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John’s Cookbook – Page 10 – Golden Grahams S’mores Bars

13 Jun

Golden Grahams S’mores Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Just So Tasty)

Ingredients
5 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
5 tablespoons butter , or margarine
1/4 cup corn syrup*
7 cups Golden Grahams
1 cup mini marshmallows

Instructions
1. Butter/grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
2. Add 5 cups marshmallows, milk chocolate, butter, and corn syrup to a large sauce pan.
3. Melt the mixture together over low heat while gently stirring with a rubber spatula.
4. Once melted remove from the heat and immediately stir in the cereal and remaining cup of marshmallows. It will be very sticky.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and flatten down using the back of your spatula (lightly greasing the spatula can help).
6. Allow to harden at room temperature for 60 minutes before cutting into squares.

Recipe Notes
*If you don’t have corn syrup use 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of water instead.

**Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature. I don’t recommend storing them in the fridge because they can get too hard.

As you can see, John loved making these (and eating them!). No-bake recipes are not only perfect for little ones to help with, but they are also awesome on a hot summer day when you don’t want to turn on the oven!

This recipe in particular is perfect for when your child has been BEGGING you for a fire to roast marshmallows and make s’mores – but the dang weather just won’t cooperate (rain for days ugh!)

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Brookies – A Perfect Marriage Of Two Amazing Desserts

30 May

The other day I was just dying for some cookies. But, I was also really in the mood for a brownie – dilemma, right? WRONG – enter – the BROOKIE. If you have never heard of it before, the brookie is a brownie/cookie bar that basically gives you the best of both worlds (both the cookie and brownie worlds that is!)

So I set to baking right away:

To-Die-For-Brookies
(Recipe courtesy of Debbie Net)
Ingredients
Brownie Layer:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Cookie Layer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla exract
1 egg
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

Brownie Layer:
-In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/8 tsp salt; set aside.
-In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cup white sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract; stir mixture until it is well combined. Add 2 eggs and beat well. Stir in the cocoa powder until it is well combined. Add the flour mixture, stirring well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan.

Cookie Layer:
-In a medium bowl, whisk together 1-1/4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt; set aside.
-In a large bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, the light brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; continue beating until mixture is creamy. Add 1 egg; beat about 2 more minutes until the mixture is light and creamy.
-Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until the dough is combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Carefully spread the cookie dough over the brownie layer in the baking pan.
-Bake in the preheated oven, about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the brookies comes out clean. Cool completely; cut into bars.

I love recipes where I have everything in my pantry already, and luckily this one fit the bill! I threw them together and in no time I was enjoying these warm from the oven!

They turned out great, the only thing I wish is that the brownie flavor came out a little more, it sort of gets overpowered by the cookie portion, but otherwise these were great!

These “Fork & Knife” Cookies & Cream Brownies Have It All – Frosting, Chocolate Galore, Brownie – And Did I Mention FROSTING?!

19 Feb

Any other brownie lovers out there? I don’t know what it is about them, but I am always drawn to them – at potlucks or picnics, at restaurants or bakeries – what can I say – brownies complete me!

These Cookies and Cream brownies are just – so very extra. So much going on – and when my girlfriend made them and I tried one, I knew that I had to make them for myself – because – they really have it all (you had me at brownie, and hooked me at frosting!)

Cookies & Cream Brownies
(Recipe courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients
Brownies
homemade brownie batter OR 1 9×13 inch pan brownie batter
-24 Oreos (I use Double Stuf Oreos)

Cookies & Cream Buttercream
-3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
-3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
-2 Tablespoons milk
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-6 Oreos, chopped(I use Double Stuf Oreos)
-pinch of salt

Chocolate Topping
-1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
-1 heaping cup (around 200g) semi-sweet chocolate chips*

Directions
Brownies: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished brownies out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
Prepare brownie batter. Spread into prepared baking pan. My homemade brownie batter is very thick, so do your best to spread it to the edges. Doesn’t have to be perfectly neat. Press 24 Oreos down into the top of the brownie batter; you want 6 rows of 4 Oreos.
Bake for 32 minutes, then test the brownies with a toothpick. Insert it into the center of the pan. If it comes out with wet batter, the brownies are not done. If there are only a few moist crumbs, the brownies are done. Keep checking every 2 minutes until you have moist crumbs. My homemade brownies with Oreos on top take about 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, lift the parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides. Do not cut into squares yet. (TIP: It’s helpful to place the whole slab of brownies (parchment paper still underneath) on a baking sheet because you will need to chill the layers. The baking sheet makes transporting to the refrigerator easier!)
Cookies & cream buttercream: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. With a spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the chopped Oreos. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. I like adding 1/8 teaspoon salt. Spread buttercream on top of cooled brownies. Chill uncovered for 30 minutes and up to 1 day in the refrigerator.
Chocolate topping: Cut the butter into a few pieces and place in a small saucepan with the chocolate chips. Melt the two together on low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and combined. You can also use the microwave– stop and stir every 20 seconds until melted and smooth.
Pour chocolate on top of the buttercream. Spread all over the top in an even layer. Allow chocolate to set at room temperature for a few hours or in the refrigerator for 1 hour before slicing and serving. See recipe notes for my tips for cutting neat brownie squares.
Cover and store leftover brownies in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

First step – homemade brownie base

…With oreos, of course!

To me there are few things better than whipping up frosting on a cold winter’s day (Or ANY day really)

Topping Time!

Good lord that’s a beautiful cross-section, isn’t it?

Approved by all – husbands, tiny sous chefs, and dogs too (don’t worry – Walter didn’t actually get any!)

I am going to be 100% real – there are a few things I actually DON’T like about these
1. The chocolate topping overpowers the frosting (a HUGE no no in my book)
2. The oreos in the brownies got SO HARD when baking – so I would probably roughly chop them and fold into the brownie batter next time
3. Overall – I want to taste more Oreo in the frosting, so I would probably not smash those Oreos so finely next time

But – overall – it’s truly a decadent experience – and if you love Oreos and Brownies – you should definitely try these show-stoppers

White Chocolate-Raspberry Cheesecake Bars – The Perfect Alternative To Birthday Cake

7 Feb

Every year I make my dad a birthday cake – usually This amazing chocolate version that always turns out perfectly. But this year, I wanted to switch it up and try something different. At first I was going to make a whole cheesecake. But – the two issues with that are – cheesecakes are HUGE – like REALLY BIG – the ones I was looking at called for 4 or 5 bricks of cream cheese. Like – wow. Nope. There’s only 5 of us – and one of that 5 is my son, who can only eat so much. Then issue #2 – I couldn’t find my springform pan. So – regular cheesecake was out. But I kept searching – and finally it paid off, when I found the PERFECT thing – these White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Not only was it a much smaller size, but it didn’t require a springform pan, AND it included the birthday boy’s favorite thing ever – RASPBERRY!

White Chocolate-Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
(Recipe courtesy of Kraft)

Ingredients
12 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
3 oz. BAKER’S White Chocolate, divided
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup red raspberry preserves

Directions
-Heat oven to 350ºF.
-Line 8- or 9-inch square pan with Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of pan. Melt 2 oz. chocolate as directed on package.
-Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
-Bake 25 to 28 min. or until center is almost set. Cool 5 min.; spread with preserves. Melt remaining chocolate; drizzle over cheesecake. Cool cheesecake completely. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Little sous chef enjoyed using our meat mallet to crush the Oreos for the crust

Cheesecake-y goodness

Adding the best part – the topping!

The finished product

Enjoying cheesecake with the birthday boy and little sous chef

These turned out so good – even I liked it a lot – and I really am not a fan of cheesecake, OR raspberry (luckily I was able to grab some seedless Raspberry jam – so that helped me enjoy it more as it’s really the seeds I hate). It was the perfect amount for us – and I think my dad really enjoyed it (he had 2 pieces, so I am thinking that means he liked it, ha!)

So if you’re looking for an alternative to regular cheesecake because you don’t need that much (or just because you don’t have a springform pan handy!) then try these – you won’t be disappointed!

My Top Picks For Quick, Budget Friendly Homemade Gifting This Holiday Season

6 Dec

I don’t know about you – but my Christmas list is LONG this year. And I’m not talking about my “wish list” either – I am talking about my “To-Do” list – baking, wrapping, cleaning, crafting, movie watching, and of course – SHOPPING – that part of the list is longer than ever! Neighbors, friends, kids, family, teachers, mailmen – there are just so so many people I want to give to – and with the constraints of time and money – I have to be strategic in executing my gift giving – ESPECIALLY this year – as it’s my first Holiday season as a stay at home mom – so we are feeling that budget constraint a bit more this year than in years prior.

So far – I have loved staying at home with my son – it’s awesome to get to spend so much time with him, and I love being the one to pick him up and take him to school every day. Oh – plus – I am home for package deliveries – a big perk this time of year!

Like I said, I want to give gifts to basically everyone I know – and now that we are a “single income family” – that means I have to be more creative in my giving. And what better thing to give than something homemade? Crafts have not always been my forte – BUT – BAKING is my JAM. So I made a list of my top 3 Homemade Gift Ideas – they are easy to make, not too expensive or time consuming, AND they are delicious

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My little elf helping me make some saltine toffee last week

1. Saltine Toffee This little gem is one of those things you can hardly believe tastes so good – because it was SO easy and fast to make. Brown sugar, butter, saltines, and chocolate chips are all it takes to make this, and you can add some festive sprinkles on top too – making it perfect for Holiday gift giving!

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Muddy buddy action shot – the shaking part!

2. Muddy Buddies – I love this because it’s one the kids can help with – they love shaking the sugar onto the treat (which is also known as “puppy chow” or “white trash”) – and you can easily add in some seasonal red and green M&M’s to make this an awesome Christmas treat to share

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Tiny pantsless sous-chef loves helping me make cookie bars

3. Large Batch Cookie Bars These bars are so easy to make – and they are quick too because you don’t have to portion out individual cookies. And one batch makes a TON – a whole cookie sheet’s worth of bars, which can cover several people on your gift list

All gifts are great, but I personally love giving something homemade when I can – I feel like it really shows that you care, and I’m convinced the receiver of the gift can taste the love that was baked right in! Plus – I love teaching my son that gift giving doesn’t have to be big and expensive to still be worthwhile (and delicious!)

 

Spooky Bat Brownies – A Fun Halloween Treat For All

30 Oct

My son loves all things “Spooooooky” – from haunted houses to scary movies and everything in between! So when I saw the title of these Spooky Bat Brownies I knew he would love making them with me (almost as much I would love eating them – as they combine two of my lifelong loves – chocolate, and FROSTING)

SPOOKY BAT OREO BROWNIES
(Recipe Courtesy of Something Swanky)

INGREDIENTS:
-brownies, baked and cooled*
*Before baking: spread half of the batter in the baking dish. Layer 15 Oreos (5 rows of 3 cookies) over the batter, and then spread the remaining batter on top of the Oreos.
-vanilla buttercream (check out my preferred recipe Here)
-8-12 ounces store-bought hot fudge sauce, room temp
-30 Oreos (15 for inside brownies, 15 for bat decorations)
-30 candy eyeballs

DIRECTIONS:
-Spread buttercream on top of the cooled brownies.
-Drop small dollops of hot fudge sauce (NOT heated) over the buttercream. Use the offset spatula or a knife to swirl the hot fudge sauce into the buttercream.
-Split the remaining 15 Oreos. Layer the halves with the cream, cream side up, on top of the swirled frosting.
-Pipe two small dots of fudge sauce on the Oreo cream and place two candy eyeballs on the fudge sauce.
-Take the “plain” remaining halves of the cookies and cut them in half to make the bat wings. Press them into the frosting under the bat “heads” (as pictured).

Here’s the making of the brownie base layer – a simple store bought 9×13 mix, with oreos added in

Here are the finished brownies – cooled off and ready for frosting!

Some of the work in progress stages – all I can say is good thing I had extra cookies, as I had a lot of trouble getting the ‘wings’ to evenly halve without breaking

Frosting, meet fudge

Bat Creation! I didn’t have any candy eyes (plus I didn’t want my son eating them since they are usually pretty hard to chew anyway), so I just saved some of my buttercream, tinted it black, and used it for eyes/faces. As you can see – the results garnered mixed emotions (from the bats, that is)

My little sous chef helped make the frosting, and was also a big help at eating the “broken” and unusable bat wing pieces

I was actually lucky enough to have not only my sous chef, but his two apprentices – Walter and Buzz Lightyear – on hand for some on the job training. Buzz enjoyed tasting some frosting, and Walter enjoyed all the broken cookie pieces that little sous chef accidentally dropped

This guy is unsure of what is happening….

Overall, this was a great recipe for me – it was easy, fun for my son, and used ingredients I had on hand (including the boxed brownie mix – I love a good shortcut!). The ONLY drawback was how hard they were to cut – but that is probably my own fault, as I kept them in the fridge. Once I left them out for a bit the cutting became substantially easier

They are delicious tasting too, but pretty rich – I cut each “bat” in half as any bigger would have been too much (probably why this bat looks so scared – he knows what’s coming!). This would be a great treat to make and bring to a Halloween Party, as it has the super cute bat presentation going on. I think next time I do it, I might go nuts and make the buttercream orange and purple to give it even more of a Halloween-y vibe!

Snickers Brownies – Unbelievably Amazingly Ridiculous

18 Sep

I realized the other day that it has been a WHILE since I baked anything new – like – over a MONTH! It’s been a busy summer, and I haven’t had much time to focus on my one true love – BAKED GOODS. Well, I decided then and there that that was unacceptable – I needed to get on it like yesterday. So, since I am a nice wife, I asked my husband what he might want – and he said “something with caramel and brownie” – well – it didn’t take me long to land on these Snickers Brownies

Snickers has been a long time favorite candy of mine – and when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it – as it fulfilled both my husband’s desire for caramel and brownie, as well as my desire to turn an amazing candy bar into dessert!

SnickersBrownie1

Ingredients and Tiny Baking Assistant? Check!

Snickers Brownies
(Recipe Courtesy of My Litter)

Layer #1: Brownie
1 box of brownie mix
Ingredients called for on box
1/4 cup hot fudge topping

Layer #2: Nougat 
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 (7 oz.) jars marshmallow creme (@1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup peanut butter ( I used Trader Joes Cookie Butter)
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

Layer #3: Caramel
1 (17 oz.) jar of caramel, preferably Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel

Layer #4 Candy Bar Topping
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Directions:
First Layer: The Brownie
Take a mix, make it according to directions. Add the 1/4 cup hot fudge sauce, directly from the hot fudge jar. Stir it in. Bake according to box. DO NOT OVERBAKE. In fact, I pulled mine out and was just a little worried about the center, but it finished baking after it was out.

Layer 2: The Nougat
Melt the butter, with the sugar and the milk. Bring to a boil and add the marshmallow. Add the peanut butter and vanilla. Then stir in peanuts. Pour over cooled brownies.

Layer 3: Caramel
Scoop the caramel into a pan, heat it up just a little so it is liquid-y and not all cold and hard to spread. Then pour over nougat layer that is solid because you had it in the fridge!

Layer #4: The Chocolate Topping
Take the PB and add it to a bag of chocolate chips in a pan, add about 1T oil. Melt the chips slowly, do NOT burn. When it is smooth, pour it over the caramel layer. Stick that back in the fridge, and when the top layer is set, you are ready to eat!

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Nougat assembly

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The layers of the finished product

When it comes to baking, I tend to gravitate towards “ridiculous” desserts – like adding frosting to these already insane Oreo Blondies, or making Slutty Pumpkin Bars and Slutty Brownies – and these Snickers Brownies DEFINITELY fall into the ridiculous category – they are SUPER RICH – and super sweet, too. The saltyness of the nuts helps, but it’s still overall a LOT OF SUGAR to handle all at once. I cut it into like a LOT of smaller squares – almost fudge sized – because really anything more than that is TOO much

That all being said, they are SUPER DELICIOUS – I love how it tastes just like a Snickers – but BETTER! If you’re a big Snickers fan like me you gotta try this recipe