Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

There’s nothing wrong with having a few cookies every now and then. You can quote me on that, as those are definitely words to live by. It’s free advice I’m willing to part with. Free of charge, just for you. I’m not keeping track of how many cookies I’m eating, though, let alone how many you’re eating, because that sounds like the worst possible idea ever. No one needs to know how many cookies you and I are eating in one sitting. That’s embarrassing (aka confidential) information we should be sweeping under the rug, if you know what I mean. I don’t even want to talk about how the number of cookies I devour goes up whenever there’s ice cream involved. Ice cream sandwiches are the best and the worst thing that can ever possibly happen to us. On one hand they’re pretty amazing because it’s the best of both worlds. Two cookies filled with an obscene amount of ice cream. And on the other hand they’re evil because one is never enough. We know they’re in the fridge just tempting us so we can’t get any work done until all of the ice cream sandwiches are eaten. All of them. 

So here I go being the jerk that I am, bringing you an ultimate ice cream sandwich. Two peanut butter cookies filled with homemade banana ice cream and then if that wasn’t enough I decided to entice you even more with a fountain of melted dark chocolate and chopped nut topping, just like on sundaes. It’s everything you never knew you wanted, all wrapped up into a single dessert. It’s a good thing I knew you wanted it though because if it wasn’t for me, you’d be deprived of such simple pleasures in life. 

This isn’t the time to second guess everything and waste time contemplating whether or not you should make these sandwiches. This is the time to drop everything you’re doing right this very moment, and get into that kitchen of yours and make some people happy. Even if some people only means yourself. That’s the most important person anyway. So go ahead and make everyone (yourself) some peanut butter cookies and while you’re at it, go ahead and sandwich them with homemade banana ice cream because you deserve it. YOU DESERVE IT. And because you’re not made of stone, you might as well dip them in dark chocolate and roll them around in nuts. It’s the only option you have. 

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Strawberry Pistachio Cupcakes

I don’t know if cupcakes are still a thing or not (I’m behind on a lot of food trends, try not to judge me), but I figured Mother’s Day is the perfect day to bring them on back because let’s face it, mom’s happen to really like cupcakes. That’s a fact, feel free to quote me on that. I know what you must be thinking though, cupcakes are a fad. They’re practically out the door. No one likes them. Much like kale, they’re on their way out, but you know what I say to those cupcake doubters, those cupcakes haters? “What did cupcakes ever do to you?!?!” They’re just trying to live their life. They’re nothing but adorable mini cakes trying to get everyone to like them. That’s all. Nothing else. They’re tiny cakes packed with tons of flavor allowing people to eat as many as possible without guilt because let’s face it, tiny cakes are made to be guilt free. Call me crazy, but I like to believe that they are virtually calorie free. I’m sure that’s how it works. So go ahead and eat as many as you can. Do what you like. Have a ball. Throw a cupcake party. Make sure you invite me though. 

One of my all time favorite flavors happens to be pistachio (pistachio almond ice cream is the bee’s knees by the way, but that’s a story for another time), so I think it’s a huge understatement to say that I am super obsessed with this recipe. Okay so if I’m being honest, obsessed doesn’t even begin to describe it. The idea of pistachio cake makes me all sorts of happy and just in case you didn’t already know, let me refresh your memory. These Mini Pistachio Boston Cream Pies are all that’s right in the world. Nothing screams fancy schmancy more than miniature versions of one of my favorite desserts. That was when my eyes were opened for the first time.

I know that not everyone has a mom like mine who loves BBQ, so I’m sure the latest post, Strawberry Rhubarb BBQ Wings might not be everyone’s go-to Mother’s Day recipe. But have no fear, I’ve got you covered. I thought it best to share a recipe on the other end of the spectrum as well because I consider myself a fair and balanced kind of guy. Where there’s a savory post, there has to be a dessert. So here we are cupcake recipe on hand, and not just any cupcake but a super delicious cupcake at that. Get in the kitchen and bake up something sweet for the moms in your life. They deserve all of the cupcakes. After all, they carried us for all of those months and fed us and raised us and taught us everything we know. If being the number one super women in all the world doesn’t deserve a cupcake, then I don’t know what does. My mom deserves all the cupcakes and so much more. 

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The Classics: Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

I had an undying love for boxed yellow cake mix when I was a kid. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one out there with the same love affair. If I’m being perfectly honest I still have a soft spot for it (shh, don’t tell anyone). I have been known to buy a box, make it and eat it all in one evening. What can I say? Some days are harder than others, and the only medicine is to make cake from a mix. Let’s not talk about it. It has been a while though, so I think that should allow me a bit of forgiveness. When I was younger, I actually made boxed cake all the time and sometimes, more like all the time, I’d act like I had my own cooking show. I’d go through the making of my boxed cake as if I was talking to an audience that wasn’t there, through an invisible camera. “And now we add 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil and 3 large eggs to our mix and stir it until combined.” It was all pretty legit. Why anyone would want to watch a cooking show where someone was making cake from a box mix, was beyond me. I didn’t even think about that as a kid. I just had the most popular cooking show in my imagination, and everyone wanted to watch it. Humble brag. 

Those days are long gone, and although I sometimes crave a boxed cake mix every now and then, I do actually more often than not, just make my own version at home, from scratch without all of the guilt. Although, I still want to eat the entire thing in one sitting so I guess not much as changed in that respect. Who doesn’t like a classic recipe though? That one go-to “fill in the blank” recipe that you can count on to always come out right. I think this post is the epitome of “The Classics” series, and it’s what I had in mind when I first started it a few months ago. It’s my childhood. It has been a while since I created and posted a TCA Classics recipe so I’ll refresh your memory on the concept and the recipes that have gone before. 

We kicked things off with The Classics: Buttermilk Fried Chicken, where I introduced to you the idea of simpler posts with less images of recipes we all know and love. Plus, I shared with you our fancy hashtag (#TCAclassics) so that when you give these recipes a try, you can share and tag them so we can all have a look. We’re always searching for that one classic cookie recipe or classic apple pie recipe, so I wanted The Classics to be just that. The recipes you’re looking for. The recipes you love. Things took a savory turn when the second installment brought us, The Classics: Bacon Cheeseburger. Everyone needs a really great All-American burger recipe. Even if you think you don’t, believe me you do. The third round, The Classics: Cinnamon Rolls was where we learned a very important lesson that cinnamon rolls should always be the size of your head. If they’re not, you’re doing it all wrong. The last classics we had was the mother of all American classic recipes, The Classics: Apple Pie. Here I enticed you with large slices of pie topped with ice cream, and I regret nothing. This time around, The Classics: Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream is bringing you a classic birthday or party cake to entice you and your guests. Not having party or your birthday is still a year away, this makes for the best anytime cake. I just cleaned the house, cake! I took out the trash, cake! I didn’t get a parking ticket, cake CAKE! Bottom line is that cake is the answer to everything. 

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Carrot Cake Scones

I’ve been making scones for as long as I can remember. I used to sell homemade baked goods out of my tiny kitchen when I was in college, to help my mom with my tuition. She had already put my two sisters through college, by the time I got around to it, so I wanted to help out any way I could. I’m sure it was illegal and it inconvenienced my family because I’d be in the kitchen for hours and hours, but I did it anyway because I was a rebel like that and I actually enjoyed it most days. It was a nice break from all the homework and studying. Really it was just a way for me to procrastinate the things I had to get done. There were two items that I had to make on a daily basis because people ordered them a lot, scones and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I’ve made so many batches of both that I now have the recipes permanently engraved in my brain. It’s helpful. It got to the point where I refused to bake scones because I got tired of making them. At the time I offered the classic flavors, cranberry, blueberry, (and my all time personal favorite) cherry dark chocolate chunk. My family has since then made it a point to relentlessly try and coerce me into baking scones for them or their coworkers, and sometimes I do it. Other times, they’re not as successful. Sorry family.

I’ve taken a break from my scone strike, however, to bring you these Carrot Cake Scones. I think it’s worth breaking my promise to never make scones again, but let’s not get used to it. It’s a phase that will pass. I grate fresh carrots and mix them into my go-to scone recipe, with a few other twists, like a blend of spices, raisins and cream cheese frosting on top with chopped pecans make them taste just like a classic carrot cake. Which happens to be one of my favorite cake flavors. So if you like carrot cake and you like scones, then I don’t think I need to say anything more to try and convince you to make them. They can speak for themselves. “Make me. Make me. Eat me. Eat me.” Can you hear it? 

This is our second to last Easter Brunch Bonanza post/recipe and I’m a little sad about it. Sure, I’ve saved the best for last (stay tuned tomorrow to find out), but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s almost over. I’ll still bring you awesome and delicious recipes that’ll get you excited though, and these springtime recipes from this week will now forever live online for all of your brunch needs so there’s no need to cry about it. Let’s get these scones started though, shall we? They wont stop calling out our names until we eat them. 

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Chunky Monkey Sticky Buns

I’d never tried Ben and Jerry’s ice cream until I met Julian a couple years ago. It’s his favorite ice cream of all time. I don’t know how I went through my entire 26 years of existence without trying this deliciously irresistible treat. I guess you can say I was missing out on something incredible, on both aspects of my life. Needless to say, when I took that first bite of Ben and Jerry’s, I became hooked, instantly. Obsessed isn’t really an appropriate word to throw around. I feel like that doesn’t adequately describe my feelings for this icy cold dessert, so I won’t call it an obsession. I change my mind. Instead, let’s refer to this newfound love affair of mine as an admiration. I think that sounds better, don’t you? I still remember that first flavor I tried, Cinnamon roll. I picked it out of the crowd because cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite desserts, so I thought to myself, “Why not try a cinnamon roll flavored ice cream, Jonathan?! That sounds like the greatest thing ever invented.” So I picked it up and never looked back. After eating the entire tub in less than five minutes, I remember thinking I found my new favorite ice cream flavor, and nothing could change my mind. Nothing. As far as I was concerned, I’d only ever have eyes for that cinnamon swirl and no other ice cream could make me think otherwise. Then one day I needed to get my fix so I took a trip to the grocery store and the most horrible thing happened. All of the cinnamon roll Ben and Jerry’s was gone. GONE. Nowhere to be found. I almost cried. Okay, I cried. After I gathered myself together, I picked up chunky monkey instead (thinking ugh, what a subpar choice) and I instantly forgot about the other one. What was it again? I can’t even name it anymore. It isn’t worth it. Chunky monkey is life.

Confession time: This is actually the first time in my life that I’ve ever made sticky buns before. I know I know, I’m over here going on and on about sticky buns as if I’m some sort of sticky bun expert or something. Is it possible to become an expert after only making something once? Yeah I think so. Maybe I’m just saying this because I wan’t to be referred to as an expert of some sort. It’s been a life goal of mine and I think with this post I’ve earned it. (Humble brag). I’ve been wanting to attempt a sticky bun recipe for a very long time now, but something kept me from it. I think it’s the whole making of the caramel and inverting of the buns that really scared me. I still get nightmares every now and then. Plus I kept reading all these scary reviews online of people and their horror stories involving dry buns. That’s tragic. I remember thinking, how can sticky buns be dry? I didn’t have the strength or the courage to overcome that fear so I just kept putting it off. Until the other day when I was trying to figure out what to make and photograph for my post, to share with you guys. I started brainstorming all sorts of different ideas and this one crazy idea just wouldn’t go away. All of a sudden I was envisioning some sort of chunky monkey dessert. Mainly because I was really craving a pint of chunky monkey, but also because I love the flavor profiles, which deserve to be showed off all day every day.

Too many sticks of butter, a couple pints of heavy cream and a lot of brown sugar later, I came upon the ultimate sticky bun recipe and still wasn’t sure if it would go over well. I shared a few photos on instagram and it’s almost like you guys read my mind because you reassured me that everything was going to be alright. Y’all went nuts over a vision I got in passing and it made me realize that I should really listen to my instincts more often. It’s like my mamma always says, “You should always go with your first choice.” And so from now on that’s what I’m going to do, although sometimes my first instinct is to deep fry everything and somehow that doesn’t seem right…or healthy. So maybe I’ll practice this new rule in moderation. One thing that I won’t censor and moderate are these Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls because I’m now convinced that this would be my last meal on earth. An entire pan right out of the oven because there’s nothing better than this in the entire world. Nothing. 

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Lemon, Poppy Seed and Blueberry Streusel Pound Cake

Okay, so the honest truth is that I had to make this cake a total of four times. Yes, you read that right. Four times before I got it right. I was ready to scream, pull out my hair, denounce pound cakes for life and give up on everything because a little ol’ pound cake was defeating me. This is why I never make pound cake by the way, because I feel like they’re always so difficult, for some unknown reason. It’s not like they require a lot of ingredients or attention for that matter. In theory, they’re kind of simple to make. Yet it’s my baking kryptonite. For those of you that think I never mess up in the kitchen, think again. Even I, with all of the baking experience I have, still make mistakes from time to time. It’s totally normal. In fact I’d be worried if I didn’t mess up because those little hiccups humble me and make me a better cook/baker. So don’t be hard on yourself if things don’t always come out right the first time. Just keep trying.  

The very first attempt of this cake, I forgot to toss the blueberries in flour so they all sank to the bottom of the loaf pan, causing a not-so-pretty wet mess at the bottom, forcing me to lose half of the cake to moisture. No good. I clapped my forehead and called myself a dummy for forgetting such a crucial step. Sure I was disappointed, but I started all over again without thinking twice about it. So off Julian went to the grocery store for me and got more blueberries and cream cheese and almonds so that I could go in for round two. I made the cake again, this time a bit faster since I didn’t have to photograph it step by step. I was thankful for that. The second time was also a failure. When I removed my precious pound cake from the oven, the center had completely caved in. I started laughing (masking the irritation) because I haven’t had a cake cave on me in many years since I started baking. I don’t know what happened, maybe I opened the door too soon or maybe there was a movement or loud bang by the oven at some point and it scared my cake into ruin? Who knows. Anyhow, I was ready to give up at this point but Julian (and my mother, through various frustrated phone calls all made by me to her) kept telling me to try again. Believe me I didn’t want to. So there I went off again to the grocery store to buy yet another box of blueberries and cream cheese and almonds and butter this time around and I got home and did it once again. Mind you it’s like 11:30 at night at this point and I’ve made this cake for a total of three times now. 

This time around I felt really confident. I told myself this was it, this time it would work. So I made it all again (with my eyes closed practically), poured the batter into the pan, topped it with the streusel and popped it into the oven. I even kiss the pan and said a little prayer before closing the oven door. I crossed my fingers and continued with some other work. I made sure to not make any sudden movements by the oven door, tip-toeing when I needed to, nor did I open it prematurely. This time around, I waited until the time was up. I open the oven door and all I saw was horror. Complete and utter horror. Low and behold, it was the biggest disaster of my entire career. Not only did the cake batter bubble over out of the pan and onto the baking sheet, but it also caved in (big time) and the blueberries sank once again. The trifecta of cake mishaps. I threw the cake away, with the pan, slammed everything shut and went to bed. I lost hope. I started looking at other jobs, getting ready to stop blogging and photographing and baking and cooking altogether—I exaggerate for the effect. Before bed Julian (and through one last phone call with my mother) convince me to not give up and just try again. Take it slower and do it carefully, they said.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I already shared some photos of the process and got you all excited about this cake on instagram, I would’ve just scratched the entire idea and done something else. I realized though, that I couldn’t just leave you guys hanging. I promised you a blueberry pound cake and by George I was going to deliver one. So I woke up super early the next morning, took one last trip to the grocery store for some more blueberries—which I single handedly have kept the blueberry growers rich—and more cream cheese and almonds and a lemon. I get home and start for the fourth time. Although this time around I changed the recipe a bit by removing an egg, adding more butter, losing the baking powder and baking soda and calling it good, making sure to toss those blueberries in flour. I poured it into the pan, topped it with streusel and put it in the oven without much hope. One hour and a half later I had the most perfect pound cake I have ever made/seen. I let it cool (in a kitchen cabinet above the sink because Napoleon has gotten into the bad habit of trying to eat anything in sight) and did the biggest celebratory dance ever known to mankind. That is the story of my adventure of making four pound cakes in less than 24 hours. I have to say though, it all paid off. This cake is pretty epic. 

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