DIY Peanut Butter Eggs

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If you live on planet Earth and have heard of Easter, you have probably encountered at least one Reese’s peanut butter egg in your life.  And, if you had consumed said egg, then you know it’s the best candy known to mankind.

Of course, as a die-hard chocolate/peanut butter fan (and a lifelong Reese’s egg eater) it was only a matter of time before I had to recreate these godly treats in my own kitchen.

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What I didn’t realize when I set out to make these how much effort I would end up putting into them.

First off, since I am a lover of dark chocolate while Future Husband loves milk chocolate (which is the more authentically “Reese’s” one to use anyway), I already knew that I had to make at least two versions.

Since I was already making two versions, I decided to go a step further than just changing out the type of chocolate used and decided to try a hard-shelled version and a milk chocolate soft-shelled (more Reese’s-like) version.

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Normally a hard-shelled chocolate requires two things 1> a chocolate mold (check!) and 2> tempering chocolate (not-check).

Since we’ve already discussed how much I loathe chopping chocolate, you can probably deduce that I also have no patience for tempering chocolate. This meant that the chocolate I got had to be low-maintenance chocolate. No chopping or tempering required.

Enter – these beautiful little guys. “No tempering” you say? I’m listening…

And did you notice how adorable and tiny they are? Already optimized for melting.

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Translation: NO. CHOPPING. REQUIRED.

Sold.

So, with just the use of my egg-shaped mold and no special tempering or chopping, my molded eggs came out shiny with a crisp snap while my dipped eggs came out perfectly soft and chewy.

Success!

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Now that my chocolate problem was solved, it was onto the filling.

Most of the recipes you see for Reese’s-type treats will put you somewhere between one and ten thousand pounds* of powdered sugar.  Now it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that adding copious amounts of powdered sugar to a recipe will make your filling cloyingly sweet.

(*That may or may not be a slight exaggeration.)

We want our filling to taste like peanut butter, right? Not like powdered sugar. So clearly there was some work to be done.

This was easy with the hard eggs, since the mold held the filling it didn’t have to be particularly sturdy.

However, since we were dipping our soft-shelled eggs, we required a sturdier filling. One that we could mold in our hands without it either melting or falling apart. As easy as this seems, despite my best efforts, I could not get my original filling to be able to be molded by hand.

And I tried hard, like, really hard.

After stirring in several extra pounds of powdered sugar, I decided to attribute this failure to my use of coconut oil in my original filling, as it is the only major difference between the two fillings that I made.  And while my kitchen is a bit warmer than your average kitchen, even the freezer was no help. Once my frozen peanut buttery goodness touched the luke-warm melted chocolate it turned to goo.

So we needed to thicken our mixture, but not add a ton of sweetness to it… Enter: powdered peanut butter (or “peanut flour”). While this helped to both a> keep my filling peanut-buttery and delicious without adding sweetness and b> thicken my filling, it did not thicken it enough for me to mold.

So, back to the drawing board.

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I solved this issue by swapping my coconut oil for butter (sorry, arteries!) and added a tad bit more powdered sugar than I would generally prefer, but balanced it with a generous scoop of peanut butter powder and a pinch of salt. The result was surprisingly close to what the inside of an actual Reese’s egg tastes like. Combined with the soft milk chocolate coating, I’m pretty sure I hit the nail on the head. Or at least darn close to it.

And then, just for fun, I did a caramel-filled one. I used this pre-made caramel filling which could be pressed into the egg mold or rolled into an egg shape and … done!

Easy peasy.

I even made some with peanut butter AND caramel inside because I was feeling a little crazy. You, of course, can fill your eggs with whatever you like!

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Reese's-Style Peanut Butter Eggs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 to 12 eggs, depending on siz

Serving Size: 1 egg

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 to 12 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter flour (I used PB2 powdered peanut butter)
  • 8 to 10 ounces chocolate coating (I used Chocoley's Bada Bing Coating)

Instructions

    Make the filling:
  1. Place peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 50% power for 30 seconds and stir.
  2. Continue heating in additional 15 second intervals until butter is completely melted and stir the mixture until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Stir in the salt until incorporated. Stir in peanut butter flour and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until incorporated.
  4. Stir in additional powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture stiffens almost akin to play-dough consistency.
  5. Cover bowl and place in fridge to cool, about 1 hour.
  6. Shape the filling
  7. Once cooled, scoop into a scant tablespoon-sized ball and roll into a ball.
  8. Place the ball in the palm of your hand and pat into an egg-like shape.
  9. Place onto a parchment-lined plate or baking sheet and continue with the rest of the peanut butter mixture.
  10. Cover peanut butter eggs and place in refrigerator or freezer until chilled, 15 to 20 minutes.
  11. Make the eggs
  12. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave. - I melted my chocolate at 50% power in the microwave and stirred, then continued melting at 10 second increments until it was mostly (85%) melted, then stirred to complete the melting process.
  13. Remove peanut butter eggs from freezer and working one egg at a time, quickly but gently drop the egg top-down into the chocolate, then flip to coat the bottom and lift out of the chocolate. Give it a couple gentle shakes to allow extra chocolate to drip off, then place chocolate-covered egg on parchment to dry. Use the back of a spoon or a butter knife to encourage your egg to jump onto the parchment.
  14. Repeat with remaining eggs until complete.

Notes

* Eggs can be made larger or smaller as desired, I got 10 out of mine.

* If your peanut butter is softening, return to fridge to chill and re-melt chocolate to try again.

* If you aren't a fan of the "dunk and flip" method, you can also dip the bottom of the egg into the chocolate, lift it out, and then spoon additional chocolate over the top of the egg to cover. Give it a gentle shake to distribute the chocolate and shake off the excess.

* My chocolate-dipping "tools" usually consist of a plastic fork with the middle two tines removed, and a plastic spoon. I know I'm killing the environment but it beats cleaning chocolate off of my cutlery.

* Although I've seen PB2 all around lately (even at Target!), if you can't find it I have seen peanut flour at Trader Joe's or you could use finely ground almond flour. I've also heard wonderful things about the thickening power of coconut flour, but have yet to purchase any.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/15/diy-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/

Hard-shelled Peanut Butter Eggs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 10 2-inch eggs

Serving Size: 1 egg

Ingredients

Instructions

    Make the filling:
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt peanut butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar on 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until mixture is combined.
  2. Stir in peanut butter powder followed by powdered sugar. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until chilled.
  3. Make the shell
  4. Prepare a sheet pan (or just cover part of your counter) with a sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Meanwhile, make your chocolate shells. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or at 50% power until chocolate is 85% melted; stirring every 15 seconds or so. Once chocolate is mostly (about 85%) melted, removed from heat and continue stirring until completely melted.
  6. Fill molds about 2/3 full with chocolate, then rotate and gently shake the molds to run the chocolate up the sides. Once completely covered, turn mold upside down over parchment paper and shake to remove excess chocolate from mold. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to remove excess chocolate from the mold exterior.
  7. Set aside to firm up, about 20 minutes, which should be right about the time your peanut butter filling is ready.
  8. Fill the eggs
  9. Pipe or spoon peanut butter filling into your egg molds, making sure to leave at least a couple millimeters at the top. If you fill your molds with too much peanut butter, the chocolate bottom will not be able to cover the peanut butter completely. Continue with the remaining shells until complete.
  10. Put their tops (or bottoms) on
  11. Gather the (now hardened) chocolate pieces from your parchment and return them to the bowl with your remaining chocolate. Gently re-melt the chocolate.
  12. Using either a pastry bag (or ziploc bag) or a spoon, pour melted chocolate in a thick zig-zag over the exposed peanut butter of each egg.
  13. Gently tilt and shake the egg mold to distribute the chocolate until it completely covers the peanut butter, using extra chocolate if needed.
  14. Tap chocolate mold on counter a few times to release any bubbles, and using an offset spatula or bench scraper remove excess chocolate from the mold.
  15. Set aside to cool and harden, you may speed this process up by placing the mold in the refrigerator if desired.
  16. Release the eggs!
  17. Once hardened, give your mold a good whack on the counter over your parchment paper with the open side down. Don't be shy here, this mold is the only thing standing between you and your chocolate eggs... so you give it what it deserves!
  18. Continue whacking the egg mold firmly against the counter like a lunatic until some eggs release. Remove those eggs to a safe place (like your mouth) and continue whacking the mold against the counter until all eggs have been released.
  19. Reward yourself with a peanut butter egg, you worked hard and you deserve it.
  20. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (assuming your home is cool) or in the refrigerator.

Notes

* Don't chill your eggs between adding the peanut butter and the last bit of chocolate or the chilled peanut butter will harden the chocolate before you have a chance to spread it around.

* I'm not sure if re-melting chocolate works with all chocolate or just happened to work out for me because mine was made for such a thing... Maybe someone more experienced than I am in chocolate would be able to answer that.

* Although I've seen PB2 all around lately (even at Target!), if you can't find it I have seen peanut flour at Trader Joe's or you could use finely ground almond flour. I've also heard wonderful things about the thickening power of coconut flour, but have yet to purchase any.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/15/diy-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/

[ Disclaimer: I did receive chocolate to try from Chocoley but I was in no way required to review or recommend their products to you. However, I am going to recommend their chocolate anyway because a> I loved working with it, it tastes great, it's reasonably-priced, and they will send you FREE SAMPLES. WHO DOES THAT?  As always, opinions expressed on wee-eats are honest and my own because it's my blog and that's how I roll.]

DIY Reese's Eggs | wee-eats.com

sweet and salty cake

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I know that by now my birthday was like over a week ago and I should get over it.

Except I can’t, because … this cake.  Guys, this cake.

My god.

I don’t know what came over me because I was already super excited to have not only picked out what cake I was making but I had all the ingredients ready to go… Then, at the last minute, it happened.

It was just a quiet night, like any other night, lounging in my super awesome grown up monkey pajamas, watching Keeping up with the Kardashians some critically-acclaimed drama on TV with some of my best friends a stack of cookbooks by my side,  and I opened the book directly to this.

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It was a sign. From the heavens above. A sign.

I had to make this cake.

You see, when I received this book some Christmases ago, I had never made a “real” cake nor caramel and making both at the same time seemed like an insane task that was doomed for failure.

Now, several years later, I was still pretty sure that I might fail, but there was a chance that I could not only accomplish this goal, but that it would make a fine birthday gift to myself.

The gift of self-satisfaction and accomplishment. And cake.

I like cake.

I especially like cake when it is sandwiched between layers of gooey caramel, and salted-caramel-chocolate frosting and then finished with a light dusting of crunchy fleur de sel.

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I’m not usually the type of person who usually really cares for frosting. I’m usually that weirdo who is always scraping it off of my cake and pushing it to the side while people stare at me in horror “BUT THE FROSTING IS THE BEST PART”

1. If the frosting is the best part of your cake, your cake is awful.

2. If your cake isn’t awful and you still like the frosting best, then you’re awful.

Ok, you’re not awful. In fact we should probably be best friends because then I can eat all of your cake  guilt-free while you eat all of my frosting. It’s better for the environment – no waste!

But this frosting. I would inject it into my veins if I could just to get it inside of me.  It’s so fluffy and creamy and sweet and delicious and amazing and … you get the point. You should make it. Even if you don’t make the cake. Eating a bowl of frosting is a totally acceptable thing to do.

I did learn three things in the process of making this particular cake.

(Yay knowledge!)

First – I HATE chopping chocolate. Like, really hate it. An absurd amount.

Sometimes I will even skip making a recipe JUST because it calls for chopped chocolate. I will instead find a recipe in which I can use cocoa powder instead.

Chopping chocolate is messy and annoying and awful and it takes forever and shoots chocolate particles all over my kitchen.

My million dollar idea? Let’s sell pre-chopped chocolate! You know there are chocolate crumbs in factories somewhere – LET’S BAG THAT SH*T AND SELL IT!!

Second – If you have ever made caramel before, you know when it’s done. Trust yourself.

The book’s recipes call to bring the caramel to 350F degrees. I did not follow my instinct and instead waiting for it to reach the 350F degree mark, and then had to dump it down the drain because burned caramel, as it turns out, is not actually very delicious (trust me, as someone who hates wasting food, I really did try to salvage it and make it work in the recipe).

Lesson learned: Do not burn your caramel. Instead, do it like this:

I took mine off the heat a bit before 350 but the temp kept going up all on its own. When all was said and done I think I still added the cream a tiny bit before the official 350F mark, but just trust your eyes. And your nose. You want an amber color, maybe dark amber… think : color of brown sugar. If you see black or any HINT of black-like color, you’re done for. Just let it go and start over.

Third – I need to buy another 8-inch cake pan.

As for the frosting – Future Husband is NOT a fan of dark chocolate (I will get him to the dark side eventually, but he’s not there yet). Since I didn’t want to eat a whole cake (or two, for that matter) by myself, I used milk chocolate in the frosting recipe. And I loved it. It was amazing. If you’d rather use dark, go for it.

Dark chocolate will be amazing, but I liked the combo of the dark chocolate cake with the caramel layers and milk chocolate frosting. It was a winning combination for sure.

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sweet and salty cake

Yield: One 8-inch cake (3 layers)

Ingredients

    For the cake
  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter,softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmply packed
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the salted caramel
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup sour cream*
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 pound chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Instructions

    For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans with butter and parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until combined; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until well smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the sugars to the butter mixture, beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Scrape down the sides again and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for another 30 seconds.
  6. With the mixer on low, carefully add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. (flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is well-mixed.
  7. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely.
  8. *These cakes are VERY delicate. Since I made mine a week in advance, I very carefully wrapped my cooled cakes and kept them in the freezer until I was ready to use them. Be gentle.
  9. For the salted caramel:
  10. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved. (I hate dirtying extra pans, so I cheated and warmed mine in the microwave for just under a minute, stirring to ensure the salt dissolved).
  11. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan.
  12. Cook sugar mixture over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F*(see note above), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.
  13. Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
  14. *You can make the caramel up to two days in advance.
  15. For the frosting:
  16. Put the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
  17. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat (again, you can cheat with the microwave if you like. You don't want to BOIL the cream, only heat it to a gentle simmer).
  18. Meanwhile, MAKE ANOTHER BATCH OF CARAMEL. Don't worry, you just did this at least once (or twice, if you're me) so you've got some practice in...
  19. In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F*(unless yours is done before it reaches 350F), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the caramel cool for 1 minute.
  20. Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate.
  21. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted.
  22. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  23. Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch (This took about 8 minutes and I started to worry about my poor mixer but he pulled through).
  24. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy. Transfer to a container until ready to use.
  25. *You can prepare the frosting up to two days in advance. Bring to room temperature before using.
  26. To assemble the cake:
  27. Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the top and let the caramel soak into the cake.
  28. Spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel over the frosting.
  29. Top this with the second cake layer and repeat with caramel, frosting, and fleur de sel.
  30. Top this with the third cake layer and spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake and place cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting.
  31. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. This frosting is amazing. I would say it spreads "like butter" but it spreads SO MUCH BETTER than butter. It spreads like a soft, buttery, cloud.
  32. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

Notes

* You may notice that my cake is only two layers while the recipe makes three layers. I realized (a bit too late) that I only had two cake pans of each size, so I opted for a 2-layer cake, and got about 12 cupcakes in addition to my two cake layers. This worked out in my favor as now I have a bunch of frozen cupcakes to enjoy at my leisure.

* This cake can seem overwhelming. Help yourself out by breaking it into steps. Day one: Make caramel. Day two: Make frosting. Day three: Make cake. Day four: ASSEMBLE ALL THE THINGS .

* This cake can be stored in a cake saver at room temperature (cool and humidity free) for up to 3 days. If your room is not cool, place the cake in a cake saver and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/03/25/the-baked-bakerysweet-and-salty-cake/

[ Recipe from: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking ]

sweet & salty cake | wee-eats.com

mini tagalong cheesecakes

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As many of you are aware, FH and I were assaulted by tiny Girl Scouts the other week. Despite my best efforts, I was left with a couple boxes of Tagalongs hanging out in the pantry.  

I hadn’t opened them yet because… well, I know what happens when I open a box of Girl Scout cookies (or any cookies, to be honest) and let’s just say it’s not pretty.

Those “servings” on the side of the box? Lies.

The number of servings is closer to one than the number alleged on the side of the box, and the serving size varies mainly depending on how much space is between me and my self-loathing on that day.  (Oh, I went to the gym yesterday? That’s like 10 extra cookies!)

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A question lingered a moment in my head, “Do these little monsters know what they’re doing when they chase us with cookies and look at us with their stupid doe-eyed faces? Do they!?”

Like, I can walk by a cookie display at the store without caving (usually), but walking by a small child with a sad look who is practically begging me to purchase cookies? Even worse, one that COMES TO MY DOOR WITH COOKIES AND TRIES TO GUILT ME INTO BUYING THEM?

I’m pretty sure they know what they are doing to us. Preying on the weak.

So I was left with a problem to solve – how do I open the box of cookies without immediately inhaling all of the contents and collapsing into a pile of self-loathing on the floor?

My solution? Chop up all the cookies and divide them between another bite-sized treat… Thus, the mini Tagalong cheesecake was born.

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tagalong cheesecakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 21 cheesecakes

Serving Size: 1 min icheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup peanut butter (not "all natural", I use Jif)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box Tagalongs, coarsely chopped** (or 1.5 cups mix-ins of your choice)
  • 21 whole cookies* (see note below)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees and line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each liner* (see note below)
  2. In a small bowl, gently beat eggs with vanilla extract, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add peanut butter and continue beating until incorporated.
  4. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until combined, scrape down sides of the bowl. .
  5. Drizzle in egg mixture, a bit at a time, beating until incorporated. Add sour cream and beat until combined.
  6. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and stir in chopped cookies by hand.
  7. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake about 22 minutes, or until filling is set. Outsides should be stiff but it's ok if the centers jiggle a little when you tap the pan.
  8. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate uncovered (or they will get condensation on top) at least 4 hours or overnight.
  9. Serve with whipped cream, drizzled chocolate, and additional chopped cookies, if desired.

Notes

*For the "crust" you can use a cookie of your choice - I used a second box of Tagalongs for the first 16 and then used Oreos as needed for the rest.

**You could use 1.5 to 2 cups of any mix-ins for these cheesecakes - chopped peanut butter cups or chocolate/peanut butter chips would also be great.

I got 21 cupcakes out of this recipe, your yeild may vary depending on the depth of your cupcake tins.

With the variety of frozen cheesecakes sold in stores, I'm willing to bet that you could freeze these and thaw as needed but have yet to test this on my own.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/02/25/minitagalong-peanut-butter-cheesecake-recipe/

 tagalong cheesecake pin 0959

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:

photo 1

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

 

samoa cookie bars

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Saturday morning a strange thing happened – someone knocked on the door.

This might not seem that strange to you, however, we live in a pretty quiet area and we know approximately zero people so we basically never get visitors. Like, ever.

And when we do, we follow a strict protocol involvng things like muting the TV and waiting for the person to leave.  This time, however, our front door was wide open and we were sitting in the living room (which is where the front door leads into) so I wasn’t confident that the whole “muting the TV” thing would work.

Unless we could also convince them that we were statues…

FH told me to “handle it” so I got up to assess the situation and there she was – standing no more than three feet tall, quite possibly the smallest Girl Scout I had ever seen.  Normally I am a firm believer of the “stranger danger” motto, but she was pretty small so I was pretty sure I could take her if things went south.

She mumbled something shyly about cookies and I assumed that in this case “handle it” meant to find any cash I had on hand and throw it at her in exchange for cookies, so I yelled for FH to get his wallet. If FH’s “handle it” meant for me to tell her to go away he was sadly mistaken, because who can say no to a little girl? No one.  Well maybe this guy could, but I don’t have any Knuckle Blasters so that’s not even an option.

Even if I could say “no” to a small child, I definitely couldn’t say no to cookies, especially since for the other 11 months out of the year I listen to FH go on and on about how much he loves samoas and how delicious they are. So I quickly purchased a box of Samoas from her and ran back inside, closing the door behind us to prevent any future incidents.

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FH hurried into the kitchen and ripped into them, took a bite, and… groaned?

It wasn’t the usual “these are so good” sound that you might hear when you eat your favorite cookie. It was a more whiny tone filled with dismay and dissatisfaction.

I asked him what was wrong, hoping for something cool like finding a finger or a dead bug or something like you hear about in those news stories. But, no. Nothing so exciting.

His “problem” was that just last week I made these samoa bars for him and apparently the flavor was still fresh in his mind and now he real samoa cookies, the ones that inspired the very bars that I made because he loved the cookies so much, are now “ruined” for him.

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Ruined.

His word, not mine.

I will admit that these bars are bit more “grown up” than their ancestors. Rather than just being a vessel to carry the caramel, this cookie layer is thicker than that of the original samoa with a bit more crunch and a more intense vanilla flavor. Meanwhile, the caramel layer is a bit more complex with a hint of saltiness, and the dark chocolate gives the perfect bit of bitter-sweet to compliment the sweet caramel and cookie.

Oh yes, and don’t let me forget the ground unicorns and cocaine, but those ingredients are optional.

So at the risk of ruining the legendary Girl Scout cookies for someone you love…

And at the risk of putting thousands of young girls out of business…

Give these bars a try.

photo

Ground unicorns and cocaine optional.

samoa bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: One 9-by-13 pan

Ingredients

    For the cookie layer
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • For the caramel layer
  • 3.5 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 11-oz packages caramel bits
  • 3 Tablespoons whole milk or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the chocolate drizzle
  • 6 oz dark chocolate (I used the Ghiradelli melting wafers)

Instructions

    For the cookies:
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and milk. Add flour and mix on low until just incorporated. It will be on the dry side.
  3. Pour out onto parchment paper and form into general rectangle shape. Roll close to 9 x 13” and transfer into 9 x 13 baking pan. Press into bottom of pan until it reaches the edges, leaving a slight lip on the edges.
  4. Poke holes in shortbread with a fork and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden on top. Cool completely in pan before topping.
  5. For the coconut/caramel layer:
  6. Toast the coconut by placing on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baking at 300F for about 15 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning. Coconut is done when it is a golden-brown color. Set aside to cool.
  7. Melt the caramel bits with the milk and salt per package directions, until smooth. Once metled, stir in the vanilla extract and the coconut.
  8. Pour onto the cookie layer, spreading into an even layer with a spatula and pressing down with your hands.
  9. For the chocolate layer:
  10. Melt chocolate at 50% power in the microwave starting for 1 minute, then continuing in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Drizzle over coconut layer and allow to cool completely. Once hardened, cut the cookies into bars and store at room temperature in an airtight container.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/02/09/samoa-cookie-bars/

[ shorbread adapted from here]

samoapin