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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

2 May

Peanut Butter and chocolate is one of those magical combinations – from peanut butter cups, to cakes, to brownies and cookies – it is a union that will forever be amazing and delicious. These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars are no exception – and they were so easy to make, too!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Averie Cooks)

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1/3 heaping cup peanut butter (I use Jif, Skippy or similar; natural PB can separate and/or be too oily)
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + 2 tablespoons, for sprinkling

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 peanut butter, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
-Add the flour and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.
-Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.
-Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
-Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, smoothly the top lightly with a spatula.
-Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until done. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. 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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This is one of those doughs I had to restrain myself from inhaling raw – it was just so perfect looking (and tasting!)

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Before and after baking

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That cross section says it all – melty chocolate and gooey bar – yum!

Had all ingredients on hand? Check
Easy to make? Check
Delicious? CHECK!

These were a winner – definitely great for beginner bakers – and anyone else who cherishes the marriage of Peanut Butter and Chocolate as much as I do!

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No-Bake Cereal Bars – Perfect For Breakfast On The Go

22 Mar

First things first – important announcement – I AM AN AUNTIE! My beautiful niece was born last week, and I can’t WAIT to meet her – we are headed there this weekend, and I am SO EXCITED!

Normally I would make a meal or two and some cookies or something and bring it all over for the new family – but since they live 4 hours away, transporting perishable food wasn’t really something I was prepared to deal with – so of course the next best thing would be to do some major baking for them, right? Cookies are great – but what about cookie bars, scones, brownies, and cereal bars – because 4 things are way better than 1, right? Needless to say – I had my hands full getting this all together. First thing I made was the one that would easily freeze and keep the longest – the No Bake Cereal Bars

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Strangely enough, my little sous chef originally had no interest in helping me (which is rare!). When it was time to make the bars he was preoccupied (Play-doh) and only ran to my assistance when I said the magic word  – CHOCOLATE  and I can’t blame him – that is my magic word too!

No Bake Cereal Bars (Recipe Courtesy of Buzzfeed Tasty)
INGREDIENTS
½ cup honey
¼ cup peanut butter
3 cups toasted oat cereal
1 cup yogurt chips (save ½ cup for melting)
½ cup unsalted toasted almonds, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)

PREPARATION
1. In a bowl, mix honey with peanut butter. Microwave for 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, or until melted.
2. In a large bowl, combine oat cereal, ½ of the yogurt chips (save the other half for later), chopped almonds, and dried cranberries.
3. Pour the melted honey mixture into the bowl and stir until well mixed.
4. Pour into an 8×8 baking pan lined with parchment paper, and gently flatten the mixture evenly around the pan.
5. Freeze for 30 minutes, or until the mixture has hardened enough to cut it into 8 pieces.
6. Melt the other half of the yogurt chips in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time, until melted. (Optional: adding 1 tsp of coconut oil will help with the melting process)
7. Dip the bottom of the bars in the melted yogurt chips and place on a piece of parchment paper. Freeze for another 15 minutes.
8. Wrap each bar in parchment paper & store in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 3 months.
9. Enjoy!

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NOTES: As with most recipes, I figured “why not double it?” – have some for us to keep here at home and then give some to my brother and sister in law.

The only thing I would actually change about this recipe is they didn’t stick together super well (the white chocolate coating on the bottom helped!) – so I might use a bit more of the honey/peanut butter mix next time to help everything stay together and maintain bar form more easily

Also. The recipe calls for “yogurt chips” What the hell is a yogurt chip I mean really?? I searched all over the grocery store – and even asked the grocery manager – who had never even heard of them. Just – ok. So – I substituted white chocolate for the dipping, and then a mix of white chocolate and mini semi sweet chips in the bars

You can really customize these to your liking – different cereals, dried fruits, and chocolates can easily be substituted in. As is – I really like the flavor though – they turned out pretty well, and I would definitely make them again!

Easy to make, and even easier to grab on the way to work for breakfast – or in my in laws case – easy to eat one handed while the baby is asleep on your other arm

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I actually managed to not make a huge mess with the dipping (normally me plus melted chocolate is a disaster – so if even I can make these look good, you can too!)

These Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies Pack Some SERIOUS PB Punch (Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You…)

9 Mar

I have come across these Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies a few times now – on Pinterest and via Facebook recipe vidoes (which – these days – it seems most of my Facebook feed is made up of food videos – probably because I love food and Facebook knows that!) – and finally the other day I decided screw it – I am gonna make these bad boys!

I think what really pushed me over the edge into wanting to make these was the fact that there was a whole layer of peanut butter cups sandwiched between the brownie and crunchy fudge layers – I love Reese’s cups so much that I could eat them for every meal and snack forever. Seriously – that’s how amazing I think they are. So – these brownies were basically my destiny come to life, in dessert form

Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies
(Recipe Courtesy of Dinners Dishes And Desserts)

Ingredients
Brownies
2 oz unsweetened chocolate , melted
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2nd Layer
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups
Fudge Layer
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 Tbls butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup crispy rice cereal

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 inch baking dish. Or line with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.
-In a bowl combine melted chocolate with canola oil. Add sugar, and eggs. Mix until well combined. Stir in flour and salt.
-Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, until a tester comes out mostly clean.
-Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle peanut butter cups over the brownies. Let sit for 5 minutes, then gently use the back of a spoon and spread the melted chocolate over the brownies. Let cool completely.
-In a microwave safe bowl melt together chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter; heat for 1 minute, stir. Heat at 15 second intervals until smooth. Stir in vanilla and cereal. Pour over brownies.
-Place in fridge to completely set up before serving.

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As usual – my tiny sous chef was ready to help out! Mostly with peanut butter and chocolate chip eating – but still – gotta take what I can get (After all -it’s hard to find good kitchen help these days!)

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Brownie? Check. Amazing Peanut butter cup layer? Check!

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While the peanut butter cup topped brownies are cooling, I prepped the top layer – crunchy fudge-y goodness!

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The finished product – layer upon layer of yum

Overall – these were easy to make, and ingredient wise I had everything on hand so that is always a plus for me if I don’t have to run to the store before starting a recipe!

As for the taste – like I said in the title – these pack some SERIOUS PB power – so if you’re super into Peanut Butter, these are for you, but if you’re expecting to distinctly taste the Peanut butter cups and brownie layers – you might be disappointed.

I personally think the top layer of “fudge” overpowered the whole thing – it was all I could taste, and while it was good and I really loved the crunchy texture, I wanted more brownie and especially more peanut butter cup taste

If I was to make these again I think I would dial down the amount of fudge on top – about half of what the recipe calls for would still provide a decent layer, and it would allow the other tastes to come through

Oh – and I would add more peanut butter cups. A lot more. like double. Because – peanut butter cups are life.

Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars – An Easy, Delicious Addition To Any Brunch!

28 Feb

Ah, Brunch. It’s the best meal ever, don’t you think? It’s a meal where basically anything goes – breakfast items, lunch items, sweet and savory on the same plate. Plus it’s often served late enough that you can sleep in, and alcohol is usually on the menu too – what could be better? I am always looking for new additions to my brunch recipe rotation, and when I stumbled across this one for Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars, I knew I had to give them a shot for my next brunch date:

Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars
INGREDIENTS:
Crust and Crumble Topping
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats (don’t use quick cook or instant, they’re finer and behave like flour and will make mixture too dry)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
pinch salt, optional and to taste

Blueberry Layer
12 ounces (2 cups) blueberries (fresh or frozen; I used frozen and didn’t thaw)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

DIRECTIONS:
-Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside. Lining the pan helps with cleanup and is recommended.
-Make Crust and Crumble Topping – In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power. Add the flour, oats, sugars, optional salt, and stir to combine. Mixture will be dry and sandy with some larger, well-formed crumble pieces. Set 1 heaping cup mixture aside to be sprinkled on later as crumble topping.
Transfer remaining mixture to prepared pan, and using a spatula or your fingers, hard-pack the mixture to create an even, smooth, flat crust; set aside.
-Make Blueberry Layer – In a large mixing bowl (same one used for crust and crumble is okay), add all ingredients and toss to combine. If sugar hasn’t dissolved fully that’s okay because it liquifies while baking. Evenly distribute blueberry mixture over the crust.
-Evenly sprinkle with the reserved heaping 1 cup crumble topping mixture. Before sprinkling, I squeeze the mixture in my palm to encourage bigger crumble pieces to form.
-Bake for about 55 minutes, or until edges are set and center has just set. Crumble topping should appear set and very pale golden. I used frozen berries without thawing and the pan was very cold going into the oven. If using fresh berries, baking time will be reduced, but I’m not sure by how much, I’d guess at least 10-15 minutes, possibly less. Bars may take longer than 55 minutes if blueberries are very juicy. Watch your bars, not the clock, when evaluating doneness. Place pan on a wire rack and allow bars to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. If you try to slice bars before they’ve cooled completely, they’ll be extremely messy and could fall apart. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, in the fridge for up to 10 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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Various stages of bar preparation

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Adorable tiny sous chef preps the crust

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Layering it up and getting it ready for the oven

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The finished product – golden and delicious

It was easy to put this together (especially since I had a helper!) and get it in the oven – it took a bit longer to bake than 55 minutes for me though – I would say an additional 15 on top of that before it even started to brown on top

Additionally, I should have waited longer than half an hour after it came out to try and cut it – it was a MESS. Next time I think I will leave them to cool/set up overnight before attempting to cut them

All that being said – they were pretty tasty – the buttery crumble of the crust against the slightly tart berries was lovely – an easy, delicious addition to brunch – one that could easily be changed up with different fruits/berries depending on the season!

Large Batch Cookie Bars – The Perfect Picnic Dessert

6 Sep

Last weekend I attended a family Labor Day picnic – which in itself was weird – like – how is summer OVER? Where did it GO? Well – I don’t know about you, but I spent my summer swimming, taking family walks, visiting the zoo, hanging out with friends, and playing on the playground with my son. It was a summer well spent for sure – and Labor Day is always the perfect long weekend to relax and soak up the last little bit of sun and fun! Since the weather here in Upstate NY sucked (aka I wouldn’t get to go swimming boo) I decided to concentrate my efforts elsewhere – in the KITCHEN of course, baking up a batch of these treats to take along to the last family picnic of the summer:

Large Batch Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Jamie Cooks It Up)

Ingredients
1 1/2 C butter
2 C brown sugar
1 C white sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
4 tsp vanilla
4 1/4 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 C milk chocolate chips
2 C M&Ms

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
2. Place 1 1/2 C butter into a large glass bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave.
3. Add 2 C brown sugar and 1 C white sugar and stir to combine. Then add 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks and 4 tsp vanilla. Whisk it together until well combined.
4. In a separate bowl combine 4 1/4 C flour, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking soda.
5. Stir the dry mixture into the sugar mixture. Don’t mix it in all the way. The trick to making these bars nice and soft on the inside is not to over mix and not to over bake. So, at this stage…leave a bit of the flour showing. It will incorporate nicely for you as you stir in the chocolate.

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I was lucky enough to have a tiny adorable helper who was willing to assist me with getting these together!

6. Add 2 C milk chocolate chips and 2 C of M and M’s (almost all of a medium sized bag). You can use any kind of chocolate chips.
7. Stir the chocolate in to combine.

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Someone insisted we make a couple Mickey shaped ones – luckily there was still plenty afterwards to fill the pan with dough!

8. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray (mine is 12 x 17). Press the dough evenly into the pan.

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Golden brown perfection

9. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the outside is slightly golden. You want to be sure not to over bake. They are much better if the inside is nice and soft.
10. Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes then slice into bars and enjoy!

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And enjoy them we did!

These were super easy to make – didn’t even need to get out the hand mixer – since the butter is melted, it’s pretty easy to mix together by hand

This makes a TON of cookie bars – which makes sense because it is called “large batch chocolate chip cookie bars” ha – but seriously it made way more than enough for my picnic, and it would be the perfect thing to make for like a kid’s birthday party or something – as the cookies are not too messy and can be cut up pretty small for little hands to easily handle.

And you can mix up what you put in them too – different colored M&M’s for different holidays, or different flavor chocolate chips – I personally used a combo of peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and mini M & M’s – which turned out great! I love the chewiness factor to them too – and the fact that they use a hefty amount of brown sugar gives them a nice caramel-y color and quality too

They were a hit at the picnic – with those of all ages from 2 to 85! Will make again for sure – just as soon as those Halloween colored M&M’s are released!

4th Of July Sweets (Because It’s Not A Holiday Without Desserts!)

5 Jul

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Hope everyone had a great time celebrating our Nation and all that makes it great yesterday! 4th of July is the perfect holiday for grilling, hanging with friends, and having fun – which is exactly what we did! We went over to a friends house have a little cookout – and I brought the desserts. Yes – desserts plural. I made 3 desserts and I am not ashamed of it – I just couldn’t narrow it down to one, and besides, doesn’t everyone like to have choices? I know I do!

I made Red White and Blue Cheesecake bars, red white and blue strawberries, and cannoli dip

Read On For The Details:

Red White And Blue Cheesecake Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Inside Bru Crew Life)

Ingredients
For the Crust
30 Oreo cookies
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
3 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
3 eggs
red & blue gel food colors

Instructions
-Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with foil.
-Place the cookies (cream included) in a food processor. Pulse until the cookies become crumbs.
-Stir in the butter until mixed in. Press the mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
-Place a large baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. Fill it halfway with water. Let the oven preheat again.
-Beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and flour and beat again.
-Add the eggs and beat until they are mixed in. Divide the batter evenly into 3 bowls. Use the food coloring to tint two of the bowls red and blue.
-Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust, alternating the colors. Drag a butter knife through the batter going up and down and back and forth until you get a good swirl pattern. Do not over mix.
-Place the pan on the oven rack above the pan of water. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven immediately and place on a wire rack. Let the cheesecake cool on the counter for 1 hour, then refrigerate for 4-6 hours. Cut into squares and serve with Cool Whip and sprinkles, if desired.

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Crust? Check!

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Colored fillings swirled prettily? Check!

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Patriotic and delicious cheesecake bars? CHECK!

I am normally not a huge cheesecake fan – but when i came across these I knew I wanted to try them – for two reasons. The first being that it had an OREO crust (yum), and the second being the fact that it was red white and blue had me sucked in upon viewing the very first picture! They were easy to make, and turned out really nicely – creamy and delicious – and since its a 9 by 13 pan, it can easily be cut into smaller piece to bring along to a big family picnic or potluck

Ok – so – one down, two to go. On to the “healthy” dessert (stated as such since it’s base is fruit…kinda healthy, right?

Red White And Blue Strawberries
(Recipe courtesy of The Spruce)

Ingredients
-White Chocolate Candy Melts
-Strawberries
-Blue Sprinkles

Instructions
-Melt White Chocolate in microwave until smooth
-Dip Strawberries 2/3 of the way into the white chocolate
-Roll bottom 1/3 of strawberries into blue sprinkles
-Lay on wax paper covered sheet tray to dry, chill until ready to serve

TIPS:
*Do NOT use white chocolate chips – they tend to melt weirdly and clumpily, and I personally have always had better luck with melting chocolate or candy melts
*Make sure your strawberries are clean and DRY when you start this – and when I say dry I don’t mean just air dried – I mean like patted down each individually with a paper towel kind of dry

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Taking the time to dip each individual berry is kind of a pain – but they are so pretty that it makes it worth it!

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And on to the final dessert in the trifecta – Cannoli Dip!

Cannoli Dip
(Recipe Courtesy of Homemade Hooplah)

Ingredients
1 cup ricotta
8 oz cream cheese room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
waffle cones broken

Instructions
-Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), whisk together ricotta, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add in vanilla extract and whip for another 30 seconds
-Taste test the dip – if you’d like it sweeter, add more powdered sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. You can safely add another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar (8 tablespoons) without negatively impacting consistency
-Fold in mini chocolate chips, reserving some to sprinkle on top for decoration if desired
-Serve dip immediately with broken waffle cones for dipping

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Easy, tasty, no baking required!

One of the best parts about summer holidays like the 4th of July is the chance to get to try out some new recipes at BBQ’s, picnics, and family reunions – and when you’re indecisive like me, you end up trying multiple things at a time, and this time I have to say I am glad I did – as they are truly all winners!

Using Cake Batter For Cookies – A (Deliciously) Lazy Shortcut

28 Jun

It’s not secret that an amazing shortcut for making cookies involves utilizing Cake mix as the base – I have done it before myself many many times – and the cookies always turn out fantastic!

So being a big fan of cookies, and chocolate, and shortcuts – I knew that these Lazy Cookie Bars would be right up my alley. Easy, fast, and I had everything on hand already. Boom. Done.

Lazy Cookie Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of The Country Cook)

Ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs beaten
5 tbsp salted butter melted
1 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

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Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
-Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
-In your mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix with melted butter and beaten eggs.
*This is easier if you have an electric or stand mixer because batter will be very thick.
-Stir in bag of chocolate chips.
-Spread batter into greased baking dish.
-Once it is evenly spread out, put in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
-It will puff up as it is cooking and be golden brown around the edges when it is done.

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Allow to cool.

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Devour.

These turned out perfectly – what a foolproof and easy dessert you can make last minute, and it would be easy to mix it up too – use different flavor cake mixes or different add ins – I am thinking next time I will try a chocolate cake mix with peanut butter chips (yum!)