Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart

This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s book packed full of wonderful dessert recipes.  This is not a dessert I would typically make because it is a bit labor intensive and time consuming. There are three components to the recipe, the tart shell, caramel layer and the chocolate ganache. Each component comes together fairly quickly and if you have experience making caramel this recipe will be a breeze for you.

This dessert is great for those who love a good Snickers bar, basically this is a Snickers in a tart form (minus the nougat). The tart dough was so good and is reason enough to make this recipe! Slightly sweet, great texture, just wonderful!

If, however, you are like me and would rather have a root canal than use a candy thermometer, this recipe can be a bit intimidating and nerve wracking. All in all in turned out well. I did have trouble with the caramel layer even though Dorie gives very clear directions. It was definitely not the recipe’s fault but baker-error that caused the issues.  My caramel layer turned out a bit thicker than I would have liked because I let it cook too long for fear of  it being too runny (this has happened to me in the past when I have tried making caramels).

Because my caramel layer was a bit thick, once I added the nuts to it it kind of clumped up into clusters making it VERY hard to spread evenly over the tart shell.
Next time I will A) not cook as long, B) may double the caramel layer and C) spread the caramel over the tart shell and then sprinkle the nuts on top since I think it would be hard to spread even if it was thinner just because the nuts liked to cling to the back of my spatula and dug into the shell. You can tell in the pictures the caramel layer is quite thin.

Despite the error, this turned out very well. I was fearful we would break a tooth (and thus requiring a root canal, the irony in that would not be lost on me) after it set up and chilled. We were surprised when we took our first bite and while the caramel was firm (ok, it was hard) it was not tooth-breaking hard. Yeah! Minor success!

This tasted great and we really enjoyed it. It is not something I will be whipping up again soon, but will be using the tart shell for some Berry Tarts this spring!

I rate this recipe an 8

Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart
by Dorie Greenspan

For the tart shell:
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. very cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
For the caramel layer:
Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 tbsp. salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
For the ganache:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 4 oz bittersweet and 4oz semi sweet chocolate)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
Directions:

To make the tart shell, in a small bowl stir together the egg yolk, water and vanilla; set aside.  Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas.  Add the egg mixture and beat on low speed just until the dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  When you are ready to roll out the dough, unwrap it and place it on a lightly floured work surface.
Roll out with a floured rolling pin, lifting and turning the dough occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the work surface.
Roll it out evenly until it is large enough to line a 9-inch tart pan and is about 1/8-inch thick.
Carefully transfer the dough to the tart pan, pressing it into the sides, and trim to remove the excess.  Cover the dough with foil or parchment paper and fill with baking beads.  Bake for 5 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Remove the foil and baking beads and using a fork, gently poke holes in the bottom and sides of the crust.  Bake until the crust is golden, 15-20 minutes more.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.Before making the caramel, make sure that you have all the ingredients measured out and ready to go because you have to work quickly once the sugar caramelizes.  Also have a medium heatproof bowl at hand to hold the hot caramel.

To make the caramel, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, to medium heat and sprinkle in about 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
When it melts, stir it with a wooden spatula or a fork and sprinkle over another 3 tablespoons.  When that sugar is melted, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
The sugar in the pan may already have started to color and that is fine.  Stir in the corn syrup and boil the syrup until it reaches a deep caramel color – it will probably begin to smoke, and that is normal.

Bring the simmering cream to a full boil.  Stand back from the skillet and stir in the butter and salt, if you’re using it.  The caramel will bubble furiously and may spatter, so be careful.  When the butter is in, add the warm cream – the caramel will bubble furiously again.
Lower the temperature just a tad and let the caramel boil for just 2 minutes.  (If you check the temperature with a thermometer, the caramel should be at 226 degrees F.)  Pour the seething caramel into the heatproof bowl and set it aside while you make the ganache.

To make the ganache, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and have a whisk or rubber spatula at hand.  Bring the cream to a boil, then pour half of it over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds.
Working with the whisk or spatula, very gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at center of the bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles.  Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate, using the same circular motion.
When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don’t stir the ganache any more than you must to blend the ingredients – the less you work it, the darker, smoother and shinier it will be.

Cover the ganache with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the surface of the chocolate to create an airtight seal.  Set aside at room temperature for the moment.  To assemble the tart, stir the peanuts into the caramel using a rubber spatula.  If the caramel is too thick to stir or spread easily, gently warm it in the microwave in 3-second spurts.  (You can also hold the heatproof bowl about 10 inches above the burner on your range.  Check the consistency after a couple of seconds and repeat if necessary.)  Spread the caramel over the bottom of the tart shell in a thin layer.  Refrigerate the tart for 15 minutes to set the caramel.

Check the ganache.  If it has thickened and is no longer pourable, warm it in the same way as instructed for the caramel above.  Pour the ganache over the caramel and jiggle the tart pan to even it.  Refrigerate the tart for 30 minutes but no longer, and then keep it at room temperature until serving time.

Butterscotch Bars with Brown Sugar Icing

I have had this recipe printed off for months but have been waiting for the perfect occasion to whip them up as they make a ton and I so do NOT need a sheet pan of sweets tempting me during the Holidays!

These bars (the original recipe calls them brownies, but really, these are a bar) would be the love child of a blondie and a sugar cookie bar (if baked goods could produce offspring). From the ingredieint list alone I knew I was in for a sweet and carmely treat!

Imagine a thick, soft and chewy brown sugar cookie toped with a buttery brown sugar caramel icing. Because these bars are made in a 15×18 baking pan they make the perfect treat when you need to feed a crowd.

Making the recipe as is, you will end up with an almost too-sweet dessert that will more than satisfy the strongest of sweet tooth cravings with only a small serving.

These bars are made up of a soft and chewy base with brown sugar undertones that would be a great bar on its own (maybe some butterscotch or chocolate chips thrown into the batter?) In fact, if you wanted to make these bars even easier, you could easily skip the icing step and could sprinkle butterscotch chips over the top of the warm bars right out of the oven and then spread them into a thin layer as they melt.

However, If you do opt for the icing on top be prepared for a trip to the dentist! There is 6 cups of combined sugar in the icing alone! I know it covers a lot of bars, but yowza! Personally, I feel the icing layer was a bit too thick considering the depth of its flavor and could be scaled down to ¾ the amount next time (I have given the original proportions below so if you want to make a smaller batch you can reduce amounts accordingly).
I personally found these bars a tad too sweet when made according to the recipe but fell in love with the deep, buttery, carmely flavor of both the bar and the icing. I think each component could be stand alone and may too much when paired together (whith the amount of icing called for in the recipe). Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy these bars, if I were to make them with the icing again I would use a much thinner layer and reserve some of the icing for another treat, such as to slather on cupcakes or served warm drizzled over apple pie! MMMMM.

I took these bars to work and my boss and a co-worker asked around for an hour trying to find out who brought them as they fell in love with them! You have to understand, my boss went on and on about how great these were and he never does that and is not a huge sweet fan to begin with! Maybe my sweet tooth is too sensitive this holiday season.

I rate this recipe an 8

The recipe is from here

Butterscotch Bars with Brown Sugar Icing
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Icing
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
4 cups powdered sugar (i sifted mine)
1/3 cup half and half or whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a half-sheet pan (13×18 inches) with aluminum foil and grease foil with butter or cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating for another minute.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the batter mixture on low speed until incorporated. Stir in the pecans.
Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake until the bars are set and slightly puffed, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool completely before icing.
When brownies are cool, spread icing evenly over the top. Let them sit for about 30 minutes to allow the icing to firm up before cutting into squares.

While the bars are cooling, make the icing:

Brown Sugar Icing: In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar. Once the mixture is lightly bubbling, decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 more minutes; set aside.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the powdered sugar,  half-and-half and  vanilla on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.

Add the melted butter mixture and beat until combined.
Note: If you don’t own a half-sheet pan, you can bake the brownies in a 9×13-inch pan. Adjust the baking time and watch them carefully. You may have too much icing.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Brownies

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This recipe caught my eye several weeks ago. I was searching for a dessert recipe to use up a can of Sweetened Condensed milk and was in the mood for somthing different than my usual Magic Cookie Bars. This reipce combines several of my favorite flavors: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Marshmallows. Another great thing about this recipe is that it uses a boxed cake mix keeping the ingredient list small.

While these were a breeze to whip up, it was a little time consuming. First you need to make and par bake the chocolate base. Next you need to make the filling, pour over the partially baked crust and then bake again. From start to finish these took about an hour for me, which on a hot summer day can feel like torture.

I also had a difficult time evenly spreading the sticky marshmallow/peanut butter filling over the crust. The filling was thick and way to hard to spread even with a buttered knife/spoon/spatula (maybe I was just having an off day). I ended up plopping spoonfulls of filling all over the crust and then with a greased knife did the best I could at trying make sure the crust was covered entirely. This worked well as the filling did thin and spread while baking.

The flavor of these bars made up for my frustrations while preparing them. They came out of the oven smelling faintly of peanut butter with bubbling marshmallow peeking through the chocolate topping just begging to be enjoyed. I waited about 30 minutes and then ate one warm. Don’t overbake as they are supposed to be a bit gooey when you take them out, they will firm up a bit as they cool.

The crust was sturdy but not hard, the filling had a subtly noticable peanut butter flavor and very similar to cheesecake in texture but gooier. Overall these were really great brownies and were enjoyed by all, even the non-peanut butter lovers (yes they do exist). While these brownies were yummy, they don’t beat out my favorite!

I did adapt this recipe a bit (based on my preferences and reviews) as reflected below and would recomend you do the same. Next time I will add some chopped Reese’s PB cups over the top of the brownies the last 10 minutes of baking to marry together the two flavors more fully.

I rate these brownies an 8

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, divided
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1/4 cup milk
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme (about 1-3/4 cups)
1/2 cup peanut butter chip
Directions
1Set oven to 350 degrees.
2Grease a 13″ x 9-inch baking pan.
3In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup condensed milk, butter, 1/4 cup milk, cake mix and the egg; mix to combine well (batter will be stiff).
4Press TWO-THIRDS of the batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan (using floured hands); pat down evenly, the layer will be thin.
5Bake for 10 minutes.
6Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup condensed milk and the marshmallow creme in a bowl; stir in the peanut butter chips/morsels.
7Remove the pan from the oven; spread the marshmallow mixture evenly over the brownie layer.
8Carefully drop the remaining batter by the spoonfuls over the marshmallow mixture.
9Bake for another 30 minutes.
10Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Peanut Butter Marshallow Brownies
adapted from here

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, divided (I used 1 whole can)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1/4 cup milk
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix (I used Triple Chocolate Cake Mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
(1 1/4 cups Creamy Peanut Butter)
1/2 cup peanut butter chip (I HIGHLY recommend Reese’s brand chips)
(1/4 cup Milk Chocolate Chips)
.
.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9×13 baking pan with foil and lighlty spray with PAM.
In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup condensed milk, butter, 1/4 cup milk, cake mix and the egg; mix to combine well (batter will be very stiff).
Gently press about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking pan (using floured hands if needed); pat down evenly, the layer will be thin.July 011
Bake for 10 minutes.
.
While crust bakes, combine the remaining  condensed milk, marshmallow creme and Peanut Butter in a bowl; gently fold in the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.
Remove the crust from the oven; spread the peanut butter marshmallow mixture evenly over the brownie layer.
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Carefully drop the remaining batter by the spoonfuls evenly over the peanut butter marshmallow mixture. Press down slightly.
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Bake for another 25-30 minutes or until edges are set and center is slightly gooey but not raw. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dream Bars

 

Once again I bring to you one of my favorite flavor combinations: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal. You may remember one of my summer favorites from last year because they require NO baking (meaning, no heated kitchen in the hot summer months).
I found this recipe over at this blog and the description and pictures tempted me too much, I finally caved in and decided to give them a try. I am sure glad I did! I changed up the recipe a bit as reflected in the ingredients and recipe below. These bars are wonderful! They have a slight subtle caramel flavor thanks to all that butter and brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, which intensifies and deepens this flavor). The filling has a nice light peanut butter flavor without being too overpowering or sweet. Infact, I thought it would be sweeter than what it turned out, and was pleasantly surprised. The filling was is and provides a nice compliment to hte sweetness of the Milk choclate chips and Reese’s Candy bar pieces.
 
 Right out of the oven they are ooey, gooey and very good. You definately need a spoon to eat and scoop up every last drop of the filling from the dish! I did chill these until set and they are much easier to eat, I can’t decide which way I like them best, warm with melted chocolate and peanut butter all over my spoon and fingers (MMMM, I love to lick my fingers) or chilled and set making the filling seem almost fudge-like (only a bit softer). Either way these are sure to please any Peanut Butter and Chocolate lover, and with the oatmeal, these are almost a health food!
 
The down side is that I don’t think these will travel well or stand up to summer heat. They are great but messy, but heck, as complaints go, that is a minor one!
 
I rate these bars an 8.5
 
 
Oatmeal Bars
2 cups melted butter (starting out with melted butter… you KNOW they’re gonna be good!)
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. soda
4 cups oatmeal
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 cups mini choc. chips or mini m&m’s
Mix together melted butter, sugar, soda, oatmeal, flour & salt until it’s crumbly.
Set aside 3 cups. Press the rest into a greased 15×10 pan. Remember I made a half batch. I couldn’t decide what size pan would be half of a 10×15. That’s 150 square inches, so half would be something that’s 75 square inches. An 8×8 is 64, a 9×13 is 117. So I picked the 8×8. Maybe I need more baking pans. Or maybe they don’t even make 8×9 pans (72 sq in) or better yet, 7 x 10.5, that would be perfect. Um, let’s see, I forget, were we baking or having Math class? 
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Mix peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk. Spread over the baked crust. Pour/drizzle worked great. Yum, doesn’t that mixture look good?! It is. I licked the spatula afterwards.
 
Mix mini choc chips or m&m’s with the reserved crumbs. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top of the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Enlarged to show texture. And that creamy caramelly peanut buttery layer. These definitely do not fit the ‘Oatmeal Bar’ name. In a recipe that has peanut butter and M&Ms and oatmeal, WHO would pick out the oatmeal and name them THAT?! So, Peanut Butter Dream Bars they will be. They are, of course, irrestistably good. They’re a bit crumbly, for example, you wouldn’t want the kids to walk around in the house eating them. But then, who’d ever let their kids do that anyway. Thanks for the recipe, Michelle! It’s a keeper.
May 117
Once again I bring to you one of my favorite flavor combinations: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal. You may remember one of my summer favorites from last year because they require NO baking (meaning, no heated kitchen in the hot summer months).
 
I found today’s recipe on a fellow blog and the description and pictures tempted me to the point that I finally caved in and decided to give them a try. I am sure glad I did! I changed up the recipe a bit as reflected in the ingredients and recipe below and in my opinion, they changes were a success. 

These bars are just wonderful! The crust and topping has a subtle caramel flavor thanks to all that butter and brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, which intensifies and deepens the caramel flavor). The filling has a nice light peanut butter flavor without being too overpowering or sweet, almost like creamy peanut butter fudge. Infact, I thought the filling would be sweeter than what it turned out, and was pleasantly surprised. The filling is smooth and creamy and compliments the sweetness of the Milk choclate chips and Reese’s Candy bar pieces that I added to the topping.

 
 Right out of the oven these bars are ooey, gooey and very good. You definately need a spoon to eat and scoop up every last drop of the filling from the dish! I did chill these until set and they are much easier to eat, I can’t decide which way I like them best; warm with melted chocolate and peanut butter all over my spoon and fingers (MMMM, I love to lick my fingers) or chilled and set making the filling seem almost fudge-like (only a bit softer). Either way these are sure to please any Peanut Butter and Chocolate lover, and with the oatmeal, these are almost a health food!
 
The down side is that I don’t think these will travel well or stand up to summer heat. They are great but messy, but heck, as complaints go, that is a minor one! Next time I might add more chopped Reese’s candy bars because I can’t get enough of those babies!
 
I rate these bars an 8.5
 
Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Dream Bars
adapted from here 
1 cup melted butter 
1 cup brown sugar (I used Dark brown sugar)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups Quick Cooking oatmeal (NOT instant)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2  cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 King size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup candy bars, roughly chopped
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
 
Preheat oven to 350.
Line a 9×13 pan with tin foil and spray lighlty with PAM. 

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together melted butter, sugar, soda, oatmeal, flour & salt until it’s crumbly.

Set aside about 1 cup or a little more.
Press the rest of the crust into prepared pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes. May 118
While crust is cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk.
Once crust has baked, evenly pour and spread peanut butter filling over the baked crust.Be gentle so you don’t pull up the warm crust while you spread the filling.  
Evenly sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top of the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle the chopped candy bars and chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to oven to bake for another 5-10 minutes or until topping is light golden brown and candy bars/chips are melting. 
Allow to cool to make cutting and serving easier.  

Outrageous Brownies

january-086

These were outrageous indeed! I have had this recipe saved on my computer for over a year. The past few times when I have been craving brownies I fall into my comfort zone and use a recipe that has yet to fail me. However, this time I decided to pull out Ina’s recipe as it has been calling my name, begging to be made since Christmas. When I needed a dessert to bring to work last week I jumped at the opportunity to whip these up.

These came together so easily and quickly. I was actually suprised that they only took me about 15 minutes to prepare.  I cut the recipe amount in half (reflected below with my changes in parenthesis) and baked in a 9×13 pan.  I did adapt the recipe a bit, I subbed some milk chocoalte chips for semi sweet chips to stir into the batter. I only sprinkled nuts on top and did not mix them into the batter because I did half the pan with nuts and half without. I much prefer them with the nuts! I baked mine for about 23-24 minutes and they came out perfectly. Watch carefully not to overbake. You should remove when there are a few crumbs stuck to the tester when inserted in the center of the brownies.

These are deep, rich, flavorfull and definatly live up to their “Outrageous” title. They have a light and crisp exterior. The interior of the brownies is dense, with their texture teatering on the border between brownie and fudge. Usually I don’t care for brownies that are too fudge-like but these really did it for me. Oh, Ina, how you have captured my heart.
While good warm, I do prefer them cool from the fridge rather than room temperature. I think chilling them definatly compliments and enhances the texture and flavor of the brownie.  While I think kids would like these brownies,  I feel the target audience for these brownies is the adult palate.

If you are looking for a brownie that eats more like a dessert then look no further. These will be great with a scoop of icecream, cool whip or with some fudge sauce  served as dessert.

I rate these brownies a 9

Ina’s Outrageous Brownies
Ina Garten 
2 sticks  unsalted butter (I used salted)
2 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I subbed 1/2 cup Milk Chocolate to stir into batter)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 extra-large eggs (I used large)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee powder  (I used 1 TBS)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup +2 TBS cups sugar
1/2 cup + 2TBS  all-purpose flour (1/2 cup for the batter and 2 TBS for the chips and nuts) (I did not toss the nuts with flour because I sprinkled them on top)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups diced walnut pieces (I used 1 cup and just sprinkled on top before baking)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 9×13-inch pan.
Melt together the butter, 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler.
Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Mix in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1/2 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture.
Toss 1 cup chocolate chips with 2 TBS flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts.

Bake for about 30 minutes (mine were finished in 24), or until tester just comes out clean.

Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough (I did not do this). Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into bars.

Top 10 Recipes

cork

I hope that 2008 was a good year for you and that 2009 brings with it the  joy and happiness we all strive for in our lives. Here is a list of some of my favorite sweet recipes I think you need to make this year and why.  I can’t wait to begin baking in 2009!

I am interested in hearing from you! Which recipes from my site have you tried and what have you thought about them?

10. Frosted Marshmallow Bars
WHY: A family favorite for years that is sure to please. I love the subtle chocolate flavor the brownie has, making it the perfect base for marshmallow and chocolate frosting layers.  Trust me, if you like chocolate, these bars will be sure to please.

9. Blondies
WHY: So simple, so easy, so quick, so good. With endless varieties (check out my ‘blondie’ category) these are the perfect dessert. You can really take the base recipe and make them your own, I can’t wait to try more combinations of add-ins this year!

8. Intense Chocolate Shock Cookies
WHY: Usually I am not a fan of chocolate cookies but these grabbed my tastebuds and my heart. So rich and full of possibilities. I have added chopped PB cups, white chocolate, nuts etc. to them and they have turned out rich and fabulous every time.  Don’t trust me? How about Anna?

7. Oatmeal Carmelitas
WHY? These bars are so gooey with layers of chocolate and caramel sandwiched between an oatmeal base and topping. I have been making this recipe for years and years. It has always been one of my favorite dessert recipes.

6. The Best Peanut Butter Cookies
WHY: These are the best PB cookies I have had. They are soft, chewy, peanut buttery and I love that they have PB and Chocolate chips in them. The roll in sugar before baking really takes them over the top.

5. Chewy Ginger Cookies with Cinnamon Chips
WHY: These are perfect for the holiday season with their flavor combination of ginger and cinnamon.  I absolutely loved these cookies, they remained chewy for days and the little bursts of cinnamon chips through out the cookie made these stand out from the ordinary ginger cookie.

4. Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oat Bars
WHY? These don’t require baking, making them perfect for days when you don’t want to use the oven. Their combination of peanut butter, chocolate and oatmeal is one of my all time favorites, a sure winner!

3. Oreo Fudge Bars
WHY: If the title alone doesn’t tell you, I am not sure what else to say.  These have been requested by my friends and co-workers alike. The best part is they are so simple to make, require few ingredients yet can be ‘dressed’ up to look like a fancy dessert if needed.

2. Double Butterscotch Cookies
WHY: These have turned out to be one of my all time favorite cookies ever. I am in LOVE the flavor of these cookies. The dough can either be dropped and baked or formed into logs and frozen for slice and bake cookies later.  I prefer the drop method but either way these did not last long. 

1. Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirled Brownies
WHY: My all time favorite and most requested brownie recipe. If you are a fan of PB and chocolate, look no further than this recipe. Make them soon and make them often. These are worth cheating on your New Years resolution to diet. Trust me.

Oreo Fudge Bars

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After a disappointing cookie recipe last week, I decided to hunt down a recipe that sounded like a winner. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and tweaked it a bit based on my own preferences and the reviews of those who have made them.

I changed the name of these bars to better reflect their goodness. These bars are rich, fudgey and full of Oreo goodness! Trust me when I say to cut these bars small as a little goes a long way! Despite being so rich and fudgey, they are not overly sweet in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, they are definately sweet and will satisfy a craving in no time but not so much so that your teeth hurt just eating one.

If you are not a chocolate lover (I know there are a few of you weirdos out there) do not make these as you will be highly disappointed! However, if you need an easy recipe that is rich and fudgey these are for you. These bars will be perfect for the holidays and I can’t wait t make them with the Winter Red Oreos or the Peppermint Oreos. I may substitue the Andes Peppermint baking chips on top instead of using the mini chocolate chips to enhance the Peppermint flavor for the holidays. The only downside is they will not ship well and should really be kept chilled until a few hours before serving.  When serving for dessert I recommend cutting into squares and drizzling melted white chocolate over the bars, as I have done in the picture below. What a pretty presentation for such a simple recipe. MMMM good.

I rate this recipe a 9

Oreo Fudge Bars
adapted from allrecipes.com
1 16oz. package of Oreo cookies 
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 tsp satl
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I used Fat Free)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (could use another 1/2 cup  semi-sweet chips if you like)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
 

Preheat the oven to 325. baked-goods-015
Line a 9×13 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.
Set aside 6 Oreo cookies for the toppings.
In a small food processor grind the rest of the cookies. If you don’t have a food processor, just pound with a rolling pin until the cookies are fine crumbs. Add the salt to the crumbs and stir to combine.
Melt butter and gently stir together with the cookie crumb mixutre. 
Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  
Coarsely chop the remaining cookies into chunks and set aside.
Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt 3/4 cup semi-sweet and 1/2 cup milk chocoalte chips together with the condensed milk and vanilla.
Stir frequently until smooth.
Spread evenly over the prepared cookie crust.
Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips and the Oreo cookies chunks over the top of the filling. Press down gently into the chocolate topping. 
Bake for 20-22 minutes oven.
Allow to cool on counter for 1 hour. Chill in fridge until completely cold and set before cutting into bars or it will make a big mess.
*These are not too great hot from the oven but are great after chilling and the filling has set!

Swirled Cake Bars

This recipe comes out of a handwritten cookbook of my grandma’s recipes. I received a copy of her her favorite recipes including her Oatmeal Fudge Bars. I love this cookbook and everytime I make a recipe from it I picture my grandma in her kitchen (with two stoves/ovens) baking bread and goodies each day. I loved to help her and can’t wait until I have children and grandchildren to create memories with them and share my passion for cooking and baking.

These bars a cross between cake and a brownie. They are not as light and fluffy as cake but don’t have that true uber chocolate flavor like a brownie would (even cake-like brownies). I made these for movie night with some friends. I wanted something chocolately but not overly so or too rich. I also wanted something that we could eat with our hands and not need a bowl and fork/spoon. I had recently made cupcakes and was not in the mood to make them again. I wanted a bar recipe but after paging through my cookbooks I did not find one that jumped out at me. That is when I reached for my grandma’s cookbook and the title caught my eye. That was exactly what I was looking for!

These bars have a more dense texture than cake but in a good way.  I like the fact that they incorporate chocolate into the batter without it dominating the overall flavor of the bar. It is like a marbled cake but in bar form.  The batter was very thick and I had a difficult time ‘swirling’ the two together. I swirled very little for fear of mixing the two batter together making the two distinct colors merge into a lightly colored cake bar.

These were eaten up by my friends in no time, even by the non-sweet eaters. I will admit that we did eat a few after the movie with a scoop of icecream,  hot fudge and toasted walnuts on top. I have to say that I loved the texture of these bars with the icecream and hot fudge better than a cookie.

I would make these again. Next time I might add mini chocolate chips or toasted walnuts (as called for in the recipe) to the batter. My swirling technique was not the best with these bars because the batter was thick. Next time I think I will swirl more than I did this time, for appearance sake. Either way, these are worth a try and are easy to modify to your family’s preferences (toasted nuts, M&M’s, chocolate chips, PB chips, toasted coconut etc.) These would even be good frosted!

I rate this recipe a 7.5

Swirled Cake Bars
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening (or butter)(I used 1/2 cup shortening 1/4 cup butter)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup nuts (I omitted because I had none)
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted (I used 1 oz semi-sweet and 1 oz bittersweet)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
Lightly spray and flour a 9×13 pan with PAM.
In a small bowl wisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In large mixing bowl cream the shortening and sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat only to combine. Mix in the flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Spoon half the batter into another bowl. Fold the 1/2 cup of nuts into the vanilla batter. Gently pour batter into prepared pan.
To the remaining batter fold in the melted chocolate until incorporated. Gently drop spoonfulls of the chocolate batter over the vanilla batter in the pan. Using a greased knife, cut through the two batter to create swirl patter. Top with remaining nuts.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake.
*Mine baked in 24 minutes.

Peanut Butter Blondies

What to do when you sweet tooth calls but you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen or go to the store for ingredients?? Make Blondies!!

I love Blondies!! It is no lie. They are so simple to whip up, use easy to remember measurements (no recipe card needed, yeah!) and can be easily doubled to serve a larger crowd. Best of all they taste great and are so adaptable to what ever ‘add-in’ ingredients I have on hand and can be changed to meet the preferences of pretty much anyone. (Anyone who has a sweet tooth that is!)

As any reader of this blog knows I am a BIG BIG fan of sweets that have Peanut Butter and Chocolate. I took the recipe for my Basic Blondies but decided to add Peaut Butter in place of some of the butter and of course added some chocolate chips. The result? MMMM Good. These have a light peanut butter flavor and are great warm or chilled. I enjoyed one warm with some vanilla icecream. Later I had one cooled with hot fudge and chopped Reese’s cups. Either way these satisfied my sweet tooth and cured my craving for a peanut buttery treat! Definately a keeper that I can’t wait to make again.

Next time I will add chopped Reese’s PB cups on top the last 10 minutes of baking for an extra burst of Peanut Butter flavor!1

I rate these bars an 8.5 (I think the addition of chopped Reese’s would make them great)

Peanut Butter Blondies with Peanut Butter Cup
4-5 TBS butter, almost melted
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Creamy)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used a combination of Milk Chocolate and Semi-Sweet)
*Next time I will chop some Reese’s PB cups (maybe 4 or so) and press them gently on top the last 10 mintues of baking. Or substitute some PB chips for some/all the chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Preheat oven to 350.
Line an 8×8 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.
In a medium microwave safe mixing bowl melt the butter for 20-30 seconds until almost/all melted. Allow to cool for 5 mintues.

Stir the peanut butter into the butter until creamy and smooth. Add the brown sugar to the butter/peanut butter and stir until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and stir to combine.  Add the flour, baking powder adn salt to the peanut butter mixtuer and stir just to combine. Gently fold in chocolate chips and any other additions (chopped nuts, chopped Reese’s cups, Reese’s pieces, etc).

Pour into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until set in the middle. (I baked for 24 minutes)

Cool on rack before cutting.

For another version of PB blondies check out a fellow blogger who also made some yummy treats!!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oat Bars

I love to bake, that is no surprise but during the hot and humid summer months I do not like to turn on my oven (unless I have to). Because my sweet tooth cares not about the weather, I need to find recipes to satisfy it but not heat the house to temperatures comparible to those Hell. ha ha.

The internet came to my rescue yesterday and I found a recipe that included two of my favorite treats: Peanut butter and Chocolate. Food of the Gods I say.  I did adapt the recipe a bit, my changes in parenthesis, and would do the same in the future as I felt they turned out great!! In fact I have made them three times in two days!

This recipe comes together in about 10 minutes but needs about 3 hours in the fridge to chill and set. These bars are gooey and need to be eaten with a bowl and sppon if not chilled/set but still very good. I like to take them out about 15 minutes before serving to soften a bit but still keep their shape. I served these to family and three people demanded the recipe. That is when I know it is good!! So good, I actually had to make these twice yesterday because the first pan was eaten before dinner in about 10 minutes! That is another reason to love the recipe, you can whip up another batch in no time flat! They chilled while we cooked and ate dinner and were perfectly set and ready to eat afterward.

*Next time I may sprinkle some chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter cups on top with the oat topping to enhance the peanut butter flavor!!

I give these bars a 9.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars
adapted from allrecipes.com
1 cup butter (I used 2/3 cup butter)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats (I used between 2 3/4 and 3 1/4 cups, just enough to keep moist but not too wet or too dry)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1 1/4 cups, a mixture of Milk and Semi-Sweet chips)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used 3/4 cup)

Grease a 9×9 inch square pan. (I lined an 8×8 pan with foil and sprayed with PAM)

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended.
Press half of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. (I pressed 2/3 mixture in bottom of pan)
Reserve the remainder for topping.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon.

Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently.
Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.