S’mores Fudge Bars

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I did it. I finally did it! I’ve made a few variations of these S’mores bars from Cookies & Cups over the last couple years in an attempt to make a graham cracker crust that wouldn’t crumble when cut. Let’s be honest. That combination of graham cracker, marshmallow, and ooey chocolate fudge is delicious enought that I just couldn’t abondon it because the crust wouldn’t stay togheter. But today, success. I honestly am not even sure if it was the crust recipe or if it was because I packed the crust into the pan with my meat tenderizer? Regardless, the bars today finally have a true crust layer!

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Crust aside, Happy 4th of July! Here’s hoping that you’ve been able to continue the weekend celebration through Tuesday. These bars scream summer to me, and beside the red, white, and blue berry desserts, seem like the perfect treat to celebrate summer!

P.S. Is there anyone who can actually manage to eat toasted marshmallows without getting it EVERYWHERE?!?  This certainly exceeds my abilities. But, that’s part of the fun, right? 🙂

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Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

S’mores Fudge Bars
Adapted from Cookies & Cups, crust from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Ingredients:
Crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (~10-11 full sheets)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
6 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter

Fudge Layer:
1 bag milk chocolate chips
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Marshmallow Fluff Layer
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9 (or 8×8) baking pan with non-stick spray. In a bowl, combine the crust ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Pack the crumbs down as much as you can (I used a meat tenderizer to really pack them in). Bake for 10 minutes and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the chocolate chips and the sweetened condensed milk. Heat over medium-low heat until melted and combined. Pour immediately over the graham cracker mixture (the graham cracker layer does not need to be completely cool).

For the marshamallow fluff, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a small sacuepan. Cook over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees F. While the mixture is boiling, beat 2 egg whites and cream of tartar together in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Stop the mixer if needed at this point until the sugar mixture is ready. Once the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites. Turn up the mixer speed to high and continue to beat the mixture for 6-8 minutes or until thick and glossy. Add the vanilla extract with about 1 minute left. Turn your oven on to low broil. Spread the marhsmallow fluff (I use the entire batch) over the chocolate. Broil for 1-2 minutes or until it begins to brown. Watch the marshmallow layer carefully while under the broiler. Once it starts to brown, it will toast (read: burn) quickly. Let cool, cut into squares, and serve.

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Mom’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These. These are the chocolate chip cookies I grew up eating. See, in our house growing up, the chewier the better. While it’s probably not the recipe that I first made growing up (Mom – which recipe did we use then?!?), this is the recipe I made time and time again when I lived with my parents. The recipe that Mom used to bring to the track meets in college.

The recipe that I temporarily lost… I have a bunch of home/family recipes saved as .pdf documents on a laptop that won’t currently turn on. So, as you can imagine, I’ve been calling and texting my parents recently asking for several different recipes. I really need to get those files off that computer and onto something more secure!

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The secret in this recipe is the use of pudding mix in the dough. You’ll notice the recipe calls for much less sugar than a typical recipe because it gets some of the sweetness from the mix. It also keeps the cookies soft and chewy. These cookies are suppose to be soft, so if you’re going to error on a side while baking them, error on underbaking. After the first batch or so, Mom has been known to only leave them in the oven for 6-7 minutes sometimes! On a similar note, you’ll want to leave them on the pan to cool for several minutes before removing them to a rack or papertowel to cool completely. Otherwise, you’ll end up with what we called a “trainwreck” cookie. And those… they just have to be eaten immediately 🙂

I added some butterscotch chips into the dough this time as I was craving them. We’ve used all kinds of combinations throughout the years, and any combo of milk, dark, white, and/or butterscotch chips has all been delicious.

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Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Mom’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Mom

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
2-1/4 cups flour, or more to consistency
1 pkg. milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add pudding mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each egg. Add vanilla and mix.

Combine the flour and baking soda and mix. If the dough seems too sticky, you can add flour 1/8-1/4 cup at a time until you can form it into balls. Stir in chocolate chips.

Form into balls and press down slightly to flatten the dough once on the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies just appear ‘set’. Allow to cool on the pan for severeal minutes before removing to a rack.

Frozen Biscoff Pie

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3.14. It’s Pi Day! And yes, I am enough of a nerd to bring a pie today. You are talking to the girl who still carries around her TI-89 at work (Much to the dismay of my medical teams. I get a lot of crap for it, but how else are you suppose to use the natural log function!).  I’m only sad I wasn’t paying much attention last year (3.1415 for 3/14/15)…

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This pie. This is one of those recipes I wouldn’t really need a reason to make. A true pie, complete with pie crust, still scares me enough that it’s only something I would think to attempt for celebrations/holidays. But combine Biscoff with anything, and I’m on board. In all honesty, I’m truly making this to take to work today for our Pi Day at work, but I can tell you the hubbs begged me to make two so he could have a piece 🙂

I’ve actually made this pie a few times. It’s a recipe from Crazy for Crust, and it’s one of the easiest desserts I’ve made. Graham cracker crust, baked for a few minutes, mix just 3 ingredients together, top, and freeze. Done. You probably could start with a pre-made graham cracker crust if you wanted, although I do think adding Biscoff into the crust is a stroke of genius.

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A few tips. The crust can end up a little crumbly, so be sure to pack it into the pan. There is quite a bit of crust mixture, so I’ve found using a deep-dish pie pan works best. When mixing the filling, be sure to have the ingredients ready to go as it is easier to work quick. Also, be careful spreading out the filling as not to disturb the crust. It is pliable enough it would probably spread out into the pie on its own if you left it. Lastly, the extra whipped topping will spread further if you chill the filling a bit before adding it. I did not in the pies above, so I just have a little smaller circle.

Ahh… frozen desserts. Now that it’s light longer, I promise summer is coming! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Frozen Biscoff Pie
From Crazy for Crust

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
2 oz. white chocolate
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. Biscoff
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

For the Filling:
1/2 cup Biscoff
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. whipped topping, divided

For the Topping Swirl:
1 oz. white chocolate
1 Tbsp. Biscoff

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in the microwave. Then add the white chocolate and Biscoff, stirring ever 15 seconds, until melted and well blended. Stir in graham cracker crumbs. Press into a 9″ pie pan. Bake for 8 minutes and cool completely before filling.

Place 1/2 cup Biscoff in a microwave-safe bowl. Have ingredients measured and ready to go. Heat for 20 seconds to allow it to soften.Reserve 1/2 cup whipped topping. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Fold the remaining whipped topping into the Biscoff-sweetened condensed milk mixture. If it doesn’t seem to be mixing well, you can use a hand mixer here. Pour into the prepared crust. Top with reserved whipped topping. It may not reach all the way to the edges. Chill the pie first if you’d like it to cover more area.

Melt white chocolate and Biscoff together in a small microwave-safe bowl. Pour into a sealable sandwich bag and snip one corner. Pipe as desired on the top of the pie. Freeze pie for at least 4 hours or for overnight before slicing.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off: Doughmesstic vs. NYT

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Hope you’re having a happy hump day… I brought cookies!

A little later than promised, but I’m on to my next installment of our chocolate chip cookie bake-off. In case you’re curious, the original rules can be found here.

As I’ve eluded, the hubbs is convinced that we’re never going to find a recipe that “beats” the NYT recipe we’ve been carrying through this whole ordeal. It definitely is a great cookie! Maybe it’s my inability to be satisfied with a recipe. Maybe it’s only the fact that he wants it to “win,” but I’m definitely hoping we will find a recipe that  beats it. With that spirit in mind, I pulled out a recipe for this round with a few more stops – Doughmesstic’s My Go To Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. Browned butter + dark brown sugar. I was hoping the flavor of these would par up to the flavor that we keep coming back to in the NYT recipe.

doughmesstic chocolate chip cookies after baking

I found Susan’s recipe to be really easy to make. If you have never browned butter, just keep an eye on it. It will seem like it is taking forever to start changing color, but once it does, it is really easy to go from browned butter to burnt butter. The dough for these cookies was a little different in texture. Almost a little more greasy, although it does start with melted rather than just softened butter. Nonetheless, it was really easy to work with, and I didn’t have any trouble with sticky dough when forming cookie dough balls. I’ve heard that melting the butter helps make for a chewier cookie, and the centers of these were definitely soft (just the way I like them). You can even tell the middle of these cookies is soft in the photos. I’ll admit, I didn’t chop the chocolate as she indicates, but these are definitely a solid cookie!

doughmesstic chocolate chip cookies

So which one wins… I feel like a broken record. It’s still the NYT recipe for both of us, although it serious took me ~24 hours to decide between these two recipes. There is just something about the NYT recipe that tastes like a “chocolate chip cookie,” and I’m not quite sure I can put my finger on it. One thing is for sure, the Doughmesstic recipe is a solid choice if I don’t have 24 hrs+ to wait for the NYT cookies. Until next month. Enjoy!

Cookies Already Baked:

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Baking Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies
Alice’s The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies To Bake:
Alton Brown’s The Chewy
My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies from Eat, Live, Run
David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Flour Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bouchon Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Top Chef: Just Desserts Chocolate Chip Cookie

So, I’m thinking the current list will take us through November. Any additional recipes I’m missing?

(Printable Recipe)

Doughmesstic’s My Go To Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
From Doughmesstic

Ingredients:
12 Tbsp. browned salted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
12 oz. chocolate chips (1 pkg), mixed semi-sweet and milk chocolate
sea salt for topping

To brown butter, melt butter in light colored medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook. The butter will foam first and then browned specks will start to form at the bottom of the pan and the color will start to appear more brown than yellow. Remove and let cool slightly.

Add the sugars to the butter and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to the dough, mixing until just combined. Mix in the chocolate and place the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Roll the dough into balls about the size of a golf ball and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the cookies just start turning golden brown on the edges (the middle will still be soft).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off: Alice’s Recipe vs. NYT

alice vs. NYT

Well, I kind of missed March for this. Sort of. I had the post ready to go, but it just didn’t seem right to post it up on Easter Sunday, so I kept it waiting until Monday. In fact, I like that idea. From now on, chocolate chip cookie bake-offs on the first of every month! In case you’re new to this bake-off, you can find the original rules here.

The contender this month, to the ever champion New York Times (NYT) recipe (pictured on the right), was a recipe that I saw across several blogs a few years ago – this recipe from Alice of Savory Sweet Life. The recipe Alice presents comes with a pretty fierce backing of her recipe, and I can tell you that her cookies were definitely well received by my coworkers. Including the oddest and likely most honest complement I’ve ever received on my baking, “These cookies have the perfect balance of salt.” Different, but as long as you’re enjoying them, I’ll take it 🙂

 alice's best chocolate chip cookies dough balls

alice's best chocolate chip cookies cooling

One thing I noted was that Alice’s cookies have pretty specific instructions. By the time the eggs and vanilla have been added to the dough, it has been going in the mixer for 5 minutes and definitely results in a “fluffier” cookie dough. I did vary from the recipe slightly in the amount of flour listed. I originally added the amount of flour listed in the recipe (by weight – exactly 12 oz), but my dough was definitely still too gooey to hold together a cookie when baking. I added more flour, probably almost another 1/4 cup (although I didn’t measure exactly) to help the dough a little, and I am thinking they almost needed a little bit more as my cookies baked up rather flat. My guess is that this is due to the extended beating time as that is definitely longer than I leave most cookie dough in the mixer. While flat, the texture of the cookies was still the gold standard – crunchy on the edges and rather soft in the middle.

alice's best chocolate chip cookies broken

So which recipe will be continuing in our chocolate chip cookie bake-off. We’re still NYT fan’s in this house. It’s the flavor that develops while the dough sits that seems to be what boosts these over other cookies. While I really like the NYT recipe, I tend to like my cookies a little thicker (tends to be chewier). The NYT cookies aren’t super thin, although I have definitely seen heftier cookies. This may be the place for another recipe to beat the NYT for me. Thinking I may need to try a recipe with either brown butter and/or dark brown sugar next time to see if we can get an even match on the flavor. We’ll see!

Cookies Already Baked:
New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Baking Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some of the Cookies Still On Deck:
Alton Brown’s The Chewy
My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies from Eat, Live, Run
David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Doughmesstic My Go To Chocolate Chip Cookie
Flour Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bouchon Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Top Chef: Just Desserts Chocolate Chip Cookie

Any cookies I should add to the list? Here’s the recipe for Alice’s recipe.

(Printable Recipe)

Alice’s The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Savory Sweet Life

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3/4 cup (or 12 oz) all-purpose flour (I needed more than this)
3/4 tsp. medium course sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 pkg. each milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars together with a stand mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes until light and very fluffy. Add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour stirring until the flour is fully incorporated. Add more flour if needed to be able to form the dough into balls with your hands. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Bake on stoneware pans or on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are set on the outer edges. Cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

SRC: Pretzel Nutella Chunk Cookies

pretzel nutella chunk cookies

When I’m am thinking about recipes that will eventually make this way to the blog, I try to maintain a balance between meal recipes and desserts. Nonetheless, there is no hiding the fact that cookies are the first thing that brought me into the kitchen, so I was definitely excited find out that my blogger this month for SRC was Katrina from Baking and Boys.

I spent more than one day looking through all of Katrina’s recipes, but in the end, I could not get over one of the recipes right at the front of her blog. These pretzel Nutella chunk cookies. Really? I could have stopped right there on the name along. There was no way these wouldn’t be a hit at our house. Cookies are where it all started for me, and cookies are my final choice this month for SRC. That said, cookies weren’t the only recipe I saved when looking through Katrina’s recipes. Check out this wheat berry salad. I am hoping it will be lunch soon. As soon as I get a chance to make it

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pretzel nutella chunk cookies with ice cream

The cookie dough came together really quickly, although my Nutella did not seem to freeze quite as hard as Katrina’s. I started trying to mix the chunks into the cookie dough like traditional chocolate chips, but the Nutella melted so quickly that it ended up being “swirled” throughout the batter. After that, I re-froze the Nutella and just stuck a few pieces in the top of the cookies just before putting them in the oven. So, in the end, half my Nutella ended up swirled into the cookies and half was in the more traditional “pieces.” I am sure there wasn’t a change in the final outcome of the cookies because we loved these! The hubbs has designated them the official a la mode cookies. Thanks for the great recipe Katrina. I am sure we’ll both be craving these again soon!

(Printable Recipe)

Pretzel Nutella Chunk Cookies
Adapted from Baking and Boys

Ingedients:
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cake flour
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. bread flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 stick + 2 Tbsp. (or 10 Tbsp) butter, softened
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup  + 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup bite-sized pretzel pieces (broken up)
1/2 cup Nutella, divided

Line a pan or plate with waxed paper. Spread 1/4 cup of Nutella thinly over the paper. Place in the freezer until firm, at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, mix until incorporated. Mix in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour. Stir until just incorporated. Add 1/4 cup of Nutella and stir until the batter appears marbled or swirled. Stir in the pretzel pieces.

Form the dough into tablespoon sized balls. Set on a baking sheet and press down on the balls of dough to flatten slightly. Remove the Nutella from the freezer. Working quickly, cut the Nutella into chucks. Place several chunks into the top of each ball of cookie dough. Return the Nutella to the freezer in between batches of cookies. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are just set. Let cool on the pan for several minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely (or enjoy slightly warm with ice cream).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off: NYT vs. Neiman Marcus

neiman marcus vs. nyt1

Well, I guess the detox from Monday is over. I know it was short lived, but see today is February 27th. That means I only have approximately 32 hours to bring you the previously promised chocolate chip cookie bake-off for February. Bring on the cookies!

So, far the recipes we’ve been through include the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie,  a copy-cat Levain Bakery cookie, and the Baking Illustrated recipe. In our house, the NYT recipe is the current champion, and you can find our take on that recipe as well as the original rules to my bake-off here.

chocolate chip cookie bake off neiman marcus vs. nyt

In the above photo, the Nemain Marcus recipe is on the left and the NYT cookies are on the right. I had a feeling this would be a tough round for me. The secret to the Neiman Marcus recipe is oatmeal. Not whole but ground up in a food processor until you basically have an “oat flour.” I am a fan of oatmeal in many forms, but I love how it changes the texture of a cookie. Unless you really overbake them, cookies containing oatmeal are always soft and chewy for days.

The recipe for the Neiman Marcus cookie comes here from an adaptation from the Brown Eyed Baker. I found that the cookie dough came together pretty quickly and easily (especially compared to the fuss of the NYT recipe), although after all the flour/oats were mixed in it seemed drier than most cookie dough I’ve seen. By chance, I let it sit for awhile prior to baking while I was doing something else, and it seemed to be easier to work with after resting. I’m not sure if the oats needed to “soak” in some of the wet ingredients? I should caution you that I’ve had this “dryness” issue with other recipes when baking in the desert, so I also wonder if this is a climate thing? The photo below is the Neiman Marcus cookies alone.

chocolate chip cookie bake off neiman marcus

Nonetheless, I was able to form the dough into balls and bake cookies! After baking them, you would be none-the-wiser that the dough was dry as the cookies are perfectly soft and chewy. As expected, I had a hard time choosing between these cookies. The hubbs was easy – he’s an outer edge crunchy guy, so he is all about the NYT recipe. I think that will be the recipe to beat for him. In the end, I did join him on the NYT train, but it took me a day or so. While I love the texture that the oats give the Neiman Marcus recipe, there’s a caramel flavor that develops in the NYT recipe that makes me swoon. Guess the NYT recipe still reigns in our house (at least for another month!).

(Printable Recipe)

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted slightly from Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 pkg. milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, if using.

Blend the oats in a food processor or blender until they form a fine flour-like powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the blended oats and the remaining dry ingredients – all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Mix in the vanilla extract. On low speed, gradually mix in the flour, beating until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.

If the dough seems too dry, let it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Form the dough into balls with about 2 tablespoons of dough in each ball. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the cookies just start to set (they may be a little soft in the middle still). Let them cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Magic Bars

magic bars stacked

In this house, there is a relatively unknown but rather specific definition of game food. Whenever I end up trying to plan out food for a sporting event, he usually ends up defining about half of it as “not game food.” His definition lies somewhere along the lines of things like nachos and appetizers, but not everything there counts. A couple things I have determined, portability is good. The other – sweets don’t count. What?!?

I am the kind of person that loves to have some type of sweets available at game parties, and in my opinion, these bars would make perfect game food. The recipe for these originally comes from Edible Sound Bites, and it’s a fun variation on magic cookie bars. By the way, what is the real name of those bars? I’ve heard them called magic cookie bars, 7 layer bars, and hello dolly bars?

magic bars before baking

magic bars chips

Outside of the “game food” definition, these bars were a big hit. It is somewhat embarrassing to know how fast we consumed these. You know those recipes where you have to keep “evening out the edge?” This was one of those. With graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate, coconut and sweetened condensed milk these bars are the perfect cross between a s’mores bar and a magic cookie bar. Of course, I could not resist swapping in some butterscotch chips for some of the chocolate.

Were they sweet? Yes. Gooey? Yes. They held together a little better when refrigerated. A repeat? My husband already wants me to remake them so he can bring them to work. Game food? Well, depends on who you ask, but I say yes!

magic bar close

(Printable Recipe)

Magic Bars
Slightly adapted from Edible Sound Bites

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 1 pkg. inside the box)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1-1/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8×8-inch square pan with nonstick spray.

Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour half the can of sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumb mixture. In a medium bowl, combine the milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut. Spread evenly over the pan. Layer the marshmallows over the chips-coconut mixture. Drizzle the remaining sweetened condensed milk evenly over the marshmallows.

Bake for 25 minutes until the tops of the marshmallows are lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars. The bars hold together a little better when refrigerated but can also be stored at room temperature.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off: NYT vs. Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies - NYT vs. Baking Illustrated

So… a few months may have passed since I started this chocolate chip cookie bake-off series. While it has been on the back burner for awhile, I really would like to find my “go-to” chocolate chip cookie recipe, so I am going to commit to a bake-off at least once a month. If nothing else comes from it, I will have a happy husband as he loves freezing dough in mini pie pans so he can have hot chocolate chip “pizookies” topped with ice cream whenever a dessert craving strikes. I may need to invest in a few more mini pans 🙂

In summary, I started this off as a way to bake through all the chocolate chip cookie recipes that I’ve accumulated without having to bake 20 recipes in the same day (way too many cookies!). I am pairing two recipes up, side by side and baking them on the same day. The “winner” of the round goes on to face the next recipe, basically eliminating recipes until we are left with one at the end. As explained, this bake-off starts with the winner from last time, the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. The competitor (or second recipe) is the Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Baking Illustrated. I was excited to see how this bake-off would turn out. We basically fell in love with the NYT recipe last time, but the description of the Baking Illustrated recipe is completely my type of cookie. I want my cookies to have some heft and to have just a bit of that underbaked goodness inside.

thick and chewy chocolate cookies baking

I won’t share or describe the NYT recipe again. It can be found in this post if you are interested. I used the recipe found on Brown Eyed Baker for the Baking Illustrated recipe. The Baking Illustrated cookies stay pretty true to their name as a thick and soft cookie. The differences in the recipe primarily are that it starts with melted butter and uses an extra egg yolk in addition to the whole egg in the recipe. Many of the ingredients are listed as weight measurements, and I made the recipe accordingly, using the weights. The cookies end up a bit raggedy on top, on purpose, due to the specific instructions on shaping them, and while it seems like a minor detail, I really like how they look. As far as storing, the cookies lasted well for a day or two but started to dry out significantly more as the days progressed. Here’s the recipe.

thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie

(Printable Recipe)

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Baking Illustrated, seen on Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. of unbleached all-purpose flour (10-5/8 ounces)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 Tbsp.), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup packed brown sugar (7 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3-1/2 ounces)
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or by spraying them with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Mix the butter and sugars together in the bowl of a stand mixer until lighter in color and thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the tips of your fingers with both hands on each side. Pull apart into 2 equal halves. You should now have 2 balls of dough with one jagged edge. Set the balls so that the jagged edge is up. Stick them back together to form one cookie being careful not to smooth the uneven surface of the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough and place the cookies on the prepared pans.

Bake until the centers are light brown with outer edges that are starting to harden but with centers that are still soft and puffy, about 15 to 18 minutes. Cool the cookies on the sheets for several minutes until they start to set-up. Remove and continue cooling on a baking rack.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off: NYT vs. Levain Copycat

So which recipe was the favorite? The NYT recipe won again for us. The depth of the flavor in those cookies was amazing. The Baking Illustrated recipe does produce a substantial chewy cookie, but the texture will begin to dry out as they are stored. I do like the Baking Illustrated recipe better as a quicker recipe, especially if it is one that will be eaten rather quickly after they are baked. I believe I said this about the Levain copycat recipe too, but I am favoring the Baking Illustrated recipe over the Levain one for quick purposes (although it truthfully has been awhile since I’ve made the Levain version). Overall, it is still the NYT recipe for us. Guess I better start planning ahead for those chocolate chip cookie cravings! 🙂

Pumpkin Crunch Crumb Cake

pumpkin crunch crumb cake

Pumpkin recipes… There haven’t been too many of them on here lately. It’s not necessarily for lack of trying. I’ve been through my fair share of pumpkin puree this year, although much of it went towards a couple of failed attempts at pumpkin ice cream. At this point, I think I am better off purchasing that for the stores 🙂

This pumpkin cake is the exact opposite of my ice cream. With the streusel and glaze, how could it fail?  I quickly threw this together one afternoon before an evening work shift and caused some slight commotion at work. Let’s just say I brought home a pan with only a couple bites left for the hubby at home. The recipe is from Heather’s Dish. The base of the recipe is a cake mix, although let’s be honest. Sometimes this time of year is busy enough. It was certainly nice as I tired to balance making this cake, getting ready for work, and keeping the puppy out trouble around the house. If you would rather not use a cake mix, I’m sure a homemade mix or your favorite pumpkin cake recipe would work great here as well. I do have a tip regarding cake mixes. Use scissors to open that plastic bag. Trust me. Not that I know from experience or anything…

pumpkin crunch crumb cake closer

Enough about the cake. The true star here is the brown sugar glaze. It coats the streusel and runs down into the top crevices of the cake giving the topping just the right amount of crunch. Delicious. Just don’t forget to save me a piece if you make this, okay? Enjoy!

Out of curiosity, what is your opinion on pumpkin recipes? Are they a September – Thanksgiving thing or do you cook with pumpkin all winter? At least around here, there’s usually a variation on pumpkin pie in the Christmas dessert spread.

P.S. Happy 12-12-12!

(Printable Recipe)

Pumpkin Crunch Crumb Cake
From Heather’s Dish

Ingredients:
1/3 cups water
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or individual spices)
1 box (18 oz) yellow cake mix
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1/2 cups flour
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch pan and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the water, pumpkin, eggs, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Add the cake mix and baking soda, and mix until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, flour, and melted butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the cake batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Towards the end of the baking time, in a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and heavy cream. Heat over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

When the cake is finished baking, poke holes in the top with a skewer or similar object. Pour the glaze over the cake, making sure to cover the entire surface. Serve warm or at room temperature.