valentines day

Skillet Brownie w/Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream

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Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream: This chocolatey skillet brownie is super easy to make and even easier to eat! Fudgy and filled with all the chocolate, then topped with a decadent dark chocolate espresso whipped cream, this is a dessert perfect to make and share with your loved ones!  

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre DolceHappy Friday and happy start of the weekend! Today, I’m going to get right down to business; brownie business, that is.

Valentine’s Day is 4 days away, tomorrow is 24 hours away (actually, it’s technically 7…), and be it for VD or tomorrow or next week, you need this skillet brownie and the whipped cream that accompanies it in your life. It’s chocolatey, espresso-y, chewy (< in a good way!), easy, fudgy, and there is absolutely no reason for you not to make it. No reason whatsoever – unless you happen to not like brownies, which in that case you may kindly leave the premises. Just kidding, I have plenty of non brownie desserts – but seriously though?

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre DolceBrownies are my go-to for comfort food. And I will even admit that the most comforting part about them is the process of mixing up the batter then licking the bowl, spatula, and anything with brownie batter remnants. If you’re laughing, I have nothing to say in my defense; I am completely guilty.

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre DolceAnother comfort food for me is skillet desserts, primarily cookies or brownies. There’s the anticipation of eating them warm, along with the way they just beckon for ice cream and chocolate sauce to be piled on top. Or whipped cream; like this chocolate espresso whipped cream.

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre Dolce I suppose you could say I’m in a mini espresso kick, but really I will take any chance to add espresso powder (or coffee granules if EP is not on hand) to a dessert. It can add so much to a recipe. However, not everyone may be a fan. So if you’re that person, I have good news: feel free to leave out the espresso in the whipped cream. It will taste decadent enough on it’s own, I assure you.

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre Dolce

Something else I ♥ about brownies – pardon all the love speak but it is the time for this, right? – is that they are super easy and quick to whip up, making them the perfect antidote to any sudden dessert cravings. This recipe only requires 8 ingredients, all of which you most likely have on hand. These ingredients are:

1.) Butter
2.) Sugar
3.) Vanilla
4.) Eggs
5.) Flour
6.) Salt
7.) Cocoa
8.) Chocolate Chips

If you do not have any of these ingredients on hand, this is where I draw the line and must inform you that we can’t be friends. (I will only make an exception on the grounds that maybe you haven’t been to the grocery store this week.) But I trust that since you are on this site, chances are pretty good that you have these essentials for life sitting around somewhere, amiright?

Something else you will need that you may or may not have is a cast iron or ovenproof skillet. If you do not have one, don’t fret, as you can make the brownie in a 10”round cake pan instead. I’ve done this with a skillet cookie and it turned out perfectly fine.

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre Dolce

Here’s hoping your weekend is filled with all sorts of fun and leisure, and your Valentine’s Day with skillet brownies, peanut butter cheesecakes, and other things sweet and chocolatey!!

Cottura Felice!

Skillet Brownie w/Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream
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  • ¾ C. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 ¼ C. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C. + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt (sea or table salt is fine too)
  • 1 ¼ C. dark chocolate chips (you can also use semi-sweet)
  • Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream:
  • 1 C. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. dark or regular unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1 tsp. Espresso powder or coffee granules


    For the Brownie:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. and spray a 10” cast iron skillet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until combined.
  3. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until blended.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, and salt.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula to combine. Then stir in ¾ C. chocolate chips.
  6. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan and sprinkle remaining ½ C. chocolate chips over top.
  7. Bake for 35-38 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs when inserted.
  8. While brownie is baking, make whipped cream.
  9. Once brownies are done baking, transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for about 20 minutes or until desired serving temperature. You definitely want to eat this warm, but not hot.
  10. For the Whipped Cream:
  11. To the bowl of a stand mixer, add heavy whipping cream, vanilla, sugar, cocoa, and espresso powder and whisk briefly to combine.
  12. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in freezer, along with whisk attachment, for 30 minutes, at least.
  13. Once chilled, beat on high speed using the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. (See note below!)
  14. Transfer whipped cream to a serving bowl.
  15. Serve brownies warm, with chocolate espresso whipped cream and chocolate sauce (if desired) for topping. Plain whipped cream and ice cream also make wonderful toppings.


If you have beat whipped cream for a few minutes and it’s still a bit runny, place bowl back in freezer for about 10 minutes, then beat again until you reach stiff peaks.


Brownie & Whipped Cream adapted from allrecipes.


Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

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Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes: These cheesecakes are about as good as they come in so small a size. Consisting of four(!) different layers – double chocolate crust, a layer of ganache, peanut butter cheesecake, and topped with an espresso-infused ganache – this is a treat you won’t want to miss!

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre DolceHey, February, why do you always take so long to get here? Nothing against you personally January, but you’re kind of a long month.

The rest of the year can fly by just like that, but it seems like time makes up for its yearly absence in January. Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I the only one who by the third week just wants to get to February already?

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre DolceOK, now let’s talk about Valentine’s Day. I must confess to this not being one of my favorite holidays and I’m not sure why, it just doesn’t thrill me a whole lot. I mean, even the candy options aren’t good, IMO. Wait, please tell me you measure your holidays by candy too?

Since Valentine’s Day is coming whether I like it or not, I figured I should probably get with the program and offer some treats appropriate for the occasion.

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre DolceThat said, I am super excited to share this recipe with you! These cheesecakes are a peanut butter and chocolate lover’s paradise. There’s a lot of palatable goodness packed into such a small size: first, you have the crust which consists of not only chocolate graham crackers, but also chopped chocolate as well! Then there’s the ganache layer – I’m totally drooling right now – followed by the most lovely accompaniment of peanut butter cheesecake and then finished with an espresso-infused ganache topping.

Do I have your attention?

Another thing to love about these Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes is not only the obvious (hello? peanut butter + chocolate x 3??), but they are perfect for VD (gimme one of these and I’ll love you for life) as well as any other time of year. They are also great for gatherings (I hear the Super Bowl is coming up), etc.

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre Dolce

Don’t you just love multi-purpose desserts?

If you take a quick glance at the recipe, it may seem a bit daunting. But really the hardest part about this recipe is in the waiting. Trust me, you can make these – I have faith! And when it comes to the waiting? Well, all I can say is hang in there. Perhaps dip some graham crackers into leftover ganache?

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre Dolce

Whatever it takes.

Peanut butter desserts can often lend themselves to being very rich, which usually means smaller portions (not so bad, I suppose). However, while these are indeed rich, they are just the right size making for a pleasurable indulgence but without being overboard.

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre Dolce

Cottura Felice!

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes
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  • 9 chocolate graham cracker sheets
  • 3 oz (½ C.) chopped bittersweet chocolate (or bittersweet choc. chips)
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 4 ½ tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • Ganache Layer
  • ½ C. heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream)
  • 8 oz (1 ⅓ C.) chopped bittersweet chocolate (or bittersweet choc. chips)
  • Cheesecake Layer
  • 6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ C. peanut butter
  • ¼ C. + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ⅓ C. sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Ganache Topping
  • ¼ C. heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream)
  • ¾ C. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or bittersweet)
  • 2 tsp. espresso powder or coffee granules, optional


  1. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin lightly with baking spray (or line with paper liners) and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, blend together chocolate graham crackers, chopped chocolate, and brown sugar until ground into fine crumbs.
  3. Pour melted butter in a steady stream and continue to process until the crumbs begin to stick together. You may need to scrape the bowl a couple of times to ensure that the butter gets thoroughly combined.
  4. Place about 2 tbsp. of crust into each muffin cup. Using your fingers, press and spread crusts evenly over the bottom of each cup.
  5. Place in freezer while preparing ganache layer.
  6. Ganache Layer:
  7. Place cream in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  8. Remove pan from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate until mixture is completely smooth.
  9. Remove crusts from freezer and pour about 1 tbsp. of ganache over each crust and spread. You will probably have some ganache leftover - I will leave what becomes of it to your discretion (eating it with a spoon or dipping in graham crackers is totally allowed in my book). ;)
  10. Return to freezer to chill while making cheesecake layer, at least 15 minutes.
  11. Cheesecake Layer:
  12. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  13. In a medium/large sized mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer (or you can use a stand mixer, but I think the handheld might be better in this case), beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, and granulated sugar until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
  14. Mix in sour cream and then the eggs, one at a time.
  15. Beat in vanilla and mix until smooth.
  16. Remove crusts from freezer and divide cheesecake batter evenly between the crusts.
  17. Bake cheesecakes for 25 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch and tops appear dry.
  18. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for about 45 minutes then transfer to fridge.
  19. Allow to chill in fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably 3-4+ hours.
  20. Ganache Topping:
  21. Place chocolate chips and espresso powder/coffee granules in a small bowl.
  22. Heat cream in a small microwave safe dish/bowl/cup for about 30 seconds.
  23. Pour over chocolate chips and let sit for about 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
  24. Run a small knife (a grapefruit knife works well, if you have one) around the edges of each cheesecake and transfer to a serving plate or platter.
  25. Top each cheesecake with ganache and gently spread, leaving some room on the sides. I would say use probably no more than 1 tbsp. of ganache on each cheesecake. You may end up with a little extra ganache - I won’t judge if you use the rest of it on your own personal cheesecake…
  26. Place cheesecakes in fridge for about 30 minutes to allow ganache to set (alternately, you can freeze for 15 minutes for speedier ganache setting). Keep in fridge until ready to serve.


You probably noticed in the photos the powdered sugar dusting the cheesecakes? I’m sorry to say I did that purely for photography purposes (shame on me, I know) and wouldn’t recommend actually doing it, as it will seep into the ganache topping. If you do, please dust right before (and I mean right before) serving. :)


Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen


A Valentine Post For You!

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Sempre_Dolche 2014_0214 B+WHappy Valentines Day!

I must confess that Valentine’s Day has never been the #1 holiday on my list (nor no. 2 or 3, for that matter); in fact, every year around Christmastime I dread it. Why? Maybe because in that moment I can’t imagine a holiday as wonderful as Christmas; after which the long, dreary months of January and February seem intolerable. Anyway, that said, when it rolls around each year I always like it in the end – probably because Christmas is well over with and Valentine’s Day is the only thing to look forward to in the dead of winter. (actually the dead of winter was back at the end of January in my opinion)


Enough of the babble.

To celebrate I made a menu to cause a heart attack (I’m giving an ode to vegetables at lunch).  I’m not going to go into details or list every recipe (maybe some other time? Like when I share what I made for dessert…) but out of all of the meals, why not share breakfast?

This morning I made doughnuts. Fried doughnuts. Enter first heart attack… I know, baked is healthier and can taste just as good as fried – I know this because my brother makes the meanest chocolate baked doughnuts. But every once in a while you just get the urge to try something different and go all out. The last time I got this urge was back in the fall, when in an attempt to find a doughnut that tasted as heavenly as the ones you can get at Clyde’s Cider Mill in Connecticut, I made apple cider doughnuts. I was a little wary of frying doughnuts, but I was determined to give it a try. In short, the frying experience went well with no major mishaps and the doughnuts tasted delish (although still not like the melt in your mouth experience one gets from going to Clyde’s), so I decided to again try my hand at it. I visited my absolute favorite place to find a good recipe, TasteSpotting, and began the search for doughnuts. Here is what I came up with. Since they were just plain doughnuts I wanted a variety and so made various toppings. Cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, and glaze are what made it on the tops (and sides and bottoms) of my doughnuts this A.M. They turned out great! I was a little curious as to how they would turn out since I (1.) halved the recipe, ( 2. ) didn’t have cardamon so added cinnamon instead,  and ( 3. ) put them in the fridge overnight and then brought them out in the morning to rise. I was also a little worried because this is the second time that when I’ve put dough in the fridge and put it out in the morning to rise, it didn’t seem to do its thing. I pressed on, made the dough balls and let them rise some more. Not much more rising occurred. I pressed on still,  poked holes in the middle, and shaped them into doughnuts. Okay, by this time I was thinking we were going to have mini doughnuts for breakfast. Finally the moment arrived. I heated up the oil and then 1,2,3 plopped them in! IMG_9523

Do you know what happened? They were frying beautifully and puffing up –  they were, in fact, turning into… doughnuts! Sigh of relief. After each one, I let them cool (1 minute? You still want them warm) before coating.

Then an even bigger moment arrived. Note: by this time, my siblings were looking like ravenous beasts ready to devour anything – just kidding.

The first bite. Ahhh…

Thus ends my second (but not final) venture of frying doughnuts, and with that I want to thank Home Style and Cuisine for this wonderful recipe that we enjoyed very much, and bid you a very Happy Valentine’s Day – cottura felice!

Ingredients (35-40 doughnuts):

2 cups milk 1.76 oz (50 g) fresh yeast or 56 oz (16 g) dry yeast 2/3 cups sugar 1 tablespoon cardamom (may be left out) 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 1/2 cup melted butter about 6 cups all-purpose flourSempre_Dolche 2014_0214 B+W-7


  1. In a large bowl slightly warm up the milk (about 37 degrees C or 98.6 degrees F). Add the yeast and mix until it has dissolved in the milk.

  2. Add the sugar, cardamom, salt, eggs and melted butter into the milk and yeast mixture.

  3. Knead the dough by slowly adding the flour. Knead until the point where the dough does not stick to the walls of the bowl.

  4. Cover the dough with a piece of cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

  5. Place the dough on a surface covered with flour, and slightly knead it again in order to get the possible bubbles of air out of the dough. Make small balls from the dough (about 2 ½ inches or 6-7cm in diameter) and leave them to rise under a piece of cloth for about 30 minutes.

  6. Use your finger to pierce the ball in the center and by spinning it around your two fingers make the hole larger.

  7. In a large casserole bring an appropriate amount of oil to a temperature of 170-180 degrees C (340-350 degrees F) and cook the doughnuts for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Place the cooked doughnuts on paper towel in order to drain the excess oil.

  8. When the doughnuts have cooled enough, coat them on both sides with sugar. And voilà!, we have made sugar-coated doughnuts.

delicious doughnutsAlso, you can make glazed doughnuts.

In order to prepare the sugar icing, you will need to mix together 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar) and 6 tablespoons of berry juice. Cover the doughnuts with the icing. I covered one of my doughnuts with it in order to show you how it looks like.

Tip: Note that the doughnuts can become stale after one day. However, you can “freshen them up” a little by simply putting them in the microwave for a few seconds.