Candy Bar Blondies or Blondie Cookies?

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to choose between a cookie and a blondie.  I’m here to tell you that this world does exist!  This recipe for Candy Bar Blondies bakes up the most amazing chewy, gooey, crackly edged blondies.  But, that’s not all.  The batter also makes the most divine ultra buttery, vanilla-y super thin, rich, crispy edged, tender centered Blondie Cookies.  The recipe is quick and easy, and no mixer is needed.  So technically there’s nothing stopping you from achieving your dream of cookies and blondies existing side by side, hand in hand (your hand that is).

Candy Bar Blondies include chopped Twix, Heath Bars, and Rolos for that extra gooey, chewy texture.

Candy Bar Blondies- Sallys1

Blondie Cookies let the batter speak for itself and subscribe to the old adage that there’s beauty in simplicity.

Blondie Cookies-Sallys1

Candy Bar Blondies and Blondie Cookies

(from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
Makes one 8×8 inch pan

Ingredients

1 cup (125g) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200g) packed light brown sugar (make sure it’s not lumpy)
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg (at room temperature is preferred)
1 1/2 cups various candy bars, chopped (good options are Heath Bars, Twix, Milky Way, Snickers, Butterfinger, Rolos) (not needed if you’re making Blondie Cookies)

Directions

Candy Bar Blondies

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with heavy duty (if you have it) aluminum foil, and let the foil overhang the sides so that you can easily lift the finished blondies out of the pan
  3. Melt the butter using a microwave or in a pan over the stove top.  Set aside to cool a little.
  4. In a medium size bowl, measure out the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir together.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla together until the mixture has slightly lightened in color and is well combined.
  6. Add the egg to the butter mixture, and whisk to mix well.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir together until the batter is just combined. Do not overmix to ensure a tender dough.
  8. Stir in the chopped candy bars. The batter will be thick.
  9. Spread the batter evenly into the baking pan.
  10. Bake for 24-26 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
  11. Remove from the oven, and cool completely before cutting into squares.

Blondie Cookies

  1. Prepare cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.  If you don’t use parchment paper, you probably do not need to grease/spray your cookie sheet because these cookies have a good amount of butter to keep them from sticking.
  2. Follow Steps 1, 3-7 above.  Skip step 8 as the cookies will be too thin and fragile to handle the candy bar pieces.
  3. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.  It should thicken up a bit.
  4. Using a teaspoon scoop, space the rounded dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.  Make sure to leave enough room between dough balls as the cookies spread a bit during baking.
  5. Bake for about 8 minutes until the edges of the cookie have barely darkened.
  6. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, and let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 8 minutes until they are firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.
  7. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack, and cool completely.

Note:  The blondies/cookies can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars (aka Homemade Twix)

I had extra special visitors in town earlier this year, so of course we had to bake something ridiculously sweet and addictively delicious.  My dear visitors share my love of Twix candy bars, so we made a homemade version with buttery, tender shortbread, a chewy, thick layer of caramel, and a smooth, dark chocolate ganache.  Even though there are three separate components to this recipe, each is quick and easy to make (the caramel is is made from Kraft caramel squares).

IMG_5430

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

Makes One 9″ x 13″ pan
(from King Arthur Flour)
My notes are in [ ] below.

Ingredients

Shortbread Layer

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour

Caramel Layer

2 cups (20 ounces) caramel, cut into small chunks [I used Kraft caramel squares]
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate Layer

3 cups (18 ounces) chopped milk chocolate or dark chocolate, melted [I used chopped Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate bars]
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (optional)

Directions

Shortbread Crust

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F. Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan lightly with cooking spray, or line with parchment, and set aside. [I prefer lining with parchment paper.]
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour. At first the mixture may seem dry, but will come together as you continue to beat at medium speed.
    Take the dough (it will be somewhat stiff) and press it evenly into the pan. Lightly flouring your fingertips will help with any sticking.
  3. Prick the crust all over with a fork. The holes will allow steam to escape and the crust will bake evenly with fewer bubbles.
  4. Bake the crust until it’s lightly golden brown on top and the edges are deeper golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edges to loosen the crust. Set it aside to cool completely.

Caramel

  1. Melt the caramel and cream over low heat in a small saucepan [or with short pulses of heat (20-30 second increments) in the microwave].
  2. Pour the caramel over the cooled crust and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill and firm up.

Chocolate Layer

  1. Melt the milk or dark chocolate [I prefer dark chocolate] slowly in a double boiler or over very low heat.
  2. If it seems very thick, add a tablespoon of shortening to thin it. [I used shortening and find that it makes the chocolate easier to work with.]
  3. Pour evenly over the chilled caramel layer and spread to cover all of the caramel.
  4. Return to the fridge until the chocolate is well set.
  5. Cut into 2″ x 2″ squares to serve. [Don’t cut the bars directly out of the fridge as it will be difficult to cut because it’s so cold and the layers may separate.  Wait until the chocolate softens a little and then cut into bars.]

Note:  It’s best to store these bars in the refrigerator.  These bars can also be cut and dipped in milk chocolate to resemble Twix bars. After the caramel layer has chilled firm, cut down the length of the pan, splitting the bars into two long, narrow bars. Then cut each long strip into “fingers”. Dip the chilled bars into melted chocolate and place on parchment paper to set for several hours.

S’mores Bars

Measure, melt, mix, pour, and eat (no campfire needed).  It doesn’t get any easier than making S’mores Bars.  Click here if you want to make the easiest microwave version of this recipe.  I didn’t have a microwave safe bowl large enough for all the ingredients, so I did all my melting over the stove top. The original recipe calls for Golden Grahams cereal, but I used Mom’s Best Cereals- Honey Grahams because they seem to have a little bit less sugar.  Instead of mixing in mini marshmallows before pouring the mixture into the pan, I sprinkled the marshmallows over the top and brûléed them with a torch because I’m fancy like that.

smores bars- betty crocker1

Smores Bars

Makes one 9×13 inch pan
(adapted from Betty Crocker)
My notes are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

8 cups Golden Grahams cereal [I like Mom’s Best Cereals- Honey Grahams because they have a little less sugar.  One 11.5 box is about 1 cup short of 8 cups, so I used 1 cup of Rice Krispies to supplement]
5 cups miniature marshmallows (10 oz bag)
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup light corn syrup
5 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup miniature marshmallows, if desired [to be added in at the end of the recipe]

Directions

  1. Butter a 13×9-inch pan.
  2. Measure the cereal into a large bowl.
  3. On low to medium-low heat on the stove top, melt the butter, 5 cups marshmallows, chocolate chips, and corn syrup in a large pot, stirring until smooth.
  4. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Pour the cereal over the mixture and quickly toss until completely coated.
  6. If you want, stir in 1 cup of marshmallows.  If you want brûléed marshmallows on top, skip this step.
  7. Press the mixture evenly into your pan, using the buttered back of a spoon.
  8. If you want to be fancy, sprinkle 1 cup of miniature marshmallows on top of the cereal mixture and press down.  Let cool for a few minutes and then brûlée the marshmallows with your torch.
  9. Let stand uncovered at least 1 hour, or refrigerate if you prefer a firmer bar.
  10. Cut into and store covered at room temperature up to 2 days.

Dulce de Leche Shortbread Bars

Look at this chocolate.  It’s as smooth as glass.   And if you were sitting on your surfboard in the middle of this calm chocolate ocean, you won’t even be bummed that there wasn’t a wave in sight because you could dip your finger down past the dark chocolate into the sticky, cinnamon-infused dulce de leche sitting below, eventually stopping at the crispy, crumbly cinnamon-coconut shortbread crust.  You can’t get more stoked than that.
Salted Dulce de Leche Shortbread Bars- Penzeys2
All the delicious layers.
Salted Dulce de Leche Shortbread Bars- Penzeys3

Dulce de Leche Shortbread Bars

(Adapted from Penzey’s)
Makes approximately 24 bars
My notes are in [  ].

Ingredients

Shortbread Base

1 cup pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Dulce de Leche

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons Lyle’s golden syrup (available by the sweeteners) [I didn’t have Lyle’s so I used Steen’s Blended Syrup Southern Made]
1 tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Chocolate Topping

16 oz. dark chocolate [I used Trader Joe’s 72% 1lb dark chocolate bar.]
1 teaspoon butter
1-2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Directions

Shortbread Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 360°F.
  2. Line a 9×14 inch pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour mixture, brown sugar, coconut, butter, and cinnamon. Mix well on low.
  5. Press the dough into the baking pan so that it’s about 1/4-inch thick.
  6. Bake at 360° for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool a bit.

Dulce de Leche

  1. Combine the milk, golden syrup, and butter in a small heavy saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, making sure to stir constantly.  At one point, the mixture may start to get lumpy (like ricotta cheese), but just keep stirring and it will smooth out.  Cook until big bubbles form and the mix is thickened and a light caramel color, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Take the dulce de leche off of the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Whisk in the cinnamon.
  4. Pour the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and gently spread it.
  5. Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool.

Chocolate Topping

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter using a double boiler or in a glass bowl placed over a pot of boiling water. Stir until melted.
  2. Pour and spread the chocolate over the cooled caramel.
  3. Sprinkle with the sea salt. [I forgot to sprinkle the sea salt on my bars, but next time I’ll make sure to do so.]
  4. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set, about 2 hours.
  5. Let the cold bars site at room temperature for about five minutes, and then cut into bars [if you cut the bars right out of the fridge when they’re too cold, the chocolate may crack or separate from the dulce de leche].  Cut and serve or refrigerate the cut pieces in an airtight container.

Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free)

For years, my skepticism that gluten-free flours could produce the “right” baked goods texture made me highly resistant to experimenting with gluten-free baking.  But during a recent trip the to the Williams Sonoma outlet, a bag of Cup4Cup, a gluten-free flour developed by a chef, finally made its way into my shopping basket.  My first experiment was with Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars, and what a perfect recipe to start off my foray into gluten-free baking.  The cookie bars were soft but not crumbly or dry, and the Nutella made these even more over the top delicious.  I can already hear the much rejoicing among my gluten-free friends.

Cup4Cup gluten-free flour is pretty amazing.  It’s the only gluten-free flour I’ve tried so far, but I still think it’s amazing.
Nutella Sugar Cookie Bar-C4C5

The Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars don’t look too impressive from above, but…
Nutella Sugar Cookie Bar-C4C2

…the side view reveals all the delicious layers.  Nutella Sugar Cookie Bar-C4C3

Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free)

(from Cup4Cup)
Makes one 9″x9″ pan

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups Cup4Cup flour
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup Nutella

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a non-stick 9” x 9” pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl mix together the Cup4Cup flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix on medium speed until combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture, and mix on low until a dough is formed.
  6. Place half of the dough into the bottom the baking dish, and use your fingers to spread it out into an even layer.
  7. Spread the Nutella evenly over the top.
  8. Take the remaining dough and scoop it by the tablespoon to cover most of the Nutella. Spaces of Nutella between the dough are ok.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until baked through and light golden brown.
  10. Cool to room temperature, cut into squares and serve.

Caramel Pecan Bars

Looking for a passive-aggressive way to tell someone they’re nuts?  Give them these Caramel Pecan Bars and tell them, “I thought of you while baking these.”  These bars are the nuttiest bars I’ve come across with 6 cups (!!!) of pecans in the recipe. I only had 3 cups of pecans, so I halved the recipe.  The result was chewy, nutty, caramely, pecans riding atop a buttery, shortbread crust.  This may be one of the sweetest ways to throw some shade.

Caramel Pecan Bars- All the good cookies1

Caramel Pecan Bars

(from Cookies for Kids’ Cancer – All the Good Cookies by Gretchen Holt-Witt)
Makes 6 dozen squares

Ingredients

Crust

1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling

2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
6 cups pecans
1/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with foil.

Crust

  1. Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  2. In a separate, large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, and beat until everything is incorporated.
  4. Press the dough into the bottom of the foil-lined pan.  Set the pan aside while you make the filling.

Filling

  1. Put the butter, honey, and sugars in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the pecans, cream, and vanilla
  3. Pour the filling over the crust, and transfer the pan to the oven.
  4. Bake until set and deep brown, 35 to 45 minutes.
  5. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  When cool, remove from the pan and cut in 72 pieces.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

S’Mores Rice Krispie Treats

Nothing beats making fresh s’mores over a campfire.  But if all you have is a microwave, you’re still in luck, because with a few pushes of a button and some stirring, you can make these S’mores Rice Krispie Treats.  Melted marshmallows are spread over the bottom layer of graham crackers, and a mixture of milk and dark chocolate, cashew butter, and rice krispies cereal tops it all off.
Smores rice krispie treats-Kelloggs4

S’Mores Rice Krispie Treats

(Adapted from Kellogg’s Rice Krispies)
Makes one 9×13 inch pan of bars

Ingredients

7 rectangular sheets of graham crackers (each cracker sheet measures about 5×2 inches and is scored into 4 pieces)
2 1/2 cups marshmallows
2 cups(12 oz.) chocolate morsels or chopped chocolate bar (you can use a mixture of milk, semi-sweet, or dark chocolate)
2/3 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup nut butter, smooth or crunchy (I used cashew butter, but you can also use peanut or almond butter)
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Directions

  1. Coat 13 x 9 x 2-inch microwave-safe pan (I used a glass pan) with cooking spray.
  2. Put rice krispie cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Arrange graham crackers in single layer in the pan, breaking the crackers as needed to fit.
  4. Arrange marshmallows evenly over crackers, making sure that nearly all of the surface is covered.
  5. Microwave the pan on high for 1 minute or until marshmallows are puffy. Remove from the microwave and set aside to let cool.
  6. In a microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Microwave on high for about 1 1/2 minutes or until chocolate is melted, stirring every 30 seconds.
  7. Add the nut butter to the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.
  8. Pour the chocolate-nut butter mixture over the rice krispie cereal, stirring until combined.
  9. Spread the mixture evenly over the marshmallows.
  10. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until firm. Cut and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Crunch Squares

Put down that Hershey’s Krackel bar, and step away from the Nestle Crunch bar.  Here’s a recipe for Chocolate Crunch Squares that will make you forget that those candy bars ever existed.  The combination of dark chocolate and puffed rice cereal with a touch of almond butter and honey makes this one of my favorite candy bar knockoffs (although they look more like rice krispie squares than thin candy bars).  I like to eat mine slightly chilled for that extra crunch.

Chocolate Crunch - Tasting Table4

Chocolate Crunch Squares

(Adapted from Tasting Table)
Makes one 9×9 inch pan’s worth of bars

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon honey
4 cups puffed rice cereal

Directions

  1. On top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter.
  2. Add the almond butter and honey, and mix until combined.
  3. Remove from heat, mix in the puffed rice cereal, and pour into a 9-inch square baking pan.
  4. Let set in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours.  Bring to room temperature before cutting.

I prefer these bars slightly cold, and I stored them in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate from melting in the warm weather.

Rice Krispie Treats

Don’t know how to turn on the oven?  Don’t like to read and follow complicated directions?  Not enough time to bake?  Too lazy to put much effort into making something?  Insecure in the kitchen?  Whatever excuse you have, sweep it out of the door.  Here’s a recipe that anyone can make, and when I feel lazy but want something sweet, I whip up a batch of Rice Krispie Treats.  You only need three ingredients, butter, marshmallows, and rice krispies, and the only kitchen skills you need are the ability to melt butter and marshmallows together and a strong arm to stir.  Rice Krispie treats1

Rice Krispie Treats

(from Kellogg’s Rice Krispies)
Makes enough to fill a 9×13 pan

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz.) of large Marshmallows OR 4 cups of Miniature Marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies® cereal

Directions

  1. Prepare a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan by coating it with cooking spray or greasing with butter.
  2. In large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Do not set the heat too high or the butter will brown and burn.
  3. Add the marshmallows to the melted butter, and stir until completely until they’re well combined and melted. Keep the heat low so that marshmallow-butter mixture does not brown.
  4. Remove the pot from heat, and immediately add rice krispies cereal. Stir until well combined.
  5. Immediately pour the mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan, and using buttered spatula, wax paper, or parchment paper, evenly press mixture  into the pan.
  6. Cool, and cut into 2-inch squares.

Fudge Brownie Shortbread Bars

I love it when good food reminds other people of me.  This recipe for fudge brownie shortbread bars was passed along to me from a friend who said that she thought of me when she came across the recipe.  A thick, fudgy brownie sits on top of a buttery, crumbly shortbread bar, and the whole thing is topped off by a smooth, rich chocolate ganache.  The recipe takes a bit of time to make because of the three step process, but the outcome is worth the extra effort.

Shortbread Brownies- 12 tomatoes 2

Fudge Brownie Shortbread Bars

(Adapted from 12 Tomatoes)
Makes approximately 20 bars

Ingredients

Shortbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Brownies
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut up into 8 pieces
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup cake flour (or 1 cup all-purpose as well)

Topping
1/2 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions

Shortbread

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F, and line a 9×9-inch baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on both sides.
  2. In the bowl of food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt and pulse together.
  3. Gradually add cold, cubed butter and vanilla extract and pulse until dough begins to come together.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form a dough ball with your hands.
  5. Transfer dough to greased baking dish and press firmly into the bottom, corners and edges of dish in an even layer.
  6. Place dish in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is a light golden color.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.  Leave the oven at 350º F.

Brownies

  1. Prepare the brownie batter while the shortbread is baking.
  2. Line an 8″x8″ metal baking pan with aluminum foil.
  3. Combine chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.
  5. Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Mix until evenly incorporated.
  6. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs mixture and stir until combined
  7. Add the flour and walnuts and fold in until the flour is just incorporated (no white streaks, but be careful to not over-mix)
  8. Pour batter over cooled shortbread crust.  Pour the batter into the baking pan and push it to the edges in an even layer. Use a rubber spatula to smooth out the top. and place in oven.
  9. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until edges begin to pull away from baking dish and center is set. (It’s ok if center has cracked.)

Topping and Finishing

  1. Place chocolate chips and heavy cream in microwave safe bowl. and stir until mixture is completely smooth and melted.
  2. Remove brownies from oven and let cool 15 minutes.
  3. Drizzle chocolate over brownies and let cool completely.
  4. Remove bars from baking dish by extracting parchment paper and cut into squares