Holiday Chocolate Sugar Cookies

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray.

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It’s time to start thinking about holiday baking, right? Thanksgiving is next week (GAH!), and yet I feel like school just started, summer just ended and the leaves just began to change. Now all of the sudden I’m looking out at leaf-free branches and we’re entering the last week of November. Yikes!

Holiday Cookie Baking

During the holidays my family has always made (and devoured) loads of cookies. It was a tradition growing up to go to my grandparents’ house and bake the same 4-5 different types of cookies with all the women of the family – grandmother, aunt, grand-kids, cousins. Great holiday memories!

Among the different types of cookies was a simple sugar cookie, rolled out and cut into traditional Christmas cookie shapes and then frosted with a quick homemade powdered sugar icing.

My baking style has always been no fuss, mostly because I don’t have the patience for how precarious some cake, cookie and dessert recipes can be. I love a simple recipe that can be transformed with a few minor adjustments, and so the basic sugar cookie recipe is a favorite of mine. With only 7 ingredients, most of which you probably have sitting in your pantry and fridge right now, it’s the queen of easy cookies (except for perhaps a shortbread cookie, which has maybe 3 ingredients).

Chocolate + Grapeseed Oil Spray?!?!

But what if we did something crazy like adding some cocoa powder? And, what if we substitute some of the butter with something like Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray?

pompeian grapeseed oil spray

It’s an all-natural cooking spray imported from FRANCE with a high smoke point. And for someone who’s notorious for burning the bottoms of cookies (okay, I don’t burn every batch, but usually at least one), I thought maybe this would help create a crisp cookie bottom, without the risk of burning.

Isn’t the color pretty?

pompeian grape seed oil spray

I used it for baking this time, but Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray is also great for sautéing, grilling and stir-frying. A plethora of uses!

Baking for Better Challenge

Pompeian and celebrity chef/executive chef Duff Goldman (of Charm City Cakes fame!) have teamed up to show Americans how to enhance their baking by using the new Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray – it’s called the Baking for Better Challenge. If you want to give it a whirl, you have until 11:59:59 PM EST on December 6, 2013. Just upload a photo to Instagram using the #Bake4Better hashtag, and  showcase how you’re giving your baked goods a tune-up using the new Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray. All the details can be found here.

The person with the most innovative photo (chosen by none other than chef Duff Goldman himself!!) will receive a $5,000 donation to a local food bank in their name. Nothing says “holiday spirit” than being able to help feed lots of hungry people! The winner also gets a super cool gift basket from Pompeian. Interested in some of chef Duff Goldman’s baking tips? You can download his TOP 5 right here. Enjoy!

Back to the cookies! Om-nom-nom….

Holiday Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Prep time
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Total time
  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup salted butter, room temp
  • ½ cup Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. Set it aside.
  3. In a large bowl with a mixer, cream together the butter, Grapeseed Oil Spray and sugar on medium-high for 3 minutes until it's smooth and creamy looking. Beat in the egg and vanilla, and mix for another minute. With the mixer on low, gradually beat in the dry ingredients until they're just combined - do not over mix. The dough will be kind of crumbly.
  4. Roll the dough into teaspoon-sized balls, and place them on ungreased cookie sheets, pressing down a bit to flatten. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they're no longer shiny and the centers are done. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheets for 1-2 minutes before transferring them to racks to cool completely.
  5. Makes about 32 cookies.


For the Baking for Better official rules, please visit  Coupons for Pompeian products can be found at

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray.
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Why is it called Boston Cream PIE?

Today happens to be National Boston Cream Pie Day, in case you didn’t already know. I love Boston Cream Pie, and all the different modern forms in which it’s crafted: cupcakes, donuts, mini cakes, etc.


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From chocolate ganache as a frosting and the simple yellow sponge cake layers, to the creamy vanilla custard filling, what’s not to love? My parents are big fans too, and Boston Cream Pie happens to be their wedding cake – a memory that’s extra special since this year marks 40 years of marriage for them!

why is it called boston cream pie


Why is it called Boston Cream PIE?

The question I’ve always had in the back of my mind every time I order a slice of Boston Cream Pie is this:

Why is it called Boston Cream PIE?

I mean, we’re talking about a dessert that is essentially a simple layered cake with custard spread in the middle. Nothing about that screams “PIE!” It doesn’t even look like a pie. It’s totally a cake. And for someone like me who shudders at the thought of a thick slathering of icing, this ganache-covered beauty is perfection.

And the custard, pudding, creamy vanilla-y inside?

Is it dessert time yet?

A brief and potentially inaccurate history lesson.

I decided to browse good ol’ Google to see if I could glean why this fabulous cake concoction has forever been branded a pie, and here some speculations I found – who knows if they’re true, but it’s better than nothing!

  • In the olden days (think New England colonies), families only used pie tins to bake. When this dessert was first crafted – as a pudding pie cake – it was made in a pie tin.
  • A New York newspaper first ran the recipe as Pudding Pie Cake back in 1855.
  • Armenian-French chef M. Sanzian was credited for creating the first Boston Cream Pie in 1856 at the Parker House Hotel.

Of the three, I’m inclined to believe the last one to be most true. Or at least most believable. Oh, who knows.

Why do YOU think it’s called Boston Cream PIE?

Rich & Chewy Cocoa Brownies

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A couple of years ago I discovered that making brownies from scratch was just as easy as making the boxed variety. I might even argue that “from scratch” is easier. Seems crazy, right?

Why make brownies from scratch?

YOU control the ingredients. Ever read the side of a brownie box? Chances are there’s at least one unpronounceable ingredient, which is totally avoidable by making them homemade. Plus, you can make them as organic as you want – organic flour, organic cocoa powder….you get my drift.

Homemade brownies have so few ingredients, I bet you already have them in your pantry and fridge. By making them from scratch, you never have to worry about keeping boxes on hand. Simply the ingredients, which can be used for lots of other recipes too. I love multi-tasking ingredients!

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Cocoa Powder FTW!

I rarely keep actual baking chocolate on hand (or chocolate chips, for that matter). I’m not much of a dessert maker, so I don’t waste the grocery budget on it. However, I do keep a container of cocoa powder in the pantry. It’s what I use to make homemade hot chocolate (1 tsp cocoa powder + 1 tsp granulated sugar + hot milk), and also what I’ve found works great in my brownies!


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Rich & Chewy Cocoa Brownies

My current favorite recipe for rich & chewy cocoa brownies is adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe for cocoa brownies. They’re SO rich that a little dab’ll do you, which is just how I like my brownies. I love heating them up for 10-15 seconds in the microwave (they get a little gooey) and then adding a scoop of ice cream on top – it’s the perfect night cap.


Rich & Chewy Cocoa Brownies
Prep time
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Total time
  • 1 tablespoon butter (softened for greasing the baking dish)
  • ⅛ cup flour (for dusting the baking dish)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1-1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8x8" glass baking dish.
  2. Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and whisk them for 3 minutes on medium-high, until they're light yellow and frothy. Add the sugar, and continue whisking for 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients, and continue whisking for 1 more minute.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and bake the brownies for 60 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean). Let the rich & chewy cocoa brownies cool completely before cutting them into small squares. In fact, refrigerating them for an hour before cutting is ideal!


Chocolate Lime Zucchini Bread

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It’s STILL zucchini season here. I mean, will the zucchini plants ever stop producing? Seems like the answer should be no, but we all know that in a few short weeks we’ll be reminiscing about the fresh veggies from mid to late summer – and, it seems, early fall.


After I scored the last bagful of zucchini from my parents’ farm, I decided to save the zucchini by freezing it, rather than bake it all into loaves and muffins. It was really easy too – no blanching involved! I simply peeled and shredded the zucchini, and then froze it in 2-cup batches (as flat as possible). Boo-yah!


Shredded zucchini thaws quickly, especially if you run it under warm water, and 2-cup portions are perfect for using in my zucchini bread recipe. This time, however, I decided to make zucchini bread with a twist…


chocolate lime zucchini bread, how to make zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini bread recipe, zucchini bread recipes

Chocolate Lime Zucchini Bread
Prep time
Cook time
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A twist on your standard zucchini bread - the chocolate makes it more of a dessert!
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Coat two large loaf pans with non-stick spray.
  3. Use a whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, leaving a well in the center.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, use a hand-held electric mixer to beat the eggs and oil together until they turn creamy. Add the sugar, lime juice, lime zest and vanilla, and continue beating for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and continue beating until they're just combined (the mixture will be thick!).
  6. Add the zucchini to the batter, and using the mixer on low, gently incorporate the two. The moisture from the zucchini should loosen up the batter.
  7. Mix in the chocolate chips, and then pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans.
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the chocolate lime zucchini bread loaves are golden and the top bounces back when you press gently.
  9. Let the loaves cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, and then remove them to continue cooling on a rack.
  10. If you plan on freezing these, let them cool completely and then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, follow by a zip-top freezer bag.

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