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.

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Warm Cream-Cheese Brownies

On a cold day, there’s nothing like a warm sweet treat!

Warm Cream-Cheese Brownies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Recipes

FOR THE CREAM-CHEESE BATTER:

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

FOR THE CHOCOLATE BATTER:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; set aside. Make the cream cheese batter: Beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once. Add vanilla, and beat until combined. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the flour and chocolate chips.

2. Make the chocolate batter: Melt chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove bowl from heat, and let cool completely.

3. In a large bowl, using a handheld whisk, beat the eggs, gradually adding the sugar, until mixture is thick and pale. Whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla, and combine well.

4. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and fold into the chocolate mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Measure out about 1/2 cup chocolate batter, and set aside. Spoon the rest of the batter into prepared baking pan, and spread cream cheese batter evenly over the top. Drop reserved chocolate batter in dollops on top. Run a knife or offset spatula all the way through the batters to create a swirling effect.

5. Bake until a cake tester inserted near the edges comes out clean, about 35 minutes. The center will still be fairly soft, but will continue to firm after being removed from the oven. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in pan before cutting into squares and serving.

Italian Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread Cookies

I thought these cookies would make an interesting addition to our annual cookie exchange.  While the flavor was good, the presentation left much to be desired!  I found the dough incredibly dry which made slicing the cookies according to the directions very challenging.  I ended up cutting the cookies with cookie cutters, so I got much less than the expected 4 dozen.

Italian Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appétit

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Blend flour, brown sugar, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon espresso powder and salt in processor. Add butter and vanilla. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add nuts; blend until finely chopped. Transfer dough to floured work surface. Knead just until dough comes together.
Divide dough in half. Press each half into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Bake until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer shortbread to rack; cool 2 minutes. Remove pan sides. Cut each shortbread round into 24 wedges. Cool completely.

Mocha Crinkles

One of my favorite Christmas cookies is the Mocha Crinkle. It’s a super simple, impressive cookie to take to any get together or cookie exchange.

Mocha Crinkles
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 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

Beat brown sugar and oil in medium bowl with an electric mixer. Mix in sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Set aside.

Mix flour, cocoa, espresso, baking soda, salt and pepper in another medium bowl.

Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture, mix well. Refrigerate dough until firm, 3-4 hours.

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.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 8-12 minutes or until tops of cookies are firm to touch. Be careful not to overbake. Cool completely on wire racks.

Gingersnaps

I made this cookie because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand and needed a recipe which called for only one egg.  I didn’t even know I liked gingersnaps until I tried this cookie!  What a wonderful find!

Ginger Cookies
Adapted from More from Magnolia

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the oil and sugar for 2 minutes.  Add the egg and molasses and beat well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes then cool complete on wire rack.

These cookies are delicious as is or topped with a powdered sugar icing.

Chocolate Mint Wafers

I love, love, love Thin Mint cookies and despite stocking up in February the never last more than a few days in the house.  Fortunately, good ole’ Martha has a copycat version that’s a winning substitute.

Chocolate-Mint Wafers
Adapted from Everyday Food


1 cup all-purpose four
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter (room temp.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add egg and vanilla. Mixing on low, add in flour mixture. Form balls of dough (about 1 tsp) and place on baking sheets. Take a glass, dip the bottom in water, and press the balls into 1.5-inch rounds (about 1/4 inch thick).Bake until slightly firm, 8 – 10 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

Make the chocolate coating: Place chocolate and peppermint extract in a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2 – 3 minutes; remove from heat.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Set each cookie across the tines of a fork, dunk in chocolate and tap the underside of the fork on the side of the bowl to remove excess. Rrefrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

Mexican Brownies

Forrest loves cinnamon, so I thought I’d give these a shot.  He thought they were amazing!

Mexican Brownies
Adapted from The Bon Appétit Cookbook

For brownies
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips (about 6 ounces)

For brown sugar topping
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract

Make brownies:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending foil over sides. Stir unsweetened chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool 5 minutes. Whisk in sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Continue to whisk until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Add flour and whisk just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing surface. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.

Make topping:
Whisk sugar, cream and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until mixture is smooth and comes to boil. Remove from heat; mix in vanilla. Cool 10 minutes. Whisk until thick enough to spread. Spread over brownie. Sprinkle with almonds. Let stand until topping sets, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)

Using foil as aid, life brownie from pan. Cut brownie into 16 squares. Serve cold or at room temperature.