Kitchen Beauty Bar: DIY Chocolate Face Mask

23 Jul IMG_0709

This is a quick and easy DIY face mask that will work some wonders for your skin. It exfoliates, shrinks pores, softens, and moisturizes. Additionally, thanks to the antibacterial properties of honey, it helps prevent acne. And if that all wasn’t enough, the mask smells absolutely delicious, meaning that you too will smell like a freshly baked chocolate cake, attracting dozens of suitors. Nothing is sexier than beautiful skin that smells like dessert.

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Chocolate Moisturizing Face Mask

Ingredients:

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 tablespoons oats

2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until it is one smooth consistency with the only lumps being from the oats. Gently rub the mask on your face in a circular motion until everything is covered. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. As the honey begins to dry you will feel the mask and your skin begin to tighten. Gently rinse with lukewarm water, NOT HOT WATER. Hot water will only serve to dry out your skin, defeating the purpose of the mask. 

Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for up to a week. Add two additional tablespoons of milk when you’re ready to reuse.

Lavender-Apricot Cheesecake

18 Apr

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Spring is slowly but surely approaching and so a light and Spring-y dessert is needed. While the combination of lavender and apricot might sound strange, at first bite, you understand.

Lavender- Apricot Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup butter, melted

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups of sugar

32 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup greek yoghurt

1 tblsp. vanilla extract

1 tblsp. fresh lavender buds, finely chopped

4 eggs

1/2 cup apricot preserves

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350*F and grease your springform pan. In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, salt, and 1/4 cup of sugar. Then, slowly mix in the melted butter until combined. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the pan and/or up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325*F.

Place the springform pan, once cooled, into a roasting dish and boil a tea kettle full of water.

In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the rest of the sugar and continue beating. Add in the yogurt, vanilla, and lavender and beat until combined. Then, add the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and pour the boiling water into the roasting dish, so that it comes up about 1″ of the way. Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes, so that the center of the cake jiggles ever so slightly. Then, turn off the oven and let it sit in the oven for 1 hour. Refrigerate for an additional hour. Finally, spread the apricot on the top of the cheesecake and let it cool in the fridge for an additional three hours or overnight. Let the cheesecake sit out on the counter for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

12 Feb

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Whoopie pies are dessert classic in the northeast, with moist chocolate cake-like cookies and creamy vanilla frosting. But I decided to give a normal recipe a different spin with another classic combination: chocolate and peanut butter.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Ingredients: yield 12-18 sandwiches

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar

1 large egg

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375*F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In a mixer, beat together the butter, shortening, and sugars; cream on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add egg; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add half of the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla, beating until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture. Beat together, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop balls of batter onto the pans, about twelve on each sheet. Should be slightly rounded on top. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for an additional 2-4 minutes.

Let cool completely before frosting.

 

Peanut Butter Buttercream

1 cup smooth peanut butter

1/3 cup shortening or unsalted butter

1/2-3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream

pinch of fine salt

Directions:

In stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the shortening until smooth and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and sugar and slowly stir, until just combined. Add the milk and whisk on high until light and fluffy.

Either pipe or spread the frosting onto one cookie/pie and then sandwich together with another cookie on top.

Fat-Free Chocolate Cake

30 Jan

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This holiday season I may have indulged a little too much. So I’ve resolved to get back to yoga and to cut down on my fat intake when it comes to desserts. I have a major sweet tooth, so resisting the chocolate temptations is simply not possible. Instead, I came up with this delicious and relatively easy fat-free and sugar-free chocolate cake. Replacing the sugar with honey serves two purposes: it makes the cake sugar-free, another win, and it adds moisture to the cake, as fat-free cakes can often be dry. So no fear! Chocolate cake can still be in your life.

Fat-Free Chocolate Cake

Yields: One 9″ Layer Cake

Ingredients:

6 egg whites

1 1/2 cups nonfat yoghurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup honey

1 1/2 cups sifted flour

3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350*F

In a stand mixer, beat together the egg whites, yoghurt, vanilla, and honey. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Blend together the wet and dry ingredients until smooth.

Spray two 9″ cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans.

Bake at 350*F for 20-30 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the pan.

Cool completely before frosting.

 

Low-Fat Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients: (enough for one layer cake)

1/2 cup low-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the honey and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Add in the cocoa powder and stir on the lowest speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until smooth.

Easy GF Chocolate Fudge Cake

24 Nov

With only five ingredients including the frosting, this chocolate fudge cake is probably the easiest you’ll ever make. And on top of it, it’s naturally gluten free as it contains no flour. But beware, you might not be able to stop at one slice of cake. Or two. Or three.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Ingredients: serves 8-10

1/2 pound unsweetened chocolate

1/2 pound sweet butter, cubed

8 egg yolks

1 1/4 cups sugar

5 egg whites

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350*F and grease a 9-10″ spring-form pan.

In a double boiler, melt your sugar, butter, and chocolate, stirring gently until smooth. In a mixer, beat your egg yolks until they are light and lemon-colored. Add your melted chocolate mixture to the eggs and blend together.

In a separate bowl, beat your egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add half of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and stir in until well blended. Then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites.

Pour a little more than 3/4 of your batter in the prepared spring-form pan, setting the rest aside to be used as your frosting.

Bake at 350*F for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove the rim from the pan. When completely cooled, frost the cake with the remaining batter.

And behold, your easy, gluten free, chocolatey, fudgey, heaven. Eat responsibly.

Orange and Cranberry Bread Pudding

23 Nov

 

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This year I wanted a Thanksgiving feast inspired what the pilgrims would’ve really eaten back on that first Thanksgiving. We know this would’ve included things such as water fowl, seafood, corn, and nuts. But what about dessert? This is what stumped me, but thanks to the internet, it wasn’t long before I stumbled upon this delectable bread pudding. It combined the two things I had desired in a holiday dessert: traditionally inspired and modernly sweet.

Orange and Cranberry Bread Pudding

(courtesy of The Swag Country Inn and Restaurant)

Ingredients:

For the Bread Pudding:

2 oranges, zested and juiced

1/2 cup dried cranberries

6 egg yolks

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 loaf chopped bread

For the Salted Caramel:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together first seven ingredients until well incorporated. Toss mixture with bread, and let sit for 20 minutes before baking to allow bread to absorb custard mixture.

Meanwhile, grease an 8×8-inch baking dish or cast iron skillet. Add bread mixture to pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove and let cool on counter.

To make the caramel, add sugar and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook sugar until amber in color. Swirl pan to ensure even browning, but do not stir. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan.

Remove from heat and add cream. (Mixture will bubble up.) Return to heat and bring to a simmer. Stir mixture well, and remove off heat. Stir in salt.

Serve warm caramel sauce alongside bread pudding.

Note: Both the bread pudding and the caramel sauce can be made up to 3 days before serving. Warm caramel in a saucepan and bread pudding in the oven before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Cookies

1 Nov

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Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. The main reason being my ability to use pumpkin in virtually everything I make. If it were socially acceptable to bake with pumpkin year-round, I most certainly would. So why not? I played around in the kitchen with some pumpkin puree and out popped this little circle of heaven. This pumpkin pie cookie is every bit as delicious as it sounds.

Pumpkin Pie Cookies

Ingredients: (yields one dozen)

  • 3/4 stick of butter, unsalted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • dash of cinnamon
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350*F.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and pumpkin puree and beat until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the flower mixture to the batter until just incorporated. If dough feels too wet, you can add more flour. Add in your chocolate chips and, again, mix until just incorporated.

Drop balls of your cookie dough onto parchment paper and press down to flatten with the tines of a fork. This will help ensure that they bake evenly.

Bake at 350*F for about 10 minutes. Cookies are most delicious when served warm with a glass of milk.

Enjoy responsibly.

 

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