Oatmeal Toffee Bars

Before I get into reading another book (have I mentioned that I'm as much of an avid reader as I am a baker? So far, I've read 114 books this year alone), I'm going to post about the other bars I made yesterday.

Oh, as a quick aside, the pumpkin you saw in the previous picture and the one you'll see with these bars, his name is George. And George went through Pumpkin Puberty tonight, with Dave guiding him through....

Isn't he cute? I'm very proud of both of them. ;)

Alright. Onto the food. It was a Hershey weekend, as this came up while searching for brownies. Dave loves the Heath Toffee Bits and Chocolate, so I thought he'd enjoy these. At this point, I don't seem to recall anything particular in the making of them. LOL (It's been a long day) Oh! I did a half-batch, that's what I changed! Oh, goodness. Anyways, my mom really likes them. They're very soft, and using both the toffee and the chocolate, it gives it a little bit more sweetness. I'd make 'em again, I think. :)

3/4 cups flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups oats
4 oz. Heath Bits with Chocolate, divided

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch baking pan.

Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until blended. Set aside a handful of the Heath bits. Stir remaining toffee bits and oats into batter (batter will be stiff). Spread batter into prepared pan; sprinkle reserved toffee bits over surface.

Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. About 36 bars.

Cream Cheese Brownies

For some unknown reason, I had the whole weekend off from work. The next paycheck won't be so great without that time-and-a-half, but I think it was well worth the extra sleep-time and less stress and insanity.

What have I done this weekend? Umm.. baked. Read a book (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society); you should read it, it was very good.) Dave and I went to an indoor miniature golf place (I lost, but that's nothing new.) Did some laundry in there, too. That's about it. And now I'm ready for bed and it isn't even 8pm yet. Yikes.

This recipe wasn't what I had in mind on Thursday afternoon, when I usually start thinking about what I'll be making on Saturday. But it worked. It's from the Hershey website, and I used the exact recipe, minus the nuts and minus the frosting. I'm not a brownies-with-frosting kind of girl. *shrug* Nothing against those who are, it's just not my thing.

Anyways, the recipe comes together super easy and the batter is delicious. I could have easily overdosed on it. And the after-baking taste is just as good. They've been out of the oven and cooled for, oh, maybe 30 hours, and there's not even half a pan left. My dad insisted that the dog must be sneaking in there when no one's looking. :)

1 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Beat butter, cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until well blended. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes, or just until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes about 36 brownies.


SHF: Brown Sugar Shortbread

This is one of my favorite recipes, and one of the earliest ones I've made since (re?)discovering my love of baking about five years ago. And when I saw that this next Sugar High Friday, hosted by Dessert First, had a theme of spices, this quickly came to mind. (That sentence seems...awkward, doesn't it? LOL) Actually, it was this or an apple-cinnamon cheesecake, but we're lacking in fridge-room at the moment, so no cheesecake this week.

Like many shortbread recipes, it comes together in no time. I don't measure how much I put in for spices, so each time I make it, it comes out a bit different. It's got a little bit of crunch to it, and, oh, the kitchen smells so yummy after about 20 minutes in the oven.

Now if I could just get that oven warmth into the den right now. Even in flannel pj pants and a sweater, I'm still freezing. Do you think I'll be able to get away with calling work and telling them I'm hibernating? LOL

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray 9-inch fluted tart pan or 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray.

Beat the butter and brown sugar together in large bowl until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add flour, salt, and spices. Beat on low speed until dough just comes together. Do not overmix. Spread dough into prepared pan, pressing dough to the edges.

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of dough.

Bake at 325F for about 50 minutes, until firm on edges but still soft in the center. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into wedges or squares.


Double Decker Peanut Butter M&M Bars

That's a mouthful, isn't it?

Yesterday's baking did not go as planned. The can of pumpkin mysteriously disappeared, with no note whatsoever. You'd think if it was kidnapped, the fiends would leave a ransom note, right? And if he ran away, didn't I raise him better than to leave without a note? Hmph. Watch, he'll come back just after Christmas.

Anyways, thankfully I discovered that before putting together the dry ingredients for my originally planned recipe. I do so hate being wasteful. Thus began my search for something else, when my eyes fell upon Dave's half-full bag of peanut butter M&M's. (He had another full bag still, so it wasn't considered blasphemy for baking with them. He's quite the fan) Surprisingly, my brain went back to a post that I saw on Cooking Madness last week. Voila! :)

I think my only complaint with the recipe is how sticky the dough is. I wound up greasing my hands with Pam spray just to spread the dough into the pan. Other than that, no complaints. And holy moly, Dave's eating something that I made. Lately it's been hit-or-miss with him, so I'm happy. I like the combination of the regular cookie dough and the chocolate, and the general cheeriness that the M&M's give it. I'm easily amused, can you tell? (And also braindead for work today lol)

2½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
2½ tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup Peanut Butter M&M's

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13x9-inch dish (or line with foil).

Whisk together 2¼ cups flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and sugars, until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture. Divide dough in half.

Blend cocoa and melted butter in a small bowl, then stir into half the dough. Spread cocoa dough onto bottom of pan.

For remainder of dough, stir in ¼ cup flour and ½ cup chocolate chips; spread over cocoa dough. Sprinkle M&M's over the top.

Bake at 350F for 32-38 minutes, or until edges begin to pull away from the sides. Let cool on wire rack before cutting into bars. Makes 24-32 bars (depending on how they're cut)



In about an hour or so, we'll be heading out to the airport. Dave's cousin is getting married this weekend, so we're going to California for four days. Would like it to have been more, but he couldn't get any more time off from work. But hey, we'll have fun. Wedding, visiting with friends, food that I can't get on this coast - I'm so excited.

That being said, obviously I won't be baking this weekend. But I've already got ideas swirling for when I get back. :)

Happy baking (and eating), everyone! :)