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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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.


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!

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!

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!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


A new experiment!!
Chocolate Cupcakes with a peanut butter center frosted with creamy chocolate frosting and topped with Reese's Pieces!!!

I used my go-to chocolate cake and frosting recipes. The experiment was the filling in the center! I have to admit, though tasty, it didn't work how I wanted it to. I believe the source of the issue was that I used natural peanut butter, which has always worked for cookies, brownies, and anything where I'm baking it. However, I wasn't able to achieve the consistency I wanted when I was whipping the filling for these cupcakes. Note to self: go back to buying the non-natural stuff for baking.

That being said, it still tastes DELICIOUS! Personally I'll just make a different filling next time :)
The picture above is kind of fuzzy, but it shows you the center! (as well as the very large bite I took, ha!)
I love this chocolate cake because it is super moist, and never fails (at least not yet!) I'm not a huge cake lover, but I.Love.This.Cake!!

I made them for my friend Nicole's 21st birthday!!! She doesn't know it yet, so I might be spoiling the surprise... ;)
The ones I don't give to her will be part going with me to work in the morning and part staying in my room for my roommates (and me) to enjoy!!

Happy Hump Day!
Only 2 days 'til the weekend! Wahoo!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Blondies from the Blonde :)

This was a long week and I am SO glad it's Friday. Today's treat--
~*Chocolate Chip Blondies!!*~

The best way I can think to describe them is this: they taste like a super-soft chocolate chip cookie...almost like cookie dough, but cooked...
...mmmmmmm....melts in your mouth....
Delicious as is, or try with a scoop of ice cream for an extra-special treat!
Have a great weekend!