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Category Archives: Sweet Treats

National Donut Day

Happy Donut Day! I have to say I LOVE a good donut and I have ever since I was a child. My first donut memories involved Mister Donut in my hometown of good ole Peoria, Illinois! My mom would surprise my brother and I by having donuts waiting for us in the morning if she happened to be out the night before. I loved the box of assorted, especially the peanut, double chocolate frosted and vanilla iced cake. The Mister Donut in Peoria used to create these donut figures. Think like a gingerbread man, but made out of dough. They were decorated with frosting and sprinkled to look like they had clothes on. They were huge, sweet, and delectable and I miss them.
Now that I have my own munchkins, who have become donut lovers, we often check out the local donut shops when visiting or vacationing in a new town to sample the local favorites. Last summer, we discovered Spunky Dunkers nearby in Palatine, IL, really just 20 minutes away and we’ve discovered St. Louis is quite the donut mecca too. It’s fun to check out what each town has to offer!
Hope you got to enjoy a favorite donut today!
Happy Donut Day :)

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Kyle’s Chocolate Chip Caramel Brownies

Kyle’s Chocolate Chip Caramel Brownies

028Good morning friends,

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy yesterday. I am very relieved that everyone I knew there is safe. My deepest sympathies to everyone involved; victims, participants, first responders and family members. May God grant us all peace.

I thought it a good time to think about the positive and count my many blessings. Once of them is my son, Kyle. He is thirteen and loves to cook and bake, which of course warms my heart and I am so thankful that we share this love of baking. I think he will make some woman very happy someday with his skills in the kitchen :)

On Sunday, Kyle came to me and said he wanted to take on a baking project… he wanted to make something that neither one of has made before. I said, “great, go for it!” He decided to look through Pinterest and the boards I have created because often times I sit with him and point out things that I’d like to try some day.  Being the chocolate lover he is I had an idea the direction he was going :) I reminded him to check his ingredients to make sure we had everything on hand, nothing more frustrating than beginning a recipe only to find out that you’re missing an ingredient or two.  I stood by for consultation, but he didn’t really need that much :)

He chose a chocolate caramel brownie recipe, and yes, he made the brownies from scratch which is something that I rarely do!

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Kyle’s Chocolate Chip Caramel Brownies

Ingredients

For the brownies:

2 sticks of unsalted butter

1 12 ounce package of dark chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups of white sugar

4 eggs

1 TBL vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup dark chocolate chips

For the caramel filling

1 package of Kraft caramel bits (tiny little balls found in baking aisle which I love for convenience!)

1/4 cup of vanilla-flavored coffee creamer (because who really has heavy cream on hand all the time?!)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper. Spray pan and on top of parchment with cooking spray.

3. Slowly melt 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a glass bowl at 50% power in 1 minute intervals until chocolate is smooth and melted.  Stir between each interval so as to not overcook.

4. Wisk in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt until combined.

5. Spread half of brownie batter in pan and bake for 15-18 minutes.

6. Cool brownies

7. Combine caramels and creamer in another glass bowl and microwave at a reduced power level, until melted, do in 30-45 second intervals, stirring in between.

8. Spread the caramel mixture over the cooled brownies

9. Using 2 spoons, place remaining brownie dough in piles over caramel mixture.

10. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.

11. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until set and slightly pulling away from the sides of pan.

12. Cool on a rack and then, cool in refrigerate for a couple hours until fully set and firm.

13. Lift the entire slab from the pan with the parchment paper (this step is when the parchment paper comes in very handy!)

14. Peel back parchment and slice into squares

15. Enjoy your magical creation :)

Recipe adapted from http://www.sixsistersstuff.com

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

Happy Friday everyone!

Yes, it’s past Mardi Gras I know….but tonight is the Daddy Daughter Dance at my daughters school and the theme is a Masquerade Ball! My daughter is all set with her hair, nails and mask…so I decided to bake a cupcake that carried the theme. They were really quite simple, no real “recipe” here. I simply made a vanilla boxed cake mix and divided it into 3 bowls.

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I colored the cake mix gold, purple and green with food coloring gel, found in craft and decorating stores, to make the color more vibrant. I spooned the batter into some gold foil cupcake wrappers. The method is tried to use was to put the 3 colors side by side in the cupcake wrapper.

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I baked the cupcakes according to the package directions. I left them “naked” with only a dab or frosting on the top. Allison actually prefers them without frosting, I know…how can this be?! But, it’s true, that’s what she likes :) The frosting-free cupcake also allowed the multi-colored tie-dye look to be more showcased. I surfed the web for some cute printables that were already created, I downloaded them to my computer, punched them out and added the sticks. Ta da!

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I purchased some edible glitter and stars and arranged on trays, scattered with Mardi Gras beads. I hope they all have fun dancing the night away and munching on some yummy cupcakes :)

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Samoa Brownie Bars

Samoa Brownie Bars

Happy snowy Saturday my friends!

We finally have snow in Chicago, and it’s gorgeous! So while the flakes are falling, I’ve been super busy inside baking for some fabulous CCHS performers :) Last night I tried a recipe that Ellen and I found on Pinterest. Ellen really likes the Girl Scout Samoa cookies, well these are 100X better if I do say so myself. They do take a little time to make, not difficult, just a few steps. Most of the ingredients you probably have on hand except for maybe the caramel sauce and coconut. The result of your labor, is a rich, chewy chocolatey coconut bar with a shortbread base. Simply delectable. Please don’t omit the toasting of the coconut, this step is really worth it as it adds a really nice crunch and brings out the coconut flavor.

I can’t say I made any changes to this great recipe…but it is yummy, a nice alternative to the regular cookie and perhaps a nice sweet treat for your Valentine :)

Samoa Brownie Bars and Give me S'more Bars

The recipe can be found here : http://www.jaseyscrazydaisy.com/2011/11/samoa-brownie-cookie-bars.html

“Carmel Crunch” ~ Caramely, chocolatey yumminess!

Carmel CrunchGood evening fellow foodies!
Tonight I made a sweet and crunchy party mix for my daughters performance group. I’m so excited for them to try it tomorrow :) You can throw in whatever cereals and snacks that you have on hand and that sounds good to you. It tastes like a caramel corn glaze with some of the pieces coated in white chocolate, such a good salty-sweet combination. This recipe can also be easily adapted for various holidays by adding in colored M&M’s, just add those before serving.

Ingredients
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
4 cups of assorted Cheerios (I used fruity, plain, multi-grain and chocolate)
2-3 cups of pretzel twists
1 cup of dried cranberries
1 cup of mini-graham pieces
1 cup of mini caramel-corn flavored rice makes
2 cups of white chocolate chips
1 cup of butter
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
large container to bake in-I used a disposable aluminum tin (the kind they sell to roast turkeys in, it made it very easy to stir when baking)

1. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.
2. In small saucepan, melt, butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Stir until hot and bubbly.
3. Put all snack ingredients in the container you will be baking it in, pour hot caramel mixture of the cereal mix.
4. Toss gently and bake for 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes.
5. Spread on wax paper to cool.
6. In a large pot, melt white chocolate chips on low and until melted and smooth. Take approximately 8 cups of the snack mix and pour into the melted chocolate, toss gently and replace onto wax paper to cool.
7. Store in am air-tight container if it lasts that long ;)

Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from http://www.chex.com/Recipes/RecipeView.aspx?RecipeId=37640

Rocky Ledge Bars aka Barhorst Bars

Good evening and Happy Holidays everyone! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and getting to do a little baking :) A favorite go-to and much requested cookie recipe for me are these Rocky Ledge Bars. Everyone loves them, they are easy and you can customize them for the occasion or holiday (for Christmas, I added mini red and green M&M’s for some color) So, let’s get to it!

With a Christmas twist :)

With a Christmas twist :)

Ingredients

1 stick room temperature butter

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp coarse salt

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or substitute in some colored mini-M&M‘s)

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup Kraft caramel bits

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper (it makes lifting out the whole pan easier for slicing)

2. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. With your electric stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until well combined. Mix in flour mixture. Fold in HALF of the marshmallows, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and caramel bits.

3. Spread batter in a  prepared pan. Scatter remaining marshmallows, chocolate chips (or M&M’s) butterscotch chips and caramel bits on top. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

4. Let cool on a rack for 3-4 hours. These really need time to set-up properly, so plan accordingly. When thoroughly cool and firm, lift entire block of bars out of the pan and cut into desired shapes, triangles are a nice option.

5. Be prepared for these to disappear fast! Enjoy :)

Recipe adapted from www.marthastewart.com

Salted Caramel Blondies

 

IMG_6913Preheat oven to 375 degrees

List of ingredients

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp coarse sea salt

2 sticks of room-temperature butter

3/4 cup of white sugar

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup of Kraft Caramel Bits (tiny preformed balls of caramel found in baking section)

2 cups of slightly broken pretzel twists

Salted Caramel or Butterscotch melting wafers to drizzle on top after cutting

Instructions

Cream butter, sugars and vanilla together. (I use my Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer for almost all of my baking) Add eggs. Slowly add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in chocolate chips and caramel bits.

Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper and lightly spray. Spread dough in pan and gently press pretzel pieces on top. The beauty of the parchment paper step is that you will be able to lift the entire slab of cookies out of the pan for easier slicing.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until middle is set and top is slightly browned. Allow to cool for a few hours.  Once cool, I sliced the bars and put on a cooling rack and drizzled with Salted Caramel Wafers. These bar cookies are actually better one they have cooled, if you can wait that long!

Enjoy!

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