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Almond Joy Brownies

I recently made Almond Joy Ice Cream, and Katrina left a comment on my blog saying that she just posted these brownies earlier that week.  I’m not sure how I missed her post, but I’m sure glad she pointed it out to me!  I said in my previous post that I love Almond Joy candy bars, but the flavor is even better in these brownies.  The best part about these brownies for me was that they are gluten free, thanks to the use of coconut flour.  It’s fine to use regular flour if you don’t care about them being gluten free, but I would recommend using coconut flour if you can because it gives the brownies a stronger flavor.

These brownies were only slightly more complicated than regular brownies to make because you have the coconut layer in between.  My only issue was that there wasn’t really enough brownie batter for both a bottom and top layer, so next time (and you better believe I’m making these again!) I will increase the brownie batter.  I reflected those changes below.  These are the perfect brownies to enjoy with some ice cream, so when you make them, be sure to make some Almond Joy Ice Cream to pair them together!

Almond Joy Brownies
Source: adapted from Baking and Boys

¾ cup cocoa powder (recommended: Hershey’s Special Dark)

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon salt

3/8 cup coconut flour (could also use the same amount of all purpose flour)

2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

Pinch salt

2/3 cup toasted, chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with foil, and spray foil lightly with baking spray.

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat, and whisk together well.  Let stand 3 minutes.  Whisk in eggs one at a time, then add sugar and vanilla and almond extracts. Fold in salt and flour and stir until ingredients disappear into batter.  Spread half the batter evenly in pan.

Combine coconut, salt, and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl. Spread dollops of coconut mixture over the brownie batter.  Sprinkle chopped almonds over coconut mixture.  Spread remaining brownie batter over coconut mixture.  Smooth carefully with a knife.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  Let cool on a cooling rack, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Cut into squares.

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars

With a name like this, how could you not want to make it?  I’ve been hoping these would get picked for a while now, and I finally got my chance to make them!  These bar cookies start with a crust for a base layer, and are then topped with a fudge layers consisting of chocolate, butter, sweetened condensed milk, and peanuts.  You then top the bars with some of the reserved base layer.  The result is a delicious sweet and salty combination.  I skipped the raisins because, although I love raisins, they seemed out of place in this recipe.  I used honey roasted peanuts and they added a nice crunchy texture.  These were great bars and did not disappoint.  I kept a few for myself and then set the rest with David for his Christmas potluck that they had back in December and they ate every bit of them 🙂  You can view this recipe on Lillian’s blog, and see how everyone liked the recipe by visiting the TWD blog.

Peanut Butter Brownies

Domino Sugar recently contacted me and offered a gift card to use for baking supplies if I made one of their recipes and posted it on my blog.  I happily agreed.  If you’ve been reading my recent entries, you know that I’ve done a lot of baking involving large amounts of sugar, so this was definitely a nice break on the grocery bill 🙂  I’ve also never looked at Domino’s website for recipes, so I enjoyed looking through what they had to offer.  It was hard to make a decision, but I hadn’t made anything with peanut butter in a while, and I thought these peanut butter brownies sounded like a good choice.

Mine look nothing like they do on the website, but they were pretty tasty.  I’m not sure why the ones on the website look the way they do, as there is no chocolate besides chocolate chips in the recipe.  These are really more like blondies.  They were not overly sweet, but they had a nice peanut butter flavor.  I had some peanut butter chips on hand, so I added those in place of some of the chocolate chips, and I would recommend adding some honey roasted peanuts in there as well.  Thank you to the people over at Domino Sugar– what a great treat!

Peanut Butter Brownies
Source: Domino Sugar

1/2 cup – peanut butter

1/2 cup – butter or margarine, softened

2 cups – Domino® Granulated Sugar

4 – eggs

1 teaspoon – vanilla or rum extract

2 1/2 cups – biscuit mix (I replaced this with gluten free flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt)

1 cup – (6 oz) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 oz – milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (I replaced this with peanut butter chips)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 13×9-inch baking pan.

In large mixing bowl, cream together peanut butter, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, blending well. Beat in biscuit mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and milk chocolate.

Spread into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.

Makes about 40 bars.

Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars

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Bar cookies are so much fun to make.  They can be as simple as blondies and brownies, or they can be made of several layers that give them a more complex flavor.  When I was flipping through my cookbooks, these caught my eye, especially when they were described as being very similar to Twix bars.  You start with a shortbread base, and then go about making the filling. The book describes a microwave method, but this is not something I would recommend.  The mixture will start bubbling over if you keep it in the microwave too long, so I would recommend trying to plan ahead and bake the sweetened condensed milk in the oven.  This is basically making dulce de leche, so really you could just use a store-bought container of that and it would work just fine.  After you pour the filling over the shortbread base, just  refrigerate until firm so that you can top it with the chocolate glaze.  I made the bars the night before I needed them, put them in the refrigerator, and the next morning before I left for work I took them out and left them on the counter.  By the time I got home, they were the perfect consistency for cutting (although I’m sure you don’t need that long- 30 minutes should be enough time for them to soften to a good cutting consistency).

We loved these!  I loved the layers and how they went together.  It’s hard to go wrong with a caramel filling and chocolate topping.  They were definitely reminiscent of a Twix bar, and were a great simple dessert to enjoy.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Source: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

For the shortbread:

½ cup sugar

1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten

For the caramel filling:

28 ounces sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate glaze:

6 ounces dark chocolate, (60% cacao), coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

Make the shortbread:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter together until blended.

Add 2 cups of the flour and beat until well combined.  Add the egg yolk and beat for a few seconds, or until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Dust the top off the dough and your hands with a little flour.  Use your hands to gently work the dough into a 6×6-inch square.  You will have to turn the dough and sprinkle the top with flour as you go.  Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup flour on the surface of the dough.  Fold the dough over and knead until incorporated, then flatten the dough into a rectangle.  Transfer the rectangle to the prepared pan and press it into the pan.

Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 22 minutes, until golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Make the caramel filling:

Put the sweetened condensed milk in a medium heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of boiling water over low heat.  Cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until thick and caramel colored.  Remove the bowl from the pan and beat until smooth.  (alternately, you could just bake the sweetened condensed milk in a roasting pan at 350 degrees for the same amount of time).

Make the chocolate glaze:

In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.  Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth.  Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly.  Pour the mixture over the chilled caramel layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer.

Put in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving so as not to crack the chocolate glaze.  Cut into squares and serve.

The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.

Nutella Bars

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I love Nutella, and I’m always excited to see another dessert idea to use it.  I’ve been on a chocolate and marshmallow kick lately, so these seemed like the perfect way to satisfy my Nutella craving.  I made them into bars instead of a tart, just out of personal preference.  I also used honey roasted peanuts in place of the walnuts because that sounded better to me.  This is an almost no-bake dessert.  The only part that is actually baked is the crust, and once it is cool, you add the filling and then put it into the refrigerator until it is set.  The combination of the ingredients was incredible- with Nutella, chocolate, marshmallows, and peanuts, how could you go wrong?  I didn’t measure the amount of peanuts and marshmallows I used- just use what you think looks good!  This was the perfect choice for a movie night snack with some of our friends.

Nutella Rocky Road Bars
Source: adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Crust:
1 ½ cup chocolate cookie crumbs (I used some flourless chocolate cookies, but I think chocolate graham crackers or Oreos would be good as well)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

¾ cup Nutella
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup marshmallows (more if you want)
½ cup peanuts (or more if you want)

For the Crust:

Spray a 14-x-4-inch rectangular tart pan with baking spray, or butter. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, mix together cookie crumbs and melted butter. I just used a food processor since I had to make the crumbs. Mix until fully combined and you can press the crust with your hand and it stays in place.

Dump the crust into the tart pan. Using your hands, press the tart crust evenly up the sides and in the middle of the tart pan.

Using center rack, bake tart for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

For the filling:

Place chocolate chips into a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Once it begins to boil, pour over chocolate chips. Let sit for 2 minutes. Then whisk until smooth.

Whisk in the Nutella until fully incorporated. It should look glossy and smooth.

To assemble the tart:

Take ½ the marshmallows and ½ peanuts and scatter them onto the bottom of the tart.

Pour Nutella filling into the tart, over top the marshmallows and nuts. Smooth out tart if needed. Top with remaining marshmallows and nuts.

Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Cut and serve.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

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I’ve been all about pumpkin lately, and I was so excited to see this recipe.  It’s a lot like pumpkin pie, but in bar form.  It starts off with an oat-flour crust, which is pre-baked before you add the filling.  The filling is very similar to a filling that you would use for pumpkin pie, but it does have cream cheese for a creamier filling.  The spice mix flavored the pumpkin perfectly and gave it just the right amount of sweetness.  This is a great fall treat to enjoy when you want something pumpkin flavored but don’t want to go through the trouble of making a pie.  It’s also a great treat to serve for guests because you can just pick it up and it’s less messy- but that can be dangerous 🙂  The recipe said that you can use either butterscotch or chocolate chips, and I used butterscotch because I like how it tastes with pumpkin.  I think that white chocolate chips would be good to and that you could use any of the three or a combination and these would be delicious.

Pumpkin Pie Bars
Source: Joy the Baker, who adapted them from Kraft

1-1/3 cups flour

3/4 cup  granulated sugar, divided

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup  (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter or margarine

1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked

1/2 cup  chopped walnuts

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

3   eggs

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin

1 Tbsp.  pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons bourbon (optional)

a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips for sprinkling on top (optional)

HEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides; grease foil. Mix flour, 1/4 granulated sugar and brown sugar in medium bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and nuts.

RESERVE 1 cup oat mixture; press remaining onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min. Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, pumpkin and spice with mixer until well blended. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture and a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips (if desired).

BAKE 25 min.; cool 10 min. Use foil to transfer dessert from pan to wire rack; cool completely.

Can’t find pumpkin pie spice? Simply mix 1 tsp. each ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and allspice, then use as directed.

Chocolate Pecan Squares

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I have been wanting to make these for a long time, but since David doesn’t like nuts in his food 99% of the time, I knew I’d be the only one eating them.  I had to wait for an opportunity to share these with some people who would really appreciate them, so I waited until my parents were around and made these for them!

I love pecan pie, and chocolate pecan pie is even better, so I decided to add chocolate to the batter.  I also omitted the lemon and orange zest.  When I heard about these for the first time on Smitten Kitchen, Deb said that she wasn’t impressed with the shortbread crust, so I decided to try another recipe.  After searching, I decided to use a recipe from The Joy of Cooking (I even made it gluten free with much success!).  I really liked this shortbread crust and will probably be using it as my standard recipe from now own.  The filling was incredible!  It tasted wonderful even before it was baked- something I could just eat by the spoonful!  The only change I would make is to add more chocolate, since I wished the chocolate flavor had come through a bit more.  I reflected the change in the recipe below.  We really enjoyed snacking on these at the beach.  When you have a crowd to bake for, these would be a great option- you certainly don’t want these sitting around the house!  They are the perfect indulgence, and I’m so happy that I finally tried them!

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Chocolate Pecan Squares

Topping:
1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup good honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped

For the topping: Combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and chocolate in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

Filling adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Ina Garten

Shortbread Crust
Source: The Joy of Cooking

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick of butter (it doesn’t really matter whether it’s salted or unsalted)
1 egg yolk
a little cream or milk–may need more or less depending on how the dough holds together
1 egg white, beaten

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Using your hands, a food processor, a pastry cutter, or two knives, work/cut the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture should look like cornmeal with a few larger lumps of butter.

Break up the egg yolk with a fork and add to the flour/butter mixture. Pulse for a few seconds at a time if using a food processor, or if making by hand, stir with the fork until the dough comes together in a ball. You may need to add a little cream at this point if it’s too dry.

Don’t overwork the dough–it will become tough. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes.

Pat the crust into a 9″ or 10″ pie or tart plate. Prick all over with a fork and chill for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, or until it starts to become lightly golden.

Remove from oven and brush the inside with the beaten egg white.

Return to the oven and finish baking until crust is golden.