Lemon Cheesecake Squares

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For those who don’t love chocolate… these tart and sweet lemon cheesecake squares will satisfy the craving.  This cheesecake combines the tart with the sweet in a perfect combination.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup coconut oil (or 1 stick butter, melted)

For the cake:

4 eight oz. bricks light cream cheese at room temperature (total 32 oz), cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 recipe Lemon Curd, warm or at room temperature

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon until well combined.

Drizzle the coconut oil over the crumb mixture and pulse until it resembles wet sand.  Transfer the batter to the pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

In the cleaned food processor bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Process until smooth, about 30 seconds, stopping halfway to scrape the sides of the bowl.

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Add the eggs and process until the mixture is perfectly smooth and blended, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary, about another 20 seconds.

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Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan.

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Fill a small glass bowl with boiling water and place in the oven beside the baking pan (acts as a water bath and reduces cracking). Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center is dry to the touch, about 35 minutes. Turn the oven off and prop open the door for 15 minutes before removing the cake.

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To finish:  When cheesecake comes out of the oven, gently pour all of the curd onto the cheesecake and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.

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Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.  You can refrigerate it uncovered, as no detectable skin forms on the curd.  When slicing into squares, wipe the knife blade with a damp paper towel between each slice.

Science Fact of the Week:

Using light cream cheese in these cheesecakes lightens them up and gives in a smooth and fluffy texture. However, using light cream cheese in a frosting completely changes the texture. It causes it to be more liquidly and not form peaks.

Confetti Cookies

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I made this cookies from Smitten Kitchen and they were an instant winner. No adaptions necessary.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cups cream cheese (55 g)
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

Mix first 4 ingredients in a food processor.

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Add butter and cream cheese in cubes (1/3 at a time) and mix well.

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Add egg and vanilla extract and mix well. If there isn’t enough space in your food processor transfer to a bowl and mix with your hands.

Place dough in refrigerator for 20 minutes and preheat oven to 375˚F.

Roll dough in to balls (approx 1 1/2 tbsp). Once warm from your hands roll around in a bowl of sprinkles to cover.

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Transfer to a cookie sheet and flatten using a drinking glass.

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Bake for 9-11 minutes.

Science Fact of the Week:

Adding cream cheese to these cookies changes the texture from a normal cookie. It softens them and gives them an almost melt in your mouth feeling. It’s crazy how much texture can change with the addition of a single ingredient.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

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For those who love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, this is a great alternative and easy to slice when chilled.  Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, this square is enjoyed by people of all ages.

Ingredients

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2 sticks unsalted pareve margarine, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 ½ cups creamy peanut butter (Skippy or natural)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups raspberry/strawberry jam
2/3 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray a 9 by 13 by 2 inch cake pan with cooking spray.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes.

 

With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

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In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

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Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread the jam evenly over the dough.

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Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam.  Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.

IMG_3018.jpgCool and cut into 24 squares.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Although peanuts are high in calories and fat, in moderation they confer many health benefits. Their anti-oxidants even help protect against heart disease!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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This carrot cake is an old recipe from Ina Garten that will be sure to impress a crowd. I made this as an addition to the shavout festival of cheesecakes and it was a huge hit.

The cake is best if you bake the layers the night before and let sit over night in the fridge.

Before starting make sure to prep the ingredients. I used a food processor to grate the carrots, chopped the walnuts and diced the pineapple.

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Ingredients:

 

For the Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups grapeseed or vegetable oil
3 eggs, room temperature (if you forget to bring them to room temperature, allow the eggs to sit in warm-hot water for 5 minutes)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the Frosting:

1.5 bricks of cream cheese (3/4 pound), room temperature
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 2 or 3 circular pans with parchment and spray with canola oil spray.

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Beat sugar, oil and eggs in an electric mixer. Add vanilla and mix again.

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Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt and mix well.

In another bowl toss raisins and walnuts with 1 tbsp flour. Add carrots and pineapple to this mixture. Add to the batter and fold in.

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Divide batter equally between circular pans and bake for 40-45 mins if 3 layers or 55-60 mins if 2 layers.

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For the Frosting:

Cream butter and cream cheese in stand mixer.

Add vanilla and mix again.

Add sugar in 3 parts. Mixing after each to combine.

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To ice:

Place a little bit of icing on the bottom of your cake plate and smooth out. This will help the cake stick in place.

Place first layer with flat side down and spread icing on top. Put second layer and repeat). If using three layers repeat and ensure that flat side is facing up.

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Evenly coat in a layer of thin frosting and refrigerate for 15 minutes to seal in the crumbs.

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Add more frosting on top and smooth out.

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Top with pieces of fresh pineapple.

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Science Fact of the Week:

This cake has plenty of carrots which are a high source of antioxidants and can decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Maple Cheesecake

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For this special edition post we are sharing one of our favourites. Maple Cheesecake. This weekend is the Jewish Holiday of Shavout. On this holiday it is traditional to eat dairy, so we’ve deemed this the cheesecake holiday. I love to make cheesecakes for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. We hope you enjoy this one.

This uniquely Canadian cheesecake gets most of its sweet flavour from reduced pure maple syrup.  To make a reduction, place 2 ¼ cups pure maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until it is reduced to 1 ½ cups.  Allow to cool to room temperature before using in batter.

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Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup coconut oil (or 1 stick butter, melted)

For the cake:

4 ½ eight oz. bricks of light cream cheese at room temperature (36 oz. total)
¾ cup brown sugar
4 ½ tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups reduced maple syrup (see above)
1 cup low-fat sour cream (not fat-free)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and combine well.
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Drizzle the coconut oil over the crumb mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

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Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-x13-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray.

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Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

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Cube the cream cheese and place in the cleaned food processor bowl.  Process until creamy and smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

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Add the sugar, flour, and salt and blend until smooth.  IMG_2860.jpg

Add the maple syrup, sour cream and vanilla and process again.  IMG_2862.jpg

Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and process just until blended after each addition.

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Pour the filling into the cooled crust.

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Bake in the oven beside a small glass bowl filled with boiling water (acts as a water bath and reduces cracking).

IMG_2864.jpgAfter 55 minutes, turn the oven off and prop open the door for 15 more minutes before removing the cake.  Allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until ready to serve.

Chocolate Crinkle Sprinkle Cookies

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These fun cookies are from Jessica Merchant’s book, “The Pretty Dish.”  I doubled the recipe as she suggested because I knew that two dozen cookies wouldn’t last long in my house.  They are oil, rather than margarine-based, allowing the use of several types of oil. I used “Sweetapolita” Sprinkle Medley to make them even more fun.

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Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup coconut/grapeseed oil
4 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup assorted rainbow sprinkles

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat together the cocoa, sugar and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

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Add the eggs, one at a time followed by the vanilla.

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Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Batter will be sticky.

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Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

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Place the sprinkles into a small bowl.  Preheat oven to 350F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Using a 3 cm ice cream scoop, form the batter into balls, then dip into the sprinkles.

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Bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool.  Makes 46 cookies.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Grapeseed oil is often used in baking and cooking because it has a higher smoke point. Compared to olive oil, it can be heated to a higher temperature before smoking. Try using it as a replacement next time you fry anything!

Cinnamon Rolls

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These were a first attempt and they turned out perfectly! This are a perfect addition to any brunch and will make your Sunday sweeter for sure. They don’t need the topping, but are delicious with the cream cheese frosting.

The recipe originally comes from: Ambitious Kitchen with some added espresso powder.

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

3/4 cup warm milk (110˚F)
2 1/4 tsp quick rise yeast
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp sugar

For the Filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp espresso powder

For the Frosting:

4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Put warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer and add yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes
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Add sugar, egg, egg yolk, sugar and melted butter. Mix well.

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Add flour and salt. Mix slowly until combined. Then mix with dough hook on medium speed for 8 minutes.

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Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a towel.

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Let rise for 1 and a half hours (until doubled in size)

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Transfer to a floured surface and roll out into 9 x 13 rectangle.

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Spread melted butter.

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Mix sugar, cinnamon, and espresso powder in a bowl.

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Sprinkle on top.

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Roll tightly and place with seam side down on a cutting board or surface.

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Cut into 1 inch pieces with a serrated knife and transfer to a 9×9 square pan, or 9 inch circular pan (springform).

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Let rise for 30-45 minutes.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350˚F (until golden brown)

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Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

While the cinnamon rolls cool, mix frosting ingredients in an electric mixer and frost cinnamon rolls.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Yeast feeds on sugar to activate. For this reason you can’t just mix yeast and water. For breads it’s often yeast, water and sugar. For this recipe I used lactose free milk (because that’s what we had in the house) and realized that because of the lack of lactose, the yeast would not activate. So I tried again with 1 tsp of sugar and it worked perfectly.

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These delicious vegan chocolate chunk cookies are easy to make. Possibly one of the best tasting cookies I have ever made.

These are always a hit and disappear quickly.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
2 ½ sticks (10 oz.) unsalted pareve margarine softened at room temperature
4 tbsp. espresso powder
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips/chunks
¼ cup granulated sugar for dipping

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine, coffee, and sugars until well combined.

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Stir in the flour mixture about ½ cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chunks.

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Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the granulated sugar in a small, shallow bowl. Scoop out about 1 tbsp dough and flatten it slightly into a disk. Dip one side into the granulated sugar and then set the disk, sugar side up, on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the disks about 2 inches apart.

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Bake until the edges start to darken, 12 to 14 minutes.

IMG_2127.jpgLet the cookies cool for 1 to 2 minutes on the baking sheets. Transfer them to paper-towel-lined cooling racks to cool completely.

Yield: 41 cookies.

Science Fact of the Week:

Packing the brown sugar means pushing it firmly into the measuring cup. This compacts the brown sugar to ensure the correct measurement. Otherwise people can end up utilizing incorrect measurements of sugar.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These chocolate chip cookies are from BuzzFeed and are delicious! I modified them a little to be non-dairy. Follow the instructions carefully and they will turn out perfectly. I recommend using a scale to measure ingredients. If you don’t have one, I recommend scooping and levelling the ingredients to ensure they are measured accurately.

These cookies are delicious and disappear rather quickly. I recommend doubling the batch because they are such a hit.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (300g)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup packed LIGHT brown sugar (250 g)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (175 g)
1 3/4 sticks of margarine, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of non-dairy chocolate chips
Flakey Sea Salt

Directions

Mix flour, salt and baking soda.

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Whisk sugars and break and large chunks with your fingers
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Add melted margarine and mix for 1 minute. IMG_0049.jpg

Add eggs one at a time and mix well.

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Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix with a spatula. IMG_0052.jpg

Refrigerate the batter for 10 minutes and then scoop into balls using a cookie scoop. IMG_0058.jpg

Place dough balls on a tray and wrap with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. At this point the balls can also be put in a ziplock bag and frozen for up to 3 months.

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Preheat oven to 375˚F and sprinkle cookies with flakey sea salt.

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Bake for 12-16 minutes. If baking from frozen, may need an additional couple minutes.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Some people ask: “why do we have to refrigerate the cookies, we just want to eat them immediately?!” This is because the butter needs to solidify. This stops cookies from spreading excessively (although these do spread quite a bit)

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

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This easy quick bread can be made with a food processor or mixed by hand. A great use of leftover/ripe bananas that combines the delicious flavours of chocolate and banana. Freezes well when wrapped with one layer of plastic wrap and a second layer of aluminum foil.

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Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large ripe bananas (1 ½ cups mashed)
½ cup liquid coconut oil
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the bananas, oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

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Add the dry ingredients and pulse until just combined.

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Add ¾ cup of the mini chocolate chips and fold in with a spatula.

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Transfer the batter to the lined pan and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup mini chocolate chips over the cake.

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Bake for 60 minutes.

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Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Enjoy!

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Science Fact of the Week:

Cocoa powder has many health benefits as it contains flavonoids. These can help lower the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol. As well, they have the added effect of being a potential anti-depressive agent.