Mexican Mocha Biscotti

I recently found out that I'm allergic to a lot of things.  Pretty much all of the great outdoors are now trying to kill me, and when I seek shelter in my house, I now have dogs and dust to contend with.  Needless to say since the weather has broken, I've been miserable.  Getting through the day and doing the things I have to do is an accomplishment.  That is why dear reader, I'm finally posting this recipe today because look what Mother Nature has brought:

Sweet, sweet relief!  I'm going to get a million things done today!  You are on my priority list.

These Mexican Mocha Biscotti are the perfect accompaniment with tea and coffee of course, but the flavor combinations in them make these cookies irresistable and you'll keep nibbling long after you've finished your tea.

Mexican Mocha Biscotti

-1 1/2 c. A.P. flour
-1 Tbsp. espresso powder
-1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
-1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temp.
-1 c. sugar
-2 large eggs
-2/3 c. chopped pecans, toasted
-2/3 c. mini chocolate chips
-2/3 c. cinnamon chips

Toast pecans in a skillet on the stove top over medium-low heat.  Tossing occasionally to prevent scorching.  Toast until nuts darken some and give off a warm, nutty aroma.  Remove from heat and place in a separate bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon, & salt.  Add the cornmeal and whisk again.  Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes-until smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time, and continue to beat.  Stop occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl down.  Beat for 2 minutes.

Turn mixer to low and slowly add dry ingredients.  Mix only until just incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl, then toss in nuts, cinnamon, and chocolate chips.  Mix on low until just blended into dough.

Separate dough in half and place each half onto the prepared baking sheet.  Using your hands, mold into logs that are 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.  Bake dough for 30 minutes.

Transfer dough to a cooling rack and cool logs for 20-25 minutes (you may turn off your oven, just don't forget to turn it back on!).  Transfer cooled logs to a cutting board and cut 3/4 inch thick slices.  Place slices cut side up onto baking sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.  Cool to room temperature.  Then, enjoy!

Guinness Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust

Oh, and pretzel brittle and Guinness ganache.  Beer and pretzels and chocolate.  That sounds about right.  Not to mention, this cheesecake is a great addition to your St. Patrick's Day feast.

Sidenote: If you follow Cookie Crazed Mama on Facebook, then you may have noticed a side project that I'm doing which includes bringing baked goods to a local coffee shop.  It's a great opportunity to do what I enjoy, and become a part of this "new" town my family moved to recently.  However, I understand that if you are not a local, you probably don't care about what I'm bringing in to a coffee shop on a given day.  If you're still with me while being irrelevant to your interests, then you're the BEST!  Here's some cheesecake...Forgive me?

Now, I can't promise that I'll start blogging very regularly, but I will make an effort to bring you dessert recipes that I think you'll enjoy.  And this one is a great one for game day and celebrations.  It's also perfect if you need an excuse to drink while you bake and use booze in your treats.  Hello!

If you are a true beer drinker, then feel free to replace the Guinness with a stout of your choosing.  A chocolate stout?  Hmmm.  I'm not a beer expert, at all, so if you are, and you make this cheesecake, let me know what you think!  I thought that the cheesecake alone was not very sweet.  I did think that all the components together-pretzel crust, filling, ganache, pretzel brittle-were a winning combination.  Creamy, slightly sweet, crunchy, salty, malty (is that a word?) but definitely not your average cheesecake!

Guinness Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust
adapted from Closet Cooking

Pretzel Crust:
-1 1/2 c. ground pretzels
-1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
-1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
-1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, stir together dry ingredients.  Add melted butter.  Stir until mixture is moist and resembles wet sand.

In a 9-inch springform cheesecake pan, press the crumbs evenly along the bottom and about an inch up the sides.  Set aside.

Cheesecake Filling:
-12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, such as Ghiradelli
-4 Tbsp. heavy cream
-3, 8 oz. packages regular cream cheese, room temp
-1 c. granulated sugar
-1/2 c. sour cream
-3 eggs
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-3/4 c. Guinness Extra Stout, room temp.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese on medium speed for several minutes-meanwhile, start melting chocolate...

In a glass bowl over simmering water (or double broiler), melt chocolate with heavy cream.  Stir all the while, removing from heat once chocolate is mostly melted.  Keep stirring until no hard chocolate pieces remain.  The chocolate will be thick.

Add chocolate to cream cheese and mix until combined.  On low speed, add remaining ingredients: sugar, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and Guinness.  Increase speed to medium, and beat for couple minutes.  Filling should be smooth and fluffy.

Pour filling into prepared crust.  Bake for 55-60 minutes.  Center may still appear slightly jiggly.  It will firm as it cools.

Do not remove from oven, instead, after baking time is completed, turn the oven off, leave door ajar and keep it in the cooling oven for another 60 minutes.

Remove and cool cheesecake completely.

Guinness Ganache
-4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
-1/2 c. heavy cream
-2 Tbsp. Guinness Extra Stout, room temp

In a saucepan, heat cream until bubbly.  In a medium size bowl, pour hot cream over chocolate.  Let stand for a couple minutes and then whisk until smooth and shiny.  Continue whisking and add Guinness.

Pour and spread ganache over cooled cheesecake.  Place cheesecake in fridge for a couple house, until ganache is set.

At this point you may use a large warm knife (warm knife by running over hot water, then drying) to cut the cheesecake.  This will make serving easier once you add the pretzel brittle.

Seriously, make this stuff just to eat by itself.  Sweet and salty perfection.

Pretzel Brittle
adapted from Milk Bar by Christina Tossi

-2 c. mini pretels, about 1/4 of 16 oz. bag-broken up
-1/4 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
-2 T. granulated sugar
-1/4. powdered milk
-1 T. malted powder (often found next to Ovaltine/Nesquik in stores)
-7 T. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

In medium bowl, add dry ingredients to crushed pretzels.  Stir around to combine.  Add melted butter, stirring to bind the dry ingredients.

Spread onto parchment and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Let cool on wire rack.  Break up pieces once cool.

Add as much or as little as you like to the top of your cheesecake.

Now, enjoy that boozy cheesecake!  You earned it after all that effort!

P.S.  If I were going to make this again.  I'd bake the crust for 15 minutes first, before adding the filling.  Then I'd do a water bath to prevent the top from cracking.  If you want to take a little extra time, I recommend this.  If you need tips on how to do a water bath, then feel free to message me at

Peppermint Poke Cake (Gluten-free)

'Tis the season for all things PEPPERMINT!

I couldn't resist sharing this recipe because it is super easy, super tasty, and super festive.  Super!

"Why is it gluten-free?", you may ask.  Ah well, without delving into too long of a story, my oldest son was born with severe eczema and allergies.  All these years we treat the symptoms with ointments and lotions, and prescription medicines.  Recently though he started getting severe chest pains, and soon after was diagnosed with acid reflux.  That ailment I could relate to, and boy, it is no picnic.  We started cutting out all the foods you would if you have acid reflux, and saw no big improvement.  That's when I decided to try gluten-free and see if he improved.

Why did I decide to do that?

Well, I had already familiarized myself with gluten-free foods because my step-dad was "recently" diagnosed with the allergy.  I had even offered up the occasional gluten-free goodie at the farmers market.  In my research, I came across the correlation between the gluten allergy and eczema and acid reflux.  In a kind of a "no-brainer" moment, I decided that it doesn't hurt to see if it helps by cutting the gluten out!

I'm certainly NO EXPERT, and that is a disclaimer!  We've talked with our son's allergist and doctor about this diet and he has not been diagnosed with Celiac's Disease or a gluten-intolerance.  The suggestion was, try the diet, and if it helps then stick with it.

Now, while our son would never say he likes being gluten-free (because he doesn't) he will admit he feels a lot better.  No more upset stomachs and quick trips to the bathroom.  No getting up at night complaining of chest pains.  No more prescription reflux medicine.  And no more nasty, itchy red spots all over his skin.  So right now we're sticking with it.  I try to make the diet easier by making the occasional treat, like this Peppermint Poke Cake, which can easily be made Not-Gluten-Free!

Make this holiday, pepperminty, moist Poke Cake, with or without the gluten, and you'll have some happy campers either way!

Peppermint Poke Cake 
adapted from Something Swanky

-1 box Gluten-free Chocolate Cake Mix (I used King Arthur brand)

Prepare the cake mix according to directions on box.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan, and bake as indicated.  I baked my cake for 28 minutes.

-1, 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
-1 1/4 c. peppermint mocha coffee creamer, divided (I used International Delights)
-1, 15 oz. bottle of York Peppermint Sundae Syrup
-12 oz. container Cool Whip
-6 Glutino chocolate creme sandwiches, crushed (like Oreos)
-Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Once you've removed the cake from the oven, let it cool on a wire rack.  When pan is cool enough to touch and it feels just slightly warm on bottom, use the back of a wooden spoon and poke holes throughout the entire top of cake.  I also like to use a serving fork to poke smaller holes around cake.

In a medium bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup of the peppermint mocha creamer.  Pour slowly and evenly over the cake allowing the milk mix to soak down into the holes of the cake.

In a small bowl, mix peppermint sundae syrup with 1/4 cup of the peppermint mocha creamer.  Spread evenly over the top of the cake.  

Dollop the top of the cake with the 12 oz. of Cool whip, using a spatula to spread evenly.  Sprinkle with crushed cookies and Andes peppermint chips.

Return to fridge to let the cake cool completely and soak up all the pepperminty goodness for at least 2 hours.  4-6 hours if you can manage.

Cut cake and serve to all your loved ones!  Trust me when I say, they won't notice it's gluten-free!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to ALL!  

P.S.- The blog will NOT be going gluten-free!  You may see the occasional "G-free" item.  If you are gluten-free, I'm new at this, and if you see an error and think my item is not gluten-free, please let me know!  I try hard and I read all labels and often double check myself.  Just because it's gluten-free does not make it healthy, as you can see in this recipe!  You can catch some other gluten-free recipes on my G-Free board on Pinterest!