Blackberry Oat Bars

Blackberry Oat Bars
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma: Essentials of Baking
1 3/4 cups all-purposed flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 cup blackberry jam

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon and pulse a few times until blended. Add the butter and pulse 8-10 times until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas. Remove 2 cups of the crumb mixture and set aside. Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Drop teaspoons of the jam evenly over the crust, spreading gently with the back of the spoon to cover the crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the jam layer.

Bake until the top is lightly browned, 50-55 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool until firm, about 2 hours. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

“Neiman Marcus” Cookie

I needed to take still life shots for photography class, so I decided there’s no better still life than a freshly baked cookie.  I’d been holding onto the famed Neiman Marcus cookie recipe for years and just happened to have all the ingredients on hand, so it was the logical choice.  The cookies were tasty and chewy, but very dry.  

Neiman Marcus Cookie
Ingredients

    • 2 cups butter
    • 4 cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 5 cups oatmeal, ground in food processor
    • 24 ounces chocolate chips
    • 2 cups packed brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 8 ounce chocolate bar, grated
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and both sugars.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda.
  4. Add chocolate chips and grated chocolate.
  5. Roll into 1 inch balls and place 2-inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes at 375° or until golden brown.

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

I participated in the first ever “Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.”  A news article on the swap revealed that more than 22,500 cookies made their way between 620 bloggers.  That’s a whole lotta flour.

I received 3 dozen tasty cookies in the mail from 3 amazing women.  Lindsay’s Holiday Nutty Buddy Bars were full of peanut butter and M&Ms, two of my favorite combos!  Alison’s Molasses Cookies were deliciously spicy.  Lori’s Pink Peppercorn and Strawberry Jam Shortbread left me craving more. My belly thanks you!

I adapted my much loved Mocha Crinkles into Peppermint Mochas, inspired by Starbucks’ drink and Panera cookies.  I thought they turned out beautifully, and hope that the bloggers I shared them with enjoyed the cookies.  The only problem is that those bloggers have NO idea what the cookies are.  See, I was so worried about the packaging and shipping, I completely forgot to tell my recipients what kind of cookies they were getting!  So, ladies, I’m sorry!

Peppermint Mocha Crinkles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsps instant espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Beat brown sugar and oil in medium bowl with an electric mixer. Mix in sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Set aside.
  2. Mix flour, cocoa, espresso, baking soda, salt and pepper in another medium bowl.
    Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture, mix well. Refrigerate dough overnight or until firm, 3-4 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Pour powdered sugar into shallow bowl, set aside. Using a small scoop, scoop cookies into balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar.
  4. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 8-12 minutes or until tops of cookies are firm to touch. Be careful not to over bake. Cool completely on wire racks.

Salted Caramel Brownies

The bad news is that these brownies were gobbled up before I could snap a picture.  The good news is that I’ll be making them again VERY soon, so I’ll try to get one then. 

I’ve attemped caramel many times, a few times I even succeeded.  This caramel recipe, however, was the simplest yet.  It hardens, so I’m not sure it’s as versatile as a liquid caramel, but I’m thinking we should definately try it on a sundae!

Salted Caramel Brownies
Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

Brownies:

  • 3.38 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare brownies, combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through baking powder) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add butter mixture to flour mixture; stir to combine. Scrape batter into a 9-inch square metal baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

3. To prepare topping, melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons cream; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and powdered sugar; stir with a whisk until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over cooled brownies. Let stand 20 minutes or until set.

4. Combine 2 tablespoons cream and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds or until melted, stirring after 20 seconds. Stir just until smooth; drizzle over caramel. Sprinkle with sea salt; let stand until set. Cut into squares.

Tea Cakes

I found these adorable vampire bite cookies on Pinterest and knew that I had to recreate them for our Halloween party.  I mixed up a batch of Forrest’s Grandmother’s Tea Cake recipe, rolled and shaped them, and ended up with what some party goers called very odd looking footballs.

When you put the pictures side-by-side, you can see the resemblance.  But when my version was sitting on my dessert table, everyone was wondering what they were…  Oh well, at least they were tasty!
Granmonnie’s Tea Cakes
Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract or 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (yes, they do make organic!)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups self rising flour

Directions

  1. Cream sugar, butter, and shortening.
  2. Add eggs and extracts and mix well.
  3. Slowly add flour, using just enough that you can roll the dough out.
  4. Using a floured work surface and a floured rolling pin,  roll out dough and cut with desired cookie cutters.
  5. Bake on a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet at 350 until the tops are firm, 6-9 minutes depending on thickness.  These cookies do not typically brown, so do not just judge by color.
  6. Let cool and decorate as desired.

Birthday Whatchamacallits

Forrest requested homemade dark chocolate Whatchamacallits for his birthday.  A surprisingly simple combination of recipes, when I put all three together, they created what I like to call “Whatchamauglies” because they were not pretty!  While I wasn’t a fan of the flavor of the bar, Forrest swears they taste just like the original, but with decadent dark chocolate.  He did concede that the recipe would be better with milk chocolate.  The peanut butter crispies were fantastic!

Birthday Whatchamacallits

Peanut Butter Crispies

1 cup organic sugar
1 cup organic brown rice syrup
1 3/4 cups smooth organic peanut butter
3 cups crispy brown rice cereal- Whole Foods makes an inexpensive organic version
Bring sugar and syrup to a full boil over medium- high heat. Boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Pour over crispy rice. Spread evenly on a sheet of parchment paper.  Cover with another sheet of parchment paper.  Using a rolling pin, flatten mixture to about 1 inch height.  Cool completely.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Dame Good Eats
2 12oz bag (about 3 cups) organic dark chocolate chips
1/2 tablespoon organic shortening

Over a double broiler, melt the chocolate chips and shortening, stirring constantly, until smooth.

Caramel Sauce
Adapted from BH&G New Cook Book
1/2 cup packed organic brown sugar
1 tbsp organic cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup organic half and half
2 tbsp organic brown rice syrup
1 tbsp organic butter
1/2 tsp organic vanilla
In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in water, half and half, syrup, and butter.  Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly.  Cook and stir 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. 
Assembling the candy bars
Cut crispies into candy bar sized pieces.  I used a sharp pizza roller and a ruler, which worked perfectly.  Place bars onto a cooling rack with parchment below the rack.  Spread caramel over the top of each bar.  Coat bar with chocolate.  We decided the chocolate was so strong that halfway through the recipe, I only frosted the tops of the bars with chocolate.  Allow to set, enjoy!

S’mores Bars

I made these when  I had 3 kids and 4 chocolate lovers over for dinner.  They were a big hit!  They aren’t the prettiest of desserts, but neither are S’mores!

S’mores Bars
Adaped from Southern Food

3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
18 whole graham crackers, crushed, about 3 cups
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 milk chocolate bars, approximately 1 1/2 ounces each
4 cups homemade marshmallow fluff

Heat oven to 350°. Combine butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, graham crackers, flour and salt in the bowl of a foo processor.  Process until dough consistency.  Reserve 1 cup of the graham cracker mixture and press remaining mixture over the bottom of a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Arrange 8 chocolate bars, in a single layer, over graham cracker crust mixture in the pan. Spread with marshmallow fluff. Top with remaining chocolate bars and dough. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into bars and cool completely.