Candy Bar Cookie Bars

More bars this week!  I’m really getting to like trying these bar recipes.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup butter

¼ cup dark or light corn syrup

¼ cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 ½ cups quick cooking rolled oats

1 12oz package semisweet chocolate pieces

1 cup butterscotch-flavor pieces

2/3 cup peanut butter

1 cup chopped peanuts

 

And here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 375.  In a medium saucepan heat and stir brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup over medium-low heat until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the ¼ cup peanut butter and vanilla; stir until smooth.

For crust, place oats in a large bowl.  Pour brown sugar mixture over oats, stirring gently until combined.

Press oat mixture in the bottom of an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking pan.  Bake for 10 to 12 minute or until edges are light brown.  Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack.

In the same saucepan, heat and stir chocolate pieces and butterscotch pieces over low heat until smooth.

Stir in the 2/3 cup peanut butter until smooth.

Sprinkle half of the peanuts over crust.  Slowly pour chocolate mixture over the peanuts, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining peanuts over the top.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack until bars are firm.  Cut into 1-inch squares.

What I did:

I followed the recipe exactly as stated.  At one point I scrubbed up like I was prepping for surgery and dug right in to the oat mixture to press it into the bottom of the pan.  There is something oddly satisfying and comforting about squishing warm and sticky oats into a pan.  I know, there’s something wrong with me.  And the smell of toasting oats in the oven is one that cannot be matched.

I was fine with everything until it came to melting the chocolate and butterscotch in the saucepan.  I had scraped all of the brown sugar mixture out of it, so it was basically clean.  I’m not sure that I should have done that because the chocolate and butterscotch pieces did not melt well.  The mixture looked a bit…dry.  Thinking back, I think it was a lack of some sort of binding agent (like butter or any sort of fat).  It should have been ok with the peanut butter, but it wasn’t enough for my satisfaction.  It was fine enough to work with, but I would have liked to have seen it smoother.  There was a bit of it left clinging to the edges of the pan when I was done, and it wasn’t to be moved but a rubber spatula at all.  Perhaps I should not have scraped the pan so much when I was putting the mixture in the oats…

I had fun hauling out my big knife again, this time to make short work of the peanuts.  They are surprisingly easy to chop up!

This is definitely a bar that needs to be completely cooled before you eat it.  When they were completely cooled to room temperature, they came out very gooey and fell apart easily.  So, I stuck them into the fridge, and they’ve been living there ever since.

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I’m not incredibly impressed by the way they came out.  Scott cut them up once they had chilled out in the fridge for a while, and said that they were really difficult to get out of the pan.  But, he LOVES them!  And they’ve gotten rave reviews from his coworkers.  He has asked me to make them again, so I will have to try again with some modifications.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

Cheesecake Brownies, or How I Learned Not to Leave the Oven

Chocolate is my crack.  I decided a long time ago that if I was going to eat something sweet, it should either be a cookie, ice cream, or something chocolate.  No hard candy, no skittles, nothing like that.  Chocolate.  I will never turn down a gift of that wonderful stuff!  Is there any greater Mecca than Cadbury Mini Eggs?  I don’t think so.   Yes, I think I could eat an entire bag in one sitting…

That’s probably why I love brownies so much.   Food Network Magazine did a chocolate issue a few months back that has a pull out with 50 different brownie recipes in it.  I guess what I am trying to say is, “Expect a lot of brownie recipes in the future.”  Cause, yeah…I’m kind of an addict.

Anyway, until they make a “Brownie-aholics Anonymous” I guess I’ll just have to bake to deal with my addiction.  Which is why I am kind of upset with how these turned out, even though we’re still eating them.

Here’s What you Need:

Fudgy Brownie Ingredients –

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 stick butter

¾ cups light brown sugar

¾ cups sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

 

Cheesecake batter –

8 ounces cream cheese

½ cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

And Here’s What you Do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a 9×13 pan by spraying with cooking spray or lining with foil, then spraying with cooking spray.

For the fudgy brownie part – Melt the chocolate chips and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring.

Once melted, take the pan off the heat.

Whisk in brown sugar and regular sugar. Cool slightly.

Whisk in one egg at a time, then the vanilla.

Stir in flour and salt.

Spread in the prepared pan

Meanwhile, in another part of the kitchen…

For the cheesecake part – Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla together until creamy (it will have a few lumps in it).

Swirl into the brownie batter in the pan.  Bake for 55 minutes.

And here’s what I did:

I followed the directions to the letter.  I used my hand mixer on the cheesecake portion since hand mixing gets a little tough sometimes, especially in dealing with cream cheese that hasn’t completely softened yet.  Yeah, I am a glutton for punishment at times.

I brought the two batters together and “swirled” them as instructed, but I got a little over-zealous and nearly mixed them together in one section.  I was trying to get a good swirl going all the way through the batter…maybe next time.

So, into the oven it goes.  And here’s where stuff goes weird.

Now, the Fudgy brownie recipe calls for a baking time of 45 minutes, and the cheesecake brownies calls for a baking time of 55 minutes.  So, I set the timer for 45 minutes, because you normally always go for the shorter baking time.  At 25 minutes, the house was filled with this glorious smell of the happily baking brownies.  At 35 minutes, I poked my head into the oven to see how things were going, and was met with nearly too-brown brownies.  Immediately took them out of the oven with 10 minutes left on my timer.  What I thought was supposed to look like beautiful New York style cheese cake in parts had acquired a color that can only be described as chocolate milk.  I didn’t even take a picture of the whole pan.  Not very pretty…

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The flavor of these is incredible!  It’s exactly what you would expect it to be – brownie and cheesecake.  They didn’t burn, just got a little browner than expected.  Scott said that the flavor was good, but he prefers to have a fudgier brownie.  Ok, that is another problem solved with a shorter bake time.  And an add in that Scott told me about that I just may have to try…

These will have to go in the “try again” category, unfortunately.  The flavor was too good for me to give up on the recipe entirely, and I know that the bake time just needs adjusting.  Maybe also a few ingredient adjustments, too.  Overall a win, but could be better.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Some people may have an aversion to any cookie containing oatmeal.  Maybe it’s because Mom poured too much of it down their throats when they were growing up.  Call me weird, but to me, there is something so comforting about a hot bowl of oatmeal on any morning.  But we’re not here to talk about oatmeal.

Some of my absolute favorite cookies are oatmeal raisin.  Maybe it’s because I can fool myself into thinking that they are healthier than the average chocolate-filled cookie because they have oatmeal and raisins in them.  Just let me dream…

So, anyway, we’re taking a different path this week than the normal “peanut butter and/or chocolate” theme that I have been following.  I thought that change would be good!

On to the recipe!

Here’s what you need:

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 ½ cups old fashioned oats

1 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 6oz package of dried cranberries

2/3 cup white chocolate chunks

And here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 375.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, mixing well.  Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl.  Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.

Makes approximately 2 ½ dozen cookies.

What I did:

I wanted to try my hand at making some nice, big, chewy cookies.  I figured I owed my honey that much since everything I have been making is a little on the smaller side.  So I decided to double this recipe so I could make the cookies nice and big.  Except I didn’t have enough cranberries.  And the genius award goes to me.  Well, you do what you have to, so I didn’t put double the cranberries in.  And I’m not missing them.  There are enough berries for double the recipe, in my opinion.  Speaking of cranberries, make sure that you stir them in instead of using a mixer on them.  That will crush them beyond recognition.

The recipe calls for white chocolate chunks, but I bought chips instead.  Eh, just a different form of the same thing.  I didn’t add more chips to compensate for the lack of cranberries, and don’t notice that the cookies are lacking anything.

I used extra large eggs instead of large eggs.  You might think that there wouldn’t be that much difference, but I think it makes them moister.  You definitely need to mix the batter well, though.  I followed the instructions on this recipe pretty much to the letter.

I baked these cookies for about nine minutes on my light cookie sheets, and about seven on my dark cookie sheets.  It took several batches of burned-on-the-bottom cookies several years ago to realize that the darker the cookie sheet, the quicker the cookies will bake. Therefore, you cannot bake cookies on dark cookie sheets for the same amount of time as you can on light cookie sheets.  Sometimes, I’m just not all there.  *sigh* And thus ends my lecture on cookie sheets.  Rule of thumb – watch them.  Unless you know your cookie sheets and your oven really well, don’t leave these poor guys to fend for themselves in the oven.  That goes for any cookie that you are making for the first time.

It really did make 2 ½ dozen…once I doubled the recipe and made them twice as big as called for.

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Scott stopped chewing long enough to give me the thumbs up sign, swallowed, then said, “These are really good!”  He took four to work with him immediately after I baked them.  He shared them with some coworkers who also sang their praises.  I believe the phrase was, “She just about lost her d*** mind when she ate them.”

These are truly some of the moistest cookies that I’ve ever made!  They aren’t crumbly at all.  Of course, keeping them in an air tight container is really helping retain that moisture.  They are also very dense.  As in, “I won’t need to eat breakfast now that I’ve eaten this cookie. Or lunch.”

On a side note: Use parchment paper when baking cookies!  I didn’t use it for the longest time, now I can’t imagine how I ever baked anything successful without it!  Nothing sticks to it, it acts as a great buffer between the sheet and the cookie…the list goes on and on about how great it is.  Sure, I know.  It’s one more thing to buy, and you can’t just wash it and reuse it.  But it’s worth it.  And I’ve used a sheet a few times before tossing it.  My mom uses it until the edges turn brown and get crumbly.  Not sure if you are supposed to use it that long…

Oh, and since I’ve started using unsalted butter, it makes everything I bake taste fresher.  Sounds strange, but there you have it.  Use unsalted butter when baking.

Final verdict:

Definitely a make-again!  I could see easily substituting the cranberries for raisins and having one awesome oatmeal raisin white chocolate cookie!