the baker upstairs: November 2016

11.21.2016

Homemade White Hot Chocolate

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This homemade white hot chocolate is velvety smooth and so rich and delicious!

It's Thanksgiving week! Are you ready for the big day? To be honest, this Thanksgiving is going to be a weird one for my family. Usually we do a 5k with my family in the morning, have brunch at my parents' house, and then do dinner with my husband's family. This year, though, we are 700+ miles away from both sides of our family, and my husband will be working the night before. So I'll be cooking dinner for just the four of us and trying to wrangle the kiddos while he sleeps in the morning. It turns out that making new traditions is a little harder than I had thought! I've never made a whole Thanksgiving dinner before, so I'm kind of looking forward to the challenge, but I'll definitely miss joking around with my siblings and eating my sister-in-law's fabulous pie this year.

Thanksgiving always feels a little like the calm before the storm to me. Things are still pretty laid back, everyone is enjoying their time together, and we haven't slipped into the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season yet. I'm looking forward to a fun, leisurely meal with my little family this week before we start getting excited about Christmas. This homemade white hot chocolate is the perfect after dinner treat to start that transition! It's fun and festive, and warm and flavorful. It's beautifully rich and smooth, and so delicious! We'll be enjoying ours with a slice of marionberry pie on the side, and (with any luck) a fire in the hearth. Hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and laughter (and a little hot chocolate on the side, too!).

This homemade white hot chocolate is velvety smooth and so rich and delicious!
White Hot Chocolate

for the hot chocolate:
3 cups milk
1 cup half and half or heavy cream
8 ounces good quality white chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt

for serving (optional):
whipped cream, marshmallows, sprinkles

Add all ingredients to a medium pot over medium heat. Heat, whisking frequently, until the chocolate chips have melted and the hot chocolate is smooth. Do not allow the hot chocolate to boil. Serve warm with whipped cream or marshmallows and enjoy!

This homemade white hot chocolate is velvety smooth and so rich and delicious!

11.18.2016

S'mores Brownies

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These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!

These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but my husband's new job is all night shifts. We've both done plenty of night shifts since becoming nurses, but neither of us has ever had a job that was exclusively nights. There are definitely some benefits to working night shifts - higher pay, more flexibility in his schedule, and some good friends he's made who work the same shift. At the same time, though, it is rough having him on a different schedule than the rest of the family for half of the week. He generally schedules all his shifts together so that we can have a better work-life balance as a family, and that really helps. By the time that third shift rolls around, though, he's usually pretty tired, so I try to send him with a treat to share to give him and his co-workers a little boost. I sent these amazing s'mores brownies to work with him last week, and they were a huge hit! They're so rich and decadent, so ooey-gooey and super flavorful!

These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!

It's well known that I love anything s'mores flavored, but these brownies are probably my favorite s'mores creation ever. You could obviously make them with a boxed mix instead of my homemade rich and fudgy brownie base, but the extra effort is definitely worth it.

These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!

Just a note - I think it's much easier to cut them if you let them cool completely, then chill them in the fridge for about thirty minutes. The marshmallows end up pretty sticky, so it's hard to cut through them when they're warm. I chilled them and then used a pizza cutter to cut them, and it worked perfectly. Happy baking!
S'mores Brownies

for the brownies:
1 cup butter
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 extra-large eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups all-purpose flour

for topping:
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped graham crackers
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Hershey bar, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with foil or parchment and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in chocolate chips, and melt, stirring frequently. When there are no more lumps, remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Fold in cocoa powder, salt, and flour, and mix until barely combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted one inch from the side of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and sprinkle with marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate chips, and Hershey's pieces. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes, or until the marshmallows are browned and the chocolate is melty. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.
These luscious and decadent s'mores brownies are out of this world amazing!

11.17.2016

Braided Sweet Bread

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This soft and sweet braided bread is simple and easy to make, and so delicious!

This soft and sweet braided bread is simple and easy to make, and so delicious!

A few weeks ago my husband and I were doing our weekly trip to Trader Joe's to stock up on lunchbox favorites like apples, string cheese, and cat crackers. While perusing the bakery section, I happened on a loaf of apple cinnamon swirl bread and of course had to try it (it was delicious, by the way). When we went to check out, the checker looked at the loaf, sighed, and said, "I'd love to buy this, but we just don't eat enough bread at my house to make it worth the money."

Wait - what?!? I was honestly shocked. I mean, I can't imagine a world without bread! As far as I'm concerned, bread is what makes the world go round. I think I have more bread recipes on the blog than any other category of food (except possibly cookies?), and today is National Homemade Bread Day! What better day to share this deliciously soft and sweet braided bread recipe with you?

This soft and sweet braided bread is simple and easy to make, and so delicious!

This bread is so simple and tastes amazing! It's a little sweeter than a normal loaf of bread, and we love using it to make french toast, or just smothering it in butter and jam. If you're intimidated by braiding the bread, don't be! It's totally easy and much less complicated than, say, braiding a squirming five year old's hair (not that I would know from experience or anything). This recipe makes two loaves, but don't expect them to stick around very long... they're so delicious that they'll disappear in no time!

This soft and sweet braided bread is simple and easy to make, and so delicious!
Braided Sweet Bread

1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
4 - 5 cups flour

for the egg wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of sugar. Let sit 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Add the remaining sugar, egg, butter, salt, and 3 cups flour. Mix until combined. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough forms a soft ball that is just slightly sticky to the touch. Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for one hour.

When the dough has risen, gently punch it down and divide in half. Divide each half into three equal pieces, then roll each piece into a rope, about 16 inches long. Braid the three strands together, tuck the ends under, and place the braid on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Let rise 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Whisk together the egg and water. Brush the egg mixture over the top of each braid. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm with butter and jam.
This soft and sweet braided bread is simple and easy to make, and so delicious!

For more delicious homemade bread recipes, check out these favorites from my food blogger friends!

21 fantastic and delicious homemade bread recipes from your favorite food bloggers!

Overnight Refrigerator Rolls from Real Mom Kitchen
Dutch Apple Bread from Butter with a Side of Bread
100% Whole Wheat Rolls from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
One Hour Cinnamon Rolls from Creations by Kara
Potato Rolls from Like Mother Like Daughter
Make Ahead Potato Crescent Rolls from Yummy Healthy Easy
15 Minute Cream Biscuits from Real Mom Kitchen
Easy Cheesy Breadsticks from Butter with a Side of Bread
Homemade Croissants from Ashlee Marie
Lime Sweet Rolls from Creations by Kara
Sky High Buttermilk Biscuits from Life Made Simple
Honey Wheat Bread from Like Mother Like Daughter

and these homemade bread recipes from The Baker Upstairs:


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