Pecan Turtle Shortbread Bars

Pecan Turtle Shortbread Bars

Ingredients

Chocolate Shortbread Base
2 cups (260g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup (100g) brown sugar (light or dark)
½ cup (50g) powdered sugar
½ tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt
¾ cup (170g or 12 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, diced
Turtle Filling
¾ cup (150g) brown sugar (dark or light)
¾ cup (170g or 12 tbsp) unsalted butter
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
1 ½ cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
Finishing Touches
8 oz (225g) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
½ cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
Flaky sea salt (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some paper to hang over the sides to use as a handle for lifting the bars out of the pan later. (Always thinkin’ ahead!)

In a food processor (or with an electric mixer) mix together flour, cocoa powder, butter, sugar, and salt until fully combined and crumbly. Press evenly and firmly into the bottom of the pan and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring brown sugar, butter, salt, and cream to a boil, stirring continuously until sugar dissolves. Boil for two minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans.

Pour the caramel and pecans over the baked shortbread. Bake at 350° until caramel bubbles and darkens in color, about 18-20 minutes.

While the bars are baking, place chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate in a heat safe bowl with the heavy cream. Set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water and stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined and smooth. You made ganache!

Spread the ganache evenly over the caramel and pecan layer and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans. Finish with flaky sea salt if desired. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Cut into slices using a warm dry knife, wiping between slices. I do this by dipping the knife in a tall glass filled with hot water and drying it on a towel then slicing. Slice, dip, dry, repeat, EAT!

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Brownies

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Brownies

Ingredients

Brownie Base
½ cup (113g or 1 stick) unsalted butter
3 oz (85g) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% is good), coarsely chopped
1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee crystals
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) brown sugar (dark or light)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup (98g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (75g) dark (or dutched) cocoa powder
½ tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt
½ tsp baking powder
Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Layer
1 ½ cups (255g) semi-sweet chocolate (either chips or chopped chocolate will work)
1 ½ cups (405g) creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 ½ cups (40g) Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add chocolate and espresso to the melted butter and stir until melted and well mixed. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes as you prepare your pan.

Spray a 9X13″ baking pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper, allowing some to hang over the sides to act as handles for lifting the brownies out at the end.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside. Now you have a saucepan with the chocolate mixture, and a bowl with a flour mixture. Got it? Good.

Whisk the sugars into the chocolate mixture until fully combined. Add in eggs and whisk well. Fold the flour mixture in by hand just until the last bits of flour have completely mixed in.

Spread into prepared pan (it’s a thin layer) and bake in 350° oven for 15-20 minutes, turning the pan around half way through. Once the time’s up, check it with a toothpick. Just poke it in to the center. If it comes out with just a bit of chocolate crumbs, you’re good. If it’s got some extra gooey bits on it, give it a few more minutes and check again. Allow to cool on a wire rack while you prepare the top layer.

In a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut oil, mixing until smooth. Fold in the cereal. Spread mixture in a smooth layer on top of brownies and sprinkle with the chopped peanut butter cups. Lightly press the larger pieces to adhere to the surface. Chill for at least 90 minutes in the refrigerator or overnight on the counter before cutting and serving.

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Rye Bars

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Rye Bars

Ingredients

Oatmeal Cookie Layer
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) brown sugar
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
1 ½ cups (195g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (120g) dark rye flour (can substitute with all-purpose flour)
1 tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups (120g) old fashioned (whole) oats
1 ½ cups (120g) old fashioned (whole) oats, coarsely ground in food processor
1 cup (100g) toasted pecan, chopped
1 cup (180g) mini chocolate chips
Dark Chocolate Caramel Layer
11 oz (311g) bag of caramels, unwrapped
4 oz (113g) dark chocolate, chopped in bits
cup (80g) heavy cream
1 tsp sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl stir together flour, dark rye flour, salt, baking soda, and the oats. 
In the bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream together butter and sugar for about 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla, and mix until well combined.

Add wet and dry ingredients together and mix just until everything comes together. Toss your mini chocolate chips and pecans together and fold most of them into the dough, reserving some (75 g or so) to sprinkle on top. Spread 2/3 of the batter into the bottom of your prepared pan. Set the rest aside. We’ll get to it in a few minutes!

In a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine caramels, chopped chocolate, cream, and salt mixing occasionally until completely melted and smooth. Pour into the pan, over the layer of oatmeal cookie dough, and spread evenly with an offset spatula I find spraying the spatula with some nonstick spray helps the smoothing go smoother. 😜

Drop teaspoonsful of remaining dough on top the caramel in a random cobblestone pattern. Sprinkle the reserved mini chocolate chips and pecans over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with some flaky sea salt and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. You really should wait.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Cookies

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Cookies

Ingredients

½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (125 g) creamy peanut butter
¾ cup (150 g) brown sugar
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
2 ¼ cups (270 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine grain kosher salt
¾ cup (200 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups (85 g) Rice Krispie cereal, divided (see recipe)
Flaky sea salt (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer) beat together butter, peanut butter, vanilla, and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula between each well incorporated egg.

Add the flour mixture one large spoonful at a time and mix until just combined. A bit of stray flour is fine, because you’ll be mixing in more stuff.

Using a stiff wooden spoon or rice paddle (my personal favorite mixing tool), gently stir in your chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups of the Rice Krispies.

Using a 2 tbsp cookie scoop, scoop up balls of cookie dough. Dip each ball into the remaining 1/2 cup of Rice Krispies cereal to get some rice on the top for prettiness and texture. Place balls of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet, leaving a couple of inches between each ball to leave room for spreading.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and beginning to set. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired. I almost always do 😉

Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then move them from the pan to a cooling rack and allow to fully cool before gobbling them up.

Black Pepper Caramel No-Churn Ice Cream

Black Pepper Caramel No-Churn Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 cup store bought caramel sauce (I made my own, but store bought adds to the ease of this recipe, and it can be just as delicious. Buy a good one!)
¼ tsp fine grain sea or kosher salt
½ tsp coarse ground freshly cracked black pepper
14 oz can cold 🥶 sweetened condensed milk (store it in the fridge the night before you make this)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (I prefer the paste over vanilla extract because you get the tiny vanilla specks and it also has a much more intense vanilla flavor)
¼ tsp fine grain sea or kosher salt
2 cups heavy cream
3 or 4 broken up sugar cones. You know, the wafer-style pointy ones.

Directions

Measure your caramel out in a small measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds to loosen it up just a bit. Add the salt and black pepper and stir in. Allow the caramel to cool while you mix everything else together.

(Proof of my insanity: I started out fancy and made my own black pepper salted caramel, but realized not everyone is a crazy overachiever like me and might want a quick and easy recipe. But if you have extra time and want to go for it, there are plenty of great caramel recipes out there. Store bought or homemade, just remember to add the salt and pepper afterwards. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.)

In a small bowl whisk together your cold sweetened condensed milk, vanilla paste, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk the heavy cream to stiff peaks, being careful not to overwhip. You’ll know it’s done when the cream stands straight up when you pull out the whisk. You can also try the putting the bowl upside down over your head test but that didn’t work out so well for me once 😕

Fold about one cup of the the whipped cream into the condensed milk mix, essentially loosening it up. Gently fold this mixture into the rest of your whipped cream, slowly mixing the two together to keep it light and fluffy.

Place half of the ice cream mixture into a glass or metal pan (metal helps it freeze faster and stay frozen longer). Drizzle half of the caramel sauce over the top and crack on a little more black pepper. Using a butter knife, swirl the caramel into the ice cream. Add some broken up sugar cones on top.

Add the rest of the ice cream, the rest of the caramel (drizzle!), more cracked black pepper and swirl again. Top with more broken cone. Beautiful! 😘

Cover with plastic wrap and lightly press directly onto the ice cream (to prevent ice crystals from forming) and store in the freezer for at least 6 hours.

It’s been (at least) 6 hours and now your patience shall be rewarded! Take the ice cream out of the freezer and allow to sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes. It just needs a few moments to defrost to scoopableness (new vocab).

Enjoy it in a cone or in a bowl. On a train or in the rain. You will eat it here or there. You will eat it EVERYWHERE!

Sooo… Enjoy your ice cream 😋

My Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

My Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients

½ cup ( 113 g) solidified brown butter (“how to” in directions below)
½ cup (100 g) solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco. Using shortening in addition to butter helps keep your cookies from spreading out too much and gives them more moisture and chew)
cup (135 g) brown sugar (makes a chewier cookie)
cup (135 g) granulated sugar (with a bit of crunch)
¾ tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract (I like the bold vanilla flavor and the flecks of vanilla that you get with the paste, but if you don’t have it, don’t let it stop you from making cookies. Use vanilla extract.)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (this reacts with the baking soda to give you fluffy cookies. Yay!)
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups (195 g) all-purpose flour (for sturdiness 💪)
1 ½ cups (210 g) cake flour (for fluffiness ☁️)
1 ½ tsp cornstarch (more fluff ⛅️)
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz 9340 g) chocolate bits of choice (I only had one cup of semisweet chocolate chips when I started the recipe, but I had a bar of dark chocolate and a bar of bittersweet chocolate. I just chopped them up and added them in. Use what you have, but I highly recommended this combination of chocolates.)
Flaky sea salt (optional)

Directions

I make my brown butter ahead of time and then store it in the refrigerator to bring it back to its solid-butter state. Then I take it back out to come to room temperature, just like I would with regular butter. This way I can still cream my butter and sugars together, while bringing those brown butter flavors to the party. You can absolutely make these cookies without browning the butter, but why?

Here’s how to make brown butter. Cut unsalted butter into small pieces and melt in a light-colored medium saucepan over medium heat. I recommend using a light-colored pan so you can easily see the butter changing color. Continue to cook, stirring the butter constantly, until you start to see brown bits forming at the bottom of the pan and the butter starts to smell nutty. Remove from heat and transfer to a heat-safe container and allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator to solidify. Take the brown butter out of the fridge to come to room temperature before proceeding. I made mine the night before and just took it out in the morning.

Brown butter, solidified and brought to room temperature. See the brown flecks?

Okay, cookie time.

Preheat oven to 375°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, 1 ½ cups of cake flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine ⅔ cup brown sugar, ⅔ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup of your brown butter, ½ cup shortening, ¾ teaspoon fine grain salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract, and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure it’s all incorporated.

Add the 2 eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated and scraping down the bowl after each egg.

Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer one large spoonful at a time to avoid flinging flour all over the place. Don’t overmix, just a couple turns of the beater per-spoonful should do it.

Remove the bowl from your stand mixer and, using a rubber spatula (I actually like to use a rice paddle because it’s stiffer and has a short handle), make sure all the flour from the bottom of the bowl is incorporated. Add in your chocolate bits of choice and mix in by hand.

Scoop dough in the size of your choosing and shape into balls, then place on parchment lined sheet pan. Sometimes I use a 1 tablespoon size scoop for small cookies, other times I use a 2 tablespoon scoop. I have been known to use a ¼ cup scoop for monster cookies 😳 I can fit 20 of the tiny cookies on a sheet pan, but only 12 of the medium ones. (Monster cookies are a whole other discussion that we’ll have another day. It’s a doozy!) No matter what size you choose, leave 2 inches between cookies to allow for spreading. Don’t do what I did in the picture. I did it that way temporarily for reasons.

Sprinkle with a bit of flaky sea salt (if you want) and pop them in the oven.

Note: there’s no need to chill this dough. I tested the recipe both ways, baked right after mix and chilled overnight, and both batches baked up great. The overnight chill gives the cookies time to develop a bit of a deeper flavor, but in a cookie emergency, you’re good to go and they’re still delicious!

Bake at 375° for 8-9 minutes for the 1 tablespoon scoops, or 9-11 minutes for the medium sized ones. Sprinkle with a little extra flaky sea salt if you desire. I desired 😊 They will look puffy with lightly browned edges. They’ll flatten out a bit while they rest for 5 minutes on the sheet pan. Transfer them to a cooling rack and finish baking the rest of the cookies before you eat them.

Oh, who am I kidding? Eat a few cookies as you go, for quality control purposes, of course. You are so responsible.

Birthday Cake Cookies

Birthday Cake Cookies

Ingredients

Cookies
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp fine grain salt
cup colorful sprinkles. I used those crunchy teensy balls (nonpareils) but any that bring you joy will do!
Vanilla Drizzle
1 cup powdered sugar
3 – 4 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
A teensy pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In your stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer to cream them together in a large bowl.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the vanilla. Then add in the egg and the egg yolk, one at a time, mixing until fluffy once again.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Add this to the wet ingredients, one big spoonful at a time, mixing until just combined. Add in the sprinkles 🎉 and mix on low JUST until they are mixed in.

Using a small cookie scoop (my small one holds about one tablespoon), scoop the dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan, about 2 inches apart. I usually do three rows of four. Or four rows of three. (My larger scoop holds two tablespoons, and I place 6-8 cookies on the sheet pan at a time.)

Bake at 350° for 11-13 minutes (closer to 11 minutes for small cookies, 13 for large ones), or until the edges are just BARELY starting to turn a light golden color and the tops are starting to crack. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet pan until set, around 5 minutes or so, then transfer to a cooling rack. They will be puffy, but they will relax. Repeat until all the cookies are done. You can taste one, but the rest have to wait for the icing. Nope. Just one.

While the cookies are cooling, and you are definitely not scarfing them all down, let’s make the icing. Takes a few seconds max.

In a small bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and milk until smooth and shiny. If the icing seems too thick to drizzle, add a bit more milk. If it seems too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.

There are three approaches to drizzling the icing: with a spoon, with the tines of a fork, or from a plastic baggie with a teensy corner snipped out. The first two are more rustic (which is great) and the third is more uniform. Go crazy. Be artistic. Then eat cookies. Happy Birthday (someone)!

Peanut Butter Blondies

Peanut Butter Blondies

Ingredients

1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
cup creamy peanut butter
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup chocolate chips (whatever you like most. I used milk chocolate this time)
½ peanut butter chips (optional, but delicious. If you can’t find them just add another ½ cup of chocolate chips)
8 – 10 peanut butter cup candies

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 8×8” baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving some paper to hang over the sides to use as a handle for lifting out the blondies later. Spray the parchment with non-stick spray as well. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set this aside too.

In a medium saucepan (big enough to add your dry ingredients to later), melt the unsalted butter. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the peanut butter. Add the brown sugar and whisk together until fully combined. Add the vanilla and eggs and whisk until they are completely incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Just barely fold everything together until there are no more streaks of flour. Fold in the chips. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Scatter the chopped peanut butter cups over the top and lightly press into the batter.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until the top is a lightly golden brown. A toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle should come out with just a few crumbs.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. Go do a puzzle or watch an episode of that show. Remove from the pan (using your handy dandy parchment handles 😊) and either allow to cool completely or go absolutely mad and just start munching.

Confetti Snack Cake

Confetti Snack Cake

Ingredients

Cake Cake Cake
4 egg whites, room temperature
¼ cup room temperature unsalted butter
¼ cup neutral oil, such as canola or safflower oil
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine grain sea salt
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
½ tsp almond extract
cup rainbow sprinkles (I found a nice big container in the aisle with ice cream toppings at my local Mega Market)
Cream Cheese Frosting (bookmark this for when you need an emergency small batch of frosting. You never know 😉)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
4 tbsp cream cheese, room temperature (this is ¼ of a block of cream cheese, or 2 oz)
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp milk or cream

Directions

Cake (Cake Cake)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 8×8” square pan with baking spray. If you plan to remove the whole cake from the pan to serve, line the pan with parchment paper, leaving some to overhang the edges to easily remove the cake. Or you can skip lining entirely and just leave the cake in the pan for frosting and serving. And eating in one go with a fork.

Beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large-ish bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Using a hand mixer (or stand mixer) combine the butter and oil with these dry ingredients until it has the texture of wet sand. This should take 2-3 minutes.

Mix the almond extract with your buttermilk and add them both to the dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula until it is all combined. You’re not going to get rid of all the lumps and that’s okay. Those lumps are just some larger butter bits. Trust me, those butter bits will incorporate into the cake during baking and all will be well.

Gently fold the egg whites into the batter just until you don’t see any streaks of white. Fold in the sprinkles (also gently), just until evenly dispersed. You don’t want to over-stir the sprinkles because they will start to melt and smear into less attractive color streaks 😖

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bang the pan on the counter a few times (startling your pets and family members) to remove any big air bubbles.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the cake from the pan (if you want) and allow to fully cool before frosting.

Using your hand mixer again (you did wash the beaters, right?), beat together the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Add the milk or cream and mix in. Beat all together on high speed until fluffy and light.

Slather the frosting all over the top of your cake, making nice swirlies if you are so inclined. Sprankle with more sprinkles if desired.

Cut a slice and light a candle on top. It’s someone’s birthday somewhere. Google it if you need to. Make a wish and blow out the candle. Consume. Feel good about it 🌈

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Ingredients

For the “Treats”
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 bag (10 ounces) mini marshmallows
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
pinch of fine sea salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Ooh, That Topping
1 cup chocolate chips of your choice. You might like milk chocolate. Sometimes I’m in a dark chocolate mood. Feel the chocolate vibe and make your choice.
1 cup peanut butter chips. If you can’t find them, just use another cup of chocolate chips. Oh no, please don’t give me more chocolate, said no one ever.
Sprinkles of flaky sea salt (optional, but highly recommended)

Directions

Line a 13×9” pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving some to hang over the edges to help remove the treats from the pan later. Spray with non stick spray and set aside.

Pour your cereal into a large bowl and set this aside too.

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Add in the peanut butter and continue stirring until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt.

Pour the mixture over the cereal and stir until completely coated. Plop this into your prepared pan and, using your buttered hands, pack into the pan. If you don’t like getting your hands messy, spray the bottom of a measuring cup (or whatever you got) with nonstick spray and use it to press the cereal mix into the pan. Don’t forget the corners!

In a microwave or over a double boiler, melt the chocolate and peanut butter chips. Spread over the cereal mixture with an offset spatula. Make pretty swirly designs if you want. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt if you are so inclined. I was.

Place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until chocolate is fully set. Cut into pieces and share with your friends and loved ones, if you want. Cut into really teensy pieces so you can pretend you’re a giant. Aaarhhh.