Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies

I am a day late on this post, but I’ve been nursing a horrid pink eye that made it impossible to have enough screen time. Lucky for me, I had made an amazing batch of these dark chocolate truffle cookies right before the pink eye hit, and I can tell you this, it has totally nursed me back to health. They’re that good. Almost medicinal!

These cookies are heaven sent. They’re every chocoholics dream! My husband and I are on a complete sugar high. We ate all the cookies, even raced each other to the last cookie. They’re soft, chewy and ooey gooey. These cookies demand to be had with a glass of milk or a nice cappuccino. Go ahead make them, and spend the rest of the weekend in a blissfully happy place!

Lets talk ingredients. The hero of these cookies is the chocolate, so use good quality chocolate. The recipe asks for bittersweet chocolate, so I used 55% dark chocolate. I encourage you to do the same. The darker your chocolate the greater the depth of flavor. Do not use milk chocolate for this recipe. It’s very sweet, with very little chocolate content and would result in a very very sweet cookie with little flavor.

If you have made cookies before, do not be alarmed if the batter looks thin and sticky. That is what creates that truffle like texture of these cookies. To ensure that the cookies are baked thick and chewy, chill the cookie batter for a few hours. This will enrich the flavors and prevent the cookies from spreading out too thin while baking.

Look at those ooey-gooey cookies!

Best part about this recipe, you can freeze the cookie batter and use at a later time. Simple scoop out the cookie dough on a cookie tray and place in the freezer, once firm (usually overnight), store the cookies in a Ziploc bag. Once ready to bake, place the cookies in a reheated oven, the baking time will increase slightly, but keep an eye on them, you don’t want them to bake for too long. These cookies are best baked with a soft center.

I made a batch of these and brought them with me as a hostess gift for a friend. I can tell you, there were some very happy people! You can totally make these and give them to a friend, relative or coworker for a birthday, as a way to say congratulations, or just straight up because you want to share some love!

Try this recipe and don’t forget to share what you make with me by adding the tag #thewhiskingbowl. Happy Baking!

Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Yield: 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces bitter sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat. 8 ounces of chocolate is a little more than a 200 gram baking chocolate bar. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

  2. In a mixing bowl (either by hand or in your stand mixer), beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips.

  3. Cover the cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 4 hours (or even overnight!).

  4. Place parchment paper on an ungreased baking sheet. Wet your hands with water then begin to roll the dough into 1-inch balls, placing them about 2 inches apart. Do this quickly and if you are doing the cookies in batches, refrigerate the dough in between rounds.

  5. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack or wax to cool completely.
  6. If making several batches of these cookies and using the same cookie sheet, make sure that the cookie sheet cools before preparing the next batch for baking.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

 

 

This is what heartbreak does to your body, according to Fitbit

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The the near-panic attacks, the feeling that you will never recover from having your heart broken, that you will die alone surrounded by your cats because the skater boy with long blonde hair stole your heart and then trampled all over it. Excuse me, I think I just channelled my 16-year-old self for a moment there. Moving on.

Now, thanks to wearable devices like Fitbit, which track activity and heart monitoring, it might actually be possible to see what heart break does to the human body.

One poor sod was wearing his device when his heart was trampled upon, later sharing the information on his Twitter account.

Fitbit tracks breakup

 

Fitbit tracks breakup

Koby Soto from Tel Aviv in Israel received a call from his boyfriend, who he was planning on seeing that night, but received some unfortunate news.

“He said that we’re going to have to cancel, and I said ‘Why?’ and he said, “Things are not working as they should,'” Soto recalled in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “I said, “Are you serious? You’re doing this over the phone?'”

Soto had been wearing his FitBit for five months but he had no idea that it would track something so personal and so much more painful than lunges, stair runs and even burpees.

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“I feel like it’s nice to have a log of your confirmation of what you felt. You can tell people you have heartbreak and you feel bad,” Soto said.

“People become less cynical once you show them the numbers or once you show the data or graphs. Everyone understands heartbreak, right? Everyone’s felt it. When you have this, it’s interesting — you have something to show.”

The graphs taken from his app show that his heart rate before the phone call was a calm 72 beats per minute, but after the call it peaked at almost a whopping 118 beats, before returning back to normal that night.

“I wasn’t doing anything, I didn’t go to the gym, I didn’t expect the Fitbit to even track me,” he said. “It was just on me.”

Heartbreak can have many effects on the body, and not just an increase in heart rate and stress levels. According to Naomi Eisenbuerger, Ph.D., and assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, the brain can trick you to feeling you are physically hurt. So when you feel like you’re in pain, you really are.

But it’s not all bad news, a breakup can give you that not-so-polite wake up call that you might need to turn over a new leaf, reconnect with friends and take steps to taking care of yourself, maybe even go to the gym to put that wearable device into action again.

Has your wearable device tracked something unexpected? Share it with us below.

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What to know about multiple sclerosis: ‘It’s not a death sentence’

The 37-year-old revealed to People magazine that she’s been living for over a decade with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the myelin sheaths on the outside of nerves causing serious neuromuscular problems. She admitted that she’s still struggling to accept her diagnosis, especially after working so hard to hide her symptoms during her TV career, but now she’s ready to talk about her struggle.

“I can’t walk for a long period of time without resting. I cannot run. No superhero roles for me,” Sigler said. “Stairs? I can do them, but they’re not the easiest. When I walk, I have to think about every single step, which is annoying and frustrating.”

More: What to know about the illnesses that ended Glenn Frey’s life

Annoying and frustrating are putting it mildly says Vanessa Richard, a 33-year-old mom of three from Washington, who also has MS.

“It’s hard because I’m young and I have this disease that will cripple me and there’s nothing anyone can do about it,” she says. “The worst part is that you don’t look sick but you definitely are. I feel like I’m always having to justify it and explain myself to people.”

Richard says she sympathizes with Sigler and that she too has lost a lot to the illness. A former cake decorator, she had to quit when she lost strength in her hands. “But really it’s not being able to play with my kids like I used to,” she says, tearing up just thinking about her 9, 6 and 3-year old. “It hurts… It really does.”

Sigler is also a mom, to 6-year-old Beau.

But the illness can do funny things and, speaking of children, Richard says she’s now pregnant with her fourth child thanks to her MS meds cancelling out her birth control. It’s a blessing though, she says, as pregnancy puts her MS into remission. And it’s this life — her children and devoted husband — that keep Richard fighting despite the chronic fatigue and pain.

“There’s definitely a stigma of ‘Oh you have a disease, we have to feel sorry for you’ but I’m determined not to be a burden on anyone, especially my family,” she says.

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Sigler and Richard are just two of the nearly half million Americans and 2.3 million people worldwide who have MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Although doctors believe the number could be higher as many mild cases go undiagnosed for years. This was the case for Richard, who started showing symptoms at age 16 but didn’t get an accurate diagnosis of MS until she was 30 and showed up in the ER with a skull-crushing headache. Doctors finally ordered an MRI and were able to spot over 60 active lesions.

Richard’s story is not unique. MS can be tricky to diagnose because the symptoms — vision changes, muscle weakness, fatigue, dizziness, loss of coordination and problems with motor control — are easily written off as stress or misdiagnosed as something else. While some people have very severe cases, including partial paralysis, most cases are relatively mild. In addition, the symptoms can wax and wane with sufferers being fine for months or even years between attacks.

It’s unknown exactly what causes the body’s immune system to turn on itself in this way, but the National Institutes of Health says that the cause may be genetic, environmental or even viral (or all of the above). Weirdly, the environmental factor that may make the most difference is how far north or south you live, as the number of MS cases increase the farther you get from the equator. (Richard says the changing of the seasons is her biggest trigger for an attack.) Age also is a factor, as is gender. Most cases are first diagnosed between 20 and 40 years of age with twice as many female patients as male. Diabetes, thyroid disease and bowel disease can also increase your risk of getting MS.

While there is no cure and the disease gets progressively worse over time, the prognosis is generally good, reports the NIH. The illness can be debilitating but is not considered fatal and doesn’t appear to shorten lifespan.

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But there are some promising treatments with the most common being beta interferon and other therapies that suppress the immune system, preventing it from doing further nerve damage. Steroids and other medications, like the Tecfidera Sigler says helps her, can manage symptoms and shorten attacks. In addition, patients are encouraged to modify their lives by avoiding heat and excessive activity, according to the NIH.

It’s this hope that Richard clings to in the face of all this uncertainty. “When I first heard the diagnosis, I thought it was a death sentence,” she says. But now she says she wants to be an advocate, helping others with the disease and encouraging more people — especially those who live in the far north — to get screened. “The more we know, the more research there is, the better chance we have to get the answers we all need.”

Stacey Dash claims Black History Month encourages segregation

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Following the controversy surrounding this year’s Oscars, Dash sat down on Fox News’ Fox & Friends to weigh in on the drama, which includes a number of notable black actors and directors, including Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee, calling for a boycott of this year’s awards. Protesters have spread the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to draw attention to the fact that, for the second year in a row, none of the nominees for the top acting spots are black.

But according to Dash, segregation like that is actually encouraged in Hollywood through all-black networks like BET.

“We have to make up our minds,” she said on Wednesday’s show. “Either we want to have segregation or integration. And if we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the Image Awards where you’re only awarded if you’re black. If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard.”

She continued, “There shouldn’t be a Black History Month. We’re Americans. Period. That’s it.”

When asked by a host on the show, “Are you saying there shouldn’t be a Black History Month because there isn’t a white history month?” she replied, “Exactly.”

Unsurprisingly, Dash’s inflammatory remarks have drawn some ire on Twitter.

Stacey Dash wants to get rid of BET

 

Stacey Dash wants to get rid of BET

“Stacey Dash has to be the dumbest most ignorant broad I’ve ever seen in my life,” one user tweeted. Another joked, “White ppl we’ll trade y’all two of our top 90’s draft picks @ravensymone and @REALStaceyDash for @Adele.”

More: Stacey Dash’s response to Patricia Arquette’s Oscars speech is embarrassing (VIDEO)

Do you think Stacey Dash has a point? Or do you agree with the people calling her out on Twitter?

Blogger shares shocking hospital photo to warn against binge drinking

She’s no longer drinking to excess, thanks to an experience during summer 2015 that almost took her life.

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Lottritz and her friends hit up the Night in the Country music festival in Yerington, Nevada, on July 25 to hear country acts like Joe Nichols and Jake Owen. She had two beers there, far less, she said, than friends who spent much of the day drinking. So she decided to play catch-up.

“I ended up at a campsite where I found some of my other friends. I am a competitive person by nature and this group was mostly guys who (for some reason) I promised I could outdrink,” she wrote on her blog, adding that later she and a guy friend decided to see who could take the longest drink from a bottle of Black Velvet Whiskey. She drank from the bottle, then friends said she drank a Solo cup full of the same hard liquor.

“Immediately after this I told my friends I felt fine, and about five minutes later I collapsed. I wasn’t breathing,” she wrote. “My friends picked me up and started carrying me to the medical tent. From there I was intubated and taken to Renown hospital in Reno, Nevada.”

More: 3 Subtle signs you have carbon monoxide poisoning

At the hospital, doctors diagnosed her with acute respiratory failure and acute alcohol intoxication. “My blood alcohol concentration was .41 when I arrived at the hospital, five times over the legal limit,” she continued. “The doctors thought I was brain dead because I was completely unresponsive. My pupils were sluggishly reactive, I had no corneal reflex and I wasn’t responding to verbal or painful stimuli.”

Hanna Lottritz
Image: Hanna Lottritz

She woke up 24 hours later. Medical staff said she was lucky to be alive and asked if she tried to kill herself. “This question hit me the hardest. From my hospital bed in the Intensive Care Unit, my eyes were opened to the seriousness of being irresponsible with alcohol,” she wrote. “The next day when I was discharged from the hospital, I realized that the way I looked at alcohol would be changed forever.”

Binge drinking in women is defined as drinking four or more drinks in two hours and a recent study found that women are doing it 36 percent more than they did 10 years ago. This can lead to a hangover, at the very least, or death. Luckily, Lottritz escaped with no lasting effects, but has a message for others.

More: Fitbit saves teenager’s life by detecting serious heart condition

“Fortunately for me, I had good people around when all of this took place,” she wrote. “I could have easily been taken advantage of when I passed out. I could’ve been left alone to ‘sleep it off.’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, ‘Let them sleep it off, they’ll be fine in the morning,’ but I’m alive today because my friends got me help. Don’t take a chance if you see a friend passed out from drinking too much.”

Mini Orange Almond-Yogurt Cakes

There is one thing that every person with a sugar tooth struggles with. After a meal, all they can think about is dessert. It’s as if the actual meal is a prelude to whats to come… dessert of course! Whenever I go out to eat, I always go through the dessert menu first, to decide how substantive my meal should be, and to make sure there will be plenty of room for dessert.

Mostly, you’ll find me sweet talking my meal companions so they’ll share the dessert with me. That way, there’s less guilt about undoing my earlier sweat session at the gym. Is this just me, or do you also go through the same thing? There is one person I know of that truly shared my affinity for dessert after a meal. My grandma.

The best thing was that she’d polish off her dessert guilt-free! In a few days it’ll be a year since she’s left us, and I wanted to make a dessert that I knew she would’ve loved. Oranges were one of her favorite fruits, and I have flashbacks of her sitting in the wintery sun, sharing her favorite fruit with her children and grandchildren.

I wanted to make a healthier version of this cake without compromising on the taste and texture; it definitely had to still be a dessert! Man, did this recipe deliver! The cake is light, moist and melts in your mouth. Its the yogurt that really helps moisten the cake while keeping the crumb delicate. In an attempt to keep the cake healthier, I used half a cup of almond flour, added a mix of brown sugar and real maple syrup instead of white sugar, and only added one tablespoon of butter.

I did not have wholewheat flour on hand, so i went with half a cup of regular flour. If you have some at home, by all means use it (that stuff is great for you). For the almond flour, blitz some slivered almonds in the food processor until it’s nice and fine. Be careful not to over mix, you don’t want to end up with almond butter. Now i know you’re probably thinking, “How does all THAT make an amazing dessert?” Let me tell you…it does! Go ahead and bake it today, and let me know how it turns out.

To add some pizzazz to the cake (you know I’m trying to impress you), I baked the cake in a 12×8 inch pan. This allowed me to make a thinner cake that could be cut into little rounds with the help of a cookie cutter.

I then stacked the cake layers with a loose frosting, and cake drizzled the tops with vanilla cream cheese frosting. This combo is a match made it heaven. The vanilla and cream cheese in the frosting really compliment the orange cake and gives it that extra gooeyness. With the addition of segmented oranges, a drizzle of orange juice, maple syrup and orange zest, these mini cakes are perfection!!

If you want to elevate the health factor of these cakes, you can skip the frosting (or make a looser frosting like I did), but the orange segments and the orange drizzle are a must!! If you make it in a regular cake pan, drizzle the cake with the orange drizzle once the cake is out of the oven and at room temperature.

Go ahead and enjoy this cake! Its healthy, so you can eat as much as you want and still feel good about yourself… at least that’s what I’m telling myself! My grandma would be pleased!

 
 

Orange Almond Yogurt Cake

Yield: One 8-inch round cake or 4 mini 4-inch layer cakes

 
 

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake:

  • Unsalted butter, softened, for pan
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • Zest of one medium orange
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Orange Drizzle:
  • 1 large orange zested & segmented
  • 1/2 of one orange, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
For the Frosting*:
  • 1-8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, (or vanilla bean paste if you have)
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a large sheet pan or an 8-inch round cake pan.
  2. Blend together one tablespoon butter, brown sugar and maple syrup. Add the egg, yogurt, vanilla, orange zest and orange juice.
  3. Stir in the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour into a pan and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  4. Once the cake has cooled, refrigerate it for twenty minutes.
  5. Use a round cookie or biscuit cutter to make rounds of the cooled cake.
  6. Spread each layer with frosting and then add another layer. After adding a thin layer of frosting to the whole cake, chill in the freezer before adding an thicker layer of frosting.
  7. If making one large round cake, crumb coat the cake, chill in the freezer for a while and then add a thicker layer of frosting.
For the Frosting:
  1. Whip the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar a little at a time until the desired sweetness and consistency is reached.

For the Orange Drizzle:

  1. Zest an orange and segment it into pieces. Squeeze half an orange for its juice.
  2. Whisk together the zest, orange juice and maple syrup. Stir in the orange segments.
  3. Drizzle on top of the prepared mini cakes.

Notes:

*I wanted a looser frosting and therefore put less powdered sugar, if you want a thicker frosting to cover the cake, use the recommended amount of powdered sugar.

 

 

How to plan a romantic getaway without going broke

For most lovebirds hoping to plan a Valentine’s Day escape — at a nearby destination or at home — it all comes down to cost and convenience. Many of us have very high hopes for this lovely day of love and are often met with disappointment when restaurant wait lines are out the door and fine meals cost upwards of $60 a plate. If you’ve found yourself there before, then you might not be surprised to learn that Valentine’s Day spending hit a record high in 2015 at nearly $19 billion.

More: 100 Romantic ways to show your love on Valentine’s Day

While the average paramour is expected to spend $142.31, we’re betting that with a little preemptive planning, creating your own Valentine’s Day getaway (that doesn’t involve a five-star restaurant) is a great way to get more bang for your buck (literally).

Pick a place

There are two ways to do this, and both have their merits: Choose a nearby destination for a weekend trip or plan a romantic staycation at home. Taking a trip can re-spark a romance by breaking you out of your familiar routine, while staying at home gives you the (affordable) opportunity to get as wild as you want. Check out one of these top 20 romantic getaways to find a destination in your local area, or consider staying in and spending a weekend in bed.

For a quick and easy getaway, Midori Verity, relationship expert and host of The Ultimate Relationship Show, recommends, “Book an overnight getaway somewhere close to home. Bring tea lights, wine/champagne, picnic basket with nibbles or order room service. Bonus: Pack massage oil and bubble bath. Plan to never leave the room, until the next day.” She continues, “For couples who just want to slow down, plan a cuddly evening at home. Order takeout from your favorite restaurant, purchase a special occasion wine or champagne, light candles, grab a blanket and watch a romantic movie, or maybe a scary movie, so you’ll need each other’s protection!”

More: 10 Romantic getaways for lovebirds

Plan an adventure

Whether at home or away, you’re going to need something to keep yourself entertained (and to possibly help you fall in love all over again) on your romantic retreat. If you’re fresh out of ideas, try hitting up your local deals site for some money-saving inspiration. Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized money-saving expert, advises, “Daily Deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer deals on last-minute getaways, including discounted hotel packages as well as 50 to 60 percent off spa treatments, restaurant meals and various activities like wine tasting, kayaking and more.”

Plan the menu

Now, here’s where your pre-Valentine’s Day prep really comes in handy. You can keep it nice and easy by ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant, or you can use this opportunity to cook that five-course meal you’ve planned on your Pinterest boards but have never had time to execute. Either way, make this low-key Valentine’s meal special by adding a personal touch: Personalized wine bottles adorned with an adorable picture of you and your SO start as low as $17.

Plan for dessert

And we’re not just talking about chocolates, though you’ll want to have plenty of those too. In this case, your Valentine’s “dessert” is actually the main event that you have been waiting for all night long. (S-E-X, if we need to spell it out for you.) To get yourself fully in the mood, author Christopher Sharp recommends pulling out all the stops: Make arrangements at least a month in advance to send the kids to Grandma’s. And if you’re staying in, Sharp says, “Once that’s taken care of, make a deal with your spouse that on the date in question you are going to shut the power off to your house/apartment and spend the night by candle light alone. (All electronic devices should be stowed away with the kids’ clothes when you drop them off.) Make sure there is plenty of wine and candles in the house before you turn the power off (trip the breakers one by one, don’t turn the whole place off or there will be no way to keep the wine cold.)”

You probably know what to do next — though you might want to think about busting out a few bedroom toys to get the party started.

More: Romantic Valentine’s Day ideas for people who like to procrastinate

Put the cherry on top

To truly make a lasting impression on such a romantic of days, it helps to think outside the box and go the extra mile. Personalized wine and a home-cooked meal are a great start, and if you’re staying in a hotel overnight, Brooke Hoffman of the Hilton Anatole in Dallas recommends having a quick chat with the hotel guest services team. She explains that most guests don’t understand (or take advantage of) how much a hotel staff is willing to help to make a special experience, saying, “The hotel’s guest services team can act as your Cupid by offering details on upgrades and amenities. Many hotels, like the Anatole, offer romantic in-room amenities that can be added to a reservation, ranging from plush robes and fruit plates to more extravagant options like our ‘Sweet Dreams’ turn-down complete with petite macarons, Grand Marnier and chocolate-dipped martini glasses.”

And while the full romance package at a hotel might not come cheap, it never hurts to ask for a little something extra to make your weekend getaway even more special.

Updated by Bethany Ramos on 1/16/16.