Millionaire Bars (with a Little Cheat) #Choctoberfest

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Millionaire Bars

Shortbread that’s crumbly and caramel that oozes … chocolate and crunch and when I eat it makes me snoozes …

OK, nice try.

But these are a few of my favorite things.

I am a big-time caramel lover. Toffee. Butterscotch. Basically any form of caramelized sugar will do. (I almost forgot this peanut butter pie where the filling is peanut butter caramel. OOOOOOH so good.)

I am a big fan of buttery shortbread, too, so when I first saw these bars in the Baked cookbook, they really spoke to me. I have made them exactly as written in Baked once. But after I realized I was basically making dulce de leche for the filling … well, this time I fully intended to buy dulce de leche in a jar.

But then we were away for some of fall break, and yesterday I was at home with three kids and realized I would have to take all of them to the grocery store if I wanted that to happen. My kids are 6, 4, and 2, and I won’t say taking them all somewhere is a nightmare … but anywhere three kids can ask me to buy stuff for them constantly while I try to focus on shopping tends to be a disaster.

But I did have a really old bag of Kraft Caramel Bits in the cupboard. So voila – totally cheater caramel filling! Use whatever caramel or dulce de leche you love for the filling; I won’t tell anyone. It all tastes good.

Millionaire Shortbread

This post is my third in a series for #Choctoberfest with Imperial Sugar. Imperial Sugar provided me with a case of sugar to bake with, but I have received no other compensation for this series.

Millionaire Bars

Yield: about 20 bars

Millionaire Bars

This is very lightly adapted from the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook.

Ingredients

    Shortbread
  • 1/2 c. Imperial Sugar granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Caramel
  • one 10 oz. bag Kraft caramel bits, or dulce de leche or other caramel sauce
  • 2 T water or cream
  • Chocolate Layer
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate - I used a 3.5 oz bar very dark (85%) Lindt Excellence chocolate and 2.5 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 c. butter, cut into cubes

Instructions

Shortbread

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13 pan (you can use your butter wrappers).

Cream together sugar and softened butter. Add 2 cups flour and beat until well incorporated. Add egg yolk and beat until just combined. With a wooden spoon, add additional 1/2 cup flour and mix well. Press into the baking dish and then prick all over with a fork.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until brown around the edges. Let cool completely in pan.

Caramel

Place caramels and water or cream in a large measuring cup. Melt in the microwave for 2 minutes, then stir rapidly until uniform. Pour over cooled shortbread, spreading with a spatula. Refrigerate until cooled and hardened. (With these caramels, it doesn't take long - about half an hour. Homemade dulce de leche or caramel sauce may take 2 hours to set up and cool.)

Chocolate Layer

Add chocolate, honey, and butter to a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, and microwave on high 1 minute. Stir, and cook an additional 30 seconds. Whisk together with a fork until completely melted and smooth. Pour over caramel layer and spread with a thin spatula.

Refrigerate dish at least 1 hour, until the chocolate sets.

To Serve

VERY important: Remove the dish from the fridge half an hour before you want to cut the bars. This will make sure the chocolate doesn't crack and the shortbread is soft enough to come out of the pan.

Use a sharp, non-serrated knife to cut into small squares. Serve. Store extras in fridge for up to 4 days, covered.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/10/millionaire-bars-with-a-little-cheat-choctoberfest/

Don’t forget to enter the $350 Chocolate giveaway!!

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White Chocolate & Banana Krispy Treats #Choctoberfest

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Banana Krispy Treats with White Chocolate and Coconut

This is my second recipe for #Choctoberfest with Imperial Sugar. Don’t forget to enter the $350 chocolate giveaway – you can find the Rafflecopter to enter on this post.

Choctoberfest-2015-1

Did you ever go to Disney World and have one of those Rice Krispie Treats from the confectionery on Main Street? They have a huge layer of chocolate and are topped with sprinkles or candies. I think when we went to Disney World when I was a kid, we once ate those for dinner. They are gargantuan and so good.

I saw some Banana Rice Krispy Treats on Shugary Sweets and decided to make them for my dorm boys. They are pretty heavy on the banana flavor; if you want a lighter banana note, use a small box of the pudding mix instead of a large one. These are a great, tasty dessert when you’re looking for something quick that looks fancy! I topped mine with melted Lindt white chocolate and some shredded coconut for a tropical flair, but these would be great with dark chocolate, too! (And maybe some peanuts for a Chunky Monkey feel?)

Banana Rice Krispy Treats

This trick would work with any flavor pudding mix, too, so go crazy! Let me know what flavor you decide to make.

Banana Krispy Treats with White Chocolate

White Chocolate & Banana Krispy Treats

Yield: 16 giant or 32 more reasonably-sized krispy treats

White Chocolate & Banana Krispy Treats

Recipe source: Shugary Sweets

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. butter (one stick)
  • two 10 oz. bags mini marshmallows
  • 5.1-oz. box instant banana cream pudding mix
  • 10 oz. crispy rice cereal (about 6 cups cereal)
  • 8 oz. white chocolate, melted
  • optional: shredded coconut for topping

Instructions

Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.

In a large pan, melt the butter completely over medium-low heat. When melted, add marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are completely melted. Fold in pudding mix, then add cereal and mix well.

With greased hands, press the mixture into the 9x13 and set aside.

Melt chocolate in the microwave for 30-second intervals. Pour or drizzle over cereal mixture (make sure it's no longer hot - wait about 10 minutes after making the treats). Sprinkle lightly with coconut if desired.

Let cool at least 30 minutes. Check that chocolate is set. Cut into squares.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/10/white-chocolate-banana-krispy-treats-choctoberfest/

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Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

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Asparagus and goat cheese frittata

I’ve been working on an article this past week about farm-fresh foods that will run in a magazine in April. It can be hard to think about spring vegetables when it’s September, but I took an inspirational trip around Fresh Market.

Which is always problematic for me.

Fresh Market always smells like cinnamon, at least around the fall, and I am pretty sure they put some chemicals in that scent that make you want to spend all your money there. Unfortunately, it’s right by my gym, so when I am leaving the gym and starving I think, “Hmmm … I could just stop by Fresh Market and grab a $9 sandwich!”

Anyway, I get paid for these articles so I figured it was OK to spend money on good produce with which to experiment. I got a little happy, though, and came home with every spring-type thing I could find: asparagus, beets, leeks, strawberries, broccoli, and radishes. For three recipes.

This asparagus recipe is one I decided was a little too upscale in taste for a magazine aimed at parents. I really don’t know what I was thinking, other than I wanted to use asparagus and was hungry. If your kids will eat asparagus and goat cheese, more power to you! When I was chatting about this on Facebook, one of my friends said his kids thought it looked “hairy” with the dill. Ha! Oh, children. Maybe some day.

So while this recipe is delicious, I am 100% positive my children wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. Sigh. Oh well, all the more for me.

(I am certain this would also be delicious as a quiche, and that was my original intent, but then I got lazy. A quiche will need to bake longer, though, usually 45-60 minutes at 350 in my experience.)

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

Yield: 6-8 slices

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 T butter or bacon grease
  • salt and pepper, plus ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 5 eggs
  • ¾ c. whole milk or half-and-half
  • ¼ tsp. dried dill or 1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • ½ c. goat cheese crumbles

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400F. Snap asparagus ends off. Cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces.

In a 12-inch, ovenproof skillet, melt butter or bacon grease over medium heat. Add asparagus pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute 5-7 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove from heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, dill, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle goat cheese crumbles over the asparagus, then pour egg mixture over it all.

Bake 20 minutes, until eggs are set. Let cool slightly before cutting into slices.

**If you use a smaller skillet, your frittata will be fluffier, but it may need to cook a little longer.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/09/asparagus-and-goat-cheese-frittata/

Peach Pie Coffee Cake with Maple Buttercream

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Peach Pie Coffee Cake

I’m determined to make it through a bunch of the recipes I’ve Pinned this year. I have a mere 5,400+ Pins … and most of them are probably recipes. Because mostly I use Pinterest for its original intent: to have a visual bookmarking system.

Since I have a dorm full of high school boys waiting to be fed, I should have no problem finding someone to feed these recipes, right? Every Wednesday, Mr. V has a small group of boys (6), and then Thursday nights I aim to feed the whole dorm with a larger recipe (usually dessert).

I’m not sure if this coffee cake was a hit with the boys – I haven’t checked with Mr. V – because his small group is largely students from China and Hong Kong. The Chinese are not like Americans when it comes to sweets, I’ve found. But really, I don’t care. Because it’s AMAZING and I am so glad to have unearthed this recipe.

The original recipe is actually for an Apple Pie Coffee Cake with Brown Butter Maple Glaze. I fully intended to follow the recipe. But then I decided it is still summer, I’m not done with peaches yet. Plus I don’t even like cooked apples, so peach filling was much more appetizing for me. (Although I make lots of things with cooked apples, because I know most people love them. Like Caramel Apple Bundt Cake and Upside Down Mini Apple Cakes.)

I also simplified the streusel and the frosting a little bit. And to be honest, I think I would like this even more without the frosting. I find buttercream to be too sweet for me – I prefer cream cheese frostings if any. But, sadly, the cake is not real pretty without it. Maybe if there was streusel on the top, too, it would help that? I may give that a try next time.

Peach Pie Coffee Cake

There is nothing really virtuous about this to make it breakfasty; the cake simply feels more like a coffee cake because it is dense, fruity, and has streusel. So tell yourself it’s breakfast, or be honest and serve it up for dessert.

(I had some for breakfast this morning. I won’t tell.)

Peach Pie Coffee Cake with Maple Buttercream

Peach Pie Coffee Cake with Maple Buttercream

Adapted from Beyond Frosting.

Ingredients

    Peach Pie Filling
  • 4 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • Cake
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 2 c. minus 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Peach Pie Filling
  • Streusel
  • 1/2 c. almond meal
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 T grapeseed oil or melted coconut oil or melted butter
  • Maple Buttercream Frosting
  • 4 T butter, melted
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 T milk

Instructions

For the Filling

In a large saucepan, combines peaches, cinnamon, brown sugar, and flour. Cook over medium heat 10-15 minutes, until it melds together and the peaches are very soft. Try not to eat all the filling. Set aside to cool.

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a bundt pan well.

With a mixer, cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well. Sprinkle salt and baking powder over the batter, then turn mixer on low. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until batter is uniform.

By hand, fold in the peach pie filling.

Make the Streusel

In a bowl, mix almond meal, brown sugar, and cinnamon together with a fork. Drizzle oil or butter over the top, and then stir until clumpy and oil is mixed throughout.

Back to the Cake!

Pour half the batter into the greased bundt pan. Sprinkle two-thirds of the streusel mixture on top of the batter. Spoon remaining batter on top, then sprinkle with the remainder of the streusel.

Bake 50-55 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn over onto a plate, patting on the sides to release the cake. Cool before frosting.

Frosting

Melt butter in a big bowl, then add powdered sugar and cinnamon and stir. Add maple syrup and 1 T milk. Add more milk if needed to reach a good consistency. If you want a runnier frosting, cut down sugar to 1 1/2 cups. For a more spreadable rather than pourable frosting, add more powdered sugar.

Pour frosting over cake and let set.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/08/peach-pie-coffee-cake-with-maple-buttercream/

Seriously, y’all. This was amazing. Try it!

How do you use up ripe peaches?

Peanut Butter Pie with Pretzel Crust

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Peanut Butter Pie with Pretzel Crust

I was working on my recipe column for HomeLife this weekend and got tempted by a recipe I came across on Cookin’ Mimi for Peanut Butterscotch Pie. My column this month was about Valentine’s Day sweets (yep, we work that far ahead), and after looking at recipes and recipes and recipes for sweet stuff I simply couldn’t help myself. I had to make this pie.

I didn’t have a graham cracker crust, though, and had no fervent desire to roll out a real pie crust. But I did have … pretzels. Hey, pretzels and peanut butter love each other! It hasn’t been that long since I made Chubby Hubby Truffles, proving that combination’s perfection.

So I unearthed a recipe for a simple pretzel crust and used the filling from Micha’s fabulous pie. It’s gooey, kind of like a peanut butter caramel. The sweet-salty combination is fantastic. (Obviously I am not the only person who likes this, as Micha herself pointed out she’d made a different peanut butter filling with a pretzel crust recently!)

Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie

We shared this with friends on a beautiful, last-drops-of-summer night, while our infant boys wiggled and grinned, David did a puzzle, and the girls actually played together without fighting. (They must be growing up!) God dwells in those moments when food creates community, don’t you think?

Peanut Butter Pie with Pretzel Crust

Peanut Butter Pie with Pretzel Crust

Crust recipe from King Arthur. Filling from Cookin' Mimi.

Ingredients

    Crust:
  • 1 c. + 2 T finely ground salted pretzel crumbs
  • 7 T melted butter
  • 3 T sugar
  • Filling:
  • 1 ½ c. packed light brown sugar
  • 6 T flour
  • 1 ½ c. milk
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 c. peanut butter
  • ½ tsp. vanilla

Instructions

Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray or lightly grease with butter. Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together pretzel crumbs, melted butter, and sugar.

Press into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. Bake at 350F for abut 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together brown sugar and flour. With stove on medium-low heat, whisk in milk slowly. Stir frequently until the mixture thickens. (This may take awhile.)

Temper the egg yolks by slowly streaming in a tiny bit of hot liquid and whisking rapidly. Keep adding hot liquid until mixture is all hot. Then add all back to the pot and cook another three minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla.

Let filling cool slightly before pouring into the crust. Smooth out top. Refrigerate for a few hours or until ready to serve.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2013/09/peanut-butter-pie-with-pretzel-crust/

What is your favorite kind of pie? I’ll admit I’m not usually a pie baker. But I’m getting more adventurous in my baking pursuits. I have a hard time passing up pecan pie myself!

Welcome Home Wednesdays

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread: It Can Be Done!!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

A few weeks ago, I pulled a cookbook off my shelf, searching for a bread recipe. I’ve been baking up bread at least once a week to feed my kiddos and the bachelor who lives downstairs.

I love bread-baking, in case I haven’t mentioned that a time or twenty. I love the smell of the yeast, the ingredients learning to cling together. The rising dough. A soft, brown crust.

I’ve mostly been making white bread lately, with a cup or two of whole-wheat flour thrown in. Even though it makes me cringe, it’s just so much easier than fussing with whole-wheat bread. The whole-wheat recipe I’d fallen back on time and time again required soaking of grains, 10-20 minutes with my mixer, and a bread that tasted like honey to me. (I’m just not a huge fan of most honeys, and although I use it I don’t want the taste to be overwhelming.)

So anyway, I made a recipe for simple bread loaves from Food That Says Welcome, a great little paperback cookbook from Barbara Smith—Michael W. Smith’s mom! It was the puffiest, softest bread I’d ever made. I lovingly called it “pillow bread” and gave the recipe a big star. But … I wanted to make it a whole-wheat bread, since white flour has basically no nutritional value.

I’ve decided the key to this puffy bread is triple rising. Yep, you heard me. Yes, that adds additional time to bread-baking, which is already a lengthy process. But it’s totally worth it. And, as this recipe shows, it can even make 100% whole wheat bread soft and puffy. I’ve NEVER had a 100% whole wheat bread that wasn’t dense.

So, whole foodies, your problems are solved. Make this bread. Listen to the rave reviews. Smile because you know the secret. And if you’re feeling generous, share the recipe.

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread Loaves

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread Loaves

Ingredients

  • 5 tsp. or 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 c. warm water, divided
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. sugar (I used sucanat)
  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
  • 1 T salt
  • 6 c. white whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur White Whole Wheat)

Instructions

This recipe can be made either in a stand mixer with dough hooks or mixed by hand. Because there is not a lot of kneading, it’s not too bad to do by hand.

Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over it. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat. Add honey and sugar and stir together. Let cool slightly – it’s OK if it’s warm, but not hot.

Add butter mixture, salt, and remaining 2 cups water to the yeast and water in the bowl and stir well to combine.

One cup at a time, add in flour and stir until it’s combined. When done, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead just until all the flour is worked into the dough. [Or, use speed 2 on your mixer with dough hooks.]

Cover bowl with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and then let rise again, about another 45 minutes to an hour.

Separate dough into two equal balls. Press each ball into a rectangle with floured hands, roll up lengthwise, and then tuck ends under. Place loaves in greased loaf pans.

Cover pans and let rise again 30 minutes, until dough is to the top of the pans.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until loaves are golden brown and sound a little hollow when you tap on them. Let loaves cool completely before slicing and serving.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2012/04/fluffy-100-whole-wheat-bread-it-can-be-done/