Friday, July 1, 2016

Candy Bar Blondies

I felt like making a good bar cookie this week. I had two options, which honestly were remarkably similar to one another. I asked my husband what to bake, and he selected these blondies. I do love a good blondie! When I was baking with the Tuesdays with Dorie group, when it was my turn to pick a recipe I opted for blondies, which ended up being very successful. This recipe is quite similar to that recipe, in that you really have a lot of leeway in selecting what mix-ins you want to use.

This recipe started as a Milky Way blondie. When I went to the store, they didn’t have bags of fun size Milky Ways. They had a bag of mixed candy bars, Milky Way, Milky Way Dark, Snickers, and 3 Musketeers, in the mini size. I figured that would work fine, and the mini ones were a bit easier to chop up anyway. There were also mini Twix in the bag, but those were eaten and/or shared with friends at work.

I didn’t quite know how many candy bars to add in, as I didn’t quite know how many mini bars equal a fun sized bar. I did a rough weight approximation, and it was about 1-1/2 cups chopped. 2-1/2 cups of mix-ins seemed about right. Too much more than that any there wouldn’t be enough dough to support the candy bars! It’s a little hard to tell when they are baked through, as the recipe warned not to over bake, but at 25 minutes they were still raw dough-y in the center. At 29 minutes they looked a touch soft in the middle but I figured they would be fine and they were. These are fairly sweet (well, they do contain several cups of candy!) so cut them small.

Candy Bar Blondies
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Caramel Bits
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups chopped candy bars

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9” x 13” pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large mixer bowl, cream the brown sugar and butter at medium speed. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium until combined. With the mixer on low, gradually stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in caramel bits, chocolate chips, and chopped candy bars. Press evenly into the prepared pan
 Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until set along the edges. They may still look slightly under baked in the center. Cool completely. Lift the bars from the pan by the foil and peel away the foil. Cut into bars.

Recipe from Crazy for Crust

Friday, June 24, 2016

Salted Caramel Brownie Bites

Chocolate and caramel is a winning combination. These little brownie bites are fairly simple, but not at all plain. These are quick and efficient, as you bake all of the brownie bites at once. If it were a warm day, these would be ideal as you only have to have the oven on for a short while. That’s not an issue for us in the Seattle area. Although we had a warm spring, this first week of summer has been quite mild. Some days I’d even call it downright gloomy (which I actually love)!

I used a mixer to make the brownie batter, but it’s so simple that you could mix it up by hand. You wouldn’t think that half a cup of flour and cocoa powder would be sufficient for making 24 cookies, but it was fine. I used a medium cookie scoop to make the process of portioning the batter easier. It’s also a lot less messy. For the topping, I used caramel bits rather than caramel squares. The original recipe called for 20 caramel squares, so about a cup is the equivalent.

These looked great coming out of the oven and I made a super deep indentation, so there would be more room for caramel! I didn’t take the cookies out of the pan when they were cooled. I think the combination of pressing the cookies really hard to make an indentation, perhaps not baking them enough, and leaving them in the pan, I had a terribly difficult time getting them out of the pan cleanly. Out of 24, I think only about 10 came out cleanly. I have a bit of a caramel travesty all over my counter! Whether the cookies came out of the pan or not, they are still very tasty. Chocolate and salty caramel is a winner, no matter what they look like.

Salted Caramel Brownie Bites
½ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup caramel bits
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Sea Salt, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 24-count mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

 In a large mixer bowl, beat the melted butter and sugar on medium until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again on medium until well combined. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and mix on low until just combined.

Scoop the brownie batter into the prepared muffin pan.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the brownie bites comes out almost clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Make an indentation in each brownie bite while the brownie is still warm. Allow the brownie bites to cool. Once cool, remove the brownie bites from the pan.

In a medium microwaveable bowl, combine the caramel bits and heavy cream. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring the mixture well between each increment. Continue heating until the mixture is smooth. Spoon the caramel into the indentation in each brownie bite. Sprinkle the top of each brownie bite with sea salt.
Recipe from Live Well, Bake Often

Friday, June 17, 2016

Chocolate Almond Brickle Cookies

Today is the last day of school and graduation! While being on the quarter system we have “last days” pretty frequently, spring quarter is always a big relief to finish. It’s been a really tough year and work has been extra busy. I typically have a little time before I start work for the summer, but not this year. I’m helping implement a new software in the library and I’m also going through certification testing for that software. No break for me!

I hadn’t made a chocolate cookie in a bit, and chocolate is always a good choice. I have been baking with toffee/brickle chips a lot, but they’re so great that you can’t go wrong. I used plain brickle chips, with no chocolate, as that’s what the store had. The ones with chocolate would certainly work, too. I’m not sure why stores just carry one or the other. I guess with limited shelf space they figure they have something with toffee/brickle, check it off the list, and call it a day.

These cookies aren’t too bad to put together, but melting the chocolate can be a messy prospect. Chocolate dough is always a little messy, but if you use a cookie scoop to portion the cookies, it helps a lot. I used a pinch of sliced almonds on top of each cookie and that worked out. I slightly flattened the cookies before baking, which helped the cookies bake. I think these cookies have a slightly addictive quality, strong chocolate flavor with the occasional crunch of the brickle bits. I hope I don’t eat too many of these!

Chocolate Almond Brickle Cookies           
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup brickle chips
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside. In a small bowl, melt the unsweetened chocolate. Stir until smooth and then stir in the espresso powder, set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium until light. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat again on medium to incorporate. Add the chocolate mixture and stir on low to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Stir in the brickle chips.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, using a medium cookie scoop. Top each cookie with some sliced almonds.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until set. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cookies are cooled, make the glaze: in a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar until smooth. Add additional milk if too thick, additional powdered sugar if too thin. Drizzle over the cookies and allow the glaze to set.   

Recipe from Garlic and Zest