These No Bake Toffee Fudge Bars Are The Perfect Holiday Gift!

23 Nov

Well. It’s that time again – the holidays. It really snuck up on me this year, not sure about you – but suddenly it was September and fall, then Halloween, and now Thanksgiving, and Christmas is looming, too! 2016 is quickly coming to an end, and if you haven’t started Christmas shopping already, then you might want to get on it!

I love to incorporate handmade gifts whenever and wherever I can – I make applesauce and jar it every year to share with friends and family, and cookies are another item I love to give (and receive!). This year I plan to make at least two kinds to share (maybe more, time permitting!), and I came across a recipe that would make a perfect addition to my sweet gifts – these No Bake Toffee Fudge Bars. Whipped them up in no time and they were so easy and delicious! Check it out:

No Bake Toffee Fudge Bars Recipe

Ingredients:

2-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (2 sticks) butter , divided
1 cup sugar
1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk
1 bag (10 oz.) miniature marshmallows
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup HEATH Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits
1 cup HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Directions:

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1. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with foil. Melt 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter; combine with graham cracker crumbs. Press crumb mixture evenly in bottom of prepared pan.

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2. Combine sugar, evaporated milk, remaining 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter and marshmallows in large saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, stirring until chips are melted.

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3. Immediately pour over crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle surface with milk chocolate toffee bits and milk chocolate chips, pressing in lightly. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into bars. Store leftover bars covered in refrigerator. Makes 24 bars.

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These set up nicely and were easy to remove from the pan and cut after being in the fridge all morning

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These were loved by all – big and small!

And the great thing is the recipe makes 24 – so they are great to share (as they are pretty sweet so you only need to tuck a couple in each gift package!).  What’s better than an easy and delicious recipe that you can share with those you love this Christmas? Not much in my book!

Baking With Nutella – Soft And Chewy Nutella White Chocolate Chip Cookies

31 Aug

Ok, I’m just going to say it – I LOVE NUTELLA. I love it on a waffle, on toast, on an apple – but most of all I love it on a spoon right from the jar. It is chocolatey, smooth, and amazing, and before I discovered this recipe for Soft And Chewy Nutella White Chocolate Chip Cookies, I thought that there was NO WAY Nutella could get any better – but I was wrong. The pairing of Nutella with butter, sugar, flour, and yes- more chocolate – is a recipe for delicious success! Check out how I created these gooey, delicious cookies:

Soft and Chewy Nutella White Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Recipe Courtesy of Averie Cooks)

YIELD: 11 large cookies
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOK TIME: about 9 minutes
TOTAL TIME: about 3 hours, for dough chilling

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
heaping 1/3 cup Nutella (stir well before adding)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) combine the butter, Nutella, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.

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So – I went ahead and made a double batch of these – because twice as many cookies is always better, right?

2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, optional salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.

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Oh hello Nutella dough!

3. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the white and chocolate chips, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

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 In go the chocolate chips (yum)

4. Using a large cookie scoop, 1/4-cup measure, or your hands, form approximately 11 equal-sized mounds of dough, roll into balls, and flatten slightly. Tip – Strategically place a few chocolate chips right on top of each mound of dough by taking chips from the underside and adding them on top.

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  Dough balls – before and after chilling

5. Place mounds on a large plate or tray, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days. Do not bake with unchilled dough because cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.

6. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray. Place dough mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for about 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked and glossy in the center; don’t overbake. Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving. I let them cool on the baking sheet and don’t use a rack.

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7. Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

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I can’t even look straight at this – it’s too glorious. Warm, gooey center with melty chocolate chips…this is heaven!

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I really enjoyed making these – it’s a nice break from normal chocolate chip cookies, something a little different and a LOT delicious. The Nutella doesn’t overwhelm the cookie, but you can definitely taste it. If you don’t eat them all right out of the oven, I recommend you warm them up a bit before eating – it just makes them that much better (trust me!)

Loaded M&M Oreo Cookie Bars = Cookie Heaven

26 Jul

What is better than cookies? Well, not much if you ask me – but I would say one thing that’s better than cookies is MORE COOKIES. I’m thinking like a cookie bar with cookies baked inside – now that’s basically perfection for a cookie lover like myself. I had saved the recipe for these loaded Oreo M&M cookie bars a while ago – and now that I have made them, I have no idea why I waited so long – as they were easy, tasty – and did I mention – cookie in cookie?

Loaded M&M Oreo Cookie Bars
(Recipe Courtesy Of Averie Cooks)
Yield: 8×8 pan (9-12 generous squares)
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 20-25 min
Total Time: 30 min

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
18 Oreo Cookies, coarsely chopped (I used Oreo Chocolate Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookies
about 1/2 cup M&M’s (I used plain, use your favorite flavor or other chopped candy)

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Ingredients = assembled. Let’s bake.
Oh – and – I’m making a double batch. Because, well – why NOT?

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
-In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
-Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don’t scramble it. Add the egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.

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-Add the flour and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.

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-Stir in the Oreos.

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-Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
-Evenly sprinkle the M&Ms over the top, lightly pressing them down with your finger or a spatula.
-Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, or until done based on add-ins used. Top should be set and edges slightly firm. A toothpick inserted in the center (if you can find a bare patch to test) should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.

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-Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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NOTES: I decided to add some M&M’s into the batter too (in addition to putting them on top). I used peanut M &M’s – which tasted great but was kind of messy when it came to cutting them – the candy kinda fell apart – so I would recommend plain using plain or even mini M&M’s instead

In the original recipe, she states that you can really use anything – any cookies or mix in’s – so it might be fun to experiment with these – mini peanut butter cups and peanut butter oreos, chips ahoy cookies and cut up snickers…I could go on and on – but you get the idea. No matter what you use they will turn out delicious!

 

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes = The Perfect Summer Birthday Treat!

15 Jul

When my BFF told me she wanted strawberry lemonade cupcakes for her 30th birthday cake – I was kind of surprised. I mean, I knew they existed, but it’s certainly not a “typical” birthday cake flavor – chocolate, vanilla, even red velvet – those tend to be the norm. But hey, it’s her birthday, and if she wants to try something new, I’m game!

So, I browsed the internet for a recipe (what did we do before Pinterest and Google? Seriously!), and got down to business!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes (Recipe Courtesy of Eating On A Dime)

Ingredients
1 box White Cake Mix
1 box Strawberry Jell-O
2 tbsp Sweetened Lemonade mix
16 oz thawed package Frozen Strawberries in Sugar (or your could use FRESH strawberries when they are in season)
3 Eggs
⅓ cup Vegetable Oil
½ cup Butter
3 cup Powdered Sugar
⅓ cup Sweetened Lemonade mix
2 tbsp Water
Chewy Lemonheads candy (optional)

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Got all my ingredients – and I’m ready to bake!

 

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Stir together Cake mix, dry Jello and 2 tbsp lemonade mix
3. Puree strawberries
4. Add strawberries, eggs and vegetable oil to dry ingredients
5. Mix until smooth and blended
6. Place liners in cupcake pan and fill ⅔ full
7. Bake about 20 minutes
8. Allow to cool completely

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I don’t know about you – but I LOVE strawberries – and am stoked there are REAL strawberries in this cake recipe (instead of just like boxed strawberry cake mix or something)

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So pretty and pink!

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I can’t even describe to you how amazing this smelled while baking – the cake-y strawberry-y scent was great – and tempting – made me want to shove like 4 in my mouth immediately after they were done – but restraint was practiced – thankfully – since they would have burned my mouth anyway ha!

For Icing
1. Cream butter in a medium bowl
2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and ⅓ cup lemonade mix. Add water as needed, until everything is incorporated and frosting is right consistency
3. Transfer icing to piping bag or zippered bag and clip corner to pipe
4. Ice tops of each cupcake
5. Optional: dust with sparkling sugar and lemonhead (or a fresh lemon or candy lemon).

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Just a few notes:
I doubled the frosting recipe as I was running out after I had frosted only half of them – and maybe I was a little extra generous with the frosting – but I am a HUGE frosting fan, and let’s be real – they are just prettier with more frosting! I also skipped the crushed candies and lemon garnish – they were way cute with just the straw!

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The Birthday girl really liked them – and I have to say, I really did too! The cake itself was moist, and had a great strawberry flavor, and the frosting – while a bit gritty from the lemonade mix, was still really good, was sweet but a bit sour too from the lemonade

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Everyone really liked them – including my men

(…of course, they like most baked goods, but still – I am glad they were well received!)

These would be perfect to bring along to a summer picnic – wouldn’t they look cute on the buffet line? I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them – so much so that I might just make them again for fun!

My Little Helper (AKA The World’s Most Adorable Sous Chef)

24 May

My love of baking is something I really hope I can pass on to my son – I know he likes eating my baked goods already, but I want him to appreciate the time and effort that goes into them, too! I have been letting him “help” me in the kitchen for a while now, with extremely adorable results:

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He actually did pretty well standing on a regular dining room chair, but when I saw a picture of a “toddler helper” stool on pinterest, I knew it would make a great project for my dad (who is always looking for something to do to keep himself out of trouble!). It turned out great, and was super easy/cheap for him to put together. Check out how you can make your own here

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My mother in law made us matching Mickey and Minnie aprons – aren’t they amazing? Perfect for me and my little sous chef!

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He REALLY enjoyed helping me make sugar cookies, and enjoyed the frosting we made for them even more!

I really hope that giving him the chance to help in the kitchen (and yes, make messes, too!) will keep him coming back for more, and keep him interested in helping and learning, too!

Chewy Oatmeal M&M Cookies For The Win

19 May

I came across these beauties on Pinterest – and I knew immediately that I NEEDED them in my life – as I love oats, and I much prefer a chewy/gooey cookie to the crispy variety. Oh, and M&M’s rule – so there’s that too. So it was for sure a win on paper, and I wasted no time in figuring out if it was going to be a win in my mouth, too:

Chewy Oatmeal M&M Cookies (Recipe Courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup flour
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mini M & M’s (regular size may be substituted)

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Ingredients? Check! Oh, and I am making a double batch, because, well – why not?

Directions:

Cream Together the softened bugger and both sugars until smooth using a hand or stand mixer. Add egg and vanilla and mix on high until combined, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides/bottom of bowl as needed

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In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add this to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Fold in the M&M’s (the dough will be very thick at this point). Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator

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Ok – the dough is pretty and all – but let’s get down to business

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper

Roll out balls of dough (about 1 Tablespoon per cookie) and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 10-11 minutes until very lightly browned on the sides (the centers will still look soft). Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack

Cover and store the cookies at room temperature for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months

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Aren’t they pretty? And they taste great too – the texture of the oats and mini M&M’s is perfect – and my family loved them too, which means I will definitely be making them again! They were great warm out of the oven, and they defrosted well from the freezer too, which makes it a great recipe to double (or triple!) and freeze some away for a rainy day…or a cookie emergency (you’d be surprised how often those occur, at least in my house anyway!)

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Cookie Decorating 101

27 Jan

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Here’s my little guy’s first attempt at cookie decorating… Obviously he has a real future in pastry arts, wouldn’t you agree?

(my personal favorite is the bottom right one – where my husband attempted to take away his frosting. It did NOT go well…)