good day sunshine bars

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Baked Bakery’s “Good Morning Sunshine” bars have been on my ‘to do’ list for practically forever, and who knows why because they’re so fricking easy to make that I basically feel like the laziest person ever for not making them. I finally got around to make them, but as i was reading through the recipe I just wanted there to be more.

The standard recipe is pretty solid on its own, it’s got cereal, peanut butter, sugar (duh), and a drizzle of chocolate on top, but it also had chopped peanuts which for some reason I am generally not a fan of in my snacks. I like peanuts, I eat them quite frequently, but crunchy peanut butter? No thank you. Nuts in my cookies? Get out of here.  Nuts in a quick bread? Pass. I know, I’m a crazy person.

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wanna be starbucks cherry oat bars

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Apparently our local Starbucks has a new pastry in stock these days. I don’t know if it’s legit new or just “new to us” new, but it is called the Michigan Cherry Oat Bar… and it happens to be Mr. Eats’ new favorite thing these days. So, of course, he requested that I make a from-scratch version. When I told him that would be difficult to do having never tasted the sweet treat, one appeared at our home within days.

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peppermint bark

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Since I couldn’t share my holiday basket recipes with you in December (that would have spoiled the surprise for the recipients!), I’ve decided to share them with you in January! Here’s a quick peek at what we’ll be covering…

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  • Gingerbread blondies
  • Peppermint bark
  • Parmesan-thyme crackers
  • Cheddar crisps
  • Cinnamon-apple bourbon
  • Toffee chip shortbread cookies

Today’s topic: Peppermint bark.

The first time I had peppermint bark was years ago at Williams Sonoma and at almost $30 a pop I limited myself to their free samples and other, cheaper, knock-off varieties of the holiday treat. While I was thinking about what to put in my 2014 baskets, I realized that I still had a good amount of Chocoley laying around and thought it would be perfect some holiday bark!

You can use any chocolate you like, of course, but I’ve already told you about how I love the snap of Chocoley’s Candy Molding formula, which makes a nice sturdy base for this bark without having to temper the chocolate at all. Just melt and pour, then top it with some white chocolate and a generous sprinkling of crushed candy canes on top and voila! You have a whole sheet-pan of peppermint bark for a fraction of what you would pay for the tiny bit you get from Williams Sonoma one!

peppermint bark

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 14 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 3 candy canes, chopped or crushed

Instructions

  1. Line a sheet pan or 9-by-13 pan (for neater corners) with aluminum foil and/or parchment, smoothing out any wrinkles.
  2. Melt dark chocolate over just steaming water in a double boiler. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring in between each session).
  3. Stir in the peppermint extract and pour into prepared pan, spreading to form an even layer. Set in the fridge to firm up while you melt the white chocolate.
  4. In a separate bowl, melt the white chocolate in the same manner as the dark chocolate (it may take less time).
  5. Remove dark chocolate layer from fridge and pour white chocolate over the dark chocolate layer, spreading the white chocolate to form an even layer. Sprinkle with candy canes and return to fridge for about 10 minutes to set up.
  6. Set on the counter to continue firming up, about one hour, then cut into desired size chunks.
  7. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
http://wee-eats.com/2015/01/11/peppermint-bark/

 

gingerbread blondies

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’m sure I should be focusing on green things and healthy recipes, but I made these gingerbread blondies over the holiday for my Christmas treat boxes and it would just not be fair for me to keep them from you.

I know exactly what some of you are thinking right now: “Gingerbread? Ew!” But, hear me out… I know that you think you don’t like gingerbread. You probably had a bite of a gingerbread house as it was under construction and spit it out in disgust, or ate the legs off of a tiny gingerbread man only to be disappointed by the flavor… or maybe you had a bite of some dry gingerbread cake that fell to pieces in your mouth.

I’m here to tell you that those, my friends, are not what gingerbread is really all about. These blondies, on the other hand, will redeem every negative gingerbread experience you’ve ever had in your life. They are soft and delightfully chewy and filled to the top with molasses and spices that will make your mouth do the happy dance.

I adapted the recipe from Mr. Eats’s favorite blondies.  I kept the basic ratios the same, but punched up the spices and added a healthy dose of molasses to make these babies really shine.

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gingerbread blondies

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and parchment. Lightly grease the parchment with cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy. (If you are using a stand mixer, you will want to use the paddle attachment)
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate the egg after each addition.
  5. Scrape down the bowl and add the molasses, beating until incorporated.
  6. Add the vanilla and continue beating another 10 or 15 seconds until it is mixed in.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low just until moistened. Add the other half of the mixture and beat on low until just combined, being careful not to overmix. There should be no traces of white flour in the dough.
  8. Spread batter into the prepared pan - it helps if you moisten your hands and use them to help spread and pat the batter into place (it will be quite thick and sticky). Bake until edges are dry and the center is completely set, about 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the middle should come out clean.
  9. Cool completely on a wire rack and cut into squares.
http://wee-eats.com/2015/01/06/gingerbread-blondies/

gingerbread blondies pin

salty caramel pretzel brownies

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Sometimes managing a blog can be difficult.

I mean, aside from all the time spent shopping, prepping, cooking, photographing, and planning… all of that aside, the hardest thing by far is writing. Sometimes I just want to put up a picture and then put the recipe below and be done with it.

Writers block. It’s real, yo.

And it’s serious.

Sometimes I could talk about brownies for days (and sometimes I do)…  and then other times, like today, I’m all like, “How much can you really say about brownies?” 

Hi, I made brownies. Here is a picture to prove I made them. Here is another picture in case you’re still not convinced. And here is a recipe for said brownies. Yup. Looks like brownies.

>Brownies, brownies, brownies.

Then, a magical thing happened.

I realized I didn’t need to spend hours thinking about the brownies or how awesome their pretzelly crust was and how chewy and chocolatey they were and how delightful the little bits of caramel were or even how well the crunchy/salty pretzels accented them.

I didn’t have to ponder synonyms for “moist” (ew, right?) or different ways to describe the flavor of chocolate… in fact, I didn’t have to do any of that at all.

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I could, instead, talk about something completely different.  Like fortune cookies.  And how FH solidified for sure in his mind that we were meant to be (which is good, considering I’m wearing his ring on my finger and all. You think maybe he should have figured that out beforehand?)

Now you might be wondering what fortune cookies have to do with love, but let me get there.

FH and I tried a new Chinese joint last weekend. It was Saturday and I didn’t want to get out of my pajamas but FH wanted Chinese food, it was just our luck that someone left a menu on our doorstep for a new Chinese restaurant. I glanced through to see if they delivered (a lot of places don’t deliver when you live in the burbs – it’s the worst).

Luckily for us we were within their delivery area so we ordered it up and put a movie on – lucky for me O Brother Where Art Thou (which I recommend watching if you haven’t seen it yet) was playing on the movie channel so I got to watch my boy George while I waited for dinner to arrive.

The food came, and it was actually pretty good, which is neither here nor there… because the main star of this story, my friends, is this:

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Yeah, you’re eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. That’s two fortune cookies. One wrapper.

Two.

 “WE WERE MEANT TO BE! OUR FORTUNES CAME TOGETHER!

To this day we haven’t even OPENED the fortune cookies because FH said it was so rare, “like a unicorn,” and said we should save them in our memory book, which I reminded him would mostly likely result in crushed fortune cookies. So I think that tonight I will force him to crack open the cookies, read our fortunes, and hope it doesn’t say something ominous like, “Everyone dies alone” or “You’re about to make a grave mistake.”

Anyway, here’s the brownie recipe.

They’re good, I promise.

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salty caramel pretzel brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 20 to 30 brownies (or 1 giant brownie, depending on how you slice)

Ingredients

    Pretzel crust
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • Brownie layer
  • 7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (11-oz) package caramel bits; divided into 8 oz and 3 oz
  • For topping
  • 3 oz chocolate, melted
  • 3 oz caramel bits, melted
  • 1 c coarsely-chopped pretzels

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9x13 pan with foil and parchment
  2. For the crust
  3. Stir together flour, crushed pretzels, and brown sugar. Add melted butter and stir til combined. Press into bottom of lined pan.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool while you make the brownies.
  5. For the brownies
  6. Combine chocolate, espresso powder, water, and butter in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until butter and chocolate are melted, stirring occasionally.
  7. Once melted, transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly (if it is too warm, it will cook your eggs when you add them).
  8. Once cooled to luke-warm, add the sugar and brown sugar, beating with mixer at medium speed until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating about two minutes more.
  9. Stir in flour and salt until just combined, then stir in caramel bits, being careful not to over-mix.
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes until cooked through - a toothpick should come out mostly clean with a few crumbs sticking to it. With brownies, I always err on the side of under-baked vs over-baked.
  11. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes.
  12. For the topping:
  13. Crush pretzels and sprinkle over top of the brownies.
  14. Melt chocolate in microwave or double-boiler until smooth, drizzle over brownies.
  15. Melt caramel in microwave or double-boiler until smooth, drizzle over brownies.
  16. Allow brownies to cool completely and for chocolate to harden (you can speed this step up by placing brownies in the fridge).
  17. Once cooled, slice into bars and serve.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/02/17/salty-caramel-pretzel-brownies/

[ adapted from Bakers Royale ]

salty caramel pretzel brownie pin