Craving Cure: Crème Fraîche Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Crème Fraîch Chocolate Chunk Cookies by

Crème Fraîche Chocolate Chunk Cookies by

These cookies may just be the perfect solution to a chocolate craving. They’re rich but still light, i.e., you won’t feel guilty when you go back for seconds—or thirds. No judgement here! When I developed the recipe I decided to I incorporated a bit of crème fraîche that I had taking up space in my fridge. After all, tangy crème fraîche usually takes other foods I add it to up a level (remember my favorite onion dip?). The result was  a moist cookie that was full of chocolaty goodness but wasn’t dense or overloaded like so many are. I’ve made several batches and fall for them more and more each time. See for yourself.

Crème Fraîche Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (check out our homemade vanilla extract recipe)
  • 2/4 cup chocolate chunks
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips 

1. In a large bowl or in a stand mixer, cream together the butter, crème fraîche, sugar and brown sugar. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add in the eggs and mix to combine.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, mixing until completely combined each time. Add the vanilla extract and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and chocolate chips. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in heaping tablespoonfuls.  Space cookies at least 2.5-inches apart. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until almost set in the middle. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

SWWU TIp 1: Of course these cookies are delicious when you eat them right out of the oven, but I found the flavor to be at its peak a day later. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. They won’t last that long though.

SWWU Tip 2: These cookies are very moist and fragile when they come out of the oven. Make sure you let them set a bit on the warm pan as directed, then use your thinnest spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to continue cooling. They will firm up as they sit.

Crème Fraîch Chocolate Chunk Cookies by

Crème Fraîche Chocolate Chunk Cookies by

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Tickled Pink

I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t appreciate a good red velvet cupcake. The subtle hints of cocoa mixed with a velvety cream cheese frosting—what’s not to love? My original recipe came from a friend of a friend (I think she may have borrowed her inspiration from an old Paula Deen recipe) but I’ve played around with the ingredients and tweaked it over the years. Now they have a richer chocolate taste, stronger notes of vanilla and they’re sporting a lighter shade. After all, it is almost summer!


Pink Velvet Cupcakes by

Pink Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract (check out our homemade vanilla extract recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 40 drops red food coloring

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl or in a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing completely between each. Add half the dry ingredients, mix, then add half the buttermilk and mix. Continue until the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk are used up. Mix in the vanilla extract, white vinegar and food coloring. Add more food coloring if desired.

4. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes enough for 24 cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (this would be a good place to splurge on a high-quality butter), at room temperature
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1-pound box confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (check out our homemade vanilla extract recipe)

1. In a large bowl or in a stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the confectioners’ sugar in three equal parts, mixing completely between each. Mix in the vanilla extract. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before using.

SWWU Tip 1: These cupcakes are good enough on their own, but I usually top them with a few mini chocolate chips (shown above) or some fresh-cut strawberries.

SWWU Tip 2: Don’t have any buttermilk on hand? Make your own by mixing 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or distilled white vinegar into 1 cup of milk. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes or until it curdles. Mix again and use as needed.

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Sweeten the Deal

This past holiday season some of our friends gifted us with a mega bottle of grade B maple syrup. We’re talking 64 ounces of delicious liquid gold! Having so much around the house might seem a bit excessive, but it definitely gives us an opportunity to experiment with some different uses and not really worry about a dwindling supply.

Over the weekend we tested out an idea for popcorn coated with maple and orange zest. After a few different attempts, here’s our winner:

Orange-Maple Popcorn by

Orange-Maple Popcorn by

Orange-Maple Popcorn

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more if desired
  • pinch kosher salt, plus more if desired

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the canola oil, maple syrup, honey, vanilla extract, orange zest and popcorn kernels. Toss to coat, put a lid on and heat over medium. Every 15 seconds or so, move the pan in a circular motion, without removing it from the burner and without lifting the lid. Do this for 60 to 90 seconds or until you hear the popcorn begin to pop. Remove from heat as soon as you hear 3 or more seconds between each pop.

2. Immediately pour into a serving bowl and top with ground cinnamon and salt. Taste and add more of either of desired.

SWWU Tip 1: This popcorn can burn very easily. Keep the heat at medium and be sure to remove the saucepan from heat as soon as the popping is complete. 

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Get Your Goat (Cheese) Brownies

I like to over prepare and Brian likes to get things just right, which I (of course) view was under preparing. These differences are most obvious when we’re getting ready to host a party. Brian will carefully calculate just how many appetizers each person is likely to eat, and I’ll worry that they’ll be so tasty that our gusts double their normal intake leaving someone else to go hungry. In the end, it’s usually a 50-50 split on who was right. We’ll both be glad that I insisted on extra booze, but I’ll also learn that there are only so many desserts someone can eat in one night. Our last party left us with a bit of extra goat cheese (I’ll admit, this one is on me) and I needed a way to use it up. I’m a big fan of cheesecake brownies and thought swapping out the cream cheese for something a bit tangy was worth a try. Luckily, my instincts were right on this one. I think we may just have to over prepare for our next party too!

Raspberry Goat Cheese Brownies by

Raspberry Goat Cheese Brownies by

Raspberry Goat Cheese Brownies

Makes a 13×9″ dish

  • Crisco or cooking spracy
  • 2 1/2 pints raspberries (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 3.5-ounce bars 70% chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 3.5-ounce bar 90% chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 5 eggs, divided
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 13 ovenproof dish with Crisco or cooking spray; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the raspberries and bourbon. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Mix in both types of chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the milk; let cool 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

5. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, add 2 cups of sugar and 4 of the eggs, one at a time, mixing between additions. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Gently fold half of the raspberries into the brownie batter and pour into the prepared dish.

6. In another medium bowl (or in a stand mixer), combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, vanilla and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and egg; cream ingredients together until fluffy. Gently fold in the remaining raspberries and their juices. Drop the cheesecake batter by spoonfuls all over the top of the brownie batter. Use a skewer to swirl the two batters together. Bake for 30 minutes or until set.

SWWU Tip 1: Brownies will last covered with an air-tight lid on the countertop for up to 5 days, refrigerate to store them longer.

SWWU Tip 2: Want to skip the bourbon? Sub in an equal amount of rum or toss berries with a tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of confectioners’ sugar.

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Having a Ball

Chocolate-Covered Cookie Dough Balls by

Chocolate-Covered Cookie Dough Bites by

These treats have made an appearance in our kitchen twice in the past month. They debuted on New Year’s Eve and showed up again for a baby shower (what mama-to-be wouldn’t love these?). And, since they’re egg-free you’re safe to eat as many as your heart desires. The recipe is an adaptation of my basic chocolate chip cookie dough that I’ve been tweaking for the past few years. I hope you enjoy!

Chocolate-Covered Cookie Dough Bites

Makes about 50 balls

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1 3.5-ounce sea salt dark chocolate bar (such as Lindt), roughly chopped
  • 1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl or in a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together. Mix for 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the heavy cream and vanilla extract; mix until combined.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Slowly add to the butter mixture, combining as you go. Fold in the mini chocolate chips and the dark chocolate bar. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or overnight).

3. Once chilled, roll the dough into ping-pong size balls. Insert a lollipop stick into the center of each ball and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil over medium. Top with a heatproof bowl, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, to create a double boiler. Add 1/3 of the chocolate chips to the bowl and allow to melt, stirring frequently. Once the chocolate is smooth, remove the chilled balls from the fridge. Dip or swirl them one-by-one into the chocolate, making sure to cover them entirely. Once coated in chocolate, gently shake off excess, and return to parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat the process until all balls are coated, adding additional chocolate to the double boiler as needed. When complete, return the baking sheet to the refrigerator for about 1 hour or until chocolate is hard and set. Transfer to airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

SWWU Tip: You can find lollipop sticks in your local craft or baking supply store and they’re also available on the Wilton website. I’ve used both 4-inch and 6-inch sticks, but find the longer ones are a bit easier to use when you’re dipping the dough into the melted chocolate.