Old-Fashioned Caramels

Old-fashioned you say?  What makes these caramels old-fashioned?  First, the recipe calls for "oleo", I don't even know what oleo is...do you?

I had guessed it was margarine, and went to the all-knowing to find out if I was right.

Image courtesy of Etsy


Without Google I'd probably wander around aimlessly wondering how to get where, who sang that song, and I'd never finish an argument with my husband.

Anyway, oleo is indeed what people called margarine.  And maybe they still do in some parts of the world.  Not my part.

Secondly in terms of old-fashioned, this is Nanny's (Charlene to me) recipe, and this woman could churn out some awesome candies!  People looked forward to her goodies, especially around the holidays.  Sadly, when I was still young, she developed Alzheimer's and was unable to continue to make her beloved treats.  I continue on her tradition by using her recipe for caramels, and even though there are tons of amazing recipes out there-this still stands up with the best of them!

Image courtesy Google Images

Now you can substitute whatever you want, but I say stick with the original recipe and buy yourself some margarine.  Don't even bother buying the expensive margarine either.  I get the Blue Bonnet brand.  But I must confess to making one change to the original recipe; I use vanilla bean paste in place of vanilla.  I do this because I love the look of the vanilla beans.  You can use regular vanilla extract, of course!

Nanny's Old-Fashioned Caramels

-1c. granulated sugar
-1c. light brown sugar
-1/2 c. light corn syrup
-1 1/2 c. heavy cream
-1 stick oleo (haha...margarine)
-1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract

Line an 9x9 pan with parchment paper.  Spray generously with cooking spray.  Set aside and make sure it is on a heat-safe surface.

In a large heavy pot, combine all ingredients except for vanilla.  Over medium heat, stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Clip on your trusty candy thermometer.  Stir occasionally.  Once caramel reaches 225 degrees, stir constantly.  Once caramels reach 240 degrees, or to be safe take the pot off heat just under 240, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour caramel into prepared pan, being careful not to burn yourself on pot or caramel!  Let set until cool and hard enough to cut.  Cut using a very sharp knife or kitchen shears, spray with cooking spray as needed to prevent sticking.  Wrap in wax paper.

Makes 48 individual caramels.  Or you know, how ever many you want to cut.

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After reading this post, my great-aunt, Connie emailed me to give the real low-down on oleo:

"Just a note to add to the oleo saga.  Oleo was first packaged in a bag with a button one would break and knead into the white solid oil (looked like crisco -- maybe it was) to give the package color. The button was pinched to release the color.    I remember at Thanksgiving in Columbus that my uncles were in charge of mixing the oleo.  They would do so by throwing the plastic bag back and forth and kneading before each throw.  When the package was sufficiently colored one would put the package back into the refrig to become hard again."

I found this information to be not only educational and intriguing, but slightly disturbing.  And while I don't think you'll find a bag of this in your local grocery store, you can still find that cheap margarine that doesn't require refrigeration and it makes for some delicious caramels!  I've also learned that when it comes to certain things, Google may be good for the short answer, but family members will always be an invaluable resource-Hello, they were actually there, you know, before Google.  Thanks Aunt Connie! 

Oreo Earthquake Cookies

My name is "Cookie Crazed Mama", however I find myself more attracted to bar desserts lately.  My recipe box is filled with them.  Have you noticed?  I'm a traitor to my own name. I know.

Today, I'm here to make up for that.  Oreo Earthquake Cookies.  These were inspired by Picky Palate and by my favorite Dairy Queen Blizzard.  Mmm...this Blizzard has marshmallow topping, and chocolate, and Oreos.  Perfection whirled in a cup!  I was delighted to throw all these ingredients into a cookie!

These cookies call for my favorite tiny marshmallow.  Locally, they can be bought at Dayton's 2nd Street Farmers Market at the Bulk Spice stand.  Otherwise I recommend that you check online; they are super cheap!  And if you don't know what else you can do with them, they also go in my Cornflake Chocolate Chip Cookie, plus they are the perfect marshmallow for a cup of hot cocoa!  You want hot cocoa now, don't you?  I do!  Anyway...

See?!  These are tiny!  Tiny= Cute.

Oreo Earthquake Cookie
adapted from Picky Palate

-2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
-1 c. sugar
-3/4 c. brown sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
-1 3/4 c. flour
-1 c. Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder
-1 tsp. baking soda
-3/4 tsp. salt
-15 Oreos, crushed finely (powder-like)
-3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
-1 c. micro marshmallows
-8 Oreos, quartered or large chunks

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy (a few minutes).  Work butter back down bowl using a spatula.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix on medium speed until combined.

3.  In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients-flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and finely crushed Oreos.  With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture.  Mix until just combined.

4.  With mixer on low or by hand, add mix-ins-Chocolate chips, marshmallows, and Oreo chunks.  Using a large cookie scoop, drop dough onto sheets leaving 2 inches between.

5.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until desired doneness, err on the side of under than over cooked.  Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.  Enjoy!

This is the ONLY kind of earthquake I enjoy!

S'mores Bar Bites

The time for making S'mores outdoors is coming to an end, and in case you didn't already know, I have a thing for S'mores.  Indoor S'mores.  So this campfire out-of-season thing doesn't affect me so much.

I've been making these bars all summer.  They were a huge hit at the Farmers Market.  And, here I am sharing this special recipe.  It's called love.  I love you all, and you should try these for yourselves.

One thing you must know about these bars first...  I use Biscoff spread.  Have you heard of this stuff?

I found it in the peanut butter section of my local Meijer's.  I'm always searching for a peanut butter replacement since my son has allergies to nuts.  He is not fond of Sunbutter or Soybutter... I tried.  I would taste them myself, force a "Mmmm, yummy!", and then when he wasn't looking I'd start desperately searching my pantry for something to get that flavor out of my mouth.  But, I have the pleasure of knowing what real peanut butter tastes like.  Poor kid.

Anyway, I find this Biscoff spread (didn't have a clue what a Biscoff cookie was).  I taste this stuff and... OH MY!  Briefly, I contemplated hiding in the closet and hoarding this jar of goodness to myself.  It's the perfect replacement for peanut butter in this original recipe.  I think it has a graham cracker flavor to it which helps keep with the genuine S'more flavor.  I'm a genius!

Meijers carries this spread;  It's $5.29 for a 14 oz. jar.  If you can't find it at a store, online shopping may be your best option.

S'mores Bar Bites
adapted from Idle Wife

-3 c. Graham cracker crumbs (one sleeve)
-1/3 c. sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2/3 c. (11 Tbsp.) unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.  Coat with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients until wet crumbs form.  Spread evenly on the bottom of prepared pan.  Press down firmly.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Set aside and cool completely.

-1/2 c. salted butter
-1 c. Biscoff spread
-2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
-1, 16 oz bag miniature marshmallows

In a medium saucepan, melt butter, spread, and chocolate chips together over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Keep stirring until everything is melted and combined evenly.  Remove from heat and let cool-pot should be cool enough to touch, you don't want to melt the marshmallows!

After filling has cooled enough pour over marshmallows in a large bowl.  Fold until the chocolate is completely coating the marshmallows.  Pour over graham cracker crust, use a spatula to create an even top.  Place bars in the refrigerator.

- 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
-1 tsp. corn syrup
-1 stick unsalted butter
-graham crackers, crushed into large pieces

In a microwave safe bowl, add chocolate, corn syrup and butter.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well after each time.  Do not overheat!  Once everything is melted and combined, pour evenly over cooled topping, using an offset spatula to work around pan as needed.  Sprinkle with desired amount of graham cracker crumbs.

Return to fridge and cool completely (2-4 hours).  To cut into bite-sized pieces, cut 9x13 pan into 12 squares, then cut each square into fours.  Enjoy!

More yummy "Indoor S'mores" recipes:

S'mores Cookies at Bakers Royale
S'mores Rice Krispie Treats from Cookie Crazed Mama
S'more Bars at Milk N Cookiezzz
S'mores Cake in a Jar at How Sweet Eats
S'mores Cookie Bars at Lovin From the Oven
S'more Biscotti from Cookie Crazed Mama

Kahlua Pie, a Rant, and Sharing

Warning!  This is a rant post.  The first part might be slightly offensive.  The second part however, is quite lovely. It's about pies and people Nanny's.  So scroll on down for that if you don't want anything to do with my quibble.

Basically this is about sharing, and things you shouldn't say.

You see, I love to bake.  Duh.  I also like to share things I bake.  I don't expect anything in return.  You don't even have to thank me.  If you want, I do enjoy some constructive feedback on what you sampled.

I believe sharing treats is good for several reasons.  Sometimes selfish reasons.  Like it helps build my good karma.  It helps to keep me from weighing a million pounds.  Overall I like to think of it as a happy experience for both parties.

But there is one thing that can ruin this whole baking/sharing utopia.  It's when someone tells me this:

"Oh.  I wish I had time to bake."

Um.  Okay...

This is pretty much what I hear, "Oh.  I'm so busy and important, and you're, well...NOT."

And this is also what my brain immediately wants to tell you:

Photo courtesy Rants from Mommyland

It's not very lady-like, I know.  Thankfully my brain to mouth filter still works (most of the time).  But let's clear a few things up.  I bake because I truly LOVE to do it.

You love to jog?  So you might get up at 6 a.m. to jog.  You love to watch "Desperate Housewives"?  You DVR that jazz and watch it when you can.  I bake because I truly LOVE to do it.  And just like with anything you love, you make time for it.

When I did the Farmers Market over the summer, on Friday's I baked until 2 a.m. Saturday morning and woke up 3 hours later to make 5 fresh batches of scones.  I didn't do that because I had nothing else to do with my time-time for I don't know, sleeping maybe- but because I enjoy it and I made a commitment.

Point?  You think you're busier than me?  You may be.  But you don't know what my day is like, so don't assume that, mmm-kay?  So just take your cookies that I offered you and go complain about your lack of time-management skills to your husband or friend like a normal person.

Deep breath.  See, I just need to:

Let me share with you a special recipe.  It is special because its someone's Nanny's recipe.  And what "Nanny" doesn't have an amazing recipe to share?!  There's a "Nanny" in our family and she had the best dinner rolls.  And caramels.  And pie crust.

I asked Amber at Bluebonnets and Brownies if I could share this recipe too, and she graciously agreed.  And this pie is really very simple, but I strongly recommend you have everything ready to go and measured out before you get started.

Nanny's Kahlua Pie
from Bluebonnets and Brownies

- One blind baked pie crust, your favorite recipe

-1 packet unflavored gelatin
-1/4 c. cold water
-4 egg yolks, reserve 2 whites
-1/2 c. sugar
-2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chipped
-1/4 c. water
-1/4 c. Kahlua
-1 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
-2 Tbsp. sugar
-(reserved) 2 egg whites
-pinch salt
-1/4 tsp cream of tarter

Have your blind baked pie crust set aside, cooled and ready.

Fill a large bowl or sink (if you don't have a large enough bowl) with ice.  This ice will be to place the bowl containing your pie filling in to help cool the filling down.

Sprinkle gelatin packet over 1/4 c. of cold water.  Let this sit and bloom.

Whisk egg yolks until pale yellow and creamy in a bowl that you will be using for the double broiler.  Metal bowl if you have it, but I used glass and it worked fine-this bowl should not touch the simmering water in your pot.

Place bowl with whisked egg yolks over simmering water.  Add sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolved. This will take a few minutes.  You can check by dipping a finger in and then rubbing your fingers together.  You should not feel sugar granules.

Add chocolate and 1/4 c. water to egg/sugar mixture.  Whisk until all chocolate is melted and the mixture is well combined.

Whisk in gelatin until dissolved and completely combined with chocolate mixture.

Remove from heat.  Whisk in Kahlua.  Place the bowl into prepared ice bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, whip heavy whipping cream.  Add sugar as cream starts to bubble and slightly thicken.  Whip on high speed until whipping cream is thick and leaving whisk marks.  Do not over whip or it will curdle.

Reserve half of the whipped cream.  Fold remaining half into chocolate mixture (while keeping bowl in ice).  Fold until completely incorporated.  This make take some time.

In the (clean) bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer.  Beat the egg whites on medium speed.  When whites start to become foamy, add salt and cream of tarter.  Turn mixer to highest setting.  Beat until whites form stiff peaks-pulls away from sides of bowl and whites stand up straight when turn the blades up.

Fold into chocolate mixture until completely incorporated.  Filling will be mousse-like.  Pour into prepared pie shell.  Chill for 1-2 hours.  Garnish with reserved whipped cream.

The only changes I made to this recipe was the addition of salt and cream of tarter to the egg whites.  I call it a habit.  This pie is light and fluffy.  Delicious and not overpoweringly sweet or rich.  I love it!  I recommend that you go over to Bluebonnets and Brownies to check out Amber's post about her Nanny and her recipe.  It sure is nice of her to share such a treasured recipe!

Sopapilla Bars, Baby

I live in Ohio.  I've never lived anywhere else, so I don't know any better than to enjoy all the four seasons.  And by that I mean all four seasons within the week.  40 degrees today, 70 degrees tomorrow.  I'll send my kid to school in a winter coat with a sleeveless shirt underneath.

Basically what I'm saying is that even though there are weather extremes, I've never wished to be in a warm weather climate all the time.  However, (that's a strong "however") the only time I curse Ohio is when I want a Sopapilla!  Seriously.  I've road tripped it to New Mexico and I've enjoyed an authentic Sopapilla.  They are amazing hot pastry puffs tossed in cinnamon sugar, and then you pull them apart and drizzle honey into the steamy puff pocket.  Heaven.  Simple, but Heaven none-the-less.

Yummy, authentic Sopapilla.  Come hither.

Apparently not a single Mexican restaurant around these parts is familiar with the authentic Sopapilla.  Because if you order them around here you will be served a fried flour tortilla drizzled with honey.  Tough, flat little triangles that make you cry inside if you've had the real thing.

I see you, tortilla chip disguised as a Sopapilla!  I'm on to you!

I put my daydreams of Sopapillas aside and go on with my life, but last week Shelly from Cookies and Cups (She's one of my favorites!) posted Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars.  Yum!  So...not an authentic Sopapilla, (kind of a combo between a Mexican Xango and Sopapilla) but hey, they sounded delicious and they have simple ingredients.  I'm there!  Authentic or not, I will never turn my nose up to cinnamon, sugar, and pastry!

Sopapilla Bars
adapted from Cookies and Cups

-2 cans Crescent Rolls
-2, 8 oz. packages Cream Cheese, softened
-1/2 cup honey, plus more for drizzling
-1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
-2 sticks salted butter, melted
-3/4 c. sugar, divided
-2 tsp. cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, coat with non-stick cooking spray.

Unroll one can of Crescent Rolls and stretch out dough in the bottom of your prepared pan.  Pinch any open seams shut.  Pour about 1/2 the melted butter over top, approx. 1 stick.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar and desired amount of cinnamon over the top of butter/pastry.

In a bowl, whip the cream cheese using a hand mixer.  Add your honey and vanilla.  Whip until well blended and creamy.  Evenly pour cream cheese mix over the top of your buttered pastry.  Use an offset spatula to spread evenly if needed.

Open and unroll remaining can of Crescent Rolls.  Place over the top of cream cheese and stretch out dough over the size of the pan.  Pinch any open seams shut.  Pour remaining butter over top.  In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tsp. cinnamon.  Sprinkle evenly over the top of buttered pastry.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown and bubbly.  Cool completely or till just warm to the touch.  Cut as desired and drizzle with honey.  These are sweet, sweet, sweet!  Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Bars (Yay, it's Fall!)

This is absolutely my favorite time of year.  Favorite.  Cardigans, cool breezes, the smell of leaves and bonfires.  But mostly, I love the food.  Pot Roasts and Football Dips.  But being the baker I am, I adore all the variety of  desserts that I can fill with apple, pumpkin, cinnamon and maple goodness.  I broke into my pumpkin stash early this year and started offering fall goodies at the farmers market as soon as just the hint of cooler weather came my way.  "Cool" being the 70's, but that feels like fall after the hot and humid streak we'd had.

I'm sure I'll be sharing some pumpkin treats later, but now, let's talk about these Caramel Apple Bars.  They're like an apple crisp that you can eat without the fork/spoon.  But perhaps more delicious than apple crisp because of the crust and caramel layer.  And if nothing else, making these makes your house smell A-MA-ZING.  No expensive candle can compare.

Caramel Apple Bars
adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

-1 c. brown sugar
-3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
-1 tsp. apple pie spice
-3/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1 c. flour
-1 c. pecan meal
-2 c. old-fashioned oats

-21-28 oz. diced apples (pick a tart variety) or 3-4 cups
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. apple pie spice
-1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla

-10-12 oz caramel candies
-3 Tbsp. milk
(or I used 12 oz Peters Caramel with 2 Tbsp. milk)

-Peel and dice apples.  Add spice, salt and vanilla.  Stir and set aside.

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, coat with non-stick cooking spray.

-In bowl of stand mixer, or in a medium size bowl, beat together brown sugar, butter, apple pie spice, salt, and baking soda until blended.  Stir in flour, pecan meal, and oatmeal until the the mixture is combined and crumbly.  Set aside a heaping 1 cup of the crumbs.  Press the remaining crumbs into the bottom of your prepared pan.

-Spread apples over the top of your crust

-In a microwave-safe bowl, add caramels and milk.  Microwave in 30 second intervals until the caramel is smooth and creamy.  Pour evenly over apples.

Add your reserved crumbs.  

Bake the bars 35-40 minutes.  The caramel should be bubbly.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Cut into bars and enjoy them as that warm fall feeling takes over!

P.S.- As soon as I can figure it out, I'm adding a print option.  Won't that be exciting?!  And don't forget to "Like" Cookie Crazed Mama on Facebook.  I love being "Liked"!

Devilish Brownies

Okay, so I have these brownies.  And they are utterly sinful.  Like the kind of dessert, that after one bite you can virtually hear your thighs warning you to stop.  So I could be an angel and not share these devilish treats with you, but I'd rather repent later and enjoy the moment.  Because you will be blissfully happy as you eat these, and you will be glad I shared, and then, well, you might feel the need to start an all leafy green diet.

Devilish Brownies
adapted from How Sweet Eats

-1 box of your favorite brownies, I use a dark chocolate
-2/3 c. salted peanuts
-1 bag of Reese Cup minis, these are the tiny, unwrapped ones
-15 Dark Chocolate Reese Cup, miniature, wrapped, chopped
-1, 12 oz. bag semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
-1 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
-1 Tbsp. butter
-2 c. Rice Krispie cereal

Preheat oven to temp on brownie box.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Prepare brownies according to box instructions.  Pour evenly into pan and bake for 20-22 minutes.  I bake 20 minutes because I like a moister bottom.

While brownies bake, in a small bowl add peanuts, bag of Reese minis, and chopped Reese miniatures.  After brownies have baked, evenly toss the peanut mixture over the top and bake additional 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter together.  Once smooth, stir in your cereal.  Pour over the top of brownies, and use an offset spatula to smooth evenly.  Immediately refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the topping has hardened.

Using a sharp knife, cut into 24 bars, and then I usually cut the bars into halves.  These are rich!  And delicious! And I dare you to just eat one little triangle! Mwwah-hahahaha!

Combining Classics... S'mores & Krispie Treats

Two things I've noticed.  People like S'mores and people like Rice Krispie Treats.  And hello?!  Why shouldn't they?!  They are both a simple and sweet-tooth satisfying dessert.  They can be whipped up in a matter of minutes and still get big smiles across young and old faces alike.

Now, I know I just posted about "S'mores" and I've had a previous post or two about Rice Krispie Treats, so I hope you don't think I'm being lazy because trust me, you'll be glad I shared this recipe!

This recipe was inspired by Two Peas in a Pod, and they adapted it from City Baked on Tasty Kitchen.  So suffice it to say, this recipe is highly adaptable.  I'm happy with the version I created and I got a lot of positive feedback about these treats.  If you don't have and/or want to buy two different kinds of Rice Krispies cereal, then just use whichever cereal you have on hand!

S'mores Rice Krispie Treats

- 4 Tbsp. salted butter
- 1, 10.5 oz package + 1/2 10.5 oz package miniature marshmallows
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 c. Rice Krispie cereal
- 3 c. Cocoa Krispie cereal
- 1c. semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- 1 pack honey graham crackers, broken up into small pieces, not crushed!

Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  

On a cookie sheet, pour half a 10.5 oz package of mini marshmallows.  Turn the oven onto a "High" broil and broil marshmallows until golden-dark brown...watch closely!  Or similarly, use a brûlée torch to toast marshmallows.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Turn heat down to low and add 10.5 oz package of mini marshmallows.  Stir until marshmallows are melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour your two cereals over the top.  Fold into melted marshmallows.  Once combined, add toasted marshmallows, chocolate chunks, and graham cracker pieces.  Again, fold gently until add-ins are evenly distributed.

Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Evenly distribute mixture in the pan using moist finger tips.  I do not press the treats down hard into the pan.  I like a "fluffier" treat.  Let cool completely to firm up.  Cut into 24 small bars or 12 nice large delicious ones!  Mmm-mm!

That's what you want!  Nice chunks of chocolate,  toasted marshmallow, and graham cracker!

Tiramisu Cheesecake Bars

I had absolutely no idea that Tiramisu Bars existed.  And if you read my blog then you may know that I love Tiramisu.  It's fluffy, creamy and filled with coffee and liquor yumminess.  But I had a request from one of my farmers market customers to make Tiramisu Bars for her daughter's birthday.  

Uh.  Huh?  I was filled with questions.  Can you pick them up?  What do they look like?  I've never heard of such a thing!  Shocking, really, considering I follow a gazillion blogs, am a Tiramisu fan, and hoard cookbooks like they're going out of style.

Never one to turn down business, I told her I would search for a recipe and make them if it sounded like they would turn out.  I mean, a birthday is a lot of pressure!  Lots of people eating my goodies; what if they are terrible?!  Cookie Crazed Mama's name could be tarnished! 

With a few tweaks to the original recipe, and an espresso bean garnish, these looked edible and hopefully what the birthday girl was looking for.

Tiramisu Cheesecake Bars
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

-Sugar Cookie Mix
-1 egg
-1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine all the ingredients with a stand or hand mixer.  Press dough evenly into pan.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.

-2, 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
-1, 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
-1 Tbsp. espresso powder
-1/2 tsp. vanilla
-1 1/2 tsp. dark rum
-2 eggs
-1 c. mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese with hand mixer until creamy.  Add milk and beat until combined and smooth.  In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk espresso powder, vanilla, rum, and eggs.  Add mixture to cream cheese/milk mix and beat until well blended.  Fold in mini chocolate chips, and pour over sugar cookie base.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until set-the center doesn't jiggle.  Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes and the refrigerate for additional 30 minutes.

-6 oz. cream cheese, softened
-2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
-1 Tbsp. dark rum
-1/2 c. whipping cream
-2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

In a medium bowl, with a hand mixer, whip cream cheese, powdered sugar, and rum.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip cream.  As it starts to thicken add sugar and whip until soft, stable peaks form.  Add whipped cream to cream cheese mixture and blend until just combined.  Spread evenly over the cooled cheesecake filling.  Refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight.

-Semi-sweet chocolate in bar or block form
-Chocolate covered espresso beans

Using a zester, zest chocolate over the bars until you get a nice even coating of chocolate.  Cut bars into 24 even pieces.  Top each bar with an espresso bean and serve!

My lovely customer told me this past Saturday that these were a hit at the party!  I was so relieved since I wasn't able to sample these bars.  It is rare that I sell something I've never tried just in case it isn't delicious enough, but these bars made just enough for her order.  I can't wait to see her pictures of people enjoying them at the party!  If you make them, let me know what you think.

Indoor S'mores

I've said it before, I love S'mores.  Last year I gave you S'mores Biscotti.  But while I say I love S'mores, I guess I'm not a fan of making traditional S'mores.  They're huge.  There's a big piece of cold, thick chocolate.  One bite, and you've got a mess.  The only enjoyable part for me is the marshmallow.  I usually skip the frills of the S'mores and go straight for the melty, charred goodness that is the marshmallow.

This is all good and great, but I still crave the harmony of chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow in one bite.  Enter S'mores Skewers.

Okay, so these are super easy and all the ingredients you need are right here in this picture:

-Candy coating chocolate, enough for 1 c. melted
-One sleeve of Honey Graham Crackers, crushed
-Skewers, most likely in the kitchen supply section of grocery store
-One bag of Giant Marshmallows.  Giant.  Brands I've seen: Campfire and Kraft

Giant, I tell you.
-Melt your chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals.  Stir after each 30 seconds.  I melt and dip in a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup.
-Take Marshmallow and dip halfway down into the chocolate.  Sprinkle with crushed graham crackers.  Dip end of skewer in chocolate and then push 3/4 of the way down into marshmallow.
-Let sit so chocolate can harden.
-Serve as is, OR....

Give it a pretty package and give as gifts.

Use a brûlée torch and set on fire!

And enjoy that melty goodness that only comes from a campfire.  But this time...

I like mine nice and charred.

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Cookie

Howdy, all!  Have you missed me?  No?  Well, if you have, then I've been at our local farmers market peddling my baked goods.  I'm wheeling and dealing, turning out my sugary treats and man, oh man, have I been turning out sugary treats!

I'm making about 8-12 new items every week.  Whew!  I'm generally always coated in sugar and flour, and I no longer have delicate lady hands due to the constant dish washing.  But all that aside, I'm having a great time!  I meet new people, I'm starting to see the same people, and overall my goods seem to be well received.  So if you want to see my cheerful, round face, come to the Tippecanoe Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9-12.  But since some of you may not be in the area, then let me share a cookie I made this weekend.

Cornflake, Chocolate Chip, Marshmallow Cookie.  It's a mouthful.  A mouthful of yum!  This is my adaptation of a Milk Bar cookie.  My version has a quarter the amount of salt, but trust me, you get plenty of sweet and salty thanks to the caramelized cornflakes.  This renders any healthy benefits of the cornflake obsolete.  But hey!  It's a cookie, not a health food!

Cornflake-Chocolate Chip Cookie
adapted from Momofukufor2

Caramelized Cornflakes:
-5 c. cornflakes
-9 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
-1/2 c. powdered milk
-3 Tbsp. sugar
-1 tsp. kosher salt (less if you really don't want a sweet/salty cookie)

Preheat oven to 275º.  In a bowl, lightly crush cornflakes, breaking down into slightly smaller pieces. Sprinkle dry ingredients over cornflakes. Pour melted butter over the top.   Toss to coat.  May have some clumping, and that's okay.

Evenly spread cornflakes on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool completely before use.

Cookie Batter:
-1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
-1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1/4 tsp. baking soda
-1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
-1 c. unsalted butter, softened
-1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
-2/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
-1 egg
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-2/3 c. mini chocolate chips
-1 1/4 c. micro marshmallow, mini if that is all you can find
-3 c. caramelized cornflakes, approx. one batch

Preheat oven 375º.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer cream together butter and sugars until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down bowl. Add egg and vanilla and beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Add chocolate chips, marshmallows, and cornflakes.  Hand mix into batter or combine on slow until just incorporated, do not over mix.

Use a 1/3 c. ice cream scoop or roll into large balls on baking sheet, press down tops and wrap tightly  in saran wrap. Place dough in fridge for at least one hour (up to a week). On prepared baking sheets, place dough 2 inches apart.  Bake chilled dough (not at room temp) for 12-15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy the sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy combo of this cookie with a tall glass of milk.  Use the cornflakes as an excuse to eat this for breakfast.  And share if you must.  It's probably the nice thing to do.

Bakery Odyssey: 2011

I love New York City.  Love.  I was there recently courtesy of my husband who surprised me with a getaway.  We needed it.

Now, some people may go to Broadway, Central Park, Times Square and so on.  We passed them.  Instead we spent an entire day shlepping, yes shlepping, the streets of NYC on a bakery quest.  Seven different places, ranging in locations from Uptown to Brooklyn.

We started at Donut Plant.  Not really a bakery, but it is worth mentioning.  Donut Plant has been featured on Travel Channel and my expectations were really high.  The donuts were good, with a variety of unique flavors, but honestly I'm partial to our local Bill's Donuts.

Cashew and a Mango Cake Donut

Our next stop was Lulu's, also in the Chelsea District, known for its take on classic snack treats like Twinkies and Snowballs.  So of course, I had to try these, not that I'm partial to these snack cakes but I was too curious to pass up this shop up.

I got a Blackout Twinkie and a classic pink Snowball.  They call them "Retro" treats.  I see them as "classics".  Tomato, tomatoe.  They are note-worthy because they are unique, but the flavor isn't anything to write home about.  But neither is an original.

Next stop and probably the most recognizable shop was Magnolia, I believe in the Greenwich village.  Wherever we were, the area was nice.  It was quiet, with little shops dotting the middle of a neighborhood.  And then we came upon this little corner bakery.

And man do they pack a lot of sweets into one tiny shop!  I got to watch them frost their cupcakes, and trust me, I'll be trying to replicate the unique swirl myself.

Next stop, Jaques Torres, known as Mr. Chocolate.  I had to purchase some beautiful chocolates and a chocolate chip cookie for good measure.

We almost missed this stop, but trying to find the subway, we realized the shop entrance was just around the corner.  The cookie was okay, as silly as this sounds, I prefer Tollhouse.  Clearly an unsophisticated palate!

The ever patient husband who supports my obsession.

The next stop was probably the one I was looking forward to the most, Baked.  Baked has been featured on Food Network and their chef, Eric was on Top Chef, Just Desserts-whom I rooted for because he was a baker, not a fancy pants Pastry Chef.  He made it far, which only proved his talent for making delicious desserts!

However, located in the Red Hook district of Brooklyn, it proved to be quiet a trek.  We took the subway leaving the island of Manhattan for Brooklyn.  And then we walked 40 minutes to the store, leaving me sweaty and winded by the time we reached the doors.

Which wasn't ideal when I asked if Eric was there, and if I could meet him.  He was, and he came out and I was like a little school girl, clapping my hands together.  Kriston was pretty sure Eric wasn't too thrilled, but I insisted that was just how he is-it couldn't possibly because I'm a sweaty, bakery nerd interrupting his day.

I'm too excited to share this moment,
I'll ignore I'm showing my double-chin.

Without bias, their goodies were hands down our favorite, next to our last stop, which I'll share shortly.  We purchased and ungodly amount of confections, and of course bought Eric's recommendation, the Strawberry Whoopie Pie.  But first, I think we'll try the Cloud 9 Cookie.

Extreme chocolatey goodness

Only 2 more stops!  And we're at Levain Bakery.  To me, this bakery was made known through a blog I follow, vanilla sugar.  She makes copy-cat versions of their cookies, which are huge and thick and yummy.  I had the chocolate peanut-butter chip and it did not disappoint.

This shop is tiny and unassuming with a handful of treats to choose from.
And lastly, we went to momofuku's Milk Bar, which I didn't take a picture of.  I could kick myself.  This place was dimly lit and not like anything we'd been in and the goods were just as unique.  Next to Baked, this place was hands down, my favorite!

We ordered the Crack Pie, Birthday Cake Truffles, and Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie which I plan on trying to re-create.  We sampled, the Cereal Milk ice cream which tasted just like it sounds.  They soak cornflakes in the milk that is used for the ice cream.  Seriously good.  And all I have to show is this sad picture of leftovers, but I'll post it anyway.

I'm pretty sure that is a greasy paw print.
No one said Crack Pie was fat-free!

So that was our quest.  And if you are in NYC, and you just want to try one or two places, then I'd go with Baked and/or Milk Bar.

And here are some links to try some delicious recipes from these places if you aren't traveling to NYC anytime soon:
Baked, PB Crispy Bars, by Smitten Kitchen
Milk Bar, Crack Pie, by Momofuku for 2
Levain, Chocolate Chip Cookie, by vanilla sugar