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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Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies PLUS a Giveaway for #Choctoberfest

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

Choctoberfest-2015-1

Guess what today is? It’s October 5 … and that marks the beginning of #Choctoberfest! I have never participated in something like this before, but I thought it would push me to share a few recipes. It has been super fun to prepare for, and I am excited to peruse all the CHOCOLATE. I will probably gain 10 pounds just looking at my computer screen.

#Choctoberfest is a virtual event put together by The PinterTest Kitchen. Bloggers from around the world will be posting their favorite chocolate recipes, and you’ll get a chance to win some awesome prizes. What’s not to love?

Here’s what this event is all about!

#Choctoberfest would not be possible without our sponsors, starting with our 2015 Gold Sponsor, Imperial Sugar. Imperial Sugar has been a trusted name in family kitchens since 1843. Their sugar products and sweeteners are made from non-GMO cane sugar and ensure consistently delicious results. We’ll be using Imperial Sugar whenever we use sugar in our recipes this week, and can’t wait to share the sweetness with you!

You can find Imperial Sugar on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Make sure you visit the recipes section of their website for some sweet inspiration, and you can also find coupons on their website if you want to try out Imperial Sugar yourself.

Imperial Sugar and our other sponsors have banded together to contribute some awesome prizes for our #Choctoberfest giveaway! Entering is simple – just click below to follow us on Pinterest. Here’s what you could win:

We also have a nonprofit sponsor this year – Rescue Chocolate! They make vegan chocolate treats and donate 100% of their proceeds to animal shelters.

Enter now to win the #Choctoberfest prize. Hurry, because we’re picking the winner on October 12 at 8:00 AM, so if you don’t sign up before then, you’ll miss your chance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thank you to all of the other blogs participating in #Choctoberfest 2015. Check out their blogs throughout the week for chocolate recipes you won’t be able to resist: The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin’ MamasA Day in the Life on the FarmAloha FlavorAmy’s Cooking AdventuresAngels HomesteadBalancing MotherhoodBless this MessBusy-at-HomeChocolate SlopesCoconut & LimeColie’s KitchenCookaholic WifeCooking In StilettosCooking With LibbyCookistryCopyKat RecipesCravings of a LunaticCrumbs in my MustachioCulinary CoutureCupcakes Take The CakeDeliciously SavvyEat It & Say YumFairyburgerFamished Fish, Finicky SharkFarm Fresh FeastsFood Hunter’s Guide to CuisineFull Belly SistersGet Off The Couch and CookGrumpy’s HoneybunchHey What’s for Dinner Mom?Honey and BirchI Can Cook ThatJane’s Adventures in DinnerJessie WeaverLife on Food Life, Love, and Good FoodMajorly DeliciousMoore or Less Cooking Food BlogMother Would KnowOr Whatever You DoPoet in the PantryRecipes Food and CookingRhubarb and HoneySassy Southern YankeeSavory TartSeduction in The KitchenSerena LissySumptuous SpoonfulsTake Two TapasThat Skinny Chick Can BakeThatsSoYummyThe Chonchudo FilesThe Crumby CupcakeThe Dinner-MomThe Saucy SouthernerThe Spiced LifeThe Spiffy CookieThe Two Bite ClubThe Weekday GourmetVintage KittyWendy PolisiWhat A Girl EatsWhitBit’s Indian KitchenWit Wisdom & FoodZesty South Indian Kitchen

Are you a blogger who is interested in joining us during out next community event?

Sign up here now!

We’ll make sure you get an email about our next blogger event.

Now, onto this first yummylicious chocolate recipe. {BTW, I received a case of Imperial Sugar to bake with for #Choctoberfest. How fun is that? Much more fun than my husband thought it was to lug 40 pounds of sugar from our mail room down to our apartment.}

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

These cookies are looking ahead to the holidays. I love to try out new cookie recipes around Christmas, and crinkle cookies have become some of my favorites. I will whip out the from-a-box-mix red velvet crinkles when I need something simple, but these chocolate-peppermint ones are great for a special dinner or cookie swap. Yes, they are slightly more time-intensive, but well worth the effort. When I made this batch, I played around with it a little. I got the highest compliment from my husband’s department chair, who said she was going to put these in her Christmas baking repertoire!

I made them a little more “Jessie” just by switching out corn syrup for honey and canola oil for coconut oil. Not that it makes them healthy – but I just prefer to use those more natural ingredients when possible. Plus they are what I always have on hand. You can substitute equal amounts of those original ingredients if you want.

Imperial Sugar #Choctoberfest

As I baked, I loved wondering if my grandmothers or great-grandmothers used Imperial Sugar, too, since it’s been around so long. My research says probably not, because they were in Ohio and not the Southeast … but who knows? Given that I also took my (wonderful, wonderful) measuring cups from my Grandma’s kitchen, I felt very connected to her as I was cookie-making!

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Enjoy! Let me know if you make these.

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

These little tastes of Christmas are adapted from Bakers Royale.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 2 1/2 c. Imperial granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of peppermint extract or 8-10 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 1 c. powdered sugar and 1/4 cup granulated Imperial sugar, for rolling

Instructions

Melt butter in the microwave and set aside to cool. Melt chocolate for 1 minute in microwave, then an additional 30 seconds, stirring each time. It should be able to be stirred smooth, but if not, another 30 seconds should do it.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat together sugar, oil, butter, and honey until smooth. Beat in eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and peppermint extract or oil. On low speed, add the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Add flour mixture and mix on low until incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 or 350 (see baking note below). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Form the dough into golf-ball sized balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar, then the powdered sugar. Place balls on cookie sheet and press down slightly just so they don't roll around on the sheet.

Baking: I baked these two ways - for 12 minutes at 325, which gave an almost fudge-like cookie (but it has to cool entirely on the cookie sheet, because they will just melt over a cooling rack) and then at 350 for 15 minutes, which gives you a firmer, crispier cookie. Cookies will deflate when you remove them from the oven, giving them the crinkle texture.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/10/chocolate-peppermint-crinkle-cookies-plus-a-giveaway-for-choctoberfest/

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Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken {Secret Recipe Club}

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

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

It’s another beautiful month of the Secret Recipe Club, y’all! You know what? I have been participating in the club for over four years now, with only a couple months off here and there. And it’s truly still enjoyable for me. I love getting to peruse new-to-me foodie blogs.

I think people probably get confused when they’re assigned my blog, since I’m not a *real* food blog. But I am glad they allow me to participate, and it makes sure I cook something new at least once a month!

This month I was assigned to A Spoonful of Thyme. Kathy has been blogging since 2009 about good food, memories, her children, and more. I really enjoyed perusing her gigantic recipe index, and finally got so overwhelmed that I let my husband pick the recipe for this month. He really liked the look of the Southwestern Stuffed Peppers, but determined that our kids wouldn’t touch them, sadly. (Stinkers.) So instead he decided on Lemon Chicken, Asian-Style.

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

I would never order this in a Chinese restaurant, even though I’ve seen it on the menu, because it doesn’t seem authentically Chinese to me. I didn’t see much fried when I was in China in 2002. But maybe I’m wrong? Either way, whatever the inspiration is, the sauce is nice and tangy and I enjoyed this dish!

I modified to shallow-fry the chicken, although I think deep-frying like Kathy did gives it a better crust. I just don’t have a lot of deep frying skills and I try not to use the typical frying oils (like vegetable or canola). I shallow-fried the chicken in a combo of palm shortening and grapeseed oil, but you can do what you want!

We all thoroughly enjoyed this chicken and sauce over jasmine rice and accompanied by roasted broccoli, which I jazzed up by drizzling the florets with sesame oil as well as olive, adding to the Asian flair. Sesame seeds sprinkled on it all would be good, too!

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

Yield: about 6 servings

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

Adapted from A Spoonful of Thyme

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs. thin chicken cutlets
  • oil for frying
  • for the batter
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • about 1 1/3 c. club soda
  • for the sauce
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tsp. finely minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 to 4 T honey (start with 2)
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch stirred into 2 T cold water

Instructions

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. It is ready to go when you put the end of a wooden spoon in it and bubbles form around the spoon. (Or 375-400 degrees.)

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pepper. In a measuring cup, beat egg, then stir in club soda. Add enough club soda mixture that the batter is a little more runny than pancake batter. For me this took about 1 1/3 cups.

Dip chicken cutlets in the batter, letting extra drip off. Deep-fry, or shallow-fry about 5 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. Place a cooling rack on a jelly-roll pan, and put cooked cutlets on the rack in a 300F oven to warm while you finish cooking the chicken and sauce.

For the sauce, bring all ingredients except cornstarch to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce by half (to about 1 cup of liquid). Add cornstarch slurry to boiling liquid and cook a few more minutes, until thickened.

To serve, drizzle sauce over chicken pieces. Sprinkle with chopped scallions if desired.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/08/asian-inspired-lemon-chicken-secret-recipe-club/

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

French Lemon Yogurt Cake

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

So, you have a giant tub of plain yogurt. It seemed like such a good idea at a time. Sure, you’ll eat plain yogurt with honey and granola for breakfast every day for a week. And definitely not a doughnut, again.

Oops.

The solution? Grab a couple lemons and make French Yogurt Cake. I’ve made it a few times before with different types of citrus. Orange yogurt cake with chocolate chips is amazing.

It’s easy yet impressive, and everyone will love it. Two mixing bowls, one loaf pan, a little saucepan, and voila. Wash the evidence and tell everyone you slaved over it for hours.

French Lemon Yogurt Cake

Slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. plain yogurt (preferably whole milk)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. flavorless oil, like vegetable or expeller-pressed coconut
  • Lemon Syrup
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Instructions

Grease a large loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray with oil or nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl, stir together yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and oil. Add in dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, combine 1/3 cup sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low until all the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then flip out onto a wire cooling rack over a jelly roll pan. Pour syrup over it. Let cool. Slice and serve.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2012/02/french-lemon-yogurt-cake-recipe/

Added to Things I Love Thursday, Ingredient Spotlight: Yogurt, and Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

Pecan Doodle Cookies

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

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Do you suffer from grocery amnesia? I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten halfway through a recipe and went to reach for that ingredient I was sure I had just to find it wasn’t there after all. My short-term memory is just nonexistent, so this is a regular occurrence in my kitchen.

Solutions?

A. Beg Send husband to store to pick up forgotten ingredient(s), while trying to maintain quality of already-cooked recipe.

B. Go to neighbor’s house. This works if you have friendly neighbors with well-stocked cupboards. If you live in a dorm with others who eat in a dining hall and are rarely home during the day anyway? Not so much.

C. Improvise or substitute.

The frequency with which I use Option C is the reason why I can’t direct my husband to just prep a recipe. It’s sad.

I was in the middle of prepping my Secret Recipe Club find for the month when I was forced to pursue Option C. Barb’s Almond Doodle Cookies looked delicious to me. And then I went to grab that bag of sliced almonds I was sure was in the freezer … and alas, it wasn’t there. Anywhere.

So I used pecans.

Fascinating story, right?

Barb’s blog, Mom’s Fridge, is full of monthly menu plans, simple recipes, and COOKIES. I love cookies. I don’t do much normal cooking anymore since we generally eat in the dining hall, but I do bake for us and for the boys who live in our dorm.

These delicious, puffy, sugary cookies will definitely be in my repertoire now. The cinnamon-pecan blend is a little unusual but absolutely mouthwatering.

Pecan Doodle Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Pecan Doodle Cookies

Adapted from Mom's Fridge

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. almond extract (or vanilla)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 c. sugar mixed with 1 T cinnamon, for rolling

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F.

With a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar, almond extract, and eggs. Add flours, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and mix until well-combined. Stir in nuts.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and then roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake on greased cookie sheet 12 minutes at 375F (do not flatten balls). Cool on wire racks.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2011/11/pecan-doodle-cookies/

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Obviously Libbie (3) helped with making some of the cookies.