Like many people, I spent a few years of my childhood as a Girl Scout. My grandmother had been a troop leader for what seemed like my mom and aunt's entire childhood, so I felt like I was raised with a myriad of arts and crafts ideas and stories of great Girl Scout memories. (For example: with a can of Sterno and an old coffee tin you can make hamburgers on a tin can...this may be the most time consuming way you could possibly make a hamburger, but it can be done.)

Despite all of that, when it came down to it, I hated being a Girl Scout. The only thing I didn't hate was selling Girl Scout cookies. I looked forward to Girl Scout Cookie season every year. It seemed like the easiest thing ever -- you got prizes and badges for selling cookies that everyone already loved. These days all of the cookies have different names, and I have to hunt down the cookie stands. Things get a little desperate. That brings me to these homemade Thin Mints.

Everyone knows the Thin Mint is the queen of all Girl Scout Cookies. I've seen multiple variations of homemade Thin Mints floating around, but for some reason or another I've never gotten around to making them. When I saw that this version only used three ingredients I immediately went to the store to grab the Oreos. This recipe really could not be more simple. The Oreo half is exactly like the cookie part of Thin Mints. I don't know why I had never realized that before. Using Oreos cuts back on the work and takes out the usual issue of having all different sizes and shapes of cookie. The Oreo halves dip perfectly in the chocolate without falling apart, so you're left with a smooth, pretty Thin Mint replica. I always store mine in the freezer, but you can store them however you'd like. Now I just need to find copycat recipes for all of the other Girl Scout cookie recipes and I'll be good to go year-round. Enjoy!

Three Ingredient Thin Mints
Recipe from Deliciously Yum
  • 20 Oreos
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or white chocolate)
1. Separate oreos and scrape off the white cream. Line a baking sheet with wax or other nonstick paper.
2. Combine chocolate and peppermint extract in a microwave safe bowl. Heat chocolate until completely melted in 30 second intervals or heat with the help of a double boiler.
3. Place one oreo half at a time into the chocolate and flip over with the help of a fork. Once completely coated, remove cookie half from chocolate with the fork and tap it on the edge of the bowl a couple of times (to get rid of the excess chocolate). Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat. Place in the fridge and let set for 15 minutes before enjoying.
  • *Sprinkle thin mints with crushed oreos or chocolate pieces after dipping.
  • Cookies will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge or up to 8 weeks in an airtight container in the freezer.

I wasn't remotely looking for a new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have a few favorites that I stick to every time. But the other night when a dessert craving hit I decided that I should look for a new recipe to make. After all, making repeat recipes makes it impossible to use my usual justification for baking: "I need to make and eat this because I have to post on the blog."  So, I stumbled on this cookie recipe and since I had everything on hand I made it.

...And then I made it again not even a full day later because they were just that good.

I had a good feeling about the pudding mix in the recipe because I've tried cookie recipes with cornstarch and liked the results. Averie points out that you can use cornstarch instead of the instant pudding mix for similar, though not identical/as good results. I would stick with the pudding mix. I know this isn't quite a typical thing to have in the pantry, but I always stock up on a few boxes when it's on sale for $1 a box at the grocery store. It's in more recipes than you'd think.

I like a soft, chewy cookie that almost seems like it's underbaked. It needs to have a slight crunch on the outside, but the inside should be gooey when it comes out of the oven. I realize there are a lot of people out there who like overdone cookies. My stepdad is one of those people and that's perfectly fine. If I had the choice of overdone cookie or no cookie at all I'd enjoy the overdone cookie in a heartbeat. But for people who would choose overdone over underdone, this is not the cookie recipe for you.

These cookies are perfect--big, buttery, soft, moist, slightly crisp on the outsides... I've eaten way too many in the past 24 hours so I'm going to stop with the adjectives before I have to get up to get another. I added M&Ms and chocolate chips like Averie, but you could use this base and throw in any number of add-ins. They also come together SO easily. You may have already sworn yourself to another cookie recipe, but cookie commitment is meant to be broken. These are fantastic.

Soft M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Averie Cooks
Yield: 15 large cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: about 3+ hours, for dough chilling

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free and not 'cook & serve'), OR use 2 teaspoons cornstarch in place of pudding mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate M&M's mixed into the dough + about 1/2 cup for placing on top of dough mounds

  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) combine the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, pudding mix (or cornstarch), baking soda, optional salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the chocolate chips, 3/4 cup M&Ms, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  4. Using a large cookie scoop, 1/4-cup measure, or your hands, form 15 equal-sized mounds of dough, roll into balls, and flatten slightly.
  5. Add about 1 tablespoon M&Ms to the top of each dough mound.
  6. Place mounds on a large plate or tray, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days. Do not bake with unchilled dough because cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray. Place dough mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for 11 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked, pale, and glossy in the center. Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving. I let them cool on the baking sheet and don't use a rack.
  8. Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Obviously I have no issues with excessive chocolate on this blog. Rich chocolate cake with rich, whipped chocolate icing -- bring it on. I'm one of those odd people who doesn't even need milk or ice cream to balance it out. I just go for it. And though I didn't keep this word in the title, this cake is incredibly moist, and that's one of the main reasons I decided to make it after seeing it on other blogs. Funny how everyone (myself included) hates that word, yet it's just about the top adjective I want to describe any baked good.

I first made this for round one of my family's Christmas dinner. We had this before Christmas itself this year, and all of my step-siblings and brother/sister-in-laws were there. As I've mentioned before, I have a large family (this dinner was for 16), so whatever I choose has to feed a crowd. That's where cakes are great. The only risk in trying out a new cake recipe for an occasion is that you will spend hours baking and perfectly decorating it only to discover after slicing into it that you don't like all. It's happened to the best of us.

Thankfully this cake spared me that experience. Everyone loved it. In fact, everyone loved it so much that when I was debating what to make for my family's Christmas dinner on Christmas day (a different large group), I decided I'd make it again. Points detracted for lack of originality, but no one complained.

I like my cake cold, so that's how I served it. Because it's such a moist cake, the longer you allow it to set in the fridge the better your slices will look. I had it in the fridge for 4-5 hours before serving, but it was even easier to cut the next day. With all of the cakes I've made I probably start to sound like a broken record on here with things I like in a cake, but I'll say it again, every bite should be a good bite. This cake falls in that category. It's my new favorite chocolate cake, and on a blog titled Chocolate Therapy I think that's saying something!


Rich Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Foodess
  • 1¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened)
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans (or line with parchment paper circles) and set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very runny.
  3. Pour batter evenly between the two pans and bake on middle rack of oven for about 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  4. Allow to cool 15 minutes in pans, then run a butter knife around the edges of each cake. Place a wire cooling rack over top of each pan. Wearing oven mitts, use both hands to hold the racks in place while flipping the cakes over onto the racks. Set the racks down and gently thump on the bottom of the pans until the cakes release. Cool completely before handling or frosting.
Whipped Chocolate Frosting
Recipe from To Food With Love
  • 1½ cups butter (375g), softened
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 4-5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk (approx)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
For the Chocolate Frosting:
  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar has been added. You may not use up all the milk if the consistency is right i.e. not too runny.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Cold Weather Slow Cooker Chili

There are few things more comforting in the winter than a warm bowl of chili. I mean, really, very few. A warm fire, hot chocolate, chili… that's my winter comfort list. I must confess I've never made chili myself. I decided around the age of 10 that my favorite chili ever was from a place my family stayed in the Grand Tetons, and despite the fact that there's no way I still remember what that chili tasted like, I deemed it unbeatable. The close second contender was the chili made in church chili nights growing up. Some of the best food seems to be made at church events, but I couldn't begin to tell you what the ladies who made it used in the recipe.

My boyfriend happens to be a great cook, so it's easy to swap some homemade desserts for a few of his homemade meals from time to time. A few weeks ago he made this chili, and I couldn't get enough of it. I was scraping my bowl and legitimately upset when I finished off the container he gave me to take to work. It's much different than a lot of chili I'm used to because it's sweeter. He says it's the tomato puree that does this--I don't know if that's it, but I'm a fan. 

The sweetness somehow makes it even better with a bit of sour cream stirred in. I know it's January and we all try to avoid the extras like sour cream as a topping, but you shouldn't skip it with this chili. This chili + cheddar cheese + sour cream = Grand Teton good chili. I didn't have sour cream at my office so I put a spoon of Greek yogurt in it and that was delicious too. Sidenote: after this success I tried adding Greek yogurt to my Chipotle bowl when I decided to skip on the sour cream to be "healthy" and that was not a good swap. Just a word to the wise if you're like me and have backwards ways of convincing yourself things are not that bad for you.

Long story short, I got him to make it again this weekend because tomorrow the high in DC is 18 degrees, and I think I'll need this chili. For all of you in the mid-west and up north who would gladly take 18 degree weather over the negative temperatures you are experiencing right now, I think you need this chili even more than I do. If you don't have a crockpot you can also make this in a large stockpot. Because everything is already cooked it's just a matter of heating it long enough for the flavors to really blend together. The more time you give it the better it will get. Enjoy!

Sweet Crockpot Chili
Makes 8+ hearty servings

4 15 oz cans tomato puree 
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes 
2 15 oz cans of sweet corn 
1 15oz can of black beans 
1 15oz can of red kidney beans 
1 yellow onion diced 
1 6oz can of green chiles 
2 packets of McCormicks Original Chili powder 
1 lb ground beef (90% lean) 
1 package of chicken Andouille sausage 

Put tomato puree and diced tomatoes in the crockpot. Add corn, black beans, kidney beans, diced the yellow onion and green chilis. Stir to combine.

Brown the ground beef until no pink remains. Drain pan almost entirely and add beef to crockpot. Next, cook the chicken sausage in a little of the beef drippings reserved in the pan. When sausage is cooked through, pull off pan, slice into 1/4-inch slices and quarter the pieces. Add sausage to chili. Alternately, you can slice the chicken sausage before cooking and cook this way instead. 

Stir in both packets of McCormicks Chili powder with 1/4 cup of water. Cook in the crockpot on low for 5 hours. 

Cold Weather Crockpot Chili
Cold Weather Crockpot Chili
Cold Weather Crockpot Chili

Cold Weather Crockpot Chili

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a nice holiday season. I'm starting the year off with a bang by introducing you to these amazing Caramel Nougat Chocolate Bars. The name on its own sounds like any other standard dessert, but the amazing part is these taste exactly like Snickers. 
Actually, these taste better than Snickers. You can also cut them into any size you'd like.

Sorry, New Year's Resolutions.

I don't think I could have told you what actually makes the nougat layer of candy bars, so I never would have thought I'd be able to recreate it exactly. Something tells me I'm not alone. I have multiple memories of getting the nougat piece in a box of chocolates and wishing I had gotten caramel or milk chocolate instead of the one with the mystery filling. Now I know. I'm not saying I would pick the nougat piece, but when you combine chocolate, nougat, caramel and peanuts it's amazing. Obviously Mars already knows this since they have been making money on the combination for decades. 

I'm sure you've all seen the other copycat candy bar recipes. You take a bite and think, "Hmm, I guess it does somewhat taste like the real thing." Not this one. This is spot on. It also makes a giant serving. My main suggestion is to make sure you keep it cold. I also found that setting it out for 15 minutes or so and then cutting it with a warm knife helped. Enjoy!

Caramel Nougat Chocolate Bars (aka Snickers!)
Recipe from Deliciously Yum
First Chocolate Layer
  1. 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
  2. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Nougat Layer
  1. 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  4. 1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
  5. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. 1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
Caramel Layer
  1. 1 12-ounce bag of caramels
  2. 1/4 cup heavy cream
Final Chocolate Layer
  1. 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
  2. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  3. 1 9x13-inch aluminum baking pan, optional
  1. Thoroughly grease your aluminum baking pan.
  2. For the first layer, melt 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour into the bottom of the aluminum pan and spread in an even layer. Let cool completely in the fridge for 30 minutes or until firm.
  3. For the nougat layer, melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter and add 1 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup evaporated milk. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to cook (over medium-high heat) while stirring until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Next, add 1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff, 1/4 cup peanut butter, and vanilla. Stir until creamy and thoroughly combined. Mix in 1 1/2 cups salted peanuts and spread evenly over chocolate layer. Let cool completely on the counter or in the fridge until firm.
  4. For the caramel layer, combine caramels and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a pot. Melt caramel mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly! Spread over nougat layer and let cool once again.
  5. For the fourth and final chocolate layer, melt the remaining 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined and creamy. Spread evenly over the caramel layer and let cool completely. Refrigerate for two hours or until ready to serve. Bars will keep in refrigerator for one week.