Showing posts with label healthy desserts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy desserts. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to make Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites #dairyfree #glutenfree by Cleo Coyle

Chocolate and peanut butter make a classic combo. According to US sales, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are the #1 candy in America, and our household definitely contributed to that stat. Last fall, I even blogged an easy recipe for Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cake...


To download my recipe for this Easy Reese's
Peanut Butter Cup Cake,
click here.


My husband, Marc, is an especially devoted fan. Though he and I grew up in different Western Pennsylvania towns, we both well remember family trips to Hershey, PA.

We often throw Reese's minis in the freezer, especially in the summer months. They keep well and when you pop them in your mouth, they taste like an ice cream treat.

The problem? It's candy. Not the healthiest of daily treats.

A Healthier Alternative?

A few years back, Trader Joe's introduced Chocolate Covered Banana Slices. While this is a great idea, they sell out fast.

Today's recipe solved two problems for us:

(1) We can have chocolate covered banana slices whenever we want and...

(2) By adding peanut butter, these treats 
nicely replace our Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cravings. 

After a night in the freezer, the chocolate-enrobed
banana slices become wonderfully creamy, much like
ice cream. The flavor of banana becomes less pronounced,
letting the more powerful notes of chocolate and
peanut butter drench your tongue with that classically
satisfying combo.

This is a treat I make all the time.
I hope you enjoy it as much as Marc and I do...

~ Cleo



Cleo Coyle is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries.
Learn more by clicking here.

Cleo Coyle's
Frozen Chocolate
Peanut Butter
Banana Bites



Trader Joe's went bananas a few years ago by introducing frozen chocolate covered banana slices, and many people went bananas over them.

Making your own is easy and economical. Even better, you can be selective about the ingredients and make them as healthy (or as decadent) as you like.

My two little contributions to this relatively simple process are...


(1) The addition of peanut butter sandwiched between the slices and...

(2) The use of Almond Milk in creating the chocolate coating. 

Almond Milk not only contributes wonderful flavor to the chocolate, it also lets dairy-free eaters enjoy the treat. 

FYI - Recent studies have shown that dark chocolate has great health benefits, but ingesting dairy milk with it can lessen those benefits

If you are a dairy-free eater, be sure to purchase dairy-free chocolate for the recipes. Below is just one example of a product that can help you out...


The "Enjoy Life" brand of semi-sweet chocolate chips are dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, click here to learn more, read reviews, and/or purchase.

The recipe below is easy but can be tricky. I included some tips that I hope will help you get the best results. May you eat with joy...and in good health! 

~ Cleo




Click here
to download.
To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.



Makes 10 to 12 Banana Bites

Ingredients:

1 banana, ripe but still firm (medium to large)

2 to 2-1/2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond or cashew butter 

3 ounces chocolate chips (depending on their size, that's usually 1/2 cup to a heaping 1/2 cup in volume) 

1 tablespoon Almond Milk (darker chocolates may need more)


Health notes on options for chocolate and peanut butter...

*Chocolate note: You can use any chocolate chips you like: milk, semi-sweet, bittersweet, or dark. In my photos today, I used Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels. If you are a dairy-free and/or gluten free eater, be sure to pick up chocolate chips that say dairy-free or gluten free on the packaging.

*Healthiest chocolate choice: Dark chocolate has wonderful health benefits, click here to read more about them. Note that you may need to use more Almond Milk for darker chocolates.
To read a brand vs. brand
comparison on "Natural"
Peanut Butters,
click here.

*Peanut butter note: Use any peanut butter you like--or almond butter or cashew butter. For a healthy suggestion, try Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter. One of this blog's followers, Libby D., recommended it, and I agree with her. It's one of the best-tasting natural peanut butters on the market. No sugar or preservatives. Just two ingredients: peanuts and a small amount of salt. For more suggestions on natural peanut butters, see the link in the caption to the right. >>

DIRECTIONS: 

Step 1 - Create the PB banana sandwiches: 
Cut your ripe but firm banana into thin slices, pairing slices by size. Make sure you have at least 12 pairs (24 slices). Smear peanut butter on half of the slices, one for each pair. 




Put the slices together like little sandwiches. You should now have 12 little peanut butter and banana sandwiches.



Step 2: - Melt the chocolate: Pour the chocolate chips into a clean, dry, shallow microwave-safe bowl. Pour the almond milk over the chocolate and stir to coat the pieces well. 



Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave with care. Once you boil or burn chocolate, its taste is ruined and there is no saving it. Zap it for 20 seconds, stir. Zap again in small bursts until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth (see my photos).



Step 3 - Troubleshoot (adjust): If the chocolate seems a little thick for dipping, try the following. Pour a very small amount (1 teaspoon) more of the almond milk onto the chocolate. DO NOT MIX IN. Place the bowl back in the microwave and zap for 10 to 15 seconds. Remove and stir. The chocolate should be looser. If you it's still too thick, repeat until you get the desired consistency. If chocolate becomes difficult to work with, return it to the microwave and re-warm it.

Double-Boiler option: You can also place a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water and create a double boiler. Place the chocolate and almond milk in the bowl and stir until melted. Then dip the banana bites into the bowl. While a little more trouble, this method has the advantage of keeping your chocolate warm and pliable through the entire dipping process.

Step 4 - Dip and freeze: One at a time, drop the PB banana sandwiches into the bowl of melted chocolate. 



Using two forks, gently flip the little banana sandwich, moving the chocolate around it until it is coated. Lift the coated banana bite with one fork, allowing the chocolate to drip off...



Be patient and get as much excess chocolate off the bite as you can. Place on a flat pan or plate that's been covered with parchment paper or wax paper.

WARNING: If you don't use wax paper or parchment paper, the chocolate will stick to the surface of your dish or pan as it dries and freezes. 


Ask me how I know. :)



Place your finished bites in the freezer for about 3 hours
or overnight. These are frozen treats, delicious right out
of the freezer. Think of them like ice cream bites.

If serving for a party, keep them frozen
as long as possible. Like ice cream, they will
begin to melt after about 15 to 20 minutes
out of the freezer.



To download
Magic Shell recipe,

click here.

MAGIC SHELL OPTION

I like the fudgy chocolate this recipe produces because it re-creates the
chewiness of a rich candy. 


If you'd rather make a crisp, thin, hard "Magic Chocolate" shell for your banana slices, that's an easy variation. Just use coconut oil instead of almond milk. For the correct ratios, see my Coffeehouse Banana Split recipe by clicking here



http://www.coffeehousemystery.com/userfiles/file/Cleo-Coyle_Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Banana-Bites.pdf
Click here to download
today's recipe, and...


Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.







To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.
 





Now a National
Bestseller in Hardcover

A Coffeehouse Mystery 

*Starred Review* -Kirkus

"Top Pick"  -RT Book Reviews

"...a highly satisfying mystery."
-Publishers Weekly



See the book's
Recipe Guide
by clicking here.



* * * 


Coffeehouse Mystery
Free Title Checklist
(with mini plot summaries)


The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
13 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


* * * 


Haunted Bookshop
Free Title Checklist, 



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Black Bean Brownies: No flour, No butter, Just Chocolate Fudgy Goodness by Cleo Coyle




These chocolate brownies nearly qualify as magic. There is no white flour in the recipe. The structure comes from nutritious black beans, which add fiber and protein, but you won't taste the beans. You'll taste only the delicious fudgy chocolate. My previous recipe for Black Bean Brownies started with a brownie mix (to see that recipe, click here). Today's "from scratch" version is still easy, yet it's healthier and tastier. 


Quick Tips

The batter for these brownies can be whizzed up in a food processor or a blender/processor. That's what you see in my photos, an Oster Fusion blender. I'm not sure a regular blender would be able to handle this, but if you have a very powerful blender, it might work. Either way, here are my quick tips for getting the best out of this recipe...

(1) The better quality your chocolate, the better your brownies. 

(2) Chopped, block chocolate is the way to go. Chocolate chips just won't give you the same brownie, which is why I strongly suggest not attempting to make this recipe with chocolate chips. You can, however, tart the brownies up by stirring in chips and/or toasted, chopped nuts just before baking.

(3) Be careful when melting the chocolate. Once chocolate is burned, there's no saving it, and the burned taste will be in your brownies. So be sure to follow the directions in the recipe.


(4) As for the black beans, they should be "low sodium" (or no salt), and be sure you rinse the beans well before draining. I suggest soaking them for a minute in cold water and then draining well, just to be sure they're cleaned and ready for processing. 

(5) Finally, don't over-bake the brownies. I think all brownie recipes are better if they're slightly under-baked. This one is no exception. 



Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


My Coffeehouse Mystery readers may recognize these brownies from A Brew to a Kill. They're a bonus recipe from the book. 

To view the book's recipe section, click here.  




To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here



Makes one 9x9-inch square pan of brownies 

Ingredients:

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped (do not use chips)

2 tablespoons canola oil (or vegetable or corn oil) 


¼ cup brewed coffee or espresso 

   (deepens chocolate flavor, you won’t taste it)

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans
   (low sodium or no salt),
rinsed, soaked, drained 

4 large eggs, lightly beaten with fork

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

½ cup white, granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon table salt or finely ground sea salt 
   
     (if using coarse salt, increase this amount to ¼ teaspoon) 


1 teaspoon baking powder


Optional additions:

½ cup toasted and chopped nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts)

¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips


DIRECTIONS:

Step 1 – Prep oven and pan: First preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Create a sling with parchment paper (see my photo) and lightly coat the paper and sides of the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Step 2 - Melt the chocolate: Place the chopped chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. Pour the canola oil into the mixture. IMPORTANT: Chocolate burns very easily and once that scorched taste is in your chocolate, your brownies are ruined. To prevent burning, heat the oil and chocolate in 20- to 30-second increments in your microwave. Stir between each session until everything is melted and smooth. Once melted, set aside. (I like to place the bowl on top of my pre-heating oven to keep the chocolate warm.) 






Step 3 – Prep the beans: Drain the canned beans, place them in a bowl and cover them with water. Allow them to soak for a minute, then drain them well. 

Step 4 – Make the batter: Combine the beans, coffee, and eggs in a food processor or blender/processor (the machine in my photos is an Oster Fusion, a cross between a processor and blender and not a regular blender). Process until smooth. The mixture will look like a chocolate milk shake. Add the brown and white sugars, vanilla extract, salt, and baking powder. Finally add the melted chocolate and mix well until smooth. (If adding optional chopped nuts and/or chocolate chips, stir them in now with a large spoon.)

Step 5 – Bake: Pour the batter into your prepared 9x9-inch square pan and bake for around 20 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven. I’m of the opinion that you should not over-bake brownies, including these. When the top surface is set (spongy but firm to the touch and no longer liquid) and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with no wet batter clinging to it, the brownies are ready. Allow the hot pan to cool for a few minutes, then run a knife on the un-papered edges to loosen any sticky bits and gently lift the parchment paper handles, transferring the brownie cake to a wire rack. Allow the brownies to cool a bit (and set) before cutting into large or small squares and…












Eat with joy!


~ Cleo Coyle 

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries



Friend me on facebook here
Follow me on twitter here.
Visit my online coffeehouse here.



To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.
 








The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes.  

 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Insanely Easy Black Bean Brownies by Cleo Coyle




I don't know who invented Black Bean Brownies. I do know that black beans are very nutritious, packed with protein and fiber; and there are countless recipes for Black Bean Brownies in cookbooks and on the Internet. Everyone has a variation. The scratch recipes range from austere to decadent. The former usually employ sugar substitutes, little to no flour, and bananas in place of fat. The more decadent versions use white and/or brown sugars, chopped chocolates, and plenty of butter.

One particular recipe intrigued me because it required only two ingredients. "Take a can of black beans," it directed, "smash the beans up and mix them and their liquid with a box of brownie mix..." 

The recipe promises if you bake these up, you'll get delicious results. Not so much! Let me save you time and money. The 2 ingredient recipe yields a pan of rubbery brownies that my husband and I found inedible. 

So, okay, that recipe was the equivalent of an urban legend. Undaunted, however, I forged ahead, experimenting until I found a brownie mix recipe for Black Bean Brownies that would work, and I did! The recipe I'm sharing with you today produces a nice chocolate brownie with a fudgy texture and flavor.

The acid test for me comes from my husband (and partner in crime writing), who pulls no punches when it comes to my ideas, my writing, or my recipes. (And of course I do the same for him. :)) While the 2-ingredient "urban legend" brownies were thrown in the trash, THESE were eaten right up. "You can't taste the beans!" Marc declared in happy surprise, and reached for seconds.

We both found these babies fudgy, chocolaty, and very tasty, especially with a hot, fresh, cuppa joe. If you make them, we hope you'll enjoy them, too.


Cleo Coyle's
Insanely Easy
Black Bean Brownies




To download a PDF version of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here



My Coffeehouse Mystery readers may recognize these brownies from A Brew to a Kill, which makes them a bonus recipe for the book. 

I also plan to blog a from-scratch Black Bean Brownie recipe for you soon. So come on back now, y'hear? :) For today, here's my easy version...


A Brew to a Kill is the latest bestselling title
in my long-running culinary 
mystery series. To view the book's recipe sectionclick here>>>



Ingredients:

1 cup of canned black beans,
   low- or no-sodium
1 box of chocolate brownie mix
   (regular or low fat, approx. 19+ ounce size)
1/3 cup water

2 large eggs, lightly beaten with fork
2 tablespoons canola oil 


Directions: 

Step 1 - Prep a 13 x 9-inch baking pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper and lightly coating the sides of the pan and the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. 

Step 2 - Drain your canned black beans, wash them well, and drain again. Measure out 1 cup of the black beans and run them through a food processor until they are puréed and completely smooth. 

Pour the bean purée into a mixing bowl. Sift in the brownie mix (to prevent clumping). Add the water, canola oil, and eggs. Mix well but do not over-mix. Most brownie mix recipes suggest 50 strokes with a large spoon, and that's fine. Just be sure that all of the dry mix is completely blended into a smooth batter. (I use a fork to mash any small stubborn clumps against the side of the bowl.) Pour into prepared pan.

Step 3 - Bake in a well preheated oven at 350 degree F. for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven, allow brownies to cool before cutting and...








Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
Learn about my books here.

Friend me on Facebook here.
Follow me on Twitter here.
Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.


To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit
my online coffeehouse:
 
CoffeehouseMystery.com




The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 
 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.