Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Yields: 24 bars

Crust:
2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c sweet ground chocolate and cocoa
1/2 c butter, melted
2 TBS sugar

Topping:
16 oz. cream cheese
1 c sugar
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
3 TBS flour
4 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 bar (2 oz.) milk chocolate baking bar, broken into 1″ pieces
1/2 tsp vegetable shortening

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Crust:
1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, ground chocolate, butter, and sugar in a large mixing bowl until well blended.
2. Press the mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
3. Bake 8 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Topping:
1. In large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, peanut butter, and flour until well blended.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixture well after each addition.
3. Blend in the milk and the vanilla extract.
4. Pour the topping into the crust and bake 40 minutes.
5. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.
6. Melt the chocolate pieces and vegetable shortening in a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water.
7. Stir occasionally until smooth.
8. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the cooled bars.
9. Chill approximately 10 minutes, just until the chocolate layer is partially set.
10. Score the chocolate layer with a sharp knife, forming squares, and return the pan to the refrigerator.
11. Chill 30 minutes, or until firm. Ct through the bars and serve. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

1 1/4 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
1/2 c water
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 c flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 c shredded zucchini
2 bars (8 0z.) milk chocolate baking bar, broken into 1/4″ pieces

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease a 9″x5″ pan.
3. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla extract until blended.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients gradually, stirring until moistened.
6. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate pieces.
7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.
8. Bake 1 hour 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf.
9. Cool the bread in pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
10. To store, wrap tightly in aluminum foil and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze.

Creamy Milk Chocolate Truffles

Yield: 30 truffles

Ingredients:
2 bars (8 oz.) milk chocolate baking bars, chopped
1/3 c + 2 TBS heavy whipping cream
1/2 TBS unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces

Coating:
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa or 3/4 c finely chopped almonds or pecans

Directions:
1. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan.
2. Add butter and stir until melted.
3. Add chocolate to saucepan.
4. Stir until completely melted and smooth.
5. Remove from heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl.
6. Cool, cover, and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours.
7. Roll mixture into 1″ balls. Roll each ball in coating.

Chocolate Melting Instructions

Note: Melt chocolate carefully. Overheating or addition of moisture may cause chocolate to thicken.

Double Boiler Method: Break chocolate into small pieces and place in top pan of double boiler over hot, but not boiling water (you may also use a glass or metal mixing bowl on top of saucepan 1/2 full with water). Allow chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally.

Direct Heat Method: This method may be used if chocolate is to be added to a batter (do not use for dipping or molding). Use very low, even heat. Stir constantly to avoid scorching. Remove from heat when small lumps remain and stir to complete melting.

Microwave Method: Using microwave safe container, place chocolate in microwave oven at medium power (50%) for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and stir. If not melted, return to microwave and repeat heating step, stirring every 30 seconds, as scorching can occur. When small lumps remain, remove and continue to stir to complete melting.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Ingredients:
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
2 TBS all-purpose flour

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Butter and slightly flour four 6 oz. ramekins. Tap out the excess flour. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.
2. In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, with the egg yolks, sugar, and salt at a high speed until thickened and pale.
3. Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Quickly fold it into the egg mixture along with the flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Chunk Blondie

Ingredients
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks, such as Nestle’s

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well, scraping down the bowl. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and with the mixer still on low, slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture. Fold the walnuts and chocolate chunks in with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes exactly. Don’t overbake! A toothpick may not come out clean. Cool completely in the pan and cut into bars.
2011, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved

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