It’s like summer in a (cookie) bar

Finding the creator of a cookie recipe take s’more investigation

This recipe for s’mores cookie bars has been floating around Pinterest for weeks now. If the Website wasn’t equipped to tell me “Hey, you pinned that already,” I would have pinned it a gazillion times.

I originally planned to make these on the last day of school, sort of like a “Hey, it’s summer!” treat (because nothing says summer like s’mores), but it didn’t happen.

I had great intentions. I bought all the ingredients, but then life got busy, as it tends to do. I put the chocolate in the freezer, but that wasn’t the best hiding spot in the world from a 14-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl, so Sunday night, around 8 p.m., I decided I better make the bars while I still had some chocolate left.

Side note: I learned my kids love dark chocolate. Good for them.

Another side note: My 14-year-old had not tried marshmallow fluff until I made these bars. I am trying to understand how that happened.

This is an easy recipe. Finding out who created it was the tough part. First I visited the Website that Pinterest led me to: Six Sisters’ Stuff.

I love this site. It started when six sisters, now living apart, wanted a way to keep in touch. I own their first cookbook and it is one of my favorites. However, the recipe is credited to another blog: Sugar Cooking. I click on that and lose 30 minutes of my life exploring Sarah’s food blog (It’s like Christmas!).

Guess what? Sarah didn’t create this recipe. She credits Lovin’ From The Oven, so I click on that blog and start all over again.

I’m 87 percent sure this is the original recipe. The post was written in 2008 and doesn’t link to another blog. How awesome is it to know a recipe that appeared on the blog sphere nearly five years ago is still going strong?

One thing – all versions of this recipe say it makes 16 bars. These bakers must be better at math than I am because I only got 12 bars out of the pan, and they were pretty small, too. Size-wise, it’s OK. These are a rich treat, but I don’t want to mislead you in any way.

S’mores are a serious business.

S’MORES BARS RECIPEsmores bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 king-sized milk chocolate bars (I used a combination of Hershey’s milk chocolate and dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough (3 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate, if necessary, to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick). Spread marshmallow creme over chocolate layer. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the marshmallow (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small, flat shingles and laying them together).

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Recipe courtesy of: Lovin’ From The Oven via Sugar Cooking via Six Sisters’ Stuff via Pinterest

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Happy food holiday times three!

Did you know that nearly every day on the calender is a food holiday?

Chocolate covered peanut day. Pie Day. Clam chowder day. I’m not kidding — nearly every day of the calendar is dedicated to a food.  It isn’t always clear who or what decided on these non-official-but-entertaining holidays, but seeing as this is more entertaining than scientific, it doesn’t really matter.

That being said, some food holidays days are more fun than others, depending on your culinary preferences. Feb. 27, however, just might be the greatest food day of all.

It’s National Chocolate Cake Day.

And National Strawberry Day.

And National Kahlua day.

To celebrate this most joyful of holidays, I made a chocolate Kahlua cake with a strawberry compote and Kahlua buttercream frosting.

Nothing like cake, and alcohol, to put you in the holiday spirit!

THE TRIFECTA OF FOOD HOLIDAYS CAKEchocolate cake

For the cake:

  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 3/4 cup water

Preheat over to 345F

Combine all liquid ingredients in a bowl, then add the cake mix and chocolate pudding mix. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, or one 9-by-13 pan, and split the batter between the two pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.

For the strawberry compote:

  • 1 pound strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Vodka, to taste (I used about 1/8 cup)

Put sliced strawberries in a bowl and mix the sugar into it. Let sit for about half an hour to release all the juices.

Strain the strawberries and put the juice in a saucepan. Bring it to a simmer with the lemon juice and vodka, and keep on a low simmer for about 20 minutes until it is reduced to a syrup. Pour the syrup back on the strawberries and put in the fridge to cool until you need it.

For the frosting:

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons Kahlua
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 1 tablespoon hot water

In small bowl dissolve instant coffee in hot water.

Beat butter at medium speed in a mixing bowl until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, Kahlua and hot coffee mixture. You can add more Kahlua if you want a stronger coffee flavor frosting.

This recipe makes enough frosting for a 9-by-13 cake.

Recipes to create this cake came from www.food.com, tiffanyhu.com/blog, and www.epicurious.com

Chocolate and caramel goodness

I love chocolate and caramel. Ghirardelli’s chocolate and caramel squares are my most favorite candy in the entire universe, but I also love the Russell Stover chocolate and caramel candies, particularly those that pop up during the holidays in various shapes.

Caramel alone is pretty awesome, too, which is why discovering Kraft’s Premium Caramel Bits at Target the other day made a random shopping excursion a great adventure. Imagine what goodness you can make when you don’t have to take the time to unwrap dozens of caramel squares! (Especially when you are me and tend to eat one caramel square for every two you unwrap.)

I bought one bag (Look at that — restraint!) and flipped through my cookbooks for the perfect recipe. Then I turned to Google. Unfortunately, by that time I had opened the bag and discovered eating caramel in circular form was just as good as eating them as squares or covered in chocolate. Luckily, the recipe I decided to make only called for one cup of caramel bits. That’s all I had at that point.

This is a great cookie, but I do think I’ll use parchment paper the next time I make them. The caramel sticking to the cookie sheet made them difficult to remove. Then again, I kind of think I need new cookies sheets. I don’t want to spend the money if parchment paper will solve the problem, but how many batches of cookies do I potentially ruin as a search for a solution?

First world problems.

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL COOKIES

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup caramel bits or chopped up caramel squares
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Set oven to 350°F.

Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar. Add eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in caramel bits and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or just until set. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Recipe courtesy of Rookie Cookie

I love this cookie!!!

I spent the last week of 2011 in New York City.

My husband was there for work – the Cyclones were playing in the Pinstripe Bowl – so I bought an airplane ticket to tag along and play tourist.

What do I miss most about my visit? The bakeries. It seemed like the city, and its outer boroughs, had a bakery every few blocks. The best bakeries were those tucked into neighborhoods. Imagine leaving your home to grab a loaf of fresh bread every morning. Doesn’t that sound like heaven?

A friend recommended (OK, he actually demanded) I visit Levain Bakery while checking out Central Park.

“Get the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookie,” he said.

I listened to him. I found the bakery, ordered the cookie, took a bite and sent a text to my husband.

“I’m leaving you for a cookie,” I wrote.

I didn’t save any of the cookie for him, so he has yet to see why I made this decision.

Levain Bakery is kind enough to include links to wanna-be Levain bakers on their website. This recipe is pretty spot-on, so tonight my husband will try a cookie. Who knows if he’ll still be my husband tomorrow.

(If my kids are reading this – Mommy is joking! I am not leaving your dad for a cookie!)

DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CHIP COOKIES

  • 2 sticks cold and cubed unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup good unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With an electric mixer cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined. Beat in cocoa powder.

Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl. Beat dry ingredients into butter-sugar-cocoa mixture. Beat in chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Using a cookie scoop, form dough into round mounds and spread evenly on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper

Bake cookies for 10 minutes, or less if you like them fudgy. Remove cookies and let them cool on a wire rack.