel Popcorn

Caramel popcorn is the perfect snack to treat your family and friends. It is easy to make and will disappear in minutes! 

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Has anyone ever tried the Chicago Mix popcorn from Costco? It’s cheddar cheese and caramel popcorn mixed together. It’s absolutely TO DIE FOR!!! Seriously, I cannot stop eating that thing, and I think it’s good that we don’t buy it very often. 🙂

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When we were little, our uncle would give us one of those 3-way popcorn tins for Christmas. I would always get so excited for those, not only because I love popcorn, but as good as the butter and cheddar ones were, I would always go for the caramel popcorn most. It was my favorite! Of course since I was sharing with my sisters, it wasn’t fare for me to eat all the caramel corn by myself, so I had to eat the other flavors equally.

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As much as I love that store-bought popcorn, it never hurts to try making some at home. And I most definitely do not mean the  microwave kind, but the one you actually do in a pot on the stove. It’s so much more healthier! I only tried caramel popcorn, and I even made the caramel sauce myself. I should have done a double batch of caramel sauce because I like my popcorn with a generous coating of caramel on, but I didn’t have enough heavy cream.

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Still, it was SO delicious! We didn’t even wait for the caramel sauce to set, and for about 5 min.  our family was gathered around the popcorn munching away until we pretty much ate the whole thing. 🙂

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This is a perfect snack to serve at a party, you’ll see it devoured in no time! Plus, you can make more than one batch to have enough to feed an army. Your gonna need it. 🙂

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So please try it, and if you did, comment below and tell me how you like it. I mean, I have yet to find someone who doesn’t like caramel popcorn.

Homemade Caramel Popcorn

popcorn recipe adapted from here
c
aramel sauce recipe from here

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 tsp. salt

Caramel Sauce:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream, warmed slightly, either in a small saucepan or microwave
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

Line your counter or a baking sheet with parchment paper. This is where you’ll lay the popcorn to cool after it is done cooking. Also set aside a piece of parchment paper to fit between the opening of the pot and the lid. This will keep your lid clean while the popcorn is cooking for easy clean up.

Add the oil to a large, non stick pot with a lid. Add in a few popcorn kernels, and turn the heat to medium high. As soon as the first kernels pop, you know the oil is hot enough.

Add in the popcorn kernels. Put the lid on the pot, with a piece of parchment paper in between. Every 10 seconds, pick up the pot and shake it really hard for 3 seconds, then return it to the heat for another 10 seconds. Repeat this over and over until the popping noises slow. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the popcorn on the parchment paper. The whole cooking time is about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the warm popcorn with salt and allow to cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile make the caramel sauce.

In a large non stick sauce pan combine the sugar and water, cook over medium low heat until the sugar dissolves without stirring ever! Just swirl the pan around. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium high and let it bubble away until it turns a deep amber color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to low at this point and add the warm heavy cream slowly. Be careful because it will bubble vigorously. Keep whisking until everything is combined and turn the heat off. Add the butter, salt and vanilla and whisk in until the butter melts. Set aside to cool completely.

Once the caramel sauce has cooled, drizzle it all over the popcorn as evenly as possible tossing it with your hands so that the caramel sauce coats all the popcorn. Let it set for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Enjoy! 

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Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

Beautiful and decadent, this raspberry swirl cheesecake is perfect for Valentine’s Day this weekend!

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I’m actually not into Valentine’s day, but here’s a great dessert that you can make for your loved ones this weekend. It is amazingly delicious, and sure to impress anyone!

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I made my very first baked cheesecake ever, and I survived!!! I made this no-bake chocolate cheesecake before, but it was a no-bake recipe. I know most people have cheesecake-making phobia thinking it’s such a complicated recipe since you have to bake it in a water bath, let it cool with the oven partially open, yada, yada, yada. Well I’m happy to announce that this recipe is actually quite easy!

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As you can see, there are no major cracks on top either! I think there were a few very small ones, but since the raspberry was swirled on top you couldn’t even tell, especially after I garnished it.

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I’m very happy with how it turned out! And the taste was just as delicious. It’s very smooth and creamy, and together with the raspberries…*sigh*

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For about 4 years now we’ve been getting the Costco cookbook for free every Black Friday. They have lots of great recipes, and every now and then we like to try one out. My sister saw this recipe in one of the cookbooks.

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So like I said, this is the first time I tried a baked cheesecake which is very ridiculous because I bought some springform pans a loooong time ago. I baked lots of things in them, but never a cheesecake.

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Then one day my sister put her foot down and demanded a cheesecake for her birthday (well not really demanded, but she really wanted it). 🙂 So what could I do? I happily obliged and jumped to the opportunity to try my first cheesecake.

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I’m so glad it didn’t turn out a flop because that would’ve ruined her birthday, and nobody wants a bad cake for their birthday.

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My other sister made this darling little banner to put on top of the cheesecake. I think it makes it look very festive! “But wait” you ask, didn’t your sister just have a birthday with the Neapolitan Cupcakes? Yes, well you see, I have many sisters, and most of us have birthdays in the same month. But that’s okay with me because that means more cake! 🙂

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So as you prepare for Valentine’s Day this weekend, think outside the chocolate box (no pun intended) and make some cheesecake! The color alone should convince you to do it! 🙂

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

Recipe from Fabulous Food the Costco Way

Ingredients:

Crust
3 cups chocolate wafer cookies, crushed (I used chocolate graham crackers)
9 Tbsp. unsalted melted butter

Filling and Topping
2 cups raspberries, divided
2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1 cup + 2 tsp. sugar
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
Mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Crust: Combine crumbs and butter. Press into and up sides of 9-inch nonstick springform pan. Bake 12 min. Cool. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees F.

Filling and Topping: Puree 1 cup raspberries, straining into a small bowl. Discard seeds. Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 tsp. sugar; set aside.

Beat together cream cheese and remaining sugar on low until blended. Add remaining vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Add sour cream. Mix until blended. Spoon half of batter into the crust. Drop half of raspberry puree by teaspoons into batter. Swirl. Repeat with remaining batter and puree. Bake 50 minutes, until edges are just set and center jiggles slightly. Turn oven off and partly open oven door. Cool cake in oven 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely. Chill in refrigerator overnight. Garnish with remaining raspberries, whipped cream, and mint leaves.

Enjoy!

Jessica the Baker

Chocolate Pudding & Apricot Jam Tartlets

Darling little tartlets filled with apricot jam and chocolate pudding. They’re sure to impress anyone, yet they’re so simple to make! 

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I really love this dough! I used it for these apple tartlets and I just had to try it with different fillings.

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This is one of those recipes that you can whip together if you’re in a pinch. I mean, you can make the dough way ahead of time and store in the fridge or freezer, and whenever you feel like it you can pull it out and have these tartlets done in minutes.

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I love these with apricot jam, and I want to try them with strawberry jam next time.

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I added some walnuts on top for some extra crunch and flavor. So delicious! I think I like the ones with the walnuts better, but the plain ones were good too. I know I’m probably repeating myself, but the tartlet shells are so soft they almost melt in your mouth!

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And because I had some chocolate on hand (and chocolate makes everything better), I filled some with homemade chocolate pudding.

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As you probably already know, I like to make things from scratch as much as possible. I find that many times the homemade version tastes better than the store bought ones, and this pudding is no exception! These are decadent with chocolate pudding!

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Now I can’t decide if I like the chocolate pudding tartlets better than the ones with jam…#decisionsdecisions

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They’re both delicious let me tell you that. The chocolate ones are a little fancier, while jam ones are a bit more casual. It doesn’t matter what you fill these with, you’re sure to have a delicious treat to give to someone (or eat yourself…why not?).

 Apricot Jam & Chocolate Pudding Tartlets

Ingredients:

For the crust recipe go here

For the Chocolate pudding:

6 large egg yolks
9 tablespoons granulated white sugar
6 tablespoons arrowroot powder (it can also be substituted with corn starch)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cup whole (full fat) milk
1 1/2 tablespoon  unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 oz. melted dark chocolate

Any Jam of your choice
Chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Directions:

 In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Add the arrowroot powder and salt and mix until you have a smooth paste. Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk just to boiling (the milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and slowly pour the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling (pour through strainer if necessary). Pour the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, keep whisking the mixture for another 30 – 60 seconds or until it becomes thick. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the butter and vanilla extract, and slowly pour in the melted chocolate, mixing as you pour. Pour the pudding into a clean bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until firm.

On a floured surface roll out your dough about 1/8 in. thick. Cut out 4 in. round shapes with a cookie cutter and place them in a muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until tartlet shells are golden brown. Let them cool on a wire rack and then spoon about 2 tbsp. of chocolate pudding. Let them set in the fridge for about an hour, and top with either strawberries or raspberries.

To make jam tartlets, spoon about 1-2 Tbsp. of jam in each uncooked pie shell. Sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecans on top (optional). Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 min. or until deep golden brown.

Enjoy!

Jessica the Baker

Crepes

Happy Monday and happy national Crepe day! 

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Let’s pretend to be French for a little bit and make some Crepes. 🙂

I find it interesting that a dessert that is SO easy to make is considered so sophisticated. But that makes our job as bakers a lot easier because we can quickly impress someone with an easy peasy recipe. People will say “Wow!” and only you and I will know the secret and chuckle silently. 🙂

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These can be eaten for breakfast, dessert, snack, or anytime you feel like it. For us, it’s one of those desserts that we can quickly whip up if we feel like eating something sweet, or we have unexpected guests, because most likely we always have the ingredients on hand. I love those kinds of recipes!

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Crepes are so versatile you would not believe it! Just look on Pinterest and see how many ways you can eat them. I’d like to do a Crepe cake once, we’ll see what flavor I’ll choose. Here I used apricot jam, but whatever jam you have on hand will make your Crepes very delicious. It may sound weird, but sometimes I like them with peanut butter along with jam.

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If you’re feeling fancy, whipped cream and fruit not only tastes delicious but it’ll look very pretty. I didn’t have any on hand, so I just used jam.

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Now, if you’re anything like my family, you’ll always have to make about 2-3 batches because they disappear very quickly! 🙂

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I also saw chocolate crepes on Pinterest. Imagine the possibilities once you have a good basic Crepe recipe!
(which you do now…*ahem* 😉 )

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So, cheer up your Monday with some delicious Crepes for national Crepe day! It’s February after all (how is that possible?!) which means we’re 1 month closer to Spring and Summer!

Easy Crepes

Ingredients:

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. softened butter or oil
3 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. rum essence (optional)
1 pinch salt
3/4 to 1 cup flour

Filling:
Apricot or strawberry jam. Or any jam of your choosing. Top with whipped cream and/or fresh fruit (e.g. strawberries, raspberries)

Directions:

In a large bowl mix all ingredients in the order listed. It will be make a watery batter, something of the consistency of melted vanilla ice cream. Put one or two drops of oil in a frying pan and preheat on medium high heat for a few minutes. Quickly pour about 1/2 cup of batter in the hot frying pan. While you do this, hold the panhandle and do rotating motions with the pan, so the batter covers the whole surface of the pan. Let the crepe fry for about 30 sec. to 1 min. Then gently flip over with a metal spatula, and fry on the other side until equally golden brown. Repeat process until all batter is used up. Spread a thin coat of jam on one surface of the crepe all the way near the edges. Then roll up the crepe, and top with whipped cream and/or strawberries.

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker