Carmelitas, Or How I Was Told to Bribe my Coworkers

A few coworkers and I were out to lunch, welcoming a new member of the team. The subject came up that I liked to bake, to which the woman on my left said “You know, you haven’t been baking much at all out of the “Stuff we want Liesl to make” Pinterest board. I think that you don’t really love us any more.” One of my leaders was also at the table and said, “Yeah, your year-end review is coming up. I think you need to show us the love.”

So, I got ‘gently persuaded’ to bake something and bring it in to work. Plus, we’re all facing the end of our fiscal year, so we’re all a little stressed out.

Original recipe is here: http://luluthebaker.com/2010/10/the-tale-of-the-carmelitas.html

Here’s What You Need
32 caramel squares
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

And Here’s What You Do
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove pan from oven and evenly layer the chocolate chips over crust then pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel.
5. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.
6. Seriously, don’t try to cut them before they are cool. They will still be a little wobbly when they come out of the oven and will firm up as they cool.

What I Did
I really need to read recipes all the way through before charging blindly ahead (but, hey! Where’s the fun in being prepared?) I thought that one recipe would be enough to cover a 9X13 pan. So, I had to improvise and do another 1/2 recipe to try and cover the 9×13 pan. They turned out ok.

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Oh yeah….

However, here it is a week later, and I’m making another pan for Scott. This time, I had all the ingredients that I needed for a full batch, and I can already tell that they are going to turn out better than the last batch did.

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The coworkers loved them! I ended up bringing a few home for Scott to take to work, but I don’t think that actually happened. Because really, they are the perfect thing to pick you up after a long hard day at work. Or on a Saturday. Or a Sunday…

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Browned Butter Cinnamon Chip Bars

Various coworkers have been bugging me to bring baked things in again. I really haven’t brought anything in since the holidays, so it was definitely time to do so. I learned how to do something new, and I think it turned out very well…
Original recipe is here: http://picky-palate.com/2014/02/03/brown-sugar-cinnamon-sugar-cookie-bars/
What You Need
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal Flour
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup cinnamon chips

2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

And Here’s What You Do
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with foil. Place butter into a saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter and cook until browned, swirling the pan occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
3. Pour the butter into a stand mixer. Add sugar and mix until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla, stirring well. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cinnamon chips, mixing until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Stir together the 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon in a small bowl, then sprinkling over top of pressed dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes until baked through. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes then cut into square and serve.
What I Did
So, I was making a batch of cookies at the same time, so I got the butters mixed up. It was a little too late for the cookies (which turned out fine even with the extra butter), but it gave me the opportunity to practice with browning butter. What a trip that is! I had never done that before, so I’m glad that the recipe came with instructions on browning butter. Just don’t turn your back on it. It goes from golden and frothy to brown and hearty in a blink of an eye.
See this?
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Compared to this:

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That is some browned butter in there!  When the bubbles come up a lovely caramel shade, then take it off the heat.

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I was a little hesitant about these. When I cut them, they seemed to be quite dry and hard. But after trying one of them, the bars seemed to be living up to their promises. I had Scott try one, and he said that they were really good.
So, with a little faith, I took them to work. And they disappeared quickly.
So, apparently they were better than I thought they were.

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That’s not a great picture, but I forgot to get a pretty one before I went to work.  They look a bit like inedible bricks.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

Somoa Cookie Bars

Another Girl Scout cookie season has come and gone, but you can still whip up a batch of these babies to satisfy your Samoa (Or Caramel de Lite) craving!

Origingal Recipe is Here: http://www.crazyforcrust.com/2014/02/samoa-magic-bars/

Here’s What You Need

½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
18 square caramels, cut in half
1 can (14 ounces) fat-free sweetened condensed milk

And Here’s What You Do

1. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Trust me, you don’t want to try to remove these babies if you don’t have the foil and the cooking spray
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add in the flour, sugar, and salt. Once combined, the mixture will be crumbly and look very dry. However, you should be able to press it together with your fingers and have it stick together. (see picture below) Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Remove hot crust from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips, coconut, and caramels. Finish with sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden around the edges. Cool completely before cutting.
4. Store in an airtight container.

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What I Did
I should have thought about the layers on these bars before I dove into the recipe. I should have layered chocolate first (of course they were the little mini chips), then the caramel, then the coconut, then the sweetened condensed milk. It would have looked prettier that way. Instead, I have this lovely mess of mini chocolate chips glistening over the pale coconut. They would have tasted the same either way, but aesthetically would have been more appealing, I think.

As revealed in another post, I am a sucker for sweetened condensed milk. Lord only knows why. There isn’t anything truly appealing about the stuff, and it tends to get everywhere if you don’t pay attention while you are pouring it out of the can. Still, I can’t help but love the way it splodges up and oozes into every nook and cranny of whatever you are baking.

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Since this recipe contains several of my favorite things, I am an unfair judge as to how these turned out. Scott would have liked them better if the caramel was spread out a bit more, so that can be accomplished by cutting the caramel a little smaller or using caramel chips instead of the squares.

Still, I think that this one will be for the recipe books.

Until Next Time,
Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

 

Peanut Butter Apple Bars

The holiday season has come and gone once again, and “Frosty the Snowman” has been replaced with Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers commercials on tv.  Ugh, so depressing.  Makes a person just want to eat more to overcome the sadness of the holidays being over.

In an effort to get back on the wagon, lots of fruits and vegetables have appeared at our house.  Granted my mom came to stay and she loves fresh fruit, but I like to think that she was a good influence.  So, we have a lot of fresh apples around.  Now, I like apples.  Actually, I like granny smith apples, and apples that have been baked in the oven with cinnamon and sugar and butter.  I know, not exactly a combination of healthy alternatives.

In my crazy efficiency, I was putting cinnamon apple oatmeal muffins together for breakfast this week when I got a little chop-happy.  Which led me to having about a cup of leftover chopped apples.  I knew I had to get them baked into something quickly before they got all brown and yuck.  So, thanks to Google, I discovered the following recipe.

Original recipe is here: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/peanut-butter-apple-bars/

(I really need to spend more time on that website)

What You Need

For the bars:

½ cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup diced and peeled apples (I used Honeycrisp)

For the peanut butter glaze:

1 ½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
½ tsp vanilla extract

And Here’s What You Do

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray or butter.

2. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from the heat, and stir in the peanut butter until creamy and combined. Set mixture aside to cool.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

4. Add the eggs to the peanut butter mixture one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and stir. Pour the mixture into the prepared dry ingredients, and stir until batter is smooth. Carefully fold in the apples.

5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spreading the batter evenly to the edges of the pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the edges are slightly browned. Remove bars from oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.

6. While the bars are cooling, make the peanut butter glaze. In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled bars.

What I Did

I think I turned the heat up a little too much on the brown sugar and butter because it had started to stick to the bottom of the pan and it was slightly grainy.  After mixing in the peanut butter, the wet ingredients never really got smooth until after the eggs were added

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I was a little concerned that the batter was so dry.  It was a little harder to press smoothly into the pan, but I was hoping that the fresh apples would add a lot of moisture to the bars.  Luckily, I was right!

I added a little more milk to the glaze since I like it a little thinner.  My experience with glaze tends to run on the thick and gloppy side, and I can never make it pretty when it is that thick.

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Scott really likes these little babies.  He has a sweet tooth, but he likes that these bars aren’t terribly sweet.

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I like them because I can fool myself into thinking that they are halfway healthy because of the apples.

Until next time,

Peace, love, and cupcakes

Lightened Up Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

I’m pretty sure that I have a problem this fall with my obsession with pumpkin.  I bought three cans of the puree last weekend, and I bought another two cans this weekend.  True, I’ve used two and a half cans so far, but I think this might quickly escalate into a problem.  A very tasty problem, but a problem nonetheless.

When this recipe appeared on my Pinterest board, I knew that I had to make it. Not only does it combine two of my favorite things (pumpkin and cream cheese), but it also allowed me to use angel food cake for the first time.  Not that I have an aversion to it, but I’ve never made one before!

I also found Greek cream cheese.  I knew that I would have to try it with this recipe!  It has much less fat and fewer calories than the non-Greek version, and I think it tastes better than the fat free cream cheese.

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So, here’s the original recipe: http://cookiesandcups.com/lightened-up-pumpkin-cream-cheese-swirl-bars/#_a5y_p=861720

 

Here’s What You Need:

1 8oz package of cream cheese (non-fat, low-fat, or Greek)

¾ cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp water

1 16 oz package angel food cake mix

1 15 oz can pumpkin

¾ cup water

½ tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

½ tsp Cinnamon

 

And Here’s What You Do

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
  2. Mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp water until it is smooth and creamy; Set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry cake mix, pumpkin, ¾ cup water, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.  Mix until smooth.
  4. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray, and then spread your pumpkin mixture into the pan.
  5. Drizzle the cream cheese onto the top of the pumpkin mixture, and then swirl the two together.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool completely, then cut into square

What I Did

So, the directions say to mix the cream cheese, sugar and water until it is smooth and creamy.  Smooth I got, but creamy never really happened.  It pretty much stayed the consistency of cream cheese frosting, when I needed it to be a little more yogurt-y.  Oh well, you make it work!  I also didn’t drizzly as much as stick it all into a plastic bag, cut off the tip and squirted it on like frosting. Still, it worked!

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The people at work are eating up the pumpkin recipes!  We’re also in a very busy time right now, so snacks are always welcome.  One coworker stood in front of me while eating one of the bars.  I told him, “You really don’t have to feel bad about eating one!”, to which he replied, “I’ve eaten three.”  Ummm…ok.  I won’t stop you!  I had people come by, eat one, then sneak another back to their desk to enjoy in solitude.  Hey, whatever floats your boat!

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I think these little babies were a big hit.

Until Next Time,

 

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Dream Bars

I truly believe that marriage is a partnership and everyone should get a fair say in decisions that are made that affect the household.  But, Holy Cats, I was getting sick of the frustration of asking Scott what he felt like having for his sweets for the week!  The man loves his peanut butter cookies, and would be perfectly happy with me making them every week.  I’m the one drooling over all the new recipes I keep finding and offering up suggestions, only to be met with rejections.

So, last weekend, I didn’t ask.  I just did.  I found a recipe that I wanted to make, and I made it without even asking him.  And wouldn’t you know…he loves them!  Ha!

Original Recipe is here: http://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/229005431/peanut-butter-and-oatmeal-dream-bars-five-stars/

Here’s What You Need

1 cup melted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/4 cups quick cooking oats

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 king sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup candy bars, chopped

1 cup chocolate chips

And Here’s What You Do

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. Combine butter, sugar, baking soda, oatmeal, flour & salt in a bowl until crumbly.  This is what it will look like

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Set aside 1 cup for the top of the bars.  Now press the rest of the crust into the foil-lined pan.  Bake it for 10 minutes.

3. While the crust is getting all happy in the oven, stir together the peanut butter and the sweetened condensed milk.  I didn’t think it would go so well, but I am happy to be wrong.  this is what I got.

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4. Remove the crust from the oven after baking for 10 minutes, then pour the peanut butter filling over the crust.  I used a spatula to even things out.

5. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the peanut butter mixture.

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6.   Bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Once that is done, evenly distribute the chopped candy bar pieces and chocolate chips over the top.  Place the whole thing back in the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the topping is golden bown and the chocolate chips are melty.

7. Allow to cool completely before trying to cut.  Best stored in a cool place (like the fridge).

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So, I didn’t even KNOW that such a thing as Reece’s Candy Bars existed until I read through this recipe. I think I really need to get out more.  Or go up and down the candy aisle a little more than once a year.

I made these while Scott was taking his Saturday nap (poor thing works nights, and I let him sleep as much as he wants whenever we have a weekend that we aren’t busy), so I could bake undisturbed.  Once he got up, however, the sampling began!  I think he was pleasantly surprised by them.

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Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

Chess Squares

I came across this recipe on Pinterest, and since Scott gave me the blessing to make other things for him beside cookies to take work, I thought I would go with a nice and easy bar cookie.  The recipe that follows seemed easy enough.

Original recipe is here: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dessert/chess-squares.html Apparently they are very close to the Gooey Butter Cake recipe from Paula Deen as well.

What You Need

1 box yellow cake mix

3 eggs

1 stick butter (melted)

8 oz cream cheese, softened

4 cups powdered sugar

 

And Here’s What You Do

Preheat oven to 300.  Grease a 9×13 pan.  Mix the cake mix, butter, and 1 egg together until combined.  Press the soft dough evenly into the bottom of the pan.

Please excuse my fingerprints!

Mix together the cream cheese, the powdered sugar, and the remaining two eggs.  Pour evenly on top of the crust in the pan.

Lovely and creamy!

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden.

 

What I Did

I was about halfway through pushing the crust into the pan when I realized that this recipe is almost identical to Scott’s recipe for “Chewy Cheese Cookies”.  Really the only thing that is missing is the nuts.  So, I made him the same cookies that he makes for people all of the time.  So much for trying something completely new!

 

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They didn’t look identical to the chewy cheese cookies in that they resembled cheesecake just a little bit more.  Scott says they are really good, but a bit sweeter than the cookies that he makes.  He also doesn’t use as much sugar as his recipe calls for.  They are also a bit gooier than his cookies.  But really, they are both fantastic!

Oh yum!

He said that he would also like to wait until they cool completely and see if they set up a bit more.  I guess we’ll see if they last that long!

 

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes