In the past several weeks I made two monumentally bad choices. Probably more, but these two will probably haunt me the rest of my life. The first mistake was trying salt n’ pepper pistachios for the first time. Please hold your judgement until you find out the other thing I’ve never had before. Pistachios pale in comparison. I think since I first cracked one of those salty nuts I’ve taken down an average of a pound of them a day. No exaggeration. I’ve blown thru three 5 pound bags of those evil snacks in about two weeks. Fifteen pounds of nuts? That’s crazy! I just can’t get enough of them.
I took my daughter back-to-school shopping last week. We had a grand old-time preparing for the big first day of school. It was all fun and games until I realized that new school clothes meant she was actually heading off to school. Gulp. She started Kindergarten yesterday. My baby. She even (gasp!) rode the bus! She was so stinkin’ excited for her first day. And, she looked adorable in her brand spankin’ new duds. Yes…Mommy got new clothes too.
My nieces came over unexpectedly today. My gluten/dairy free sweet lovelies. I had just pulled a Blueberries & Cream Pie out of the oven…which, (of course) they cannot eat. It’s absolutely unacceptable for my sweet girls to come over to Auntie’s house and not get a treat. But what to make?
I remembered seeing this recipe on Pinterest ages ago and thought I remembered it being gluten free. A couple quick keystrokes and I the recipe pulled up. A speedy scan of the confirmed I had all the ingredients and was gluten free as I remembered. Bonus, it got rid of some bananas that were rapidly heading towards a ripeness only enticing to fruit flies.
Do not be tempted to sub out the sugar for applesauce (as someone started suggesting on Pinterest to do). Applesauce will make these bars turn into a mushy mess. You can however sub out the milk for almond milk (or rice milk) to make these gluten & dairy free.
These are sweet enough to pass off on unsuspecting children as dessert and nutritious enough to eat yourself for breakfast. Top with extra peanut butter if desired. Or, if you are feeling wild and crazy, (and are a fan of chocolate hazelnut in general) give it a little dollup of Nutella. Hello delicious! It should be noted that Nutella is not a low calorie or “health” food. Shocking, I know. Enjoy!
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars
adapted from Gingerbread Bagels
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (I rounded my measuring cup just a bit)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 medium mashed bananas
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 350°
Mix together the quick cooking oats, light brown sugar, baking powder, kosher salt and ground cinnamon.
Add in the vanilla extract, milk and egg. Mix the ingredients together.
Add in the mashed banana and peanut butter. Combine all of the ingredients.
Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch metal baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
Cool Completely. Cut into squares and enjoy!
In addition to being a bar version of one of my most favorite cookies, these are SUPER easy to make. Just slap it all in a pan, sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar and drop more dough on top.
I’ve decided Betty Crocker is an evil woman. That decision has been a long time coming – she’s been on my radar a while. Pure. Amazing. Evil. I love that lady.
As if ribbons of cinnamony delight weren’t enough, these blondies also have a drizzled glaze. Happiness is anything with a sweet sugar dribbling off the edges.
If you have a snickerdoodle lover in your life, make these immediately. If you don’t, go find one – they are the best kind of people and your life really isn’t complete until you know someone who goes ga-ga over cinnamon and sugar.
from Betty Crocker
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- Heat oven to 350° F. Spray or grease bottom only of a 13×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on high speed until creamy. Beat in sugars. Gradually beat in eggs and vanilla into sugar mixture until combined. On low speed, beat in dry ingredients until combined.
- Spoon half the batter into pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over batter.
- Dollop teaspoon size amounts of remaining batter evenly over cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
- In small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over bars. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows.
I first saw these amazing bars when visiting Victoria for my sister’s birthday weekend. My mom and I popped into a little coffee-house to pick up some liquid caffeine and while we were waiting I drooled over the divine treats in their glass cases. These caught my eye as I’d never heard of them before. When I asked what they were, pronouncing the name wrong, the barista looked at me like I was insane. It is pronounced “nuh-NI-mo” sounds like “The wino”. Apparently these are a really big deal in Canada.
I looked them up when I got home and found that it all began when a housewife entered a recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest some 35 years ago. She called her recipe ‘Nanaimo Bars’ and when she won the contest, not only did her dessert become popular throughout Canada, so did the town they were named after.
These three-layered, no bake dessert squares start with a chocolate crumb base, get a topper of sweet custardy creamy goodness and are finished off with a chocolate layer. They are sweet and rich and amazing. Now that I’ve had one, I understand the confusion on the clerk’s face at my obvious lack of dessert knowledge.
How can you go wrong when the first layer is chocolate, butter and sugar all bound together by coconut, grahams and nuts? Ah-mazing. It’s like a graham cracker crust on crack. Maybe I shouldn’t use that phrase as much as I do. I actually have zero clue what being on crack is like. For some reason it just what I label anything that seems a little crazy and totally bad but is actually a notch more awesome than normal. Don’t do drugs. Bad. Ok, back to the dessert. The middle layer has the goodness of vanilla pudding sweetened with powdered sugar and enriched with cream and butter. Oh sweet perfection. Top it off with a chocolate ganache. Yeah baby.
I cannot decide which layer I like best. The base is really beyond description. Even if you aren’t a coconut (or nut) fan, try these – it all kind of just blends together in a perfect crunchy and sweet crust. Seriously. Could a no bake dessert be any more decadent? I think not. Oh Canada. Well done you.
from Joy of Baking
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (200 grams) graham cracker crumbs or crushed Digestive Biscuits
1 cup (65 grams) sweetened or unsweetened coconut (shredded or flaked)
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 – 3 tablespoons milk or cream
2 tablespoons (20 grams) vanilla custard powder (Bird’s) or vanilla pudding powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar (confectioners or icing) sugar
4 ounces (120 grams) semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter
Put a foil sling in a 9 x 9 inch pan and spray with a non stick vegetable spray.
Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 – 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).
Middle Layer: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).
Top Layer: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Then, in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate for about 10 minutes or just until the chocolate has set. Remove using the foil sling & using a sharp knife (or a pastry cutter!), cut into squares.
Since these made in a jelly roll pan, be sure you’ve got somewhere to bring them/ other people to help you devour them. Otherwise, I guarantee you’ll take down the pan yourself…and then you’ll be mad at me. We can’t have that.
I originally cut these into bars, but then cut the bars in half because they were so delightfully soft and delicate that they needed to be a bit smaller. Perfect for a little nosh.
These morsels of banana heaven were amazing warm out of the oven, and equally good after they’d cooled. I’ll admit…the bite size made me feel a lot less guilty about having one every time I passed by the pan.
adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 ¾ cups (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour 10×15 jelly roll pan. Beat first four ingredients until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla one minute. Add dry ingredients and blend one minute. Stir in nuts and spread in pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool and frost with Browned Butter Frosting (recipe below).
Banana bread option: instead of spreading into jelly roll pan, this recipe will make about two regular loaves of banana bread, or about four small loaves. Regular loaves bake about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Small loaves will bake about 25 minutes on 350.
½ cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
about 3 tablespoons milk or half and half
I didn’t think it was possible, then somebody said “pretzels”. My life will never be the same. I thought my Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars would never be topped. That they were the ultimate. The addition of pretzels is beyond amazing. These bars are essentially the same as a chubby hubby truffles, but they take 5 minutes flat to throw together and do not involve any rolling or chocolate dipping. Pretzels give these bars a little kick of saltiness to cut thru all the sweet richness of the other ingredients. They are perfection. I think I may be changing my mind about peanut butter and chocolate. The last few things I’ve tasted have been simply delightful, which is a very bad thing. Especially these. Reading this post will take you longer to do than actually making these amazing bars will.
Pulse up your pretzels until most of them are finely ground, but there are still pea sized pieces left.
Add peanut butter and powdered sugar.
And my most favorite ingredient ever – melted butter.
Mix until well combined.
Spread into an 8×8 pan fitted with a greased foil sling.
Chill for about 10 minutes while we whip together a chocolatey peanut butter ganache for the top. I used the same ganache as on my Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars for two reasons. First, I think topping bars with a mixture of chocolate and peanut butter is perfect. Second, the site I got this recipe from used just a straight chocolate/cream ganache and the blogger said it was too much chocolate. I didn’t want the top layer to overpower the peanuty goodness of the bar. So, peanut butter and chocolate it is.
Spread in an even layer over your peanut butter mixture and chill for at least an hour.
Remove from the pan and cut (used my pastry scraper for exact lines) into squares.
Enjoy. Really. Find a quiet place to be alone with one of these and simply enjoy the perfect addition of pretzels to creamy peanut butter and rich chocolate. The salty crunch is like that one really awesome person you hope will come to your next party. They make it a par-taaaay. It’s words like “par-taaaay” that make me wish I had a New Jersey accent. Sort of.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
adapted from Craving Chronicles
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups pretzel crumbs, fine
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Line 8×8 pan with foil. Spray with baking spray.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in microwave (about 30 seconds on HIGH). Stir in pretzel crumbs, peanut butter & confectioners’ sugar. Spread evenly into prepared pan and refrigerate at least 10 minutes.
Combine semi-sweet chips and peanut butter and microwave, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Spread evenly over the peanut butter/pretzel layer and refrigerate at least one hour. Remove from pan and cut into squares.
My favorite combination is caramel and chocolate. Rich sweet chocolate and gooey caramel is pretty darn close to a slice of heaven in my book. When I saw this recipe for Rolo Cake Bars, I knew there was a batch in my very near future. But, I couldn’t just make a pan of them to have around given my addiction to all things caramel and chocolate. Lucky for me, I had some trees removed today and had three burly lumberjack type men around to help me plow thru these bars.
This recipe has one tricky part. It comes when you are at the store (or in your pantry) getting your ingredients. All cake mixes are not the same. I know these look like they’d both work, but they wont.
Check the ounces on the box. You want the big one. 18.25oz. Accept no other.
The dry mix, melted butter and evaporated milk get combined together and half is pressed into a pan. My dough was very sticky so I used an offset spatula to get it mostly flattened into the pan. Don’t worry if your dough isn’t completely firm. They still bake up beautifully.
While the crust cooks up a bit – we get to hang with some Rolos.
Mmmmmm. Caramel. Cut them in half.
When the crust comes out of the oven, place the Rolos caramel side down on top. Can I just say that the smell of warm cake batter hitting the chocolate was almost too much for me. I was tempted to just scoop it out of the pan and shovel it into my mouth.
Then dollup the remaining batter on top.
Bake until golden. Attempt to keep your mitts off it and let it cool. Then cut into squares.
Sweet light cake mixed with decadent rich caramel and chocolate. Oh baby.
Seriously. Oozing Rolo goodness. A riot of amazingness.
I don’t think four ingredients could get better than this.
Rolo Cake Bars
adapted from Cookies and Cups
- 1 box (18.25 oz) yellow, vanilla or white cake mix, dry
- 5 oz evaporated milk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 40 Rolo Candies, unwrapped and cut in half
How to Make
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
- With your mixer, beat cake mix, evaporated milk and butter until combined. Mixture will be thick and sticky.
- Divide batter in half and press 1 half into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake until just set, approximately 8-9 minutes.
- Remove base from oven and place Rolo candies, caramel-side down on top.
- Drop remaining batter on top of Rolos in teaspoon sized amounts.
- Bake for 24-26 minutes longer until top begins to golden.
- Cool completely before cutting into squares.
You are going to hate me for giving you this recipe. Either that, or you’ll want to erect a monument in your town square. Possibly to me. More likely to these peanut butter bars. They are amazing. In every way. Totally easy. 5 minutes into the pan, no baking easy. Sinfully delicious. I am not kidding. I want to eat the entire batch and I’m normally not really a peanut butter/chocolate girl. I know. I’m crazy. I must have been dropped on my head as a child or something. It’s a flaw. I’m sorry. Does it help that I loooooooove these?