Salt River Bars

September 28, 2012

My husband loves salt. Wait, I don’t think that statement really conveys his feelings about salt adequately. He really LOVES salt. You know, he is a complete salt fiend. The kind of fellow who drives all of those top chefs mad by reaching for that salt shaker before he ever tastes one little bite of whatever it is that he is about to eat. I used to get a bit upset about it. I mean, I did take care to salt the item appropriately as I cooked it. But now, I know that whatever I do, it won’t be enough salt for him. I’ve accepted it. I know they say salt is bad for you, but he has low blood pressure and is very healthy and active. Perhaps he has eaten a large enough quantity that he is somewhat preserved and immune to its detrimental effects. Anyway, his love of salt was how I knew I’d instantly get his attention when I said that I was making Salt River Bars for dessert. As he grinned and his eyes took on a far-away look, I knew he was visualizing himself floating down his dream river of salt, munching on a delicious treat.

Now you don’t actually need a river of salt to make these bars, much to my husband’s dismay. They are incredibly easy to make. No oven required. And you get a treat that gives you that wonderful, often mentioned here, salty/sweet taste sensation. These bars also deliver with rich chocolate, gooey caramel, creamy peanut butter and a satisfying crunch. They’ve got it all going on! And just think, you can have all of this goodness for yourself, ready to devour in about 30 minutes or so. What are you waitin for? Get to it!

Salt River Bars

recipe from: Baker Girl

yield: 25 (1 1/2″) squares

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Club crackers
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

Line an 8×8-inch pan with foil, allowing the edges to hang over the side, and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Place 15 crackers in the bottom of the pan (3 rows of 5). For three layers, divide the peanut butter chips into thirds and sprinkle 1/3 over the crackers.
Melt butter and brown sugar in a pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly and smooth and a creamy caramel color, about 4 minutes. Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the peanut butter chips and crackers, then add another layer of crackers, peanut butter chips, and caramel, then repeat again for the third layer, topping the last layer with crackers.
 Melt the chocolate chips and pour over the crackers, spreading evenly.
Sprinkle coarse sea salt over the top.Allow chocolate to set up in refrigerator (about 20 minutes), then lightly cut through the partially-set chocolate (to make it easier to cut after it cools completely). Place bars back into the fridge. Once cooled completely, gently remove bars by lifting out foil. Cut accordingly (they are pretty rich, so I cut them in smallish 1 1/2″ squares. I used a pizza cutter, not a wheel, but one of those rocking ones and it worked very well)
*If you want to make this in a 9×13-inch pan, add about a half more of everything in measurements.
Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

September 11, 2012

Here’s one for all of you salty/sweet loving folks out there and believe you me, I am a card-carrying member of your club. Not to mention, this little recipe gem has peanut butter (another favourite of mine) thrown in as well. The title really says it all: Chocolate…Peanut Butter…Pretzel Bars. Yuuuuum! How wonderfully decadent! In just one of these little squares you not only get your salty/sweet fix, but you also get a fabulous texture convergence of the crispy crunchy base and the silky smooth topping.

As if the sinfully delicious taste isn’t enough to inspire you to make these bars, I might add that they are very easy to put together. No oven time is required.  Which is definitely a plus when you live in Virginia in the summer. (speaking of which…it is now September and I am DONE with all of this heat and humidity. Could someone please pass that message along to whoever is in charge of the Virginia climate…) All you need is the good old microwave oven. And you’ll be totally finished and popping these bars into the fridge to chill before you even know you’ve started. However one taste of these delightful little bars will make folks believe you laboured over them all day. What are you waiting for…hop to it!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

recipe from: Craving Chronicles

yield: 9 medium-sized bars or 16 small bars

Ingredients:

Peanut Butter Base:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups pretzel crumbs, fine
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 heaping cup semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Line 8×8 pan with foil. Spray with baking spray.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt peanut butter and butter together in microwave (about 1 minute on HIGH). Stir in pretzel crumbs, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Spread evenly into prepared pan and refrigerate at least 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan or microwave-safe container, heat heavy cream to near boiling (1-2 minutes on HIGH, depending on your microwave). Pour over chocolate chips. Let sit for 2 minutes. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. (If needed, microwave on DEFROST 10 seconds at a time to finish melting.) Pour chocolate over chilled peanut butter base. Chill.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting. Lift foil to remove from pan, then slice into bars with a pizza cutter. Store in refrigerator.

Enjoy!


Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

December 15, 2011

Hmmm…another band rehearsal. I needed to figure out what fantastically yummy snack I would have ready to energize them as they worked through their set list. I decided that I was in the mood to bake brownies or some sort of bar type dessert. I may have mentioned that I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and I just happened to have a bag of the new Reese’s Cup Minis sitting right on the counter. (Don’t know how they got there….) And then I remembered that Karly from Buns in My Oven (one of my all time favourite blogs) had blogged about this exact treat some time back. Everything I have ever made from Karly’s site has been off-the-hook delicious! I quickly checked her site. Just as I thought, it looked awesome…a peanut butter base filled with chocolate chips, chopped up Reese’s cups and as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a whole Reese’s mini squished into the top!

That’s what I’m talking about folks! I mean, sure, I was making these treats for the band but I would likely need to taste test one or two or maybe five or so, just to make sure they were acceptable. I wouldn’t want to serve anything not up to snuff. Yup, these Peanut Butter Cup Blondies were the ticket! So I got busy baking. The only thing I changed in her recipe was that I baked these lovely little treats in a mini muffin pan whereas she baked them in a 9×13 pan. I did change the name a bit too, she called them Peanut Butter Brownies and I christened these gems “blondies”.

The results? AWESOME! Moist, peanut buttery, chocolatey bliss! Not only did the band scarf them down, but I’d wager Santa would be delighted to find a few of these waiting for him when he comes down the chimney. Make some today!

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

recipe slightly adapted from Buns in My Oven (Karly baked them in a 9×13 pan and I made mini muffin sized treats)

yield: 34 mini muffin sized blondies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 36 mini peanut butter cups (Reese’s are the best!)
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini-muffin pan with mini cupcake papers.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and eggs until well blended. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Cut 12 peanut butter cups into quarters and gently stir into blondie batter along with the chocolate chips. Use small cookie dough scoop to fill each muffin well. Place in oven for 12-15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Remove from oven and immediately press remaining peanut butter cups into the top of each blondie. Allow to cool before serving.

Enjoy!


Boozy Peanut Butter & Banana Pound Cake with a Peanut Butter Nutella Glaze

October 14, 2011

So the other day I had a real hankering for something with peanut butter and bananas. Then I saw the bottle of Jack Daniels sitting there and decided bourbon would have to be involved in the dish as well. I don’t know why it is that I want to put Jack Daniels in everything. I think I’m borderline obsessed with the stuff! What’s even stranger is that I never drink Jack Daniels in any type of cocktail form. In fact, I only drink it straight after the most harrowing of days. :) Yet I want to put it in everything I bake. Go figure…. Perhaps I lived in Tennessee in a previous life…

The man himself!

Well, I had come across a recipe that called for all of the desired ingredients. It was listed on a blog from which I had never attempted to make any dishes and which due to the following outcome, shall remain nameless. I must admit, I was a bit sceptical about said recipe because it did not call for any eggs. Hmmm…. And it seemed a bit short on flour. Hmmm…. But I soldiered on and popped the ill-fated concoction in the oven. The cloud of doubt grew ever darker as I peeked in the oven to check on its progress ( ie. lack of progress). With growing apprehension, I went to one of my favourite blogs, Buns in My Oven, because I knew Karly had published a recipe for a fantastic looking Peanut Butter & Banana Pound cake not too long ago. I checked her ingredients…yup…5 eggs and over double the amount of sugar and flour. Oh no! Why did I ever stray! But what could I do but sit with a horrible sinking feeling, hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst. Sadly, my perseverance merely resulted in  a terribly disappointing blob emerging from the oven. Utter failure! I hate it when that happens. But I proceeded to pick myself up ( after uttering a string of expletives which I wouldn’t even think of replicating here ) and began to mix up the recipe for Peanut Butter & Banana Pound Cake with a Peanut Butter Nutella Glaze from Buns in My Oven, but with the addition of some lovely Jack Daniels. It was obvious from the get-go that this was much more like it. I felt my spirits lifting and knew I would be redeemed in this cake.

Sure enough… This cake is stunning!

I bet it’s even awesome without the Jack. You could leave it out if you were taking it to a church pot-luck or a children’s party or some other such teetotalling thing. But it just makes me feel better knowing Jack’s in there.

Boozy Peanut Butter & Banana Pound Cake with a Peanut Butter Nutella Glaze

Recipe slightly adapted ( I added the Jack Daniels :) ) from Buns In My Oven

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used JIF), divided
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 3 Tablespoons Jack Daniels (or your preferred Bourbon)
  • 1 cup Nutella, divided
  • 2 tablespoons milk or water (optional – or you could use some more Bourbon – as you seen fit)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter and 3/4 cup of the peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the sugar, mixing until light and airy, around 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Add the flour and salt to the mixer, all at once, and mix just until incorporated. Mix in the mashed banana on low. Add the Jack Daniels and mix until incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan. Drop heaping spoonfuls of Nutella over the top of the batter, about 1/2 a cup. Using a butter knife, swirl the Nutella all throughout the cake to get a marbled look.

Bake the cake for 60 – 75 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Heat remaining Nutella and peanut butter in the microwave in 10 second intervals to soften it up enough to drizzle. If desired, mix in a little milk or water or even some more bourbon, depending on the day you’ve had, to thin out the glaze until it reaches the desired consistency.

Drizzle on top of the bundt cake.

Enjoy!


Original Sin Bars

September 16, 2011

Now we’re talking baby! Original. Sin. Bars. This is my kind of treat. Yummy, crunchy, peanut buttery base topped by some decadent, rich chocolate and then alluringly dusted with flaky sea salt. You will find that these bars are an exquisite sweet and salty bliss. I know that Eve was most tragically, tempted by an apple. Well all I can say is that the Old Serpent behind that infamous enticement must not have given her the choice between an apple or one of these Original Sin Bars. Believe me…there is no contest…and  I say this even though my favourite fruit is the apple. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I definitely appreciate the fruit based desserts. They have the potential to be phenomenal when there is lovely fresh fruit to be had. I’ve certainly posted a good number of those seasonal, fresh fruit recipes here. You see, my husband LOVES the fruit desserts. He would pick a crumble, cobbler or buckle over any chocolaty treat offered up. Me? I’m all about the peanut butter. Of course adding chocolate to the mix certainly doesn’t hurt, but you can often find me and my pup Gimlet in the kitchen eating peanut butter right out of the jar! (Chill out! We aren’t sharing the same spoon….usually…)

I guess what I’m saying is that I fear that the Old Viper might give me quite a run for my money if he were to attempt to enact some terrible snare upon me by provocatively dangling one of these bars before my eyes. Lord, Give me strength! The good news is that you can achieve the divine taste of these bars rather effortlessly, no dire challenge required. In fact, I whipped up some of these scrumptious treats in no time for my dear pal’s birthday celebrations, just a short time ago. He (whose name I will withhold) also loves the good old peanut butter / chocolate combo. And for some reason, when I was sorting through my recipes, thinking of what dessert I might make to mark his day and saw the good ole “sin”  bars, he (and you know who you are…) just popped right to mind…Just kidding!!!…well, sort of….:) Anyhoo….give these bars a try the next time you’re feeling a bit naughty. You won’t regret it!

Original Sin Bars

recipe from Making Life Delicious

yield: 20 squares or so depending on how you cut them

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chunky peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (22 graham crackers ground up finely in food processor)
  • 4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
  • 7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped or chips
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • large pinch of kosher salt
  • Maldon Sea Salt to sprinkle over the top

Directions:

Line a 9 X 13-inch pan with aluminum foil.  Make sure the foil extends about 2 inches up past the two long sides of the pan.  You will use this extra foil later to lift the finished bars out of the pan before cutting.

Melt butter with peanut butter in the microwave, stirring until smooth.  Add the graham cracker crumbs, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined.

Pat the peanut butter mixture into the lined ungreased 9 X 13-inch pan.

Melt the chocolate chips, butter and the pinch of salt in the microwave and stir until smooth.

Spread the melted chocolate mixture over the peanut butter layer.

Sprinkle Maldon Sea Salt over the chocolate layer.

Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes.  Cut with a hot dry knife.


Nutella & Banana filled Peanut Butter Ebelskivers

February 5, 2011

I first discovered Nutella when I was studying at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. I can’t believe that I totally missed out on having it during my obviously deprived childhood. I did grow up on an Island, which the yummy hazelnutty goodness of Nutella had apparently not reached. You can imagine my amazement when I saw my college buddies spreading it on toast. What! You can eat chocolate spread on toast! Where have I been! On my first taste I became an instant fan. Also being a huge fan of peanut butter, I immediately dreamed of pairing the two together. Peanut butter was not very popular in Ireland and usually the few jars of it I did come across in the stores were marked “American Peanut Butter” and were adorned with the stars and stripes to ensure there was no mistaking from where this strange concoction had arrived. Chuckling, I grabbed a jar and what can I say…perfection!

Nom!Nom!Nom!

Today, February 5th is the 5th Annual World Nutella Day. This celebration of all things Nutella was started in 2007 by Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso as a day to celebrate, get creative with and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

To that end, I would like to share my fantastically tasty recipe for Nutella & Banana filled Peanut Butter Ebelskivers.”What are ebelskivers” you may ask. They are round pancakes which originated in Denmark and are perfect for breakfast, appetizers or snacks. You will of coarse need one special piece of equipment to make these goodies-namely the Ebelskiver Pan. My husband received one for his birthday a couple of years ago. The ebelskiver turners, long, carved wooden sticks, are great to have, but you could possibly get by with chopsticks, wooden skewers or even knitting needles in a pinch.

Ebelskiver Pan and Turners

One of the biggest keys to being able to successfully create ebelskivers is having all of your ingredients you plan to use, prepped and ready to go.

Bananas standing by

Once you put the batter in the wells of the pan, you must work fairly quickly to add your filling items and then cover them with more of the batter.

Ebelskiver with filling ready for second layer of batter

Turning the treats takes a bit of practice, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Once it is time to turn them, place your turners on opposite sides of the pancakes and slide them down between the wall of the well and the cooked edges.Gently lift and rotate. Rather than flip mine over all at once, I quickly move around the pan rotating them 1/4 turn at a time until they are completely turned over.

Ebelskivers mid-turn

Once these ebelskivers were done cooking, I rolled them in cinnamon sugar. They are unbelieveable. So mouthwatering, I swear you will absolutely swoon!

Nutella & Banana filled Peanut Butter Ebelskivers

1 Cup (5 oz./155 g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, separated

1 Cup (8 fl. oz/250 ml) milk

1/2 cup (5 oz/155 g) creamy peanut butter

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Nutella

1 banana cut into 1/2 inch slices and then quartered.

Cinnamon sugar for coating

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk, peanut butter, and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter until smooth. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir until well blended. Don’t worry-the batter will be lumpy.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest just until no white streaks remain.

Add butter to the wells of the ebelskiver pan. This can be done with a pastry brush, or I often just put about 1/8 tsp. in each well. Place the pan over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble, add 1 tablespoon of the batter to each well. Working quickly, carefully spoon 1/2 teaspoon of Nutella into the center of each pancake. Add 2-3 pieces of the quarter banana slices. Top each with another 1 tablespoon of the batter.

Cook until the bottoms of the pancakes are lightly browned and crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Use your ebelskiver turners or whatever you have, turn all of the pancakes and cook until browned on the second side-about 3 minutes longer.

Remove the pancakes from the pan, quickly roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture and transfer to a plate. Serve immeadiatly.

Makes 16 ebelskivers. Recipe adapted from Ebelskivers by Kevin Crafts.

Enjoy!

 


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