Peanut Butter and Chocolate Truffles


Dinner parties are fun, wouldn’t you agree?

Last weekend Matt and I had dinner with our downstairs neighbors in our apartment. They cooked dinner and we offered to bring dessert. No big surprises there. I was tasked with coming up with a dessert that was dairy, gluten, and egg free. It’s the first time I’ve been faced with such requirements as a baker and I was up to the challenge. I spent Friday looking at gluten free and vegan baking blogs trying to find some inspiration.

Deciding to bake a vegan dessert can seem like a daunting commitment. No milk? No eggs? Wait…no BUTTER?! But, thankfully, just because we’ve grown up thinking that we needed eggs to make our cakes rise and butter to make them rich, doesn’t make it true. And vegan desserts prove that. While they aren’t quite like traditional desserts, they’re just as good. Sometimes even better.

These peanut butter chocolate truffles fall into the ‘sometimes even better’ category. Aside from being truly decadent, these truffles will leave you intensely satisfied. One of the things I really like about this recipe is that it only requires five ingredients. No special gluten-free flour or almond paste. There’s a good chance that you already have these ingredients in your pantry.


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Truffles

Servings: 20 • Size: 1 truffle • Calories: 156.0 • Fat: 6.1 g • Carbs: 25.0 g • Fiber: 2.9 g • Protein: 2.1 g • Sugar: 20.5 g • Sodium: 98 mg

Ingredients
16 ounces Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup natural salted creamy peanut butter
1 heaping cup dairy-free bittersweet or dark chocolate
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Instructions
Blend/pulse your dates until they completely mixed and form a ball in your food processor. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and mix once more to incorporate. Using a small melon baller, scoop out small balls and roll/form them into balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 20-30 minutes to set.

In the meantime, drizzle on peanut butter until the top is coated. If your peanut butter is super firm and not spreadable (meaning it’s either dry or not the natural variety), add it to a small mixing bowl with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil and microwave to melt. Stir to combine, then proceed as instructed. Freeze again for another 15-20 minutes, or until the peanut butter has formed a semi-firm “shell.”

Warm the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments with 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Remove truffles from freezer and, using a fork, scoop truffles up and quickly immerse in chocolate, using a small spoon to drizzle chocolate evenly on top. Then gently shake off excess chocolate and place back on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Top truffles with a small sprinkle of sea salt (optional), and repeat until all truffles are coated. Place back in freezer or fridge to set – about 30 minutes. Set out from the freezer or fridge to serve. For softer truffles, let come to room temperature.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
If your dates are not quite combining, drizzle in a tiny bit of warm water (1 teaspoon at a time) scraping down sides as needed, and mix until a rough paste or ball forms. If you add too much water it will be difficult to handle them later as they won’t freeze up well.

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Valentine’s Rice Krispies Treats

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Winter has arrived in full force here in Ann Arbor. We received 15 inches of snow last week, and the forecast is still calling for more. It’s easy to be glum about the short days and bitter winds. Especially when Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, portending six more weeks of winter. However, there is so much to love about the season! Here are just a few of my favorite things about winter, which will hopefully have you embracing the next inch or two of snow that arrives in your driveway.

1. Tights and leggings
2. Cold, crisp air
3. Hot apple cider
4. Justifiable hibernation
5. Snow days and snow emergencies
6. Seeing your pets reaction to the snow
7. Winter sunrises
8. The first snow of the year
9. Fuzzy socks
10. Comfort food

Speaking of comfort food… a chilly winter day is all the motivation I need to do some serious baking. One of my favorite snacks growing up were the pre-packaged Rice Krispies that came in a little blue package. My mom and I used to buy them in bulk at Sams Club. While I don’t snack on them that often these days, I still enjoy one from the vending machine now and then. This week in the Sweet Precision kitchen, I decided to be a little creative and make some Valentine’s Day inspired Rice Krispies. All you need is a cookie cutter, red or pink candy melts, and some red sprinkles to take this every day dessert to the next level.

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Valentine’s Rice Krispies Treats
Makes approximately 24 treats

Ingredients
1/4 cup butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
red or pink candy melts

Directions
Melt margarine in large sauce pan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and well-blended. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cereal. Stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly and firmly in buttered 13 x 9 inch pan. Cut the treats into heart shapes with a 2- 3-inch cookie cutter when cool.

Melt the candy melts according to the package directions. Transfer into a plastic bag with a corner cut off for piping. Decorate with sprinkles and let chocolate set before serving. Enjoy!

Heather’s Helpful Hints
When making your treats, don’t crank the heat on the stovetop too high. I get it, you want to get these quick-to-make treats set as soon as possible so you can dig in. High heat is the prime culprit for rock hard Rice Krispies. It will take a few more minutes of cook time, but melt the butter and marshmallows over low heat. You’ll be rewarded with delicious, soft and chewy treats!

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Chewy Low Fat Banana Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

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I’ve returned from my one month blog hiatus! Matt and I had a wonderful wedding and honeymoon, and now it’s time to get back to reality… sigh. A quick recap would include the beautiful wedding ceremony in Gibraltar, the vibrant culture of Morocco, and our relaxing Mediterranean cruise. The highlights included delicious food, lots of sunshine and warm weather, and a chance to truly unplug for two entire weeks. Challenges included a six hour delayed flight in Casablanca causing us to miss the first day of our cruise and me being randomly chosen at the airport for a strip search… not fun. However, the highlights overshadowed the challenges and we had an amazing time together.

I’ve slowly been getting back to my baking and general life responsibilities. Truth be told, I’ve been putting off this post for awhile but didn’t want to go the entire month of October without connecting with everyone.

So, let’s talk about these cookies. Typically I’m not a fan of “healthy” baked goods. I figure if you’re going to splurge on a treat, just eat small amount of a delicious full-fat item. It was with some trepidation that I gave these cookies a try. Let me tell you that they are a winner! The ingredients are simple (I didn’t even have to make a trip to the grocery store) and they come together in a flash. In fact, if you don’t tell people that they are low-fat no one will know the difference. That’s exactly what I plan to do when I bring these cookies into work for my coworkers tomorrow.

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Chewy Low Fat Banana Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Makes approximately 30 cookies

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, followed by the mashed banana and vanilla extract. Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
I’ve discovered a wonderful baking gadget that I would recommend to any one that likes to bake cookies. A Silpat baking sheet is a mat that will turn your pan into a non-stick surface. You can use Silpat for any baking recipe that calls for parchment paper. Since nothing sticks to it, you save tons of time during the cleanup process. You can check it out on Amazon.

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Chocolate Brownie Bites

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I am admittedly a chocoholic. On a perfect day I would have hot chocolate for breakfast, some Lindt chocolates with lunch, a little chocolate pudding as an afternoon snack, and brownies with ice cream for dessert. Thank goodness every day isn’t perfect for me, or else my waist line might be a size or two larger. Last week I read an article saying that a survey found that people should have a daily amount of chocolate equivalent to 1.5 Hershey’s Kisses to reap the benefit of the healthy antioxidants found in chocolate. All of this is well and good, but who really eats 1.5 Hersey’s Kisses? When I sit down to have some chocolate we’re looking at a serving of at least four Hershey’s kisses… at least.

A couple weeks ago I set off on a quest to find the best brownie recipe online. This was no small task being that there were numerous recipes purporting to make the best brownies ever. When thinking about brownies you have one thing to consider. Are you the type of person that enjoys cake-like or fudge-like brownies? One reason I enjoy this recipe is because it meets somewhere in the middle between the two extremes. I also like this recipe because as opposed to the typical brownie bar, you get tiny brownie bites. The little bites are really easy to transport to a party or a picnic in a plastic container.

Chocolate Brownie Bites
Makes approximately 16 brownie bites

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Brownie Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Frosting Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Generously grease and flour a mini muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients. Drop batter into muffin tins, filling halfway. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To make frosting, melt butter in a glass bowl in the microwave. Combine 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm. Decorate brownies as desired.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
It’s important that you don’t over-mix your batter. To help with this, make sure you beat your eggs before adding them to the mixture. This way they will combine easily with butter and sugar without requiring you to mix more than needed.

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100 Calorie Chocolate Muffins

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Are you the type of person that can’t resist when a moist piece of chocolate cake is staring you right in the eye?

Welcome to my world.

Having a baking blog comes with its own set of health risks. If I make a strawberry cake for my blog, that very same cake sits in my kitchen for a week until I have finished it off—with Matt’s help of course. This is why I always try to have friends or coworkers that I can pawn my baked goods off on, lest my waistline be spared a few hundred calories. But more often than not, I find a reason to keep [insert name of delicious baked good] in the apartment for a few days so that I can enjoy it. The result is my eating way more than I intended. In this post, I’m sharing one of my best kept secrets.

What would you do if I would you there was a muffin that was only 100 calories that also tasted delicious?!

I’m not pulling on your heart strings. I was introduced to the world of Vita-Muffins about a year ago, and I became hooked. When I found out they had their own package mix that you can buy off of Amazon, I knew I’d died and gone to heaven. Now this post is hardly meant to be a promotional product review, but that’s sort of what it has become. By just adding egg whites and water you instantly have 12 portion sized muffins that you can store in the freezer for the moment that you need a chocolate fix. These muffins are a lifesaver for me. No they aren’t as tasty as a samoa cookie, but they still do a pretty good job of satisfying my sweet tooth.

100 Calorie Chocolate Muffins

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Ingredients
1 package Vita Muffin mix
3 large egg whites
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup walnuts or chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin pan with paper or aluminum baking cups. Combine VitaMuffin Mix with egg whites and water. Blend well. Scoop about 3 tablespoons of batter into each baking cup. For topping, evenly distribute 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Bake for 23-27 minutes, or until firm.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
These are so foolproof I feel guilty offering any advice. Just be careful not to over-mix the batter or it will become tough.