Although I try to eat healthy most of the time, I still love my sweets from time-to-time. I try to follow the 80/20 rule of eating, that being 80 percent of everything I eat should be healthy or natural, and the other 20%, well, I can relax a little bit.
And I will admit that the ratio sometimes drifts into 70/30 sometimes, however, I work out hard six to seven days a week so I am allowed to treat myself every now and then.
With that in mind, here are two of my favorite dessert recipes. Both are filled with calories and sugar, but do not think about that, at least until you get them eaten. Life is about balance and you have to enjoy the good things in life sometimes for authentic happiness. These two items are definitely in that category.
Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Cookies
I love anything peanut butter and the following recipe is one of my favorites for peanut butter cookies topped with chocolate. The entire process will take you about 40 minutes with actually preparing the dough and cookies taking 30 minutes and the actual cooking about 10 minutes, depending on the type of oven you have. I use a convection oven which I preheat and it cooks really fast.
The following ingredients will make about 40 – 50 cookies depending on how big or thick you lay them on the pan. Sometimes I like to make more or less, depending on the situation or who they are for such as my nieces and nephews who like them smaller.
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 18 ounces chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup butter melted
- 3 tablespoons shortening
I have found that cooking anything in a convection oven works best, so use that option if you have it. Also, a Silpat liner placed on the cookie sheet before you lay out the cookies will help to mitigate any uneven cooking throughout the dough.
First, prepare the chocolate you will use to coat the cookies. To make it, put the chocolate chips and shortening together in microwavable safe glass bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Remove and stir then heat for another 30 seconds until the chips are completely melted. Set aside until the cookies are ready for their bath in chocolate.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or better yet, one of those Silpat liner. In this case, you may need to lay two of them side-by side unless you have a really big liner. They help to reduce uneven cooking through the dough and keep the bottom of anything you cook from becoming too brown too fast, or burning.
- In a separate medium sized bowl, mix flour and cornstarch.
- Using a hand mixer, mix peanut butter, buttery spread and sugar in a separate bowl until thoroughly blended and fluffy.
- Combine the flour mixture peanut butter mixture and beat using a hand mixer on low until thoroughly blended.
- Carefully roll out the dough on a long pan covering the entire area.
- Using a 2 inch circular cookie cutter, cut out the dough and place on the cookie sheet about an inch apart allowing for spreading. I use a 17 inch cookie sheet which when all is said and done produces cookies about a quart to a half inch thick. Again, it depends on your preferences.
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By now the oven should be preheated to 375 degrees.
- Place the cookie sheet on the middle oven rack.
- Set the timer to your oven for 8 minutes. It will probably take anywhere from 8 – 12 minutes to cook, however I always check around the8 minute mark to see if they are brown or the edges are getting to hard. Do not cook for more than 12 minutes.
- Once they are brown, remove from the oven and allow them to cool before applying the coating else it will simply melt and run off.
- Once cookies are completely cooled off, dip each cookie into the chocolate coating you made earlier. Make sure it is completely coated, then use a fork or spoon to carefully remove it from the chocolate and place on a sheet of parchment paper and let dry.
I always like to put them in the refrigerator for a few minutes before eating one because it dries the chocolate faster.
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Chocolate Eclair Dessert
This one is sometimes called a Graham Cracker Chocolate Dessert. It does not matter what you call it, it is good. My mother has been making it for at least 20 years, usually at Thanksgiving. Everyone loves it, but I will warn you, it is very rich, so if you are not used to sweet stuff, it could be a bit much so try a small serving at first.
This recipe actually takes less time to prepare than the cookies, however, you have to let it sit longer before eating it, else it tends to be mushy and fall apart when you try to cut it. Again, I always sit it in the refrigerator to speed up the drying time and it can be eaten in under an hour if you do it that way. It's not like it has to cook or anything, it just needs time to soften the graham crackers before cutting. Some people like to let it sit overnight before they serve it.
These ingredients will fill a 9x13 inch pan.
- 2 individual packages graham crackers
- Two, 3 ounce packages instant vanilla pudding mix (some people like to use French vanilla for a different taste)
- One, 16 ounce package prepared chocolate frosting
- One, 8 ounce container of frozen whipped cream
- 3 cups milk
This is actually the only step in the recipe since there is no baking needed.
- Using a 9x13 inch glass pan, spread graham crackers along the bottom of it.
- Combine pudding mix and milk in a large bowl and mix until blended.
- Next, mix the whipped cream topping into the bowl and again blend thoroughly.
- Using a cake spreader, spread the mixture over the layer of graham crackers on the bottom of the pan. You should use up about half or your mixture doing this.
- Repeat the process at the beginning by topping that layer with more graham crackers.
- Then spread the remaining coating on top of that layer of graham crackers.
- Finally, top the entire thing off with yet another layer of graham crackers.
- Open the chocolate frosting and spread it evenly on the top layer of graham crackers.
That’s it. You are done. Well, all but the waiting. Most people find that it cuts better if it sits for a couple of hours because it softens the crackers allowing you to cut into it without tearing the whole thing apart. However, I have dove into it many times in much less time than that and it always works out fine.
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