Welcome to Rachel's Sweets and Treats!

100% homemade treats from scratch! No box mixes, bag mixes, or anything from a can, and I love to test out new ingredients and recipes!

Any suggestions, comments, or requests?
email me! rachellovesbaking@gmail.com

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Helloooo Wordpress!

Greetings Folks!

Want to keep reading about what I'm making? Head over to http://whatrachelbakes.wordpress.com/
I am in the process of moving over to the new site, but feel free to have a look-see!

I'll make another post (and subsequently close this blog) once everything has been transitioned!
Happy Baking! (& eating..) :)

~Rachel

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies & Pumpkin Choc Chip Banana Bread!!

Happy Weekend!

Wrapping up college has been a crazy, continuous whirlwind, to say the least, but I've been able to get some baking in!!

Up first, I made Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips & Reese's Pieces! To this day, these are my brother & sister's favorite cookie! (Sorry Emily & Mark-- next time I see you I'll make more!)  


If you are a chocolate and peanut butter lover, like I am, these are the cookie for you! A soft, chocolaty cookie with bursts of peanut butter...Heaven. 
I brought most of these into work with me! A very-welcomed & appreciated Tuesday Treat!

 Before making these, I made my good ol' Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!  In addition to these two big guys (8'' x 4''), the batch made 2 little loaves too (5'' x 3'') ! (NOTE I made a double batch of the recipe linked to this post! A single batch, as posted, would make a very-mounded 8'' x 4'', or the 8'' x 4'' + a little one!) Made with 100% Whole Wheat flour and no butter or oil, you can even feel good about eating a slice (or two..or three...)! ;)


Much more baking to come after finals are over and as graduation nears!
You can find the recipe for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Banana Bread here!
Cookie recipe below!

Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips & Reese's Pieces
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (I used Hershey's this time)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened 
(if you use salted butter, just leave out the added salt)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar 
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 11oz bag peanut butter chips
1-2 cups Reese's Pieces
(I usually use 2 cups, but I got a little carried away "taste testing" them before making the cookies...:))

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use electric mixer to beat softened butter, granulated sugar,brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy.  Add in the 2 eggs and beat well (scrape down the sides of the bowl if you need to).

Then, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Beat at a low speed, or just fold in by hand.  When almost all of the flour streaks are gone, mix in the peanut butter chips and Reese's Pieces with a wooden spoon. Keep mixing until everything is combined.

Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet (~1-2 inches apart, depending on the size of the cookies).  I usually line my cookie sheets with parchment paper for easy clean up / to prevent sticking. Bake for 8-11 minutes, or until they look firm and not-shiny. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.  

Enjoy warm or fully cooled! 
Warm & crumbled over some vanilla fro yo or ice cream is my eating-method-of-choice!

Have a great weekend!



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Banana Bars! *healthified & delicious!*

What's a girl to do with 4 baking-ready (aka mushy) bananas?
As you may have noticed from previous posts, when I have extra bananas, I usually make banana bread (except for that one time I made banana cupcakes with honey cinnamon cream cheese frosting). I've done regular banana bread, chocolate chip banana bread, peanut butter chocolate chip banana bread, pumpkin chocolate chip banana bread.....
and they're all tasty! But I wanted to make not-a-bread.

So,

I made these! Whole Wheat Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Bars!! As the title makes rather obvious, these are made with 100% whole wheat flour and old-fashioned rolled oats. Also, I made them with no butter or oil! The only fat comes from the eggs and the chocolate! You could of course leave out the chocolate to make a healthier product; however, I believe everything is better when chocolate is involved.... ;)
They turned out soft, moist, and full of flavor! The chocolate-banana combination was delicious, and the oats gave them a hearty-healthy texture. mmmmmm mmmmmmmmm

Recipe!

Rachel’s Whole Wheat Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Bars

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
3-4 medium/large bananas, mashed
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
10 oz bag mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15x10 inch jelly-roll pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray (i.e. PAM).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar. Stir in Oats. Add all of the wet ingredients (applesauce, eggs, mashed banana, and vanilla) and fold into the dry ingredients until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread into greased jelly-roll pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a cooling rack. Delicious cut and served warm, or cooled!

Enjoy!!!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Good Ol' Chocolate Chip Cookies!

When I ask people what their favorite kind of cookie is, I'd say at least 8 times out of 10, the answer is chocolate chip. It's a classic. It has chocolate. and it is the perfect sweet treat!!

I like to mix things up a little bit and make things that aren't exactly what is to be expected. So, when I made these chocolate chip cookies, I made them with 100% Whole Wheat flour!! The results?? DELICIOUS! No one had any idea they were whole wheat. Packed full of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips, these babies are high in fiber and whole grains too!
Recipe? You bet!

Rachel's Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 T milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 12-oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 11-oz bag milk chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars with electric mixer until well combined and fluffy. Add in the 2 eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat until mixed. Then, add in the flour mixture and the chocolate chips (I put them in at the same time). Mix with the mixer just until combined, or fold in by hand.

Scoop onto baking sheet (I always line with parchment paper. and I used a small-sized cookie scoop). Bake 7-9 minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges.
Let cool on baking sheet for about 2 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

SO GOOD warm out of the oven!! Also delish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or fro yo!

Enjoy!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Birthday & Happy Easter!

Chocolate, peanut butter, and oreos?? Yup, you bet!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Lindsay and Sammie!! I love that you both have the same taste in treats as I do...;)
These are Peanut Butter Oreo Cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting and topped with crushed up Oreos!!!
(^^No Oreos on these guys yet!^^)
All boxed up and ready to go to the birthday girls!!
As someone who is not a big cake fan, I LOVE these!! It was a new recipe, and one that I will definitely make over and over again! Check out the recipe at the end of the post!!

Peanut Butter Oreo Cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk (I used unsweetened soy milk)
Crushed up Oreos (however many you want! I do two sleeves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with 24-30 baking cups (I made 2 dozen cupcakes, plus a small loaf "cake" with the extra batter).

Combined the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and eggs and beat well. Alternate adding the flour mixing and the milk. With the beater on low speed, I poured in about half of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then the last half of the flour mixture, and ending with the rest of the milk. Gently fold in the crushed Oreos.

Scoop into prepared baking cups and bake in preheated oven for 16-24 minutes, or until they spring back when lightly touched. Cool on a baking rack.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup cocoa powder
dash of salt
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup milk (again, I used soy milk)
6-7 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, melt the stick of butter. While the melted butter is still hot, mix in the peanut butter with the butter. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt, and stir until well combined. Then break out your hand mixer if you have one, because the next step is MUCH easier with a mixer, rather than by hand with a spatula or spoon. Add in about half of the powered sugar and about half of the milk. Use hand mixer on low speed until well combined. Then add the rest of the sugar and milk, and again beat until combined.

Frost cooled cupcakes with frosting. Top with additional crushed Oreos if you desire! (of course!!)

P.S. I know 6-7 cups of powdered sugar seems like a lot, but it's right, trust me!! I used 6 cups. You get enough frosting for all of the cupcakes and it tastes delicious!!

If you have any issues let me know! I will try to help ya through it!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful friends, and Happy Easter!
Enjoy!





Saturday, March 31, 2012

RECIPES INCLUDED: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread & Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I love making banana breads. They are versatile, can be made healthier at no expense to the flavor or texture, freeze well, and are moist & delicious!

Since I make banana breads so often, I decided to start experimenting more with varieties. On the left below is a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, and on the right is a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

Both are whole wheat, contain no butter or oil, and are reduced sugar (note: reduced sugar = less sugar than the original recipe. However, they are by no means low in sugar!)
I made two mini loaves and one big loaf of each kind. Some of them I gave to people as gifts, like this one:

I cut the big ones each in half. I brought one half of each to work, and kept the other half of each for me and my roommates! Below, the left loaf is the peanut butter chocolate chip banana bread, and the right is the pumpkin chocolate chip banana bread.

The gooey middle is my favorite part...
I am so pleased with how they came out! Moist, tasty, flavorful, chocolatey!
And now, for the recipes! I have never put up recipes before; however, I've gotten many requests to do so. After some thinking, I decided I'm going to start posting them! Just promise you'll still come to my bakery when I open it!! ;)

Here they are!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder (I know, it seems like a lot. You're reading right though-- Tablespoon)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 2)
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
6-10oz chocolate chips (I use mini ones!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate large bowl, combine the applesauce, sugars, peanut butter, and banana. Stir until combined. Beat in eggs. Pour in milk and vanilla. Then, add the flour mixture. Mix just until combined. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until cooked through (the center should spring back when pressed lightly with your finger). Cool in loaf pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 15oz can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup mashed banana (about 2)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
6-10oz chocolate chips (I use minis!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate large bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugars, banana, and vanilla. Add eggs and stir until well combined. Then, add the flour mixture. Mix just until combined. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until cooked through (the center should spring back when pressed lightly with your finger). Cool in loaf pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Salty Pretzel Peanut Butter Oreo Dark Chocolate Brownies...oh yes, I did!

Dark Chocolate Brownies with a Thick Peanut Butter Oreo Swirl and a Salty Pretzel Crust
Am I serious? Well...
Yes, yes I am!
When people ask me what my favorite thing is to make, I always say brownies. Why? Because they are my favorite thing to eat! I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic, and my favorite flavor combination is chocolate and peanut butter. I've made a lot of different versions of brownies, but one thing they all have in common is that they are chocolatey and fudgy. These are my favorite so far.
I started with a salty crust, made from pretzels, some sugar, and butter.
Then, I made the peanut butter oreo batter, and the dark chocolate brownie batter.
Layer them on the crust
(pour in half the brownie batter, then dollop the peanut butter oreo batter on top and spread with a knife, then the rest of the brownie batter, and finally the last of the peanut butter mixture).
Spread and swirl with the tip of a knife, and pop in the oven!

Voila!
These are some super-thick brownies. They took almost an hour in the oven, but for real, they are SO worth it!! Probably my favorite baked good to date, and loved among my friends and co-workers who had them!

It's the perfect salty-sweet treat! :)



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baking with Sticky Fingers!

So I walked into work on Thursday, and was greeted with an amazing surprise!
My scheduled 3-hour meeting that morning was not actually a meeting, but rather I was going to the dry-run of the LivingSocial Sticky Fingers Bakery Baking Class!!!!!
Yeeeeeee! I was so excited!
Doron Petersan (founder, owner, and baker of Sticky Fingers) was the one teaching the class!
Everything they make is vegan and DELICIOUS! We were making two things: Brown Sugar Cupcakes with spiced rum frosting and Smore's Brownies.
I wasn't taking pictures during the class, but after I got home, I decided to take a few! Most of the treats were gone because I had brought them back to the office with me for the rest of the workday, but you can at least see what we made!

These (above) are the smore's brownies!!! They were absolutely amazing!

And this is the lone cupcake! All the others were gobbled up!
Did I mention Sticky Fingers/Doron has won Cupcake Wars twice?! Pretty sweet!!

The BEST surprise. ever.

Thank you Caitlyn & Sara!!! :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Update #2! Cookies, Muffins, and Homemade Nutella!

Hello again!
This is update #2 of my spring break baking adventures!

Midweek, I made these cookies!

They are soft toffee cookies with milk chocolate chips. I hadn't made anything with toffee in awhile, but let me tell you, these were addicting!! Brought some into work and froze the rest for when my roomies come back from break!

Later in the week, I had even more overripe bananas, and I had just made those 3 mini banana breads! So, I decided to make Chocolate Banana Muffins. They are 100% Whole Wheat, and have applesauce in place of the oil. The only fat comes from the cocoa powder. They are yummmmy!
155 calories per muffin too, in case anyone was curious (I did the math)!

Lastly, I made Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, aka homemade nutella!! Now, I am not someone that really buys nutella, and I don't love it as much as some people do, but I had bought hazelnuts and never used them, and I wanted something chocolaty to go with the other two mini banana breads (from update #1). This worked out perfectly!! Not quite as smooth as the stuff you'd buy at the store, but the chocolate-hazelnut-iness is tastttyyyy! Definitely a good topper for the banana bread, and lots of other things! My favorite is to eat it with pretzels-- salty-sweet, right?!
Now break is over and it's time to shift back to classes! Baking will continue of course, just not quite as much as this week! :)
Have a wonderful week!
Enjoy!


Update #1! Brownies, Apple Cake, & Banana Bread!

This week was Spring Break and I had SO much fun! I also baked quite a few things!
I went home for a few days to surprise my mom for her birthday! The first night we celebrated I made my homemade brownies with oreos and chocolate chips! Served with vanilla ice cream, it was perfect after b-day dinner!

Candle for the birthday girl of course (she had already blown it out when I took the pic though)!!

the brownies...mmmmmmm

Birthday celebration night #2 I made Merryfield Apple cake. It is a super delicious, moist cake with apples, raisins, and walnuts, dusted with powdered sugar! It's one of my parents' favs! :)

THEN, back in DC, I had bananas ready to bake with! So I made fat-free whole wheat banana bread! But instead of one big bread, this time I made 3 minis! Brought one into work and froze the other two for later!

To see what else I baked this week, check out update #2!! There's a picture limit per post so I'm making two posts for the week!