Just Like My Mom Used to Make: Peanut Butter Bars

These peanut butter bars were one of my favourite treats when I was growing up. My mom never used to put anything on top, but who can resist a layer of chocolate or caramel frosting? I love the taste of chocolate and peanut butter and knew this would be awesome, but I’d never thought of a caramel frosting. I haven’t made these since I was a kid because it was a recipe my mom kept in her head and thus I never got it from her before she passed away. I kind of forgot about it, but when I came across something similar it brought back memories from my childhood. I was on staff room duty and had to bring a treat in, so thought I would try out this recipe and see how it measured up to my memories! It was very yummy! I had to make a double batch, so I decided to make half with melted chocolate on top and the other batch with the caramel frosting recipe I found on Now You’re Cooking (by Joan Donogh).

Peanut Butter Bars

 These are quick and easy and can be completed within 20 minutes easily!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup Corn Flakes
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies

Instructions:

  1. Place brown sugar and corn syrup in a microwave safe dish. Microwave until the sugar is melted. Stir well.
  2. Add the peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until peanut butter is melted and ingredients are well combined. (Mic a few extra seconds, if necessary.)
  3. Fold in the cereal.
  4. Line an 8 inch square pan with foil. Press the mixture into the pan.

Optional Toppings:

Nothing!

How boring!

Chocolate Topping:

  •     1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish and heat to melt. My microwave has a “melt chocolate” setting, so I’m not exactly sure how long, but I would only do about 15 seconds at a time and then stop to stir after each interval of heat, if you’re not sure how long to put them on for. Stir melted chocolate until smooth and then spread evenly over the surface. Place in fridge to set.

Caramel Frosting:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream (or milk)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Add brown sugar and stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Add milk and cook and stir until it comes to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add icing sugar. Beat until creamy. Stir in vanilla.  Spread icing on top of the peanut butter square base. Refrigerate to set. Cut into squares. Can be stored at room temperature.

Tips:

*I like to line my “squares” with foil. It is generally really easy to lift out the entire square when its set/ready. This makes for easy, even cutting. I much prefer this than trying to dig pieces out of a pan.
*When melting chocolate in the microwave, you do not need to heat it to the point of it all being melted. Stop and stir often and you will find that even when it is still quite lumpy, it often only needs to be stirred in order to melt the remaining pieces. Be careful not to over heat or scorch it.
*When covering a square with melted chocolate, I always set my timer for 10 minutes immediately after placing it in the fridge. When the timer goes check and see if the surface has solidified. If it still appears “melted”, give it only a couple of more minutes before checking on it again. You want to remove it from the fridge and “score” the top with a knife. If you score the surface of the chocolate before the entire surface has hardened, you can avoid breakage during cutting. It is so frustrating when you go to cut a dainty and the chocolate breaks while cutting. Scoring really helps to eliminate this problem.

Pumpkin Salted Caramel Blondies

Pumpkin Salted Caramel Blondies with Glaze

I don’t have a great photo as these didn’t get cut until I took them to work.

Here’s another one of the new fall recipes I recently discovered. “Baked Bree” is one of my favourite recipe blogs. Her photos are top notch, the recipes sound fantastic and the reviews are always great. When I found this recipe on her blog, I knew it would be a hit, but I have to admit it was no easy feat pulling this off between the kids activities and my crazy week at work. I was on “staff room duty” this week and that meant bringing in treats for the staff, in addition to the cleaning duties throughout the week. Wednesday is usually treat day, but my first attempt at this recipe was a total flop and so I had to re-do it and bring my treat in on Thursday instead. Sometimes, I’m not sure why I can’t choose the simpler route and stick to a recipe I’m already comfortable with. Why do I insist on testing something new when I plan to serve to others?

These Pumpkin Salted Caramel Blondies are really quite incredible and I will totally be making them again. After my first failed attempt, I actually made a few changes, but mostly just to “play it safe” and avoid another possible flop. The result was good, but I think the original recipe is over-the-top delicious. I will definitely stick to the original next time, as I’m sure the “under baking” was a result of me trying to do 100 things at once!! Several of Bree’s readers also commented on the fact that their blondies required extra cooking time, so I’ll just allow for that next time.

Bree’s Pumpkin Salted Caramel Blondies

Ingredients:

Bree's Pumpkin Salted Caramel Blondies

This is Bree’s photo. Don’t they look scrumptious!!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup room temperature butter
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup Bree’s Sea Salt and Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce (or store bought caramel sauce with 1 teaspoon sea salt) DO NOT DO THIS!! See below!

Instructions:

Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl.  In a second bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Finally, add the reserved flour mixture slowly, and stop when the batter is just combined.

Spray a 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Add half of the batter and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. (This was not long enough.) Remove the baked base from the oven and pour the caramel sauce over it.  Cover the caramel with the remaining batter. Return the blondies to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes (or longer). A toothpick should come out clean. Let the blondies cool before cutting.

Additional Notes:

When I say my first attempt failed, it was really a series of unfortunate events that led to the demise of my first attempt. Firstly, all of the reviews of this recipe absolutely raved over Bree’s homemade Salted Caramel Sauce and rightly so…..it is to die for. There was no way I was going to do the “store bought” version, when clearly this is was took the recipe to the next level. I hadn’t made this type of a caramel sauce before and although I read the instructions carefully before making it, I followed my own instincts and gave the sugar/water mixture a “little stir” despite the fact that it clearly said not too. This resulted in crystals forming and the end product was not a sauce at all, but rather a variation of the sugar crystals I originally started with. I then made a second batch of the sauce and stuck to the directions and complete restricted myself from even removing a spoon from the drawer. The result was a “to die for sauce” that would be fabulous served on almost anything sweet!  Sooooooo good!! I think I even botched the second batch “just a tad” by removing the boiling sugar and water before it reached a deep amber colour. I guess I was just so worried about burning it. Mine was super delicious, but not as deep of a colour as Bree’s. This is an absolute must. If you are not going to make this sauce, don’t even make the blondies. It is very easy, if you just trust Bree’s directions and are patient with the process.

One recipe of the sauce will make enough for the blondies with enough left over to enjoy in other ways throughout the week!

Sea Salt and Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced and seeded (Picked up vanilla beans at Bulk Barn)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

Slice a vanilla bean in half. Using the back of the knife, scrape the seeds from the pod. Add the vanilla bean scrapings to the cream and add then add the sea salt. Set aside.

Put the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sugar to a boil. Let the sugar cook until it reaches a deep amber colour (DO NOT STIR) . Whisk in the cream mixture. It will bubble and go nuts, but keep whisking. It will come together.

Pour the sauce into a jar and keep it in the fridge. The sauce will thicken, but it is more of a loose sauce.This will keep for about a week in the fridge.

Variations:

On my first attempt at making the blondies, I found they were not baking in the time recommended. I did bake them longer than suggested and thought they were done when I whipped them out of the oven on my way out the door for my son’s hockey game. I was so disappointed when I got home and realized the centre sank (obviously not baked long enough). Despite the fact that they couldn’t be served, they tasted absolutely delicious. The following evening, I attempted the recipe again, but much like the evening before, I really didn’t have much time to play with the cooking times as it was another crazy busy evening for the Roys. I decided to cook the entire blondie recipe at once and omit the caramel sauce layer (just saying I did that makes me feel like I’ve committed a federal offence). I just felt more comfortable baking them this way, as I wasn’t sure if the “runny” caramel sauce had contribulted to the under baking problem or not and didn’t have the time or stamina to play around with it. In lieu of the caramel sauce layer, I opted to change the blondies into more of a “poke” cake. When the blondies had cooled, I poked holes over the surface of the cake and poured the sauce over the top so that it seeped into the holes I had created and still infused the cake in a similar way. Of course, the blondies were now covered with holes, so I made a glaze to give them more of a finished look. The end result was very good, but I still think Bree’s original is the way to go. I can’t wait to get this one right!

Salted Caramel Glaze:

I found a recipe for this Salted Caramel Glaze on It’s Yummi and I have to admit, it was a delicious finishing touch to Bree’s Pumpkin Salted Caramel Blondies. 

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt, divided

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the heavy cream – but DO NOT boil! Keep it warm. (I microwaved it for about 15 seconds and then did 5 seconds here and there to keep it warm.)

In a separate medium saucepan, combine the sugar & water but DO NOT STIR. Place over medium-high heat & bring to a boil. Cook until mixture turns an amber colour (about 5 minutes). (Of course, by now I had attempted this process three times and finally got it right!)

Remove the pot from the heat and add warm cream, butter, and 1/2 of the salt. Stir gently until smooth & well combined. Pour over the cooked brownies and use a spatula to spread it evenly over the surface. Sprinkle with remaining salt.

Allow the glaze to set before cutting and serving. (The glaze did crack a bit as I was cutting the squares, so I heated my knife in an attempt to “score the surface” before slicing through the entire blondie.)

This ended up being a HUGE production that really wasn’t necessary. I was just trying to do too much without giving my self enough time. This recipe is not really complex or difficult and is absolutely worth the effort.

 

 

Yummy Oatmeal Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies

oatmeal pumpkin sandwich cookieI love pumpkin and was looking for a few new recipes to try this fall. I came across Shannah Coe’s recipe from Just Us Four Blog and the combination of oatmeal and pumpkin sounded divine. The layer of pumpkin cream cheese frosting that is sandwiched between two soft and chewy oatmeal cookies is quite delicious. I think the recipe caught my attention because it reminded me of one of our family’s favourites: Aunty Myrna’s Oatmeal Shortbread Cookies. They are similar to today’s recipe, but with a layer of date filling in between. They are indeed a must try as well.

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup flour

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add in the baking soda and the balance of the cookie ingredients. Stir until just mixed. Play the dough in a sealed container or plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Once chilled, create small balls of dough (about 2 teaspoons per ball). Place the balls on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until done. (I like mine on the “under baked” side, so I tend to stick to 8 or 9 minutes at the most.) Let the baked cookies cool for 1 minute on the pan before transferring them to a wire cooking rack to cool completely before adding the filling.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
While the cookie dough is chilling, prepare the filling by beating together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the pumpkin and mix until fully incorporated. Mix in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition.
Match the cookies up by size/shape and then spread the frosting on one of the cookies. Top with a second cookie of equal size.

Additional Notes:

*I found that this recipe made about 4 dozen oatmeal cookies. However, once sandwiches, you only end up with 2 dozen (depending on the size of your original dough balls). Next time, I would double the dough recipe.
*The filling made a huge amount of frosting. I filled all of the cookies and had well over half of it left over. If you double the cookie recipe, there is no need to double the frosting. In fact, half a frosting recipe might even be enough for a double batch of cookies??
*I also found it to be very creamy (and delicious), but the icing would squeeze out as you bit the cookie. I found that keeping the cookies in the fridge really helped with that, but I also wondered if I might play with the recipe a bit next time. I will try using only one package of cream cheese (8 oz) instead of using the suggested 12 oz.  I think this would stiffen the icing up just a bit and perhaps bring out the pumpkin flavour a little more, as well. (If it doesn’t work, I can always add the extra cream cheese to icing and make it according to the suggested recipe.)

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Pumpkin Loaf

Best Ever Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple-Cream Filling

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple-Cream Filling

Oatmeal Shortbread Cookies

Aunty Myrna’s Oatmeal Shortbread

Yummy NO-BAKE Peanut Butter Bars

chocolate plus peanut butterI am a total sucker for peanut butter and chocolate and when I came across this recipe on “I Heart Nap Time”, I just had to try it. Being able to do very little over the past 10 days, I at least managed to try out this new recipe. These yummy bars taste just like Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and were loved by the entire family ~ even Shay who is generally anti-peanut butter anything! Of course, my brain got quite rattled in my fall and it didn’t even cross my mind to take a photo of the bars before the entire pan was gobbled up. If you want to check-out what the bars look like follow the link back to Jamielyn’s blog.

This being the first time I made these, I didn’t change a thing and there is no need to. They were perfect as is. However, I did use a combination of white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips, but only because that was what I had on hand. These are require no baking and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes. They do need to set for about an hour, but the prep is super fast and easy. I love finding great no-bake recipes for summer as our house just gets way too hot when you use the oven. I couldn’t help but imagine what this peanut butter mixture would be like if I somehow combined it with this no-bake chocolate brownie recipe I have – mmmm Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies sound simply delicious!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars:

 Ingredients:
  • 1 cup salted butter (melted)
  • 2 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 (11 oz) bag milk chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl. Stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. Dump the peanut butter mixture into a 9×13 pan and spread it out to make a smooth surface.
  3. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (at 50% power) for 1-2 minutes. Stir chocolate and pour over the peanut butter mixture. Spread chocolate with a spatula. To even out chocolate, tap pan on the counter.
  4. Refrigerate bars for one hour. Cut while bars are still cool. Enjoy!

These are a really great treat for adults and kids alike, but be sure to serve them when you don’t have guests with a nut allergy.

Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies

I got this recipe in 1996 when Tim and I were on an extended trip to California. We met a Manitoba gal down there through friend and ended up staying with her for over a month. She was an awesome person, but we lost touch after we returned home. I often think of Donna and wonder how she’s doing. This was her recipe, so whenever we make these cookies, I always think of her.

Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies:

1 cup of softened margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the above ingredients and beat until fluffy.

1 1/2 cups flour (you may need to add a touch more if dough seems overly sticky after cooling)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup walnuts
*white chocolate chips
*Add 1 cup of Cornflakes or Rice Krispies instead of the walnuts

Mix the flour, soda and salt together. Add the oatmeal and nuts (or cereal). Mix well and add chocolate chips, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough into balls and dip them in sugar.  Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes. Should make about 4 dozen.

Red Velvet Oreo Brownies

Happy Valentine’s Day! The kids have a bake sale at school today and last night I finished up some Red Velvet Oreo Brownies for the sale. My passion for red velvet only began a year or so ago. I had tasted it occasionally before, but it didn’t become such an obsession until I tasted Piazza De Nardi’s Red Velvet Cake ~ Oh my goodness! Since then, I have tried out recipes now and again, but a Valentine’s Day bake sale seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out a few more red velvet recipes. Earlier in the week, I made Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies. They are absolutely delicious and the recipe is a definite keeper.

Well, these Red Velvet Oreo Brownies are incredibly good as well and the three layers make them look so pretty!  I found the recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction, so all of the credit goes to her. She mentions at the end of her post, that she adapted the Red velvet layer from Sunny Anderson at the Food Network.

Red Velvet Oreo Brownies:

Ingredients:

BROWNIES

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon red food colouring
  • 3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

COOKIES ‘N CREAM FROSTING

(I adapted this slightly as I thought it would be criminal not to include a bit of cream cheese.)

  • 1/4 cup butter (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 and 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons whipping cream 
  • 6 Oreos, crushed (plus 3 extra to break on top of ganache)

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (not chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream 
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature

Directions:

  • Set out the butter to soften.
  • Preheat the oven to 350. Foil line an 8×8 baking pan with extra foil extending over the sides, so that you can easily lift the cook brownies out of the pan after. Set aside or freeze and complete the last two layers closer to the day you need the brownies.

Brownies:

Beat the eggs in a small bowl.  Set aside. Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Add each of the following ingredients one at a time in the suggested order, stirring between each addition: sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food colouring, and vinegar. Whisk in the eggs, then fold in the flour until completely incorporated, but do not over mix. Pour the brownie batter into prepared baking pan. Bake the brownies for 22-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean, with a few small moist crumbs. Allow the brownies to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely.

Oreo Frosting:

Whip the butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer, until creamy.  Add the icing sugar and 2 Tbsp cream, beating on medium until creamy.  I found that 2 Tbsp of cream was enough, but if needed you can add 1 more Tbsp cream. You don’t want the frosting to be too thin, so be careful not to add to much cream ~ keep the icing thick, but spreadable.  Fold in the crushed Oreos. Lift the cooled brownies out of the pan, remove the foil and spread them with the frosting. Stick them into the refrigerator as your prepare the ganache. You want the frosting to slightly chill on the brownies.

Ganache: 

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream until boiling, either in the microwave or on the stove top. (I microwaved mine.) Pour boiling cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Cut in the butter, one small piece at a time, and stir until smooth. Spread over frosted brownies. Add the additional crushed Oreos to the top and then chill for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

  • Cut the brownies into squares and then cover them tightly in a sealed container. They can keep chilled in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • If you double this recipe, use a 9×13 baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes at 350.

These turned out really good. I was sad to package them up to send to the bake sale. I am sure the original frosting recipe would be very good as well, but I love the cream cheese flavour with red velvet. These are a must try!

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You Can’t Always Judge a Cookie By Its Dough

As soon as I saw these posted on Gonna Want Seconds, I knew I was going to want to give these cookies a try. I have always loved the simple look of crinkle cookies sprinkled with icing sugar and the contrast between the dark cookie and white sugar makes them look so pretty without much effort. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try a new recipe or two.

I have never made these before, so I stuck to the recipe and was thrilled with the outcome. I wouldn’t change a thing, but did make my cookie balls smaller than suggested and thus my yield was higher. Thanks to Kathleen, we now how a red velvet recipe to add to our cache of favourite cookie recipes.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

This recipe makes 2 to 4 dozen. Kathleen suggests using a 1 1/ Tablespoon cookie scoop and I don’t have one. I am not sure how big of a ball that makes, but with her suggested ball size the yield is 2 dozen cookies. I made my balls about 1″ in size and ended up with 55 cookies. Now, generally speaking I am not very good at determining the yield of a recipe because it is hard to account for the multiple cookies I ate while still in “dough” form. I generally eat very few cookies once their cooked, I am really more interested in the dough. Having said that, I know that this recipe would have made exactly 56 cookies had I not eaten one single solitary raw cookie ball. In fact, I was a little leery as too how these babies were going to turn out as I did not like the dough at all. However, I carried on and cooked them up and to my surprise they were delicious. I have not done much “red velvet” baking and so I don’t really have much experience with how the batter/dough should taste, but less this be a lesson to us all ~ “You can’t always judge a cookie by its dough!”

Here is Kathleen’s recipe which was originally found on The Little Kitchen:

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted this because I used salted butter)
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons red food colouring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)

Instructions:

1. Place flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients and then set this mixture aside.

2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add the sugar and mix  for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, red food colouring and vanilla. Mix well. Finally, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix to combine using a spatula. Refrigerate the mixed cookie dough for 4 hours in plastic wrap or a sealed container.

3.Heat oven to 350°F. Roll the chilled dough into 1″ balls and then roll each ball in powdered sugar until it’s completely covered. Bake on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet for about 9 to 10 minutes. Carefully pull the parchment paper from baking sheet and transfer the paper and cookies onto wire cooling racks. Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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Girl Guide Cookie Upcycle

Girl Guide cookie upcycleI was in charge of snack for Girl Guides on Monday night. I was going to send fruit skewers and Girl Guide cookies that we had left over from our fall sales. We only have two boxes left, but thought it would be nice to finally get them out of the house.

After work, I headed to the store to pick-up fresh fruit, but quickly realized that I was not feeling “up to” preparing the skewers. Like most Manitobans, I am suffering from a debilitating case of “I HATE WINTER” and did not feel like cutting fruit and preparing skewers for 14. Instead, I opted for something much simpler ~ 2 boxes of yogurt tubes. I made by purchases and continued my drive home. Enroute, I was feeling a bit guilty about my lame snack and had a brain wave. I thought of a super simple way to kick the Girl Guide cookies up a notch and make them a little more Valentine…ish. Now, this is not about flavour because the cookies are already very good for boxed cookies, it was more about not feeling like a complete loser by bringing yogurt tubes and leftover Girl Guide cookies for snack.

Girl Guide Cookie Upcycle:

I happened to have everything on hand and didn’t have to make any icing, so these literally took 10 minutes to whip up.

Ingredients:

  • one box of Girl Guide cookies (mint flavoured)
  • butter icing (I am guessing a generous 1/2 cup)
  • chocolate (I had a few red wafers on hand for Valentine’s Day and I think I melted 5 of them in the microwave.)
  • sprinkles

Method:

  1. Break 3 cookies into small crumb-like pieces (I used my food chopper).
  2. Ice the remaining cookies (I actually had left over icing in my fridge, so this was quick – otherwise, just make a very small batch of butter icing)
  3. Sprinkle the broken cookie crumbs on top of the iced cookies.
  4. Drizzle melted chocolate on top.
  5. Add sprinkles.
  6. I had left over candy corn and added one to each cookie as well.

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Valentine’s Day Candy Corn Oreo Cookie Bark

You might remember my October post on making Yummy Halloween Candy Corn Cookie Bark. This is a super easy holiday treat and now with the candy industry making candy corn in various colours specific to the holiday season, you can change-up the candy corn to fit with any theme.  I can’t promise all of these colours will be available in your local area, but Bulk Barn usually carries a bit of a selection for specific holidays.

It seems like we have a busy week ahead of us. I am in charge of the snack at Eden’s Girl Guides on Monday, a school bake sale on Friday and a possible class party that we will need to send goodies for. I am not 100% sure how many things I will need for all of the events this week, but I decided to spend a few hours baking on Sunday afternoon, so that I would be somewhat prepared.

CANDY CORN OREO COOKIE BARK

Here is a standard recipe, just change up the candy corn colour to make it fit with the colours of the season! Please visit Leigh Anne’s site for her detailed tutorial.  Great job Leigh Anne!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 14 whole Oreos, broken up
  • 1 1/2 C pretzels, broken into pieces. I used the small stick pretzels
  • 1 lb. white chocolate melting discs (I used about 1 1/2 pounds for mine and really find that the extra chocolate is needed.)
  • 1 C candy corn (colour of your choice)
  • sprinkles, edible sequins or coloured sugar in the colours of your choice (Bulk Barn has a great selection.)
  • coloured chocolate wafers (sometimes I will melt a few coordinating coloured wafers to drizzle over the top as well)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper
  • Mix the broken cookies, pretzels and about 3/4 C of the candy corn in a bowl
  • Spread the candy mixture onto the waxed paper
  • Place white chocolate in a container and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes
  • Stir and then microwave for another 30 seconds until melted and smooth
  • White chocolate melts faster and burns easier than chocolate
  • Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookie mixture, spreading with spatula to coat evenly
  • Sprinkle remaining candy corn and coloured sprinkles over the chocolate quickly before it sets
  • Place the cookie tray in the refrigerator until set and firm
  • Remove and gently break bark into small pieces
  • Store in air tight container or place in cellophane bags if you wish to share!

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You Can Do It! – Cake Pops Made Easy

I need to make a confession. While others rave about Starbucks and the quality coffee they serve, you won’t find me going through the Starbuck’s drive-thru unless I have a craving for one of their Cake Pops. As previously mentioned, I am somewhat of an icing “connoisseur”. I love icing and the more the better. I actually can’t believe it took so long for someone to come up with the idea of combining the icing and cake. A cake pop is literally win-win, everyone gets the equivalent of a “corner piece”. If made correctly, the cake pop is super moist and absolutely delicious, without an offensive amount of icing.  I have wanted to try making cake pops for a long time, but two things held me back:

  1. Failure: I heard so many horror stories about how hard they were to make and how long it took to make a batch. I didn’t want to go to all the trouble only to have them fall apart and be a major fail. (Especially if I was making them for a special occasion).
  2. Success: What if I make them and they turn out so well that I want to make them all the time? It is easy to resist what doesn’t exist. I rarely eat cake pops simply because they aren’t all that accessible. If I can make them successfully, I may be doomed!

I decided to give them a whirl for my daughter’s birthday party. My thinking was this. She was only having 4 girls over, so I only needed to make about one dozen cupcakes for the party. The recipe I made was large enough for 24 cupcakes. I basically made the entire batch into cupcakes and then made frosted only enough cupcakes for each of the 5 girls plus Tim, Shay and myself and few extras. I knew that 8 cake pops would be manageable and if they failed, it wouldn’t matter as they were just going to be added to the loot bags. I basically used the additional cupcakes to make the cake pops needed, so it wasn’t an overwhelming number for my first attempt.

How to Make Cake Pops:

I found a really great tutorial that was very helpful. Check out Divas Can Cook for the full tutorial.

My Experience:

  • I used 7 cupcakes to make 8 cake pops, I would never have guessed that the amount of cake in a pop was close to equivalent to that of a cupcake.
  • Crumble the cake with your hands, so that all of the larger lumps are out. You want fine crumbs.
  • Use only a small amount of icing. I didn’t actually measure, but I am guessing I used no more than 2 to 3 Tablespoons of icing for all 8 cake pops.
  • Form balls that are uniform in size.
  • Dip the “stick” in melted chocolate and stick about half way in. Set the pop upside down on a plate with the stick in the air. Freeze for about 20 minutes (or longer).
  • Dip the entire ball in melted chocolate. (I melted mine in my microwave.) You want to make sure that the container is deep and narrow so that the chocolate is deep enough to submerge the pop in.
  • Remove the pop and gently turn the ball to avoid it from dripping all over. Basically, try to “catch” the dripping chocolate at the base of the ball.
  • You can add sprinkles to the top or actually roll the ball in them.
  • Stick into a styrofoam base that you have prepared ahead of time.

Summary:

I was literally able to make all 8 in about 20 minutes (plus the freezing time). They were super easy to make and I didn’t have any “do-overs”. They all worked fine on the first try. The chocolate outer shell held up well and they didn’t crack at all. The flavour was great and I’m certain I’ll be making these again!

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