This summer, my best friend moved from one side of the city to the other. While moving is never fun, I’m selfish and loved every minute of it. But that’s because she moved 5 minutes away from me. I get to see her so much more often than I used to. So close that despite our busy schedules, there’s always time for an evening glass of wine. But, knowing how stressed out my bestie was about moving (and starting a new job), I decided to make her a little moving in package – homemade hot chocolate mix and a batch of homemade brownies. Now, I’m not even a big fan of brownies, but these? These were amazing. I allowed myself one out of the pan – gotta make sure it’s good enough to gift and to blog, right?. My own little brownie was covered in chopped up walnuts and was gone much faster than I would have liked. These bad boys turned a non-brownie eater into a brownie eater.
Chocolate Chunk Fudge Brownies
Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 76 (p 59)
Makes a 8×8 (or 9×9) pan, about 9 brownies
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- 2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 2/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 4 oz. (3/4 c.) coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter bottom and sides of a 8×8 or 9×9 inch Pyrex or baking pan.Line with parchment paper and butter again. Set aside.
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Remove from heat. Whisk in the following ingredients, one at a time. The mixture should be smooth before adding the following ingredient:
- sugar & salt
- 1 egg
- 2nd egg & vanilla
Switch to a rubber spatula and sprinkle in flour. Stir until just blended.
Add chopped chocolate, stirring until combined.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.
Bake 33-38 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out with a little bit of clumps stuck to it. Don’t overbake or brownies won’t be fudgy. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I’m always looking for new recipes to include in care packages. I have some family and friends still in college (and who doesn’t love a break from cafeteria food?) and a brother who occasionally checks for unexpected packages in his condo complex (I can say that because I send you surprises occasionally!). These oatmeal caramelitas were my latest experiment – the recipients love then, and the hubby was looking for more than the two that I left for him. The bars are sweet from the caramel (go easy on it if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth) but my favorite part? The bars stayed soft, even throughout shipping.
Adapted from Southern Living’s Best Loved Cookies,
also found online at SouthernLiving.com
Yields 24-30 squares
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. uncooked quick-cooking oats
- 1 1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 c. butter, melted
- 1 12-oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 c. chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
- 1 14-oz. pkg. caramels
- 1/3 c. half-and-half
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 13×9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease with butter and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients (flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt).
Add butter, stirring until mixture is crumbly. Pour half of mixture into bottom of prepared pan, pressing down with your fingers. Sprinkle with chocolate and nuts. Set aside remaining dough and pan.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine caramel and half-and-half. Microwave on medium-power for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until combined. Pour over chocolate and nuts. Crumble remaining dough over the caramel layer.
Bake 30-35 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. When ready to cut, use foil to remove the bars from pan and cut into squares.
(Books n’ Cooks is almost a year old, and I promised myself that, now that school and the SKG walk is done, I’d get better with photos. Above is my first experiment with Picasa. Tips and suggestions are greatly appreciated!)
When I saw this recipe on Beantown Baker, I knew I had to give it a shot. This is a great recipe for using up those random baking items in the cabinet. The only change I’d make in the future, would probably be to skip the caramel pieces – when solidified, they were a bit tougher to chew through. Feel free to throw in butterscotch or peanut butter chips or nuts instead of or in different proportions to the mix-ins listed below.
Again, not the prettiest of photos (I’ve since learned to use my camera a bit better) but I promise good reviews.
Rocky Ledge Bars
Adapted from Beantown Baker
Originally from Martha Stewart
Makes 36 bars
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. mini marshmallows
- 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 c. white chocolate chips
- 18 squares individually wrapped caramel, chopped into quarters
- 1 1/2 c. toffee chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Lay a piece of parchment paper in dish, covering the bottom with a bit overhanging the sides. Butter parchment.
In a medium bowl, combine marshmallows, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, caramel, and toffee. Mix together and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt, beating until combined.
Remove bowl from the mixer and fold in half of the mix-ins – the marshmallows, chocolate chips, caramel and toffee.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining mix-ins on top of the batter so that the top is covered.
Bake about 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Using the parchment overhang, remove bars from plan and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
The directions also said once cooled, to chill on a baking sheet in the fridge until set, about 30 minutes. I omitted this step and the bars seemed to come out fine.
With a serrated knife, cut into desired shapes and sizes.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
When I saw this recipe from Elly Says Opa earlier in the year, I knew I had to try it. I love nutella and can eat it by the spoonful, but have done very little baking with it. These bars were wonderful. While I loved the nutella and blackberry jam, for me, the start of the show was actually the cookie part. It was a bit sweet and tasted nutty (I had to think about whether I put peanut butter in them!). Enjoy!
Nutella-Blackberry Oatmeal Squares
Adapted from Elly Says Opa
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 c. light brown sugar
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. Nutella
- 2/3 c. blackberry or other preserves or jam
- 1.5 c. oats, divided
- 1/4 c. chopped hazelnuts, more if desired
Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 9×9 baking dish (I used my Pyrex).
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and both sugars. Add egg and vanilla, beating until combined. Add in baking powder and salt, again beating to combine. Add flour a little at a time. Add 1 1/4 c. of oats (reserving 1/4 c. on the side) to the mixture and combine.
Remove bowl from stand mixer and check to make sure you don’t have lots of oats at the bottom of the bowl.
Spoon about 2/3-3/4 of the mixture into the buttered baking dish. Using your hands (or a wooden spoon or strong rubber spatula), press down dough.
Microwave nutella for about 20 seconds, just to make it easier to spread. With a butter knife, spread on top of dough. The spread jam over nutella.
Put your KA bowl back into mixer and add remaining 1/4 c. oats and the chopped hazelnuts, beating to combine. Crumble over nutella and jam.
Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Wait until completely cooled to cut and serve, as the bars will be very soft until they cool.
These were quite yummy, especially when slightly warm. My favorite was is that they bars stayed soft, even after a couple days.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
Source: Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten
Makes 24 bar cookies
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 c. creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 c. raspberry jam or other jam (I used blackberry preserves)
- 2/3 c. salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350.
Grease a 9×13 pan. Grease and lightly flour the pan. (You can also lay parchment paper on bottom of pan, and grease & flour that.)
Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer to low speed and add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and gradually add to peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan and spread over the bottom with a spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small bits of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. (Note: The original recipe said that the dough would spread in the oven, but mine did not.) Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top of bar cookies and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.