Cocoa Nib Brownies

Cocoa Nibs + Brownies
As a dietitian, I value eating healthy. Luckily, part of eating healthy is indulging every once and a while. These brownies are my go-to when I want something sweet and delicious. The only thing healthy about these brownies is how happy you will feel when you eat them. I’ve made these brownies for a couple of gatherings over the past few months and they have caused the same reaction – everyone asks me for the recipe! So I’m here to share my recipe to ensure you always end up with the most decadent fudge-y brownies; completed with a glossy, sugar topping. Trust me, you don’t need icing, they are rich enough on their own.

Three different types of chocolate go into creating the wonderful balance in this recipe – dark cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and crunchy cocoa nibs.

Cocoa Nibs

Cocoa nibs are roasted cocoa beans which have been chopped into small pieces.  They are bitter and crunchy and are great as a topping on yogurt or oatmeal (chocolate oatmeal – yes please!). My preference is to surround them in this rich brownie batter.  Cocoa nibs are more of a specialty item, so if you have trouble finding them you can always substitute chopped walnuts or pecans to add a similar texture.

The recipe is really easy to put together as it’s all made in one pot. You start by melting the butter and sugar together; this is the secret to achieving that beautiful crispy top sugar layer. After the sugar starts to dissolve you will need to let mixture cool down slightly before you add the eggs. Nobody wants scrambled eggs in their brownies.

Finally, whatever you do, DO NOT OVERCOOK the brownies.  This is how you achieve that fudge-y, almost truffle-like texture. No cake brownies here. You’ll know the brownies are ready when the edges are puffed and set, but the centre should still be gooey.

You will need to be patient and let the brownies cool and have a chance to set before you try to cut into them. Waiting for them to cool is the hardest part, but a very necessary step. Cutting them too soon will leave you with a brownie disaster on your hands.   These brownies are rich so I usually cut them into smaller, bite-sized pieces, but most people go back for seconds!


Cocoa Nibs Brownies


Cocoa Nib Brownies

Recipe by Kirsten.  Makes one 9×13 pan.


1 cup of butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cocoa nibs


1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper or foil.
2. In a large sauce pan, melt butter and sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar starts to dissolve, about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside to cool while you gather the other ingredients.
3. Add one egg at a time to the sugar/butter mixture, and stir after each addition. Next stir in the vanilla and cocoa powder until you get a glossy and smooth batter.
4. Into the chocolate mixture add the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir until you get a smooth, lump free mixture. Then stir in the chocolate chips and cocoa nibs (or nuts if using).
5. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared 9×13 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
6.  Allow brownies to cool and set before cutting. Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

If you’re in need of an easy, ultra decadent, no-bake dessert I have the perfect recipe for you.  I made this dessert for a good friend’s birthday and everyone asked me to share the recipe, so here it is.  It’s almost embarrassing how simple it is to prepare.  Basically you throw all the ingredients together in a food processor and then pour into a pre-baked graham cracker crust.  The hardest part is probably waiting for the pie to set.  If you don’t have a blender/food processor you can always whisk the ingredients together by hand, but it may take a little while longer.

This pie filling has a surprise ingredient…..silken tofu! But trust me, you won’t be able to taste the tofu at all, so all you tofu haters out there please don’t stop reading here. Tofu’s flavour is fairly neutral and in this recipe it helps create a wonderful silky smooth texture, and helps the filling keep it’s shape.

This is a very rich dessert so a small piece will usually suffice. I think next time I’ll top it with some chopped peanuts for an added crunch or maybe some sliced bananas.

Chocolate Peanut Butter (Tofu) Pie

Serves 12+ people.

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted butter

1 300g package silken (or soft) tofu
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Prepare the crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs with melted butter.  Stir until evenly mixed.  Press into a 9 inch spring form pan or pie dish making sure to create a crust up the sides to hold the filling.
2. Bake crust at 375F for 8-10 minutes of until edges start to brown.  Set aside to cool.
3. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring frequently until completed melted.
4. Prepare the filling in your food processor by mixing the silken tofu and maple syrup together.  Blend on high for 1-2 minutes.  Next add peanut butter and melted chocolate and salt.  Mix on high for another 1-2 minutes or until evenly mixed
5. Poor filling into the cooled crust, smooth top with the back of a spatula, and place in fridge for at least 1 hour to allow the filling to set.
6. This pie can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.


Whole Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cranberries and Toffee

This is going to be a big year for me.  I’m running my first 10 km race, writing an exam, and getting married! But right now, I’m taking a break from all the studying/wedding planning/training to share this delicious cookie recipe with you. I can confidently say that these are the BEST oatmeal cookies; I know it’s a bold statement but these cookies are deserving of the title.  The recipe starts out with a basic oatmeal cookie recipe, to which I’ve added, tart dried cranberries, bittersweet chocolate chips, and finally toffee pieces to make them a truly delicious and addictive cookie.  

The secret for achieving super chewy cookies is to take them out of the oven when the cookies are just starting to brown on the edges and are still doughy in the middle. Allow the cookies to set on the cookie sheet for a least 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. The cookies will continue to bake and firm up on the cookie sheet, so don’t worry if they look underdone when you pull them out of the oven.

These cookies can be frozen after baking, but I prefer to freeze the raw cookie dough into balls and keep them in a freezer safe bag. That way I can make freshly baked gooey cookies whenever I need them – say if I need a quick dessert to bring to a pot-luck or if unexpected guests show up. It also helps with portion control. Most cookie recipes have quite large yields and with just two of us at home we don’t need 2-3 dozen cookies tempting us on the counter!  When ready to bake, simply place the frozen cookie dough balls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and allow them to thaw on the counter for 5-10 minutes. Cook at the same temperature and for the same amount of time as the original recipe.

The Best Oatmeal Cookies

Aka Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cranberries and Toffee.
Recipe by Kirsten, makes ~3 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal – I used a combination of quick and large flake oatmeal
1 ½ cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup toffee bits
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Beat butter with brown and white sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until combined.
  4. Add oatmeal, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, beat until well combined.
  5. By hand stir in chocolate chips, dried cranberries and toffee pieces.
  6. Portion dough into 1 ½ inch balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet, ensuring you leave about 2 inches between cookies to allow the cookies to spread out.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until cookies are brown on the edges and just starting to get golden on top.
  8. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes.

Raw cookie dough ready for the oven (or freezer!).

Oatmeal Walnut Thumbprint Cookies

These cookies hold so many special memories for me. My mom originally cut this recipe out of a Family Circle magazine over 20 years ago and it’s been a staple on our Christmas baking list ever since. The original recipe called for butter-flavoured vegetable shortening, but I prefer to use the real stuff – butter!

The base is a crispy oatmeal cookie, coated in chopped walnuts and topped with a dollop of jam. They truly are a perfect holiday treat. Any flavour of jam works, so choose your favourite – this year I used some homemade raspberry and marmalade jam.

I usually make most of my holiday baking well before Christmas and keep it in the freezer.  That way I can pull out small amounts at a time, and the rest stays safely in the freezer.  To store these cookies, simple arrange in a single layer between wax or parchment paper and freeze in airtight containers or freezer bags. They are ready to eat straight out of the freezer and are delicious dunked in a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Oatmeal Walnut Thumbprint Cookie

Makes 3 dozen

1 1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cup oatmeal (rolled or quick oats)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup finely  chopped walnuts
2/3 cup jam


1. Preheat over to 375F
2. Cream together butter and sugar, then beat in egg and vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl combined flour, oatmeal and salt. Mix into wet ingredients until well incorporated.
4. Form dough into 1″ balls and roll in chopped nuts.  Place 2″ apart on an un-greased cookie sheet.
5. Using your thumb make an indent in the centre of each ball of dough, fill 3/4 of the way with jam – I used 1/2 teaspoon of jam per cookie.
6. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges are brown. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Gingersnap Pumpkin Ice Cream Cake

Gingersnap Pumpkin Ice Cream Cake {by breaking bland eats}

I am very fortunate to have a close extended family that gets together every few weeks for family dinner.  I usually bring dessert, one because I love to bake, and two I get to test out new recipes without having tons of leftovers tempting us at home.  I’m sure my family doesn’t mind being guinea pigs!

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving a week early and instead of the traditional pumpkin pie I decided to make a pumpkin ice cream cake. Don’t get me wrong I love pumpkin pie; there is something so comforting about pumpkin combined with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger.  This ice cream cake has all of these traditional flavours but the addition of ice cream and a gingersnap crust makes for a refreshing finish to your Thanksgiving meal.

It comes together easily, requires no baking, and can be made days in advance.  I recommend making it at least a day ahead so it has time to freeze.   Make sure you look for 100% pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling, and a good quality ice cream.  When ready to serve simply take out of the freezer for about 15 minutes then slice with a sharp knife, running knife under warm water between slices.

So what are you making for Thanksgiving this weekend? May I suggest this super simple pumpkin ice cream cake?


Gingersnap Pumpkin Ice Cream Cake

makes one 10-inch springform pan, enough for 16+ people, recipe by Kirsten.

2 cups of gingersnap crumbs (I used a 250g package of cookies and blended them in a food processor)
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons white sugar

1 – 796ml can pure pumpkin puree
1.65L container vanilla ice cream, softened
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
¼ cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup slightly crushed gingersnap cookies

1 cup of pecans for garnish (optional).


  1. Take ice cream out of the freezer and leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or until softened but not completed melted.
  2. Lin a 10-inch springform pan with parchment or wax paper.  To make the crust combine gingersnap crumbs, melted butter and sugar, press into a 10-inch spring form pan and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix together pumpkin puree, spices and brown sugar.  Once ice cream is soft enough stir into pumpkin mixture until well combined.
  4. Add ½ of the pumpkin ice cream on top of the gingersnap crust and then sprinkle with crushed cookies and chopped pecans.  Top with remaining pumpkin ice cream.
  5. Garnish with pecans and cover with tin foil.  Freeze for at least 24 hours.
  6. Take out ice cream cake 15 minutes before serving and run knife under warm water between slices.

Gingersnap Pumpkin Ice Cream Cake {by breaking bland eats}

Peach Crumble Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

Peach Pie

With autumn just around the corner many people are mourning the end of summer. On the other hand, even though I love summer, I look forward to autumn each year; not only can I start wearing boots and scarves again but also my apartment finally cools down enough for me to use my oven! For those of you who are dreading the transition here is one of my favourite summer desserts to ease the pain.

This is not your ordinary peach pie. It has all the traditional components, but the addition of an oat crumble and salted caramel really elevates this dessert and makes it something truly special. For even more of an indulgence you could always add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I mean what’s pie without ice cream?

This caramel recipe is by far the easiest version I have come across in my recipe travels. It doesn’t require a thermometer and you can use milk or cream with equal success. It’s delicious on freshly baked pies, ice cream or licked directly off the spoon. It’s also highly addictive so you’ve been warned…

peach pie

Peach Crumble Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

Single Crust Pastry Dough:
1 ¼ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
½ cup chilled butter
3-5 tablespoons ice cold water

For the Filling:
6-8 large peaches, enough to make 8 cups of sliced peaches
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon

For the Crumble:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cup old fashion rolled oats

Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup heavy cream or milk
1 teaspoon salt


Make the Dough:
1. Mix together flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in butter either by hand or with a food processor.
2. Slowly add 3 tablespoons of water and stir until just combined; do not overwork the dough or you will end up with tough pastry. Once you’ve added the water squeeze a small amount of the dough to test whether it holds together in a ball. If not then add more water one tablespoon at a time.
3. Form pastry into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Make the Filling:
1. Slice pieces into ½ inch pieces and place in a large bowl.
2. Add flour, brown sugar , cinnamon. Stir until combined then set aside.

Make Crumble:
1. Cream together room temperature butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
2. Stir in flour and oats. Set aside.

Assemble the pie:
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into a 12 inch circle. Place in a 9-inch deep pie plate leaving dough hanging over the rim. Crimp the edges.
3. Add peach filling then top evenly with crumb topping.
4. Bake for 60-75 minutes, allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.

Make the Caramel Sauce
1. While the pie cooks, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened to desired consistency.

If you are lucky to have leftover pie store it at room temperature for up to two days. Extra caramel sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to one week. Enjoy!