Tag Archives: bar cookies

Salty Oatmeal Cookie Chocolate Bars–and On Being A Wallflower/flour

“Because you saw me when I was invisible.”

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I was thinking about this post last week and Googled that quote, expecting to be smothered by a deluge of cliche love saying sites and poems written by angsty teens with next-to-nil metrical know-how. Instead, I was thrown into a Flashback Friday moment when images like this and this popped up one after another, reminding me of why I liked The Princess Diaries so much in the first place: because who doesn’t feel like they’re an invisible little nobody some days?

I know some people who thrive on being invisible. They would Avada Kedavra the holy hippogriffs out of somebody to own an Invisibility Cloak. (Excuse me, I have Harry Potter on the mind lately–clearly.)

Then there’s me–I need attention and notice like Robin needs Batman, a.k.a. a lot. It would not be inaccurate to say that I am a human dog except much less adorable. (Debatable: I know.)

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I’m not talking about wanting negative attention or experiencing desperate withdrawals in my room’s darkest corner, but there’s no doubt that my parents raised a bouncing baby extrovert. I’m the only one in my family who feeds off human energy the way the monsters in Sailor Moon do: fervidly and unceasingly (seriously, do they never give up?).

What even my closest friends may not know is that I can also be super self-conscious about my hyper-enthusiasm. I’ll laugh if you tell me with a straight face that I am way too excited (because yeah, I am), but if you tell me that in an aw-look-how-cute-it-is-that-she’s-excited or deadpan way chances are I’d like nothing better than to punch you in the face.

Just kidding–I don’t like to get my knuckles dirty. But you’d probably see me skulking around a dark alleyway later that night, all brooding and Edward Cullen-like.

Okay, I wouldn’t. But you get the point.

Ala = super self-conscious ball of physics-defying energy who likes attention.

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Do any of you out there feel the same way? I’ve always just assumed that the road to food bloggerdom is paved with extroverts, because who else would spend half their waking hours publicly documenting the other half of their life, but that’s probably not true. Even as an extrovert, I loved writing because it didn’t require me to be “on” all the time or think of unparalleled witticisms on the spot (by the way, I suck at instant witticisms so if we ever meet in person, you’ll probably want to start the conversation on a particularly slooooow note). I don’t think I’m an awe-inspiring writer or anything, but I most certainly wouldn’t consider myself a natural A-game talker, either.

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I am dreadful at mingling at parties or among large confident groups of people–hence the “wallflower girl” nomenclature–and even when it seems like I am totally in my element, I am probably gauging every facial tick and restless eye twitch for disinterest from my listener. I actually do think of my interactions in terms of the Relationship Meter from the Sims game, which may not be an accurate representation of how relationships work in real life.

And when I’m the only one who’s not holding a drink or laughing along like hurr-hurr-hurr at some dumb humor joke that everyone has managed to find funny, I’d like nothing better than to melt into the wallpaper behind me like that creepy Clay Aiken creature who invisibly watches you in your room and serenades you with the suggestion that he could be your perfect man.

Yeah, I never understood that song either.

Whenever I start to feel particularly Clay Aiken-y, though, I have to remind myself that the total number of people in the room who probably notice my awkwardness is one: me.

Judgy folks will still judge, but being awkward is sort of like being a fart–yes, people notice, but most of the time nobody will say anything and everybody will forget about it, unless you’re a particularly big silent smelly fart, in which case people won’t forget but then again you should’ve known better than to go back for seconds on the refried beans anyway.

If we ever meet in person, these are the types of terrible, not particularly reassuring metaphors toward which you can look forward. Enjoy.

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But let’s go back to where I started when I first wrote this rambling post: invisibility. As far as I know (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), there are two types of social invisibles in this world: those who like being invisible, and those who think they are invisible.

One of the reasons I took up baking in the first place was because I wanted the friends and acquaintances in my life to feel noticed. Trust me: it can be difficult, creepy, not to mention imposing to walk up to a lonely wallflower and tell them that they aren’t as invisible as they may think. Do I walk up to the person who just farted and start small talk while pretending to ignore the doomsday fumes enveloping their three-foot bubble?

That’s probably the last thing a farter needs at that mortifyingly awkward moment: company. But if you plop a little bag of home-baked cookie bars with a nice note on their desk for them to find the next day,  it’s a gesture that they’d probably appreciate. That bag of bars says, Hey so this has nothing to do with you farting at the party last night not that I noticed or anything but I just wanted to say that we should be friends, so yay, let’s be friends through cookies.

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A few weeks ago, I was browsing through Facebook and found some posts by a good friend whom I haven’t seen in a long time but who is also one of the kindest, most genuine people I know. From what I read, it sounded like she was having a tough time at her new job–it was one of those nonchalant-but-really-not-nonchalant status updates that wants to be noticed, but is afraid to ask.

“We accept the love we think we deserve,” that wonderful novel-turned-film The Perks of Being a Wallflower reminds us. Apart from my family (and even then, sometimes), I am terrible at accepting love, but I do believe that everyone deserves it, especially when we think that nobody notices how badly we need it. Some people like being invisible, but nobody likes feeling invisible. That night after we chatted, I made these wonderful salted oatmeal cookie bars, packed them up, and shipped them up north the next day.

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Then of course I forgot all about them, until I opened up my Facebook a few days later and found this awesome, surprising message:

What a super surprise! Thank you!!! You, you, you Big Sweetie!”

And then this Facebook status she posted:

“Wow! I came home yesterday, tired and low, when I discovered a package of salty chocolate granola bars made by the amazing Ala, child lit scholar/master chef!! What a wonderful surprise! (You can check out her web page at wallflourgirl.com)

If awkwardness is like farting, then giving is like giving your kid a five-dollar bill at the carnival prize booth–they run off with a greenback and come back with their arms so laden with STUFF (they still give out those giant inflatable hammer toys?!) that you can hardly believe all that came out of a measly slip of paper currency. I read my friend’s message with a huge grin and danced around the room for a few minutes, because giving rocks. And the funny thing about giving to others is that you’re not just letting them know you notice them: chances are, they’ll notice you a little bit more in return, too.

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So that’s the story behind these salty oat bars, which were my first experiment with using coarse sea salt (by the way, I am a total convert now–it’s so cheap! Bought a huge box at the dollar store). My friend loves chocolate so I threw in a few handfuls for good measure, then whipped up a batch of good ol’ chewy chunky oat bars and sprinkled it with a liberal dose of sea salt for good measure.

These bars are the perfect way to show a friend that he or she’s not invisible! They’re a wonderful, addicting mix of salty and slightly sweet, with a perfect balance of chocolate heartiness for care packages. What do you think–is there anyone you can think of who needs a little noticing today?

Ala

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Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

How do I know these one-bowl, hassle-free chocolate chip oat bars are idiot-proof? Please refer to the visual aid below…

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I made them. Me. In my current mental and emotional state of nervous wretchedness. And I’ve even started referring to myself in the plural first-person. And writing in fragments. Like Yoda, I is. But I still managed to make these without starting a local apocalypse. So. That’s how I know.

Some days I almost wish that was a joke.

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On the morning I baked these, I was not looking forward to baking. I had been in my brand spankin’ new apartment for exactly 2 weeks, gone through about 5 months’ worth of groceries and pantry items in that time to ‘fuel’ my studying brain, and had a mock exam for these coming up in 5 days. You could hardly find a less happy camper if you walked barefoot clear across the Alps in the middle of January looking for one. And the very last thing I wanted to do five days before my mock was trip into the precarious kitchen to bake instead of read about Romantic Irony, and to fuel my tummy pooch wayyy more than my noggin. And then the photographs. And then the editing. And then the inevitable snacking. Ugh. 

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But I had to make something as a thank-you for some friends who had helped me with moving, and so when I fumbled my way across Tieghan’s post from Half-Baked Harvest advertising that these bars were delicious AND idiot-proof (her phrase! Isn’t it such a hook?), I could almost hear the despair melting away like so many sunbathing snowmen.

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And I have wonderful news: these bars are really, truly, honest-to-madness idiot-proof. They’re perfectly chewy, crumbly, oaty, chocolatey, cinnamony–and did I mention healthy?–all at the same time. Oil only, folks–no butter here! Did I mention that my friends could not stop eating them and positively raved about them after the pan had been licked crumb-clean? And all at no additional cost to my sanity. I love it.

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Compared to making traditional bar cookies, these take zero thought and significantly less active time to throw together. Glutens? Don’t mind them. Overbaking? Not a chance. Even the dishes are easier to do after whipping a batch up, since the thick oat-y batter barely leaves a smidge on your mixing bowl! (And thankfully for me, this also meant I didn’t ‘have to’ lick the bowl afterwards, which saved me from another drastic snacking spree.) Yep, these were bars to feel good about when I had very else little about which I could feel good.

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The good news is that today is the fifth day since I made these bars–and I can satisfactorily report that I took my first mock exam this afternoon! It was an extraordinarily nerve-wracking experience, but after we finished, it felt surprisingly reassuring to know I survived it…and with affirmation from someone who was not the second voice in my head, too. If you’ve ever read or listened to The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch says that the lead-up to his qualifying exam was the second-most stressful period in his life. The first was leukemia. I can’t corroborate that last statement, thankfully, but I sure as heck cannot wait for this exam to be (hopefully successfully) done next month. 

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In the meantime, I’m going to make me some more of these bars. And hopefully offer some better proof that I’m not a complete idiot–yet…

Ala

Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

(Slightly adapted from Half-Baked Harvest)
Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups oats, old-fashioned or quick-cooking (I used the latter and they worked fine)
  • 2 cups flour (the original calls for 1 cup APF and 1 cup wheat flour; I used 2 cups APF)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canola oil OR coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, throw in ALL ingredients except the chocolate chips. Seriously. Just do it and mix away until a dough pulls together.
  3. Mix in your chocolate chips. Sha-bam! Done.
  4. Shove it all in your prepared pan. Like, evenly and stuff. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on top if you feel like it, because you’re a grown-up and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise unless you’re not one, in which case pretend you are one while you’re making these. You can wear shocking red high-heels in the kitchen to facilitate this process.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until bars are lightly golden on top and they seem just slightly doughy–then pull them out and let them cool on the stovetop for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Cut these crumbly, chewy babies into squares, or just attack them with your fork. I did.
  7. Leave Ala a comment below to let her know that she doesn’t sound completely idiotic (yet). :) Enjoy!

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Cookies

Killer Cookies ‘N Cream Brookies and Oreo Butter: An Online Bake Sale for the Philippines

How does one not lose all control when digging a fork into this warm, melting gooey Oreo lovers’ mess?
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Oh, that’s right. One doesn’t. If you couldn’t tell by the gif.
But before I get started on these outrageous Oreo cookies ‘n cream brookies (yes, that’s a brownie + cookie smashed into one sugar-coma-inducing concoction), I want to tell you about a really important event, and the story behind why I decided to tackle these in the first place.
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As anyone who even remotely follows world news knows, a terrible storm hit the Philippines a few weeks ago. While the story has sadly faded off the radar of our fast-paced, sensation-seeking U.S. media, the relief and rebuilding efforts–as is true with any disaster, big or small–are still happening around the clock, around the world, to help the affected people and areas. I have spent ample time researching and making my own donations to the Philippines Red Cross (which, by the way, I definitely recommend if you’re considering making donations but worry about where your donations actually go–they’re one of the established agencies that you can count on to get your money to the relief spots), but wasn’t sure what I could do beyond that to spread the word. Then, by some unlooked-for chance, I stumbled across Tina’s blog, and get this: she is hosting an online bake sale to raise funds to support the relief effort! Very important? YES. I almost never do plugs for other blogs, but please consider learning more about how you can help through a small gesture that will go a long way, no matter what source you choose (as long as it’s a reliable one).
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How it works: 1. Tina is accepting ‘virtual baked good donations’ until FRIDAY, 11/22/13. All you have to do is fill out a pledge form and send her a photo of the goods you will be ‘selling’ for donations.
2. Starting on MONDAY, 11/25/13, bidders can view all of the goods-for-sale at Tina’s site. Bids start at $20. The highest bidder at the end of the day ‘wins’ the baked goods he/she bid on and will donate that money directly to Sagip Kapamilya, a relief foundation for the Philippines.
3. The baker will ship the goods directly to the bid winner. That’s it. Simple, and good.
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(Sorry, this up-close shot of gooey melting fudge and gooey cookies is necessary.)

If it’s within your resources to do so, please consider bidding! Again, this is a really worthwhile cause that I love because it emphasizes what we have: an amazingly strong community of bakers and readers who champion all sorts of causes, not just ones that deal with food. In case you’re curious about my particular entry, I’ve decided to go all out by theming my package with one of my all-time favorites: the Oreo cookie. Below is the description I included for my package:

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Oreos are the yin-and-yang of the cookie world: A creamy filling sandwiched between two decadent chocolate cookies. Like Oreos, life is a mix of yin and yang…and when it hits, it can hit us hard. Fortunately, now’s your chance to do some good while getting outrageous Oreo good out of it. Your Outrageous Oreo package contains a variation on my most popular brookie recipe: a fudge-packed chocolatey brownie layer topped with a gorgeous cookies ‘n cream chocolate chip blondie and whole Oreos jammed into the gooey center. You’ll also want to prepare to sink your teeth into two GIANT Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies. And if you aren’t Oreo’d out by the time you reach it, a jar of homemade Oreo white chocolate peanut butter spread will be sure to tempt your spoon (and your willpower) for as long as it lasts. The perfect package for any Oreo lover. So what do you say: Are you out, or Oreo in?
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I know this isn’t “my” bake sale…but thank you, thank you, thank you!

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But before I wrap things up here, I seriously want to give you an idea of how awesome this explosion of outrageous Oreo baked goods really is. I kid you not: one entire 15.3 oz. package of Oreo cookies went into the making of this package. So whoever gets this is advised not to look at the nutrition label on a package of Oreos for the next month or so. Holy mackerel, that’s a lot of Oreos!

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The Killer Cookies ‘N Cream Brookie: Maybe you’ve heard of a brookie before. For those of you who haven’t, it’s made of crack a cookie layer smooshed on top of (or under) a brownie layer. Sound simple? Hang on while I say ‘ha ha ha’ and dispel that funny little notion from your head. Of course, a brookie CAN be simple. But what I love about this ramped-up killer cookies ‘n cream version is that it takes the fudgiest, gooiest brownie base, crams a whole layer of WHOLE OREO COOKIES all up in the there, and then tops that off with a crazy chunky, chewy, cookie-n-creamy chocolate chip blondie bar layer.

YEAH. BET YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING. WHAT NOW BROOKIE.

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Oreo Butter: What happens when you throw half a package of Oreos into a food processor with white chocolate and peanut butter? AWESOME. That’s what happens. A perfect way to spread the love to all your favorite things, including cookies, waffles, sandwiches, and–yes, you guessed it–even Oreos.

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip CookiesWe’ve all heard about them. You’ll just have to try them to believe it. ‘Nuff ‘stuff said.

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Don’t forget to check out the online bake sale on Monday, 11/25/13! Thank you!

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Love,

Ala

Killer Cookies ‘N Cream Brookies
Yield: 1 9×9-inch baking pan; 16 large squares
For Insanely Fudgy Gooey Brownie Layer: (this recipe is my own creation but was inspired by a mix of Allrecipes, Smitten Kitchen, and Something Swanky brownie recipes–thanks!_
Ingredients:
  • 8 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 16 whole Oreos

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together melted butter and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. Gently mix in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until just incorporated.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Reserve whole Oreos for assembly (see instructions below)
For Cookies ‘N Cream Cookie Bars:
Slightly adapted from Picky Palate‘s wonderful recipe
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • Approximately 14 Oreos, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes of strong creaming.
  2. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in until just incorporated.
  4. Gently fold in both chocolate chips and chopped Oreos.

To Assemble Your Killer Brookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with lightly greased foil.
  2. Pour brownie batter into baking pan. Spread evenly.
  3. Top with 16 evenly-spaced whole Oreos.
  4. Drop cookie dough evenly over the layer of Oreos. Spread dough gently so that it covers the entire top of the pan.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 27-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and your cookie layer looks slightly crispy (it should be a golden brown color) but is not yet overbaked.
  6. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes in pan before cutting and serving.

Oreo “Butter”

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped/crushed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate

Directions:

  1. Place Oreos in a food processor and grind them until they achieve a crumb consistency.
  2. Add peanut butter and white chocolate. Continue processing for another 5-7 minutes; the time will depend on the power of your food processor. Your Oreo spread will clump up at first, but as you continue processing it will begin to turn into a gritty paste, and then slowly turn into a much smoother, almost liquid-like spread.
  3. Store your Oreo butter in a jar at room temperature. Spread it on anything and everything (waffles, crackers, sandwiches, more cookies–the possibilities are endless)!
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Peanut Butter Lovers’/Converts’ Chocolate Oat Squares

Today, I want to introduce to you a new, critical, and really important new photoseries called:

TEN REASONS TO GET JIGGY WITH PEANUT BUTTER RIGHT NOW (MAYBE EVEN WHILE YOU READ THIS):

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We all have that friend (or two, or ten) who, for some godforsaken reason, does not like peanut butter. Hopefully, you are not that friend (and if you are, I would recommend paying close attention to Reason #9 in this photostory–ahem).  I personally LOVE PEANUT BUTTER.

If you are adverse to this creamy concoction of the nut butter gods, however, or you have that friend and want to be an exceptionally nice friend and convert them into the ways of Peanut Buttery Enlightenment, I would recommend sharing any or all of the banners I have created for this sole purpose below. Here in Peanut Butter Kingdom, we do not judge–except, of course, if you don’t like PB. Then we treat you like the lost cause you are and send straight to Peanut-less Purgatory.

SO, without FURTHER ADO:

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TEN REASONS TO GET JIGGY WITH PEANUT BUTTER RIGHT NOW (MAYBE EVEN WHILE YOU READ THIS):

~*~*~*~*~*~

Reason #10:  It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single person in possession of a good palate must be in want of a Peanut Butter jar.

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At least we all know that’s what Jane Austen should have written, bless her soul.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Reason #9: Peanut Butter serves as a great way to test–or seriously question–your friendship choices.

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How the Peanut Butter Friend Test works:

SCENARIO A: “Do you like Peanut Butter?” “Yes.” “Then I think we can be friends.” <3

SCENARIO B: Conversely, “Do you like Peanut Butter?”

“No.”

“…….I have never said this before, but I hope this means you are deathly allergic to it.”

~*~*~*~*~*~

Reason #8: When it comes to eating Peanut Butter from the jar, spoons are always optional. In case of emergencies, however, fingers will also do.

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And nobody here will judge you for it.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Reason #7: Peanut Butter is GOOD for you. If G.O.O.D. = Goddamn Overly, Obnoxiously Delicious.

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And it contains protein. Or something like that.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Reason #6: Peanut Butter fans are particularly good finders.

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I hope somebody out there got the A Very Potter Musical reference that just went fo shizzle up there, because I am not doing that again.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Reason #5: Peanut Butter pairs well with basically everything.

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Apples, jelly, chocolate, bosses, emotional turmoil–existential crises…

~*~*~*~*~*~

Reason #4: Most of us grew up eating Peanut Butter–and even if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start.

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According to the National Peanut Board (yes, that’s a thing), the average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he/she graduates high school. Also, the amount of peanut butter eaten in a year could wrap the earth in a ribbon of 18-ounce peanut butter jars one and one-third times.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Reason #3: Peanut Butter has such a nutty sense of humor.

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You can go NUTS over peanut butter.

You can polish off a jar of peanut butter in a Jiffy.

You can beg me to stop making peanut butter jokes by saying, “Pretty, pretty, PB please?”

~*~*~*~*~*~

Reason #2: “Peanut Butter” means love in every language. (It is even the official phrase for “I Love You” in one language.

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That language is Baker-ese, most commonly spoken in…well, I’ll let you guess.

~*~*~*~*~*~

And finally……..

Reason #1: Peanut Butter is what makes these chocolatey, oat-filled squares so goddamn delicious. Pardon our language. But they’re that f*-in’ good.

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And what more proof do you need than that?

Print this recipe!

Ala

What makes you go NUTS over peanut butter?

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Peanut Butter Lovers’/Converts’ Chocolate Oat Squares
Possibly the most insanely peanut butter-packed, chewy, satisfying squares I have ever invented, filled with plenty of brown sugar, peanut butter, oats, and chocolate. Perfect for an afternoon snack or a surprise dessert!
Yield: 9×13-inch baking pan
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided in half
  • Assorted chopped candies or nuts, optional (but a great way to use up those Halloween leftovers!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and brown sugar. Add peanut butter and mix in well, until smooth.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract until mixture is no longer clumpy.
  4. Add remaining dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, and salt) and stir in until just incorporated. Be sure not to overmix–overmixing will result in tough batter and bars!
  5. Gently fold half of the chocolate chips (3/4 cup) into the oats batter.
  6. Place remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate in microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring vigorously between each interval to prevent chocolate from scorching. (Note: You will want to stop microwaving at the point when your chocolate is just melted–at this point, stir it vigorously some more until all of the chocolate is smooth and melted.)
  7. Scoop half of the peanut butter oat mixture into your prepared baking pan and pat into an even layer. Pour melted chocolate over this layer, then scoop the remaining peanut butter mixture over the chocolate layer. Pat down peanut butter oats as well as you can–it’s okay if some chocolate peeks through! (It’s actually cuter this way.)
  8. Bake bars in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until bars begin to set but are still soft and slightly underbaked in appearance. Remove bars immediately from oven and allow to cool on stovetop for an addition 15-20 minutes. During this time, your bars will continue baking for a nice chewy texture, and you will continue salivating while you stick your spoon into the peanut butter jar for yet another consoling bite.
  9. After your bars have completely cooled, cut into squares and enjoy the bliss!

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Best Chewy Biscoff (Cookie Butter) Chocolate Chip Blondies

Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 19--091713

(Did you know: this is the 100th blog post to appear on Wallflourgirl–thanks to all my readers for helping make this possible!)

Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 20--091713 Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 21--091713

Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 22--091713 Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 23--091713 Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 24--091713Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 25--091713 Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 26--091713 Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 27--091713 Best Chewy Biscoff Chocolate Chip Blondies 28--091713

With love from,

Ala

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Have you seen my Biscoff Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe? It uses a similar dough and is the perfect cookie version of this recipe.
Best Chewy Biscoff (Cookie Butter) Chocolate Chip Blondies
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 heaping cup cookie butter (What is cookie butter?)
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together softened butter and cookie butter spread. Add sugar and continue creaming until light & fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon (optional), and salt. Mix until just incorporated. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven’s temperature. You will want to remove them from the oven while they still look soft and slightly underbaked–place baking pan on top of oven and allow blondies to cool. They will continue baking in the pan for that great, perfect chewy factor.
 

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Mocha Cookie Cheesecake Bars

Hi! Consider this an interim post. But let me explain before I get ahead of myself.

Remember my productibaking post that was meant to motivate me for my upcoming qualifying exams?

Two things:

1) Productibaking is working really, really well as a  motivational concept.

2) The actual baking, photography, and blogging–not so bueno.

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Here’s the update: In addition to hitting the books full-time this summer in preparation for my oral exams this fall, for which I need to know 120+ books’/works’ worth of material, I’m working a completely, honest-to-goodness full-time internship. Hallelujah to those of you crazy (and awesome!) working-world people who have decided to go back to school. Seriously, it’s a full-time gig!

As if I didn’t already possess a keen death wish (as my friends call it) in attempting to finish about a book a day for the next 4 months, I’ve somehow ended up taking on a second internship. I’m currently learning about marketing, SEO’s, and the wonderful world of corporate advertising America.

Uh. Yeah. Brilliant idea?

Let me get back to you on that one.

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On my kitchen table: Frankenstein (1818 edition, not the 1831 one!), Mary Shelley’s renowned novel about a monster and a scientist with too much ambition for his own good. Oh, and of course the creepy line, “I will be with you on your wedding-night”…

So after waking up at 6, hitting the gym, running back home to take a shower, heading to work at 9, work work working like a soldier ant until 6, finishing up work for my part-time internship, maybe eating dinner at a reasonable hour, and then trying to finish an entire book in one night until I finally keel over like a beached whale on my mattress around 1 AM–

Yeah. A little less time for baking, lately.

Fortunately, when I do bake these days, it’s an especial treat. And I’m still trying to keep up with my posting (although it might just be vaguely jumbled productibaking posts and grumbles until November). It’s also just a bit difficult trying to bake in between study sprints when your parents keep demanding why you waste time at the oven while you’re supposed to be studying and you sort of have to keep your patience with them because, you know, they’re housing and feeding you.

Okay, end ramble.

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In the meantime, though, I did manage to turn out these really quite wonderful mocha cheesecake bars (despite my mom breathing down my neck every 5 seconds or so) and would love to hear from all of you! Because, as you might have figured, I’m kind of in my little qualifying exam hiding hole for the next 5 months. With a little (or huge) stash of sugary snacks in the corner. Maybe it’s a good thing I can’t find as much time to bake, after all.

Happy readings, and happy eatings!

Ala

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Mocha Cookie Cheesecake Bars
Yield: 9×9-inch baking pan
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua (substitute with any coffee liqueur or strong brewed coffee as desired)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • For the cheesecake:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua (substitute with any coffee liqueur or strong brewed coffee as desired)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together melted butter and brown sugar. Add lightly beaten egg and 1 tablespoon Kahlua; beat well. Add remaining dry ingredients for cookie layer (except chocolate chips) and mix in until just incorporated. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spread cookie batter evenly into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes, until slightly firm but still underbaked. While your batter is baking, prepare cheesecake layer.
  4. Cheesecake layer: Cream softened cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in white sugar vigorously until entire cream cheese is light. Add egg and 1 tablespoon Kahlua; mix until smooth.
  5. When cookie layer is finished baking, pour cheesecake layer immediately over it and return entire pan to oven. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until cheesecake jiggles only slightly and the edges become a light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. (I placed mine in the refrigerator for about an hour after the pan cooled to room temperature.)
  6. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
 

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o.m.f.g. (Oreos made for gods) bars & producti-baking

o.m.f.g.–stick around, I’ll explain. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this post OR recipe.

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We’ll get to the o.m.f.g. factor in these bars in just a second.

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For those of you who are just joining in here (welcome!) and for those of you returning folks (welcome back!), you should know that I am an avid literary gal. My appetite for books and brownies is voracious. If it ever boiled down to choosing between (Lewis) Carroll and chocolate chip cookies, we would have a dilemma on our hands, and we’re not talking the insignificant moment of panic you experienced in high school when you saw that huge zit pop up on your nose five hours before senior ball.

No, we’re talking tearing-my-heartstrings-and-running-them-through-the-paper-shredder dilemma.

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I love books.

I also love to bake and cook.

In fact, Bake + cOOK = book. True story.

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The problem is that sometimes, reading for my program (I’m a second-year grad student, en longgg route to an English Literature Ph.D) can sometimes be a drag. Trying to sludge through hundreds or even thousands of pages a week, in addition to grading Mt. Everest stacks of student papers, evokes horrors unrivaled by even the most chilling Gothic novels.

The solution is, of course, procrastibaking. It’s just what it sounds like–procrastinating through baking.

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This coming Fall quarter, I will be taking my qualifying exam to receive my Master’s and (hopefully) move onto writing a dissertation prospectus. Big, big stuff. As incentive to get me through reading lists of over 140 literary and scholarly works before November, I’ve come up with what will hopefully be an effective counter to the problem of procrastibaking.

I call it PRODUCTIBAKING.

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(On my kitchen table: Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen. British Romanticism List Book #1)

So here’s the idea:

I have approximately 140 works of literature to wade through between now and November. Rather than using my baking as a way to procrastinate from working, I’m reappropriating it as an incentive for productivity.

For every book, volume of stories, or other text I finish this year for my qualifying exams, I will bake something and do a photoshoot that includes the book in some way.

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The idea behind this is threefold:

1) I’ll be more effective with my work if I operate on a reward rather than guilt-based system.

2) I’ll have you guys to keep me accountable as I work towards this monumental goal!

3) I hope I’m bringing my love of books and baking together in a way that is as fun for you as it is for me.

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As I plow through my reading lists, I’ll update a visual photobook of items I’ve checked off and the ones still to come, so you can keep up with me and my progress. Check out the “Producti-baking” page on my blog (coming soon!). I’d love to hear what you guys think about this, so be sure to leave any feedback or other brilliant suggestions for improving this system.

Okay, but enough of that. Let’s get on to some real o.m.f.g.

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o.m.f.g. bars, otherwise known as Oreos made for gods bars. 

Did you see the Slutty Cheesecake Bars that I posted and were a smash success two weeks ago?

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  These chewy, flavor-packed bars operate on the same principle of souping up an Oreo, but this time we’ve got a chewy mocha chocolate chip blondie base topped with a perfectly spiced cinnamony snickerdoodle, both of which sandwich whole, unadulterated creamy Oreos.

And yeah, I’m taking full credit for this one.

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So what are you waiting for? Grab a book, snatch up an o.m.f.g. bar, bask in the summer sun, and get ready to turn over the leaf to a new chapter in our lives.

Summer productibaking, here we come!

  omfg (Oreos meant for gods) Bars 13--060113

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o.m.f.g. (Oreos made for gods) bars 
Yield: 1 9×9-inch baking pan
Ingredients:
For mocha chocolate chip blondie base (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 16 whole Oreos

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 9×9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Dissolve coffee granules in vanilla and stir into wet mixture. Add flour and salt; mix in until just incorporated.. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Place 16 whole Oreos on top of blondie crust and press them gently in until they stick to the dough.
  3. Spread dough evenly in prepared pan. Bake for about 7 minutes in oven–it should not be fully cooked through. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool briefly while you prepare snickerdoodle layer.

For snickerdoodle layer:

Original recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction: (I’ve used this recipe before for standalone snickerdoodle blondies, to great

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar + 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar + 1 tablespoon brown sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup and 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Cream together butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 6 tablespoons brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and 1/2 egg yolk (reserve the over half for part of a breakfast omelette!). Add vanilla, then mix in flour, baking powder, and salt until just incorporated. Fold in white chocolate chips.
  2. Pour batter over prepared mocha blondies + Oreos (recipe above).
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 tbsp white sugar, 1 tbsp brown sugar, and 1 tbsp cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over snickerdoodle batter, then gently swirl through batter with the tip of a knife. Place entire pan into preheated oven (still 350 degrees F) and bake for 25-35 minutes, until snickerdoodle layer has set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into 16 squares. Then…omfg, enjoy.

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Slutty Cheesecake Bars (from Bakers Royale)

Everybody loves watching a good action movie on the big screen. Everybody, except the two people sitting directly on either side of me, the unfortunate person in front of me whose chair gets pummeled every time a loud explosion occurs, and maybe anyone within shriek-audible range of me–which is basically everyone in the theater. I am not a dainty shrieker. I spent all of Star Trek: Into Darkness and Iron Man 3 doing weird spastic knee tucks in my seat and giving the front seat an extra-hard kick when its occupant turned around to glare at me.

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(Doesn’t this photo look like an adorable mini smiling wolf? Hehe, it makes me happy to look at it.)

That being said, I love watching action films in theater. If I have one weakness, though (aside from these “slutty cheesecake bars”–yes, we’ll get to these smexy bad boys and their seductive name in just a second), it’s an action film with plenty of eye candy. Speaking of which, have you seen Chris Pine in the new Star Trek movie? Never mind the fact that my Trekkie knowledge was limited to Spock’s horrendous haircut up until the first new movie in 2009. The hysterical prepubescent middle-school fan girl in me rares up every time young Captain Kirk flashes those sultry baby blues my way.

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As an added perk, he’s sweet-looking and smart. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s in English in 2002.

Oh heyyy. Guess who else has an English degree from the big Blue and Gold? Shall we discuss our shared literary interests over a cup of Free Trade tea and vegan pulled pork, Chris? Yes? Yes?

Slutty Cheesecake Bars gif

Or maybe over a panful of these?

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I was so excited when I first stumbled across these at Baker’s Royale. She is known for inventing some insane bar cookies, with zany names to boot (like Man Whore bars, which I still need to try–um, yes, please?) These are no exception. No, sireeee.

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Bake up a soft, chewy layer of perfect chocolate chip cookies (even from a package if you’re in a hurry–I used one of my favorite chewy CCC recipes). Layer up your Oreos–16 whole, creamy chocolatey onesthen smother them in a smooth and rich cheesecake filling. Chop up some more Oreos and Whoppers and sprinkle them over the whole shebang.

Bam. Slutty bar cookies for slutty perfectly innocuous, intelligent motives to meet Chris Pine.

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My coworkers and students thought I was insane when I brought a plate of these into the office last week. These reports can be neither confirmed nor denied. However, when I stepped back in half an hour later, these were completely gone. Completely.

These crazy-loaded treats (the only kinds I accept) make great conversation starters, apology/appeasement gifts, after-school sweet tooth snacks, and enticers of potential love interests. Slutty Cheesecake Bars 7--051913

I doubt even Chris Pine could resist them–but I’ll let you know after I test this theory out.

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Print this recipe and beam them up, Scotty!

Ala

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Slutty Cheesecake Bars (from Bakers Royale)
Yield: 1 8×8-inch baking pan
Ingredients:
For chocolate chip cookie base (original recipe from My Baking Addiction)–one of the chewiest, most satisfying CCC’s you’ll ever make!
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and both sugars until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg. Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt until just incorporated. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  2. Set bowl aside and make cheesecake layer.
  3. If you’d like to make these as individual cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drop prepared cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on hot cookie sheet for at least 3-5 minutes before removing to wire rack.

For cheesecake layer:

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Cream together softened cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat in until completely smooth, but be sure not to overbeat.
  2. Set aside cheesecake layer as you assemble the slutty cheesecake bars.

To assemble slutty cheesecake bars:

Ingredients:

  • 21 Oreos (16 whole Oreos and 5 chopped Oreos, divided)
  • 5 oz. Whoppers, chopped

Directions for assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan.
  2. Spread cookie dough evenly across the bottom of the prepared baking pan (or drop them by rounded tablespoonfuls on a cookie sheet if making cookies). Your cookie dough layer should be about half an inch thick–if you have leftover dough, you can bake it immediately as individual cookies or simply toss it into the fridge for baking at a later time. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, until the dough is just cooked through and firm. Remove from oven.
  3. Layer 16 whole Oreos on baked cookie crust. Pour cheesecake filling evenly over Oreos. Sprinkle 5 chopped Oreos and 5 oz. chopped Whoppers over the cheesecake.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until cheesecake is pretty well set. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan before cutting. Best served chilled from refrigerator (but make sure you store it in the fridge either way).
  5. Note: If you eat these warm straight out of the pan–as I did–you might be alarmed to find that the Whoppers are almost impossibly chewy! Don’t worry; if you wait like you’re (ahem) supposed to, they will regain their crunchy texture after chilling in the fridge. 

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Dreamy Raspberry Streusel Magic Bars

What are you making for your mom or the mom-like figure in your life this Sunday?

Raspberry Streusel Magic Bars gif

I have to admit that I am not making these. Well, maybe I did….but there is no remaining physical evidence to indicate that I did.

That’s right. I ate my mom’s Mother Day baked goods gift.

Oops. Love you, mumsy.

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The frontal lobe of my twisted brain reasons that I am flying my own sweet little self back home for Mother’s Day, and that my mom will therefore have everything she needs (i.e. me). Plus, she won’t miss what she never, er, knew she was missing out on. Right?

Right? Who’s with me?

You’ll understand what I mean shortly. Skedaddle off to the kitchen and make these gooey, crunchy, cinnamony, sweet, and simple bars–I guarantee you, they won’t last you until Sunday. And if they do–well, you’re either a saint, or you’re a mother yourself and have the patience of a saint.

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And if you are a mother, you should totally hoard the entire pan, because–well, it’s your day, and you can. And who ever needed a better excuse than THAT?

Happy (early) Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers who fill up our kitchens with warm aromas and our lives with lots of love!

Ala

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Dreamy Raspberry Streusel Magic Bars
Adapted from a fantastic original recipe at Mom on Time Out
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups sweetened coconut, flaked
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless raspberry preserves
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate (for drizzling)
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate (for drizzling)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, white sugar, 3/4 cup melted butter, and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Press lightly and evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Sprinkle coconut over graham cracker crust, then pour sweetened condensed evenly over coconut. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from oven and cool completely. While waiting for bars to cool, make streusel topping (recipe to follow).
  5. Spread raspberry preserves over cooled bars. Press prepared streusel lightly into the jam.
  6. Place semisweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds. Remove and stir; return to microwave and continue heating at 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is completely melted. Do the same for the white chocolate. Drizzle melted chocolates over the bars, then cut and serve!

For streusel topping:

  • 1  cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or nut of your choice (optional–if you omit them, increase oats by 1/2 cup)

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Press lightly onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until light brown. Crumble while still hot; set aside to cool completely.
  3. Press into the tops of your magic bars!

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Gooey Cookie Butter Brown Sugar Bars

Cookie butter. Alternate names: Biscoff spread, Speculoos.

These bars–all of the above, plus nectar of the gods.

Did I get the magic words in there anywhere?

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If you’re like me, you’ll want to grab a jar and just jam your really grown-up Minnie Mouse spoon right in–

Gooey Cookie Butter Bars gif

Ohhh yeah.

If this sounds like something you have done would do, you won’t want to miss these heavenly, gooey, cinnamony cookie butter bars!

Plus, they’ll give you a really amazing excuse to spoon out mouthfuls of cookie butter while you’re waiting for the bars to finish baking. I know my jar is almost gone, and the recipe only calls for a little over half a cup…

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On the other hand, if you’d like to agonize over nutritional labels and keep your body in bikini ship-shape in time for summer–skip out on these. Be my guest. Really. Because that means more, more, and more for me.

Oh, who are we kidding? These are awesome. You HAVE to try them!

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If you’re really set on avoiding these, I’ll be nice. I won’t tell you about the thick, perfectly proportioned spiced graham cracker crust, and I certainly won’t tell you about the melt-in-your-mouth, warm gooey layer of cookie butter molasses-style brown sugar that you’re sure to love.

Aren’t I just the nicest?

You can probably see why having an entire trayful of these bad boys sitting on my kitchen counter can be an eensy, weensy, HUGE problem.

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So check out the recipe. You DO have a jar of cookie butter sitting in your pantry, don’t you? Why, you DO? (Or if you don’t–you WILL in about 10 minutes, right?)

While I leave to Google the definition of “addiction,” why don’t you take another look at these drool-worthy bars?

And if you don’t see me back again in a while–er, don’t look in the kitchen. You might find a strange girl standing there with a Minnie Mouse spoon in one hand and an empty jar of cookie butter in the other…and that’s just awkward.

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Guess you might want to check your kitchen after all. And while you’re there, why not make these FANTASTIC cookie butter addict bars?

Gooey Cookie Butter Brown Sugar Bars
Cookie butter filling adapted from Handle the Heat
Ingredients:
For graham cracker crust:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (approximately 16 sheets, crushed)
  • 10 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For cookie butter brown sugar filling:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter spread

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. To make crust: Combine all crust ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Press evenly and lightly into greased baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden. Set aside to cool while making filling.
  3. To make filling: Combine filling ingredients until completely smooth. Pour over slightly cooled crust and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the center has just set. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then cut into bars and cool completely on a wire rack.

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