Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

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My blog felt a little empty without the combination of peanut butter + chocolate chip. Thankfully, these bars have remedied that.

I’d wager that the best things in life are the simplest, like feeling cool grass beneath your toes, having a guy hold the door open for you, sitting in silence with the people you love, waking up to the sound of rain. And strangely enough, the things that are worth it are the most difficult, the most heartwrenching, the most frustrating.

Lucky for us, these bars are both simple and worth it. Why? Here’s a list.

  • chocolate
  • peanut butter
  • one bowl
  • one bowl
  • peanut butter
  • one bowl
  • chocolate
  • one bowl
  • peanut butter + chocolate

And here’s a picture, too.

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Observe the texture. Observe the chocolate chips. Observe the lovely aroma. (Whoops, you can’t do that, can you?)

The peanut butter and chocolate combination sold me right off the bat. No star-crossed food-lovin’ here – peanut butter and chocolate were clearly made for each other. Food soul mates. Then I saw the tablespoon of vanilla extract and very nearly swooned. Vanilla makes me weak-kneed.

Speaking of weak knees, I’ll be honest: initially, these were made for a boy (what I lack in charm I make up with baked goods) BUT, most unfortunately, my plans were foiled when my parents informed me that, instead, we’d be taking them to my cousin’s birthday party. “What? No, of course I didn’t have plans for these, I was just…baking stuff. Because I actually have time to. All right, we can take them to the party…”

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Regardless of how my plans were thwarted, these did not disappoint. After 22 minutes of baking, the toothpick came out clean, and although I freaked out a little because I still thought they were underbaked, they weren’t. The edges puffed up while the middle remained miraculously soft and gooey. Peanut buttery, chocolate chippy, buttery, deliciousy.

Have I mentioned they’re made in one bowl? All the goodness of cookies without the fuss. Perfect if you’re lazy (like me) or in a hurry (like most of humanity). Not too much chocolate (let’s be honest, is that ever possible?), just enough peanut butter (although adding another tablespoon or two wouldn’t hurt too much), and more than enough sweetness. And CRAZY GOOD.

Clearly my cousins thought so, considering all of them were gone within an hour.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (printable recipe here!)
from Averie Cooks

[Note: Honestly, I laughed out loud when I saw you could scramble the egg if you mix it in while the butter is still too hot. But apparently it can really happen – make sure the butter is cooled!
Baking time will also depend on how gooey you want your center. I’d wager they could be baked up to 30 minutes if you want a more-set center. Just keep an eye on them.]

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • heaping 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 6 – 7 ounces (about 3/4 cup) semi-sweet or dark chocolate (chips or chopped)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter (about 2 30-second intervals). Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool before adding the egg (to prevent it from scrambling).
  3. Stir in egg, sugars, and vanilla extract until well combined. Stir in peanut butter.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate.
  5. Scoop batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until center is set and golden (or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean).
  6. Allow bars to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes. Cut into slices and devour.

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Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins.

[All right, I know this recipe was promised to be published yesterday, but I was having major Internet issues. Now that it’s all taken care of…]

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I will try to make this coherent. It’s been a long, long week. Today was probably the longest day of my life.

Strawberries are my favorite fruit, which is why I’m always reluctant to use them in baked goods for fear of ruining their wonderful flavor and juiciness. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

All right, that was a little dramatic. The parental units made an unannounced trip to our farmer’s market without first informing me and returned with a few of those little green crates that house freshly picked strawberries. Two days later, however, there was still a full crate left in the fridge (apparently, my family likes to buy food and see how they aesthetically compliment the vegetables, yogurt containers, etc. instead of, oh, I dunno, actually eating it) and I just happened to have a get-together with some of my friends that evening that involved food sharing.

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Thus, to prevent disaster from striking, enter the heroes of this story: my mini-muffin pan and this recipe. You might remember how much I adore this pan from my previous mini muffin post. Whenever an opportunity arises to fill these little tins with muffin batter, I spring at the chance. And off I went, taking no survivors, diving fearlessly into the prospect of the collision of white chocolate and strawberries nestled in a sweet muffin.

It suffices to say I was crazy not to use strawberries earlier in baking. It also suffices to say that “good” is not sufficient enough an adjective for these mini muffins. They’re light, fluffy, sweet, and have I mentioned yummy? (I’m not too old to say that, right?) I smell more in my future.

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Since I used fresh strawberries, I have no idea how frozen ones would work with this. Try that at your own risk. Before I stirred in the strawberries, I patted them dry – well, at least, comparably drier – between two paper towels to remove the excess moisture to nix any excess water. And when I say “do not overmix”, I mean it! Go crazy whisking the dry ingredients, cream the heck outta that butter and sugar, but when it comes to mixing it all together, mix only until combined, otherwise your mini muffins will become mini bricks or mini lead cups. Mmmm. Don’t omit the almond extract either, unless you can help it! Almond extract is one of my favorite things to use in baking, and it really adds to these.

If you don’t like white chocolate, use mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate. Or whatever else you desire. The world is your muffin liner.

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It’s the weekend. Treat yourself and the ones you love. And remember, they’re small, so it’s ok to eat two. Or five.

Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins (printable version here!)
adapted from from A Recipe a Day
m
akes 36 mini muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • additional sugar for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a mini-muffin pan with liners and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg; mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed butter mixture. Stir in extracts. Do not overmix!
  5. Gently stir in strawberries and white chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon the batter into the mini muffin tins. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack. Devour.

Wordless Wednesdays.

[NOTE: ok, I know these are words despite it being Wordless Wednesday. Just wanted to preface this by saying my dear friend Kathryn inspired me to do this with this post. This will be an ongoing project every Wednesday in which I post only snapshots of my life outside of my kitchen…although most of them will probably still be in my kitchen because my life revolves around food. Enjoy!

PS: new recipe tomorrow!]

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Crispy Oatmeal Pecan Butterscotch Chip Cookies.

[Alternately, Crispy Oatmeal Pecan Triple Chip Cookies.

Or Half-Burned Oatmeal Pecan Triple Chip Cookies.]

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Do you ever have those times when you think you’re doing something very, very well, which makes you proud of yourself and suddenly you feel invincible…only to find out later that you weren’t as great as you thought you were?

…that’s what happened with the photographs I took of these cookies. Oh, and the fact that I burned half of them. Oh, and the fact that most of them hopelessly stuck to the bottom of the pans.

Sigh.

It could be worse. It could’ve been a thesis or a big project at work. I could’ve broken one of my great-great-great-grandmother’s vases. I could’ve accidentally bought a plethora of items I thought were on sale but weren’t. I mean, that still doesn’t erase the let-down, but I do feel a little better about myself.

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Thankfully, the recipient of these semi-disastrous cookies was none other than my father, the man who has never once refused a baked good from me. With a smile on his face and suddenly a possessor of infinite patience, he would eat anything I made for him without a complaint or critique – whether it was an ice cream “sundae” doused in sprinkles, stale cookies, and weird, edible, red gel, or a burnt, soggy pie. I know I’ve disappointed him in many ways, but my cooking has never been one of them.

Butterscotch cookies, or oatmeal scotchies, are one of his favorite foods. Not just any oatmeal scotchies, though – crisp, crunchy ones. In all my nineteen years of living, I’ve heard hundreds of variations on a phrase he always says: “Cookies are meant to be crunchy, cake is supposed to be soft.” Soft cookies bought from the store are always met with an eye-rolling; cookies in the windows of bakeries are always ignored for their lack of crispy edges.

With Father’s Day weekend here and a small amount of butterscotch chips remaining in the cupboard, I decided to make these for the man who would eat anything I presented him from the heart.

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Since I didn’t have enough butterscotch chips left, I added in some white and semi-sweet chocolate chips, along with a few pecans for extra flavor. More granulated sugar and less brown sugar is one of the secrets of making these crispy.

My final product wasn’t perfect. No, they’re nowhere near perfect, considering a fourth of them have (nearly) black bottoms and another fourth are crumbs. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter that much, because my dad had two of them before the second batch was even out of the oven. Then he told me, with excitement in his eyes, they were fantastic and had another one. With praise like that, who needs perfection?

Whether your dad likes soft or crunchy cookies, brownies or blondies, cake or pie, do something special for him. Appreciate him. Go out of your way to love him.

eh

Even if things fall apart a little.

Crispy Oatmeal Pecan Butterscotch Chip Cookies
adapted from Nestle

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour (I used a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 2/3 cups butterscotch chips OR 1 cup butterscotch chips + 2/3 cup other chips (I used white and semi-sweet)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and extracts; set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Gradually add flour to the creamed mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Stir in oats, chips, and pecans.
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Devour.

Things.

  1. I have a banner now. It’s a shoddy banner, yes, but it’s a banner nonetheless. I feel professional now. Thoughts? Comments? (Anyone like to volunteer to make me a really fabulous one?) Please feel free to comment on anything and everything – I don’t bite and I’d love to hear from you!
  2. Considering my job hours are from 6 AM to 2:30 PM Monday-Friday, posts will probably be a little more sporadic for a week or two as I continue to adjust to being awake from 5 AM to 10 PM every day.
  3. Any recipes anyone would like me to try out? Any comments on how what I’ve tried so far is fabulous/wonderful/okay/horrendous? Anyone tried any of my recipes? (Bueller? Bueller?)
  4. I do indeed have a few recipes lined up in my drafts section and hopefully a few more on the way. Weekend = baking time.

That is all, dear ones. If I remember more, I’ll let you know.

x Cakey

Easy Strawberry Biscuit Shortcake.

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Confession: I’ve never been a fan of strawberry shortcake, which is probably akin to saying I hate America or summertime or butterflies. I mean, for whatever reason, the strawberries always taste more like fake syrup than real fruit. My biggest issue is the tasteless cake’s texture – every shortcake I’ve ever eaten has been incredibly dry, and even when it’s soaked and soggy from the infiltrating strawberry juice, it still seems to be devoid of any flavor or pleasantries.

Whew. Feels good to get that off my chest.

Another confession, or perhaps merely a deprivation due to the sin of my parents: I’ve never eaten fresh strawberries before. I’ve had pounds of fresh vegetables, and I’ve eaten raspberries and blackberries fresh off the bushes in front of a friend’s house, but…never fresh strawberries. Riding in the backseat as we drove through the country when I was a kid, my mouth watered whenever we passed a pick-your-own-berries path or fresh berry stand. Yet for all the desires in my childish heart, I never summoned up enough courage to ask my parents if we could go berry picking out of fear of being shot down.

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And that, my friends, brings us to this week, when my mother came home after a day with her sister, bearing strawberries that her previously mentioned sister (aka my aunt) had gotten that day. And holy. Cow. I will never look at store-bought strawberries the same again. So juicy, so flavorful! Gah! Maybe I’ll plant some. (Uh, on second thought. No, I don’t have time for that.)

The arrival of fresh strawberries meant only one thing to my father: strawberry shortcake. Desperate to bake something after a long day folding boxes at work, I happily obliged, although he complained that they wouldn’t be made out of Bisquick (the horror!). Along with the strawberries, my aunt had also given me a bag full of cookbooks; conveniently, I found a strawberry biscuit shortcake recipe in one of them and got right to work. On a whim, I threw in a dash of cinnamon and added more flour because what was supposed to be a mound looked a bit like a ball of wet flour. Drop drop drop on the baking pan…and 14 minutes later, they were ready to go.

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Typical strawberry shortcake dealio: dish, biscuit, strawberries, biscuit, strawberries, whipped cream. Unfortunately, we seemed to be lacking in whipped cream so I substituted vanilla ice bean ice cream (I’m un-American even when I’m trying to be American…ugh). Having two enormous shortcake biscuits left after making an enormous mound for my father, I decided to make a smaller one for myself just out of curiosity.. Dish spoon mouth – and oh man, one bite cured me of my strawberry shortcake aversion. The biscuit was crunchy on the sides and very top, incredibly soft and flavorful. It tasted like something, something good – slightly sweet with a bit of cinnamon kick. Not cardboard, but fluffy, a cross between cake and an abnormally delicious sugar cookie, the perfect seat for a tumble of strawberries and an obscene amount of whipped cream.

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It didn’t take long for my father to come to the same (loud) conclusion. No Bisquick shortcakes in this house.

It’s officially the weekend, and you deserve an easy, delicious bowl of sweet happiness. Go ahead.

Strawberry Biscuit Shortcake
adapted from The Best of Country Cooking 1999

(Note: this is a small recipe that can easily be doubled or even halved if desired. Only use a dash of cinnamon! The number of shortcakes will vary with how big you make the mounds.)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour (all-purpose or a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash salt
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cold
  • 4 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
  • whipped cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet; set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture begins to look like coarse crumbs.
  3. Stir in 3 tablespoons of milk plus the vanilla vanilla until a thick batter forms. If it still seems too wet, at up to an additional 1/4 cup of flour.
  4. Drop the batter in mounds onto the baking sheet and brush with remaining milk.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes until you can get them off the sheet without breaking them.
  6. To serve: place one of the biscuits on a plate or in a bowl; top with strawberries. Place another biscuit on top of that one; top with more strawberries and whipped cream. Devour.

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