Tag Archives: christmas baking

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!

Holiday Gift Ideas For Bakers

3 Dec

The holiday season is upon us! Carols, snow, lights, trees, baking and SHOPPING are all on my “to-do” list this year – and baking is the one I am most looking forward to – measuring and mixing, feeling the kitchen fill up with the scent of cookies and cakes while Christmas carols play softly in the background – that’s my favorite Christmas tradition.

Me, my turkey, my boy and my Minnie Mouse Apron on Thanksgiving!

Me, my turkey, my boy and my Minnie Mouse Apron on  Thanksgiving!

If you know someone like me who LOVES baking, but you aren’t sure what to get them this year, then check out my list of Holiday Gift Ideas For The Baker In Your Life:

A Really Good Spatula: A thick bladed, wooden handled spatula is a must have for every baker out there – as scraping the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated is an essential part of most any recipe. I love my spatula so much I even wrote about it last year, and a set like this would be a great addition to any Baker’s utensil collection!

Cookie Cutters: Ok, so most bakers probably have at least some cookie cutters already, but if you could find a unique one for them that fits their personality, it’s a great (and usually pretty cheap!) gift option. For example, I love Disney, and dogs, and reading – so any type of cookie cutter that is related to those themes would be something I would LOVE to receive. Or you can give a set of mini cookie cutters – like these adorable animals, or some seasonally appropriate Mini Christmas cookie cutters

An Apron: Ok, so this one may seem kind of lame – but aprons have come a long way – they are no longer just some frilly thing that housewives wear – they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. If you’re crafty, you can sew your baker a custom one like my mother in law did for me – it is Minnie Mouse themed on one side, and apple patterned on the other – two of my very favorite things! If you aren’t great with a sewing machine, then check out the TONS of amazing options on Etsy – all you have to do is search for “apron” and up come a whole bunch of results, and the great thing about Etsy is that most shops will work with you to customize your gift to your specifications – so initials, words, material – it’s all able to be chosen by you to create a super amazing gift for your baker

Tools For Their Littlest Bakers: Most bakers enjoy sharing their love of baking with others – I know I do – and I can’t WAIT until my son is old enough to help me roll out dough and cut the shapes out with cookie cutters. If the baker on your shopping list has kids or nieces or nephews, you might want to consider getting them something they can use with them – like a Kid-friendly cupcake decorating set, or a copy of this Better Homes & Gardens Junior Cookbook

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Something Pretty and Shiny: My husband got me this necklace a few years ago for Christmas – and I just love it. You can find necklaces, bracelets, earring and more on etsy – I’ve seen ones with little whisk and spoon charms too – perfect for a baker!

Baking-Themed Gift Basket: You can put a ton of different things in here – a roll of parchment paper, kitchen towels, cute measuring spoons, an apron, a cookbook, nice wooden spoons or spatulas – and you can package it all up nicely in a big mixing bowl or measuring cup. Doesn’t have to be expensive, just some things you think your baker might like, put together with love and care. Wal-Mart currently has a new line of Pioneer Woman cookware & dinnerware – it’s decorative, with plenty of different pieces to pick from, and best of all – it won’t break the bank, and would make a perfect addition to your gift basket!

A Kitchen Aid Mixer: This is the ultimate kitchen tool that every baker lusts after – I have a vintage one from the 50’s that still works great, so not only is it cool and old school, but I didn’t have to pay for it (as it was my grandmother’s) – so that makes me extra happy – as they are NOT cheap – the smallest models start at around $200, and go up from there. One that is big enough to handle a double or triple batch of cookies will run around $500 or more. It’s pricey, but it’s worth it – and it’s a gift your baker will absolutely LOVE. Bonus – they come in all kinds of colors now, so you can even get one that will match their kitchen!

A Recipe Book Stand/Tablet Stand: Give one of these so your baker can keep their recipes nearby and easy to read. You could go for an easy to clean, budget friendly plastic version, or you could go with a slightly more decorative version. If your baker likes to get most of their recipes electronically, then check out this awesome kitchen mount/stand for Ipad/tablets – perfect for viewing recipes or watching how to videos on different cooking and baking techniques

Hopefully these ideas will help you check at least one person off your shopping list – and if you’re a baker like me, then you may want to consider asking Santa for some of these items – they will make your Christmas even more Merry and Bright!

Gettin’ Into That Holiday Spirit With These Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies

7 Dec

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is less than three weeks away – time sure flies doesn’t it? I think for me time has gone particularly fast these past two months – as my little guy has been growing up so quickly !

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Needless to say – I haven’t had a ton of time to shop, or cook, or bake, or do much except cuddle my boy (which isn’t exactly a bad thing in my book!), but when I came across this recipe for Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies, I knew I had to make it for my man – who is a huge molasses cookie fan, and a huge chocolate fan (but who doesn’t love chocolate, right?!)

I love Averie Cooks – her recipes are easy, delicious, and most of all I love her pictures – they are so beautiful and I always strive to make my desserts look just as good as hers! I get emails when she posts new entries on her blog, and I have made a bunch of stuff from her site, and I figured what better way to get into the Christmas mood than with the scent of molasses wafting through the house?

 

Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

For the Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup brown sugar, packed (either light or dark)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsulphered molasses (not blackstrap, it’s much more pungent and bitter; I use Grandma’s Original)
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
6 ounces (3/4 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate or dark chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks (I use Trader Joe’s 72% Pound Plus bar; use a favorite bold dark chocolate or chocolate bar)

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating for Rolling
about 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

For the Cookies – In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power. To the slightly cooled butter (so you don’t scramble the egg), add the next eleven ingredients – the egg, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, molasses, oil, vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and whisk vigorously to combine until batter is smooth and silky. Add the flour, baking, soda and stir to just incorporate; batter will be thick

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Fold in the chocolate chips and chocolate baking chunks (I used nearly 6 ounces; using a total of 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips is okay if you don’t have baking chocolate or a chocolate bar to chop). Cover mixing bowl or transfer batter to an airtight food storage container and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days, prior to baking.

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Preheat oven to 350F, line two baking trays with Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat liners, parchment, or spray with cooking spray; set aside.

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating for Rolling – In a small bowl, combine about 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and stir to combine.

Using a cookie scoop, form 2-ounce mounds of dough and roll each ball through the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on baking trays, spaced about 2 inches apart (I bake 8 to a tray).

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Allow cookies to bake in fairly domed-up, mounded, ball-like shapes. Bake for about 8 to 9 minutes, or until tops have just set, taking care not to overbake so they stay soft and chewy.

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Upon removing trays from oven, if cookies stayed domed while baking (likely they will) immediately give cookies a firm yet gentle tap or two with the back of a spoon to flatten them. This creates a crackled top appearance and exposes some of the melted chocolate chips and chunks. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before moving them to a rack to finish cooling. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months

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I followed this recipe exactly, and was very pleased with the results – a dense, chocolaty cookie with a fine cinnamon sugar coating that went perfectly with milk and hot cocoa

The only thing I would do differently next time is I used dark chocolate, I think I would like to try it with the bittersweet chocolate to give more of a flavor contrast (as the chocolate in the cookies all tasted pretty much the same)

My man was happy, and so was I – these are a great alternative to plain gingerbread or molasses cookies, and they are perfect to make and give as a gift from the heart this Christmas (just be sure to make extra for yourself…)