Tag Archives: chocolate

Applesauce Brownies

Thank you Trenton Farmers’ Market.


Where else can you buy a bag of apples for $6 the day before Thanksgiving?

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There were also 55 apples in the bag, but who’s counting.

It took me exactly 30 minutes to peel the 55 apples, which means I peeled about 1.8 apples/minute, but again, numbers.

What is important is that with this many apples, you can make a fair amount of applesauce.



How much applesauce, you might ask? Ah yes, another number!

Several numbers actually. By the time I had finished making the applesauce, it was time to eat Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house. So I borrowed a tape measure from my mom and made a few quick measurements. And then a week later, I did the calculations, and made some new art math.


Yes, that’s right. I made a gallon and a half of applesauce.

The great thing about applesauce, though, is that you don’t have to make 194 ounces to enjoy it. You can make as much or as little as you like, it’s really easy to make (one ingredient!), and it tastes so good and naturally sweet. If you’ve never made it, give it a try – here’s the recipe.


  • 10 apples (or more)
  • (Optional) 1/4 cup apple cider or water
  • (Optional) Cinnamon
  1. Peel the apples
  2. Chop the apples into pieces (discard the cores)
  3. (Optional) Add the apple cider or water to a pot
  4. Add the chopped apples to the pot and cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally
  5. Cook until the applesauce is the desired consistency (smooth, chunky, or in between)
  6. (Optional) Add a little cinnamon

As the apples heat up, they become soft and release some of their juices. Then they do all the work  themselves and cook themselves into applesauce. If you want to speed things up, you could add a little apple cider or water at the beginning, and you could also cook them covered for a bit. Towards the end, you could use a potato masher too, if what you want is smoother applesauce more quickly.

Whatever you do, make sure to stir the apples occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. There’s nothing like having to use a second or third pot on a single batch of applesauce, and then having to do a multiple-pot-cleaning (scrubbing) afterwards. I mean, hypothetically speaking of course 🙂 My last note is that all types of apples are good to use. For the sweetest, richest applesauce flavor, I’ll use several different types of apples together.

But what about the brownies? I thought there were going to be brownies! Applesauce Brownies!! And while we’re on the topic, what is an Applesauce Brownie???


Yes, exactly! I was wondering what an Applesauce Brownie is too, so I made some.

I’d actually been wondering this for a while, as I remember having eaten them once as a kid and having been amazed that they tasted like brownies despite having applesauce in them. Lucky for me, I now had one of the main ingredients on hand, and in abundance. So into the kitchen I went: Curiosity plus surplus equals creation.

I looked up a brownie recipe in a printed cookbook, searched for applesauce brownie recipes online, and then on the advice that applesauce is a big ingredient in vegan baking, I searched for vegan applesauce brownies too.


Applesauce brownie batter, Version one

The vegan suggestion, combined with my further searching, got me thinking. What is the fewest number of ingredients I could use and still end up with brownies? The Google auto-fill in the search bar was pointing me in this direction too, listing among other things the following:

  • Baking substitute applesauce for eggs
  • Baking substitute applesauce for butter
  • Baking substitute applesauce for oil

Could applesauce be that versatile? And in the same recipe??

I thought, Let’s find out! The short answer to both questions is yes. The long answer is it took me two tries to come up with a recipe that I liked. For the first version, I used the following: applesauce, cocoa powder, salt, sugar, vanilla, and flour. It turned out alright, but it also came out a little flat, literally, and had an interesting chocolately, apple tangy flavor.


Version one (with b/g apples from a different purchase)

When making version two, I included the three ingredients I figured had been missing in version one: baking powder, baking soda, and chocolate. And the result?

So good.
So rich.
So chocolatey.

Here’s the recipe 🙂

Applesauce Brownies

  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  1. Mix the applesauce, sugar, and vanilla
  2. Melt the chocolate, and add it to the applesauce mixture
  3. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda
  4. Add the flour mixture to the applesauce mixture, and mix
  5. Lightly oil an 8″ x 8″ baking dish
  6. Add the batter to the baking dish
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes

Love that chocolate melting


And love that final chocolate brownie product

It’s not easy to predict the future, but I do believe mine will include the following: additional apple purchases, more applesauce making, and now also vegan applesauce brownie baking.


And if you want, you can even have them side by side.

Thank you applesauce.

Chocolate Covered Matzoh

Chocolate covered Matzoh!


This is one of those recipes where the name is 100% descriptive of the final product. And how about that final product.

Sweet, chocolatey, easy, and yes, there is matzoh there, but now it’s sweet, chocolately matzoh. Eating a piece for the first time is like discovering Cocoa Krispies after having eaten plain Rice Krispies your entire life.

I was the last of my relatives to sign up for which Passover dessert to bring to the second seder on Saturday, which meant that twelve others had already selected their category by the time I got the website. Waiting for me when I got there was the following: “Kosher for Passover, non-dairy cake, cookies or something else.”

I figured I’d figure it out Saturday morning, which is what I did in terms of the recipe and the production, but the actual idea came on Thursday during our weekly group run. I mentioned my pending Passover dessert duty, and the girl I was running with said something like, “Chocolate covered matzoh is really good and easy,” to which I said, “That sounds great! I’m going to do that. How do you make it?” to which she said, “You just melt some butter and sugar, brush it on the matzoh and bake it for a few minutes, and then add the chocolate,” to which I said, “Oh, that’s going to be good, I’m going to win the desserts!” Then I assured her that it wasn’t a contest but rather just a lot of people bringing something, and that it was the first time it was a little more organized. I also noted that to my knowledge, no one had ever made chocolate covered matzoh before, which meant that my contribution would have the potential of being not only good, but new.

I was feeling good about the pending baking experiment, and on Friday while I was hanging out with my brother and his girlfriend, we got to talking about the desserts we were going to make. Up for them was the following: homemade macaroons dipped in chocolate, and with chocolate drizzled on top (it’s a good thing I don’t have a picture of these because you might like them more than my chocolate matzoh 🙂 ). It came out during the conversation that my brother hadn’t signed up for a dessert slot, which in no way deterred the macaroon-making that followed, and that I had glossed over a small detail about my dessert category, which in a large way would have left me embarrassed had I not realized it in time. Kosher for Passover, non-dairy cake, cookies or something else. “Ahhhhh, yes, so maybe it’s a good idea if I don’t use butter when making the chocolate covered matzoh,” I said to myself and out loud. “Or milk chocolate.” The result: a delicious vegan dessert.

Vegan Chocolate Covered Matzoh


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 8-10 matzohs
  • 15 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Mix the oil and sugar
  2. Brush and coat the top side of each matzoh with the oil and sugar mixture (I used a spoon for this step)
  3. Arrange the matzohs in single layer in your baking dishes
  4. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees (or was it 400 degrees? I’m missing this detail in my notes. What is important is taking the matzoh out before the edges start turning black. The rest of the matzoh will have a golden look.)
  5. Now take the baking dishes out of the oven, and add a handful of chocolate chips to each matzoh (about 1.5 oz per piece). Once the chocolate chips have melted (this may take about 5 minutes or more), spread the now-melted chocolate chips over the matzoh to cover the entire top side (I used the back of a spoon to do the spreading).
  6. And then put the matzohs in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes (for the chocolate to cool and harden)

When I made these this past Saturday, I also played around with a few different oil and sugar ratios. The first one was 1/2 cup oil with 1/4 cup sugar, which turned out to be a lot of sugar (and sweeter!):


I also tried 1/2 cup oil with 1/4 cup brown sugar, which likewise turned out to be a lot of sugar. On the matzohs where I used these mixtures, you could see extra grains of sugar sitting on top of the matzohs after the 15-20 minutes of baking.


How everything looked after adding the chocolate chips to the baked matzoh


And a close up: chips melting, sugar showing

I also tried the following with the oil and sugar, in a second batch that I made:

  • Using and brushing on the same oil and sugar mixture as above, but scraping away the excess sugar before baking
  • Brushing some of the matzohs with plain oil and then sprinkling a small amount of sugar on top, and then baking

The results for these sugar-lighter pieces seemed as good as the results for the ones I had made earlier with more sugar, so I went with the sugar-lighter version for the recipe above. The 1/2 Tbsp of sugar is a good estimate for what I’d sprinkled on (if you do the math, that’s 3/16 tsp sugar per piece of matzoh..want more or less sugar? Go for it! The semi-sweet chocolate chips also already have sugar in them). In the recipe, the first two steps are, ‘Mix the oil and sugar, and then brush this mixture on,” but as noted here, another option is you could also brush the oil on first and then do a sugar sprinkle.


Here in mid-spread: Some soon-to-be chocolate covered matzoh (L), and chocolate covered matzoh (R)

In the end, assuming that everyone who had signed up for a dessert brought a dessert, plus my brother and his girlfriend, we had 14 desserts altogether to choose from. If you figure that each dessert had about 15 servings and that about 30 people came altogether, that’s a whopping 7 dessert servings per person! There’s always room for dessert, though, from the fresh fruit to the sponge cakes to the apple kugel to the macaroons and to the chocolate covered matzoh and all the rest.

One day, I’ll probably give the butter version of Chocolate Covered Matzoh a try. Maybe I’ll also try adding salt, cinnamon, or various nuts, as I saw in some recipes, or adding something simple like orange zest. A fresh hint of orange to go with the chocolate? I have a feeling that would be even more chocolate-covered-matzoh-y good.


Giant Cupcakes, Cookies, and a Blondie

Look into my eyes…


I’m going to make you giant cupcakes, and you’re going to like them.


I’m going to make you giant cupcakes, and you’re going to like them.


I’m going to make you giant cupcakes, and you’re going to like them.

So I made giant cupcakes a week and a half ago – along with some regular small ones – and I liked them. And, as a plus for any cook or baker, the other people who tried them said they liked them too. Now all I need is for another friend’s twins to also have their eighth birthday so I can make, upon request, another pair of giant cupcakes.

The first step to making giant cupcakes is to get a giant cupcake mold. This I accomplished through some internet searching, a little feedback from a friend, and a trip to the nearest store that had them in stock (Michael’s).


If you search like I did, you’ll see that Wilton is one of the few players in the Molde de Pastelito Gigante game. Repeatedly seeing the name Wilton also triggered the good memory of the early days of MLS when we’d be watching the Metrostars on tv and Andres Cantor on the Spanish broadcast would pronounce the players names, such as Welton, with a vigor that in Welton’s case made it, “Wellllllllllllll-tonnn.” I’m pretty sure it was Andres Cantor, of you know, Goooooooooooooooooolllllllllllll! renown, but please let me know me if you know otherwise. The closest confirmation I could find through solely internet searching was this article, in which the author reminisced, “Believe me, no one could make the name ‘A.J. Wood’ sound so extraordinary.” In the end, Welton turned out to be a four-year flash in the MLS cupcake pan.

The next step after acquiring a Wellllllllllllll-tonnn Giant Cupcake Pan was to find a giant cupcake recipe. I got some intel the twins liked chocolate, and I wanted to add a simple frosting, so I went with the following two recipes I found online:

I followed each recipe as written, except for how long I baked the cupcakes (I let mine bake a little longer). What worked well in my oven, based on my sample size of two giant cupcakes, was to bake the bottom-half of the cupcake for 75 minutes and the top-half for 55 minutes (at 325 degrees). The cupcake mold is a single connected piece – the well for the bottom-half is connected to the well for the top-half (see the picture below) – so as recommended by some others, I started by only adding the batter for the bottom-half. Then, 20 minutes into the baking (with 55 minutes left), I added the batter for the top-half.


Giant cupcake #1, here in two pieces after being taken out of the mold (top-half on L, bottom-half on R)

After the baking is done, the final steps are assembling the pieces and adding the frosting. Here’s a quick description of the process, based on what I did:

  1. Take the base of the cupcake (R in the picture above) and slice off the rounded crown part
  2. Take the top cone piece (L in the picture above) and slice off the rounded part that’s underneath
  3. Spread a layer of frosting on the now-level surfaces to serve as the glue
  4. Combine the two pieces to make one giant cupcake
  5. And then spread the frosting on top to finish it off

Here’s how the two pieces looked after making the surfaces level (steps 1 and 2 above)


And how one of the giant cupcakes looked after full assembly and frosting

In the process of making the giant cupcakes, I also confirmed The Cookie Writer’s FYI that there would be cupcake batter left over. And so what to do with the extra batter? Make more cupcakes! Small regular ones in this case.


The full cupcake yield

After taking care of the extra batter, all that was left was the extra matter…of the rounded tops and bottoms that I had sliced off earlier to make the cupcake pieces level. Resisting the temptation to eat them right then, I turned two of these rounded parts into a giant whoopie pie, using the remaining frosting as the filling.


In an interesting bit of culinary timing, I had also made this giant whoopie pie and the giant cupcakes exactly one year to the day after having made a made a pair of giant cookies. A few friends were having a holiday cookie-exchange party on the same day last year, and I was making regular-sized, pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies for it. When I ran out of baking sheet space but still had some batter left over, I rubber-spatulaed the remaining batter into two large pie dishes. The result? Two giant awesome pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies. One of the party’s hosts is purported to have eaten most of one of the giant cookies in a single sitting the next day. The other giant cookie is purported to still be in my freezer.

And finally, to end with one more giant cookie memory (who knew there were so many???) and yes again, art, here’s something I made back in college (and recently reacquired when my parents started cleaning out our old rooms).


The class was called Two Dimensional Design, and the assignment was to tell a story using four items. (We had to do several of these.) Previously, we had been clipping interesting pictures out of magazines and making a mess with paint on paper, so I already had the top cookie picture and the 18″ x 24″ background sheet (in black-and-white splatter) ready to go. Then I added a brown layer to the background sheet, found some appropriate pictures of the family dog, and the story was complete. Cookie, cookie, everywhere, but not a bite to eat.

Before anyone feels too sorry for her, though, I can assure you that outside of art, in real dog life, she got many a food scrap, took her role as the pre-dishwasher cleaner-of-plates seriously, and was a success in the chocolate-acquiring business. One time she ate a third of my birthday cake off the kitchen table after my dad had briefly left the room, and another time she got and ate most of an entire bag of chocolate chips. It’s like they say: every dog has its day
(full of chocolate).

She was a good dog, we all loved her, and although Blondie was no giant (she came up to around our knees), I’m sure she would have had no problem taking care of an over-sized chocolate cupcake, or two.