Cocoa Brownies from Scratch

There’s something to be said about simplicity. I’m always so caught up in going above and beyond that sometimes I forget that the simple things have a flare all of their own. During the holidays, I’m all about trying festive new recipes that are so perfectly fitting to the season. I want to try all sorts of elaborate new things that will just scream,”Merry Christmas!” 

Even though I love all that stuff, it’s nice to take a breather. This week I really took the time to enjoy the simple things in life. For the first Saturday since October (or at least it feels that way), I didn’t have anything to do! No football games to go to, no family to meet, no holiday adventures to embark upon, nothing at all. It was so weird! Kenny and I had a blast though.

We drove to the University of Chicago campus and spent some time at the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore. It’s this darling bookstore that twists and turns through all these tiny little rooms lined from floor to ceiling with any book you could ask for. Since it was beautiful outside, we walked through the campus (which is gorgeous!) and over to Starbucks. I got a gingerbread chai and kenny got a cinnamon dolce chai, which we drank walking back to our car. We spent the evening playing board games on the iPad and watching movies.

When I woke up on Sunday, I decided that I wanted to bake something simple to continue on with the relaxing weekend we were having. I decided that I wanted to make plain, gooey, delicious brownies. I had a box of brownie mix in the cabinet, but Sundays are not for instant brownie mix! So I looked online for the perfect brownie recipe. I settled on this recipe for Cocoa Brownies, courtesy of Alton Brown. They were a little more cake-like than I was hoping for, but other than that they were absolutely fantastic! 

Cocoa Brownies

butter for greasing the pan
flour for dusting the pan
4 eggs
1 cup sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar, sifted 
8 ounces melted butter (2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups cocoa, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Butter and flour an 8” square pan.

 

Beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow.

*Note: As you’ll notice, all the dry ingredients are listed as “sifted.” (Anyone who has gone to culinary school, please skip to the next step because you will probably want to kill me.) I don’t actually have a sifter, but I read once that you can use a whisk to fluff up dry ingredients for a similar effect. This is exactly what I did, and I think they came out great.*

Add both sugars.

Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. 

Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine took about 1 hour before they were done.

Wait until the brownies have cooled completely and then cut into squares. 

Enjoy!

Happiest of Holidays

Hi! My name’s Emily, and I write this blog called EmJoyable! I just wanted to remind you in case you forgot considering it’s been forever! I’ve missed you, friend! Anyways, I feel like I have so much to catch up on that I don’t even know where to begin. In the spirit of Inspired Thursdays, I thought it was fitting to share everything that inspired me to celebrate this holiday season to its fullest! Hear’s to hoping that your holiday was just as charming, sparkly and lovely as mine was. 

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Kenny and I went to the giant Macy’s on State Street more times this season than I can count! Between the giant tree at the top, the elaborate window displays and the floors upon floors of sparkly jewelry, cozy sweaters and stunning dresses that I couldn’t afford in a million years, it felt like we couldn’t go a week without dropping by to say hello! 

We also got to go see A Christmas Story the Musical which was absolutely incredible! I’m kind of a nerd and I love musicals, plus A Christmas Story is just awesome anyways! I had a blast!

I had some seriously great baking sessions, which included cinnamon roll apple pie and pie pops among other things! Keep your eyes peeled for the next few Mondays for some amazing recipes!

I got to go to Zoo Lights twice this year! Once with the boy and once with the family (and boy), and it just never gets old! (I’m the one who looks like a lion)

The Sweets Table at family Christmas. Enough said.

I got to hang out with a very darling little wiener dog named Max! Oh yeah, and the rest of his family!

I got to celebrate my fake birthday with my family downtown, which was lovely! We ended the day with some Goose Island beers and a sweet Irish Pub for dinner.

On my real birthday, Kenny took me to this darling Patisserie I’ve been wanting to try forever. It was adorable! 

We got dinner at The Melting Pot and it was just incredible! We got Fiesta cheese fondue, then a pretty mediocre salad, followed by eight different kinds of raw meat and veggies cooked by yours truly. Then, the BEST part, was obviously the half dark chocolate half white chocolate fondue! The perfect birthday!

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So that was Christmas and my birthday in a nutshell! All that’s left now is New Year’s Eve! I’ll see you then! 

If Cookies Gave Me a Hot Bod

It’s 9 P.M. on a Monday, and I’m curled up on the floor with a blanket and a cup of coffee watching Friends with Benefits because I actually cannot move. In fact, just typing right now is making my arms hurt. So I’ll make it quick.

In a nutshell, Women’s Workout World knocked my on my @$$ today. I wasn’t more than 20 minutes through Body Fit and my knees were shaking like an Acrophobic in a hot air balloon. When we got to free weights, my arms straight-up stopped working. Then there was the abs and the pushups and oh, gosh, it hurts just thinking about it!

So I came home had had not one, not two, but three cookies before dinner. Whoops! There goes whatever calories I might have burnt off. Oh well. They were delicious and totally worth it. So I hope you can enjoy some guilt-free Christmas cookies too. They’re calorie-free I promise. (#probablylyingbutmindovermatter)

Peppermint Kiss Cookies

1 bag Hersey’s Kisses, Candy Cane
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
red & green colored sguar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Remove wrappers from candies.

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and egg in a large bowl until well blended. 

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended and dough forms. I suggest popping the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes; it makes this next step much easier. 

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in red and/or green colored sugar. Place on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 – 10 minutes until cookies are set. Remove from oven. Let them cool for about 2 minutes.

Press a Kiss in the center of each cookie and twist a little bit to secure it. Remove the cookies from the pan and cool on a rack. 

Serve with some gingerbread men (from the Betty Crocker mix of course) and some Ritz crackers and peanut butter dipped in melted chocolate chips and you’ve got yourself a darling little Christmas spread!

Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Cookie Bars

My darling boyfriend doesn’t ask for a lot of things. He will listen to me complain, taste all of my cooking and willingly join me on all my adventures. He asks for little more than football on Sundays and the man is a happy camper. So every Sunday morning, when I ask if he has a preference on dinner or dessert for the day, he says it’s up to me 90% of the time. But this morning, when I read him the options for todays baked good, he actually had an opinion. He cast his vote for the Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Cookie Bars, and so it was decided. 

The recipe called for a lot of pre-made things, so they turned out to be pretty expensive since it wasn’t the staple items I already had in my pantry. Other than costing a pretty penny, when I finally got to making them they were incredibly simple. Personally, I think I would have preferred more apple and cream cheese and less cookie, but regardless, they were delicious. Check it out! I got the recipe from Picky Palate

Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Cookie Bars

3 tablespoons melted butter
3 cups Golden Graham cereal
1 roll Pillsbury sugar cookie dough
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
21 oz can apple pie filling
1.5 oz package Nature Valley Oats N’ Honey crunchy granola bars (2 count)
9.5 oz Kraft Caramels (34 pieces)
1/2 cup half and half

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place the cereal in a sealed Ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and shake in the bag until combined. Line a 8”x8” baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Press the graham mixture into the bottom of the pan, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Crumble half of the cookie dough over the partially baked crust. 

Combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over the cookie dough.

Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from oven. Top with the can of pie filling. Crumble the rest of the cookie dough on top. Before you open the package of granola bars, crush them up with a rolling pin, and then sprinkle on top of the cookie dough.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely, and then cut unto squares.

Melt caramels and half and half in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth. Drizzle over the bars. 

Enjoy!