Ultra-Chocolatey Brownies with a Pretzel Crust and Salted Caramel Drizzle

Pretzel Brownies with Caramel Drizzle

Fudgy, ultra-chocolatey brownies kicked up with a salty pretzel crust and caramel drizzle. Want to win a bake off? This is your guy. 

Have you heard? Have you heard the news about Great British Bake-Off? Have you? Have you heard it? Of course you have, I imagine it’s all people are talking about down your way. It’s certainly all they’re talking about in our neck of the woods. Of course, the show is not technically ending, but it’s been bought by Channel 4 and won’t have Mel, Sue, or Mary, and will no doubt be presented by Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell and Paul Hollywood all exploding in an underground parking garage or something.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, bless your very face, and go and find an episode or three. It’s shown on PBS in the US, and they have to call it “The Great British Baking Show” because apparently Pillsbury has a legal lockdown on the term “Bake Off” and will send goons, floury goons, to give you a right drubbing should you flout compliance.

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Unbelievably Delicious Chocolate Babka

Unbelievably Delicious Chocolate Babka

Chocolate babka: a sweet bread treat made with enriched dough and layered with chocolate – a weekend project you’ll be glad you made.

Greetings, Easter (and Passover***) bunnies!

***This babka is leavened and therefore not suitable for Passover, if your family, unlike ours, cares about such things. Read Matt’s full, sincere and amusing apology at the bottom of the post.

It may have slipped out in the course of this blog that one of us is Jewish, and the other of us is English. These are not, frankly, genres that strike awe into the hearts of home chefs (although Nigella Lawson does pretty well for herself) . When our best friends in town got married, they catered the reception with dishes from Italy (his family heritage), and soul food from New Orleans (hers). It was awesome. A Jewish-British catered wedding? Maybe not so much.

An Easter/(not)Passover*** dessert option, though? Now you’re talking.

Unbelievably Delicious Chocolate Babka
This Babka is filled with rich, dark chocolate with just a hint of cinnamon.

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Bourbon Pumpkin Mousse Tart with Candied Pecans

A pumpkin tart covered in meringue cones

Bourbon Pumpkin Mousse Pie with Candied Pecans

Light and airy pumpkin mousse, with a good splash of bourbon, in a rich chocolate cookie shell topped with whipped cream swirls and crunchy candied pecans. Yeah, you need to make this. 

Wotcha! Very occasionally we at Nerd HQ rifle back through the posts of this blog and try to find ingredients which haven’t been well-represented. It being autumn, and almost Thanksgiving and all that, we thought – heck it, let’s do pumpkin. It’s been a while, right? And then we looked back through the archives and realized we’d actually never done anything bloggable with pumpkin. (I don’t mean “unbloggable” like we’d done weird, private things with pumpkins, you nutter. I just mean we hadn’t cooked anything and photographed it.)

Bourbon Pumpkin Mousse Pie with Candied Pecans

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Spicy Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Spicy Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Chili sweet potatoes are our go-to for a rainy fall weekend – we give you a few meat and meat-free options, but they’re all tasty.

I’m a film editor and several times over the span of my career, I’ve thought about moving from New York City where I was born, to Los Angeles. Many of my friends and colleagues have done it, and most of them love it there.

It’s so beautiful, they say. True, I’ve been and it’s very pretty. There’s a lot more work and for the price of a Brooklyn studio, you can buy a three bedroom house with an avocado tree in the back! All true and, yes, this makes me jealous. And the best part? It’s warm all the time and it never rains! Aaaaaand you’ve lost me. 

For me, one of the great joys of life is feeling the crisp, cool air of Fall. When the weather turns it feels like a shock, every time. Even better if that cool air comes with a blustery rain storm. The type of weather that practically forces you to cook something warm and comforting. To stay home and watch movies or play video games all day. (Nerd note: Matt and I are re-playing “The Last of Us” and, oh my god, it’s so good).

When I heard it was going to turn cold and rainy last weekend, I knew right away what I wanted to make; spicy chili with all sorts of yummy toppings stuffed inside a baked sweet potato.

Chili Spices
The chili is flavored with cumin, two types of chili powder, jalapeños, garlic and dark chocolate. Also maple syrup and beer, not shown.

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Five-Layer Magic Bars

Five-Layer Magic Bars

Five-layer magic bars made with coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and toasted pecans held together by condensed milk on a graham cracker crust.

I sometimes have a tricky time starting these posts, and true to form, for this recipe I got stuck on the very first word of the post title. FIVE-layer magic bars. Is it really five layers? Or is it three? Or four? Honesty in cooking is pretty important, right? There are certainly more than (but not MUCH more than) five ingredients, and you do assemble the bars in neat layers, so really, it can be as many layers as YOU think it is. Or you can just make them and not worry too much about it.

We made these to take to a local bake sale last weekend called For Goodness Bake. This is the third year that it has been organized, and each year the proceeds go to a different worthy local cause. This year it was the Green Teens, an offshoot of the Cornell Cooperative Extension which teaches farming, gardening and other food-related skills to local teenagers.

Five-Layer Magic Bars

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Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Guys.

Guuuuuuuuuuys.

I just can’t with this cake.

LOOK AT IT!

Is this not the most delightfully bonkers looking cake you’ve ever seen? Hello? Are you listening to me? You’re hypnotized, aren’t you? It’s okay, I get it.

*SNAP*

Welcome back. You can put your shoes back on now and I’ll just hand you back your wallet. Ahem.

Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Last week, when my oldest and dearest friend Heather decided to come up and hang out with us for her birthday, Matt and I knew we wanted to make something really special for her. Her birthday also happens to fall on Valentines Day so instead of going out to an overpriced restaurant, we decided to Nerd it up at home and go ALL OUT.

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