I love cookies!

Cookies have always been one of my favorite things to bake.  They were the first things I learned how to bake when I was little.  Every Christmas we would make tons of cookies and give them out as gifts and I still do that now.  I love nothing more than to see my kitchen covered in cookies.  So, when I had a group party to go to this week I made cookies!

 

cookies

Since we were going to have a big group of people I went with 2 different kinds of cookies, a Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cookies and M&M Chocolate Cookies.  Plus, anytime I make something with peanuts or peanut butter I like to make something else since I want to make sure people with nut allergies have something too.

The banana cookies were basically banana bread with chocolate and peanut butter chips.  I was a little surprised how much of the banana flavor came through because there was only 2 bananas used.  I thought for sure the flavor would get lost but it didn’t.  They were soft and delicious.  I would make these again in a heart beat and they were a big hit with the crowd.

The chocolate M&M cookies were dense and very chocolatey.  I would also make these again as well but I would change it up a bit.  I would chill the dough next time so the cookies would be a little puffier. I was a little disappointed that they went a little flat after cooling.  Also, if you look at the picture from the recipe you can clearly see the M&M’s and you can just kind of see them in mine.  I’m pretty sure that they put M&M’s on top of the cookies before baking them so you can see them on top like that.  I know it doesn’t do anything for the taste but you know what they say, you eat with your eyes first.

Now let’s talk chocolate chips.  I am 100% a ghiradelli girl.  I think they make the BEST chocolate chips.  They are huge and even at room temperature they stay nice and soft.  I love them!  My favorite is their Milk Chocolate (which I used in the banana cookies) and I used the Dark Chocolate in the M&M Cookies.  They’re going to cost you a little more but I think they are totally worth it.

And now I want milk and cookies….which I’m going to go get right now!

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Time

PB&J

Peanut Butter and Jelly, probably one of the most classic food combinations of all time.  I’m a big fan, a late night PB&J is one of my favorite snacks.  So I was very excited to give this recipe a try, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookie Bars.

First off, I think the name is a little misleading.  I wouldn’t describe this as a cookie. To me it has more of a peanut butter brownie type texture.  After feeding one to my favorite guinea pig, Anthony, he agreed that “cookie bar” was the wrong term too.  He actually said it was more bread like and not as sweet as he was expecting.  And I would have to agree with that as well.  Which is strange since they have a cup of sugar, a cup of brown sugar and peanut butter in them.

The recipe is pretty simple and the only change I made was the flavor of jelly.  I used a seedless raspberry jam because that’s what I happened to have on hand.  Because again, I enjoy a late night PB&J. Once I got the base made I was surprised by how much there was and that it was a little on the thick side.  When it came time to swirl the jam into the base it was really hard to do.  Usually when you do a swirl both the things have about the same consistency but this didn’t so it was hard to swirl the jam into it.  I ended up trying to smooth it out a bit and then just poured the jam on top in a pattern.  In the end I felt like it could have used more jam, the peanut butter is a little over powering. Since the base is so thick and there’s so much of it, I wish I had put half in and then layered the jam.  I think that would have put more of a flavor contrast in it.

PB&J1

So while this was pretty tasty I don’t think I would make these again. And I don’t think it has anything to do with the recipe but it just wasn’t what I was expecting.  I would probably prefer a peanut butter thumbprint cookie with jam, that way I get both of things I love in an equal amounts.   Great…now I have to go make cookies!

My Cheesecake Game Is STRONG!

butterfinger2

Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecake…go ahead and savor those words a little bit!  I love making cheesecakes.  I think I have a pretty solid handle on them and 9 times out of 10 can get them to come out beautifully. For that 10th time, I’m going to blame my oven for any less than stellar cheesecakes.  You try baking in an oven that doesn’t have any temperatures on the knob. (Ah, the thrills of apartment rental living)

But this week I made, what I have to say, is probably one of the tastiest cheesecakes ever. Butterfinger would have to be in my top 5 favorite candy bars and so you add that to cheesecake and I’m sold!  The recipe is a pretty standard peanut butter cheesecake with crushed Butterfingers added to it.  The recipe recommends adding sour cream or yogurt to the base.  I used sour cream, I like the little extra tang it gives to the mix.  The biggest change I made to the recipe was with the crust.  The recipe advised doing an Oreo crust but I thought it might be a little overwhelming for the cheesecake.  Plus, sometimes I find Oreo crusts to be a little oily due to the cream in the cookies.  This could just be me. So instead I made a traditional graham cracker crust.  I thought the graham cracker crust gave it a good balance and helped put a little salty factor in the cheesecake. I also added the recommended peanut butter drizzle on top and yep it was super yummy.  Although, as my friends and I were enjoying the hell out of this we all thought it could use a drizzle of chocolate as well.  Next time I make this…that is so happening!butterfinger

When I started slicing it I could see immediately that this is a super dense cheesecake that needs to be cut in smaller slices.  When you put a slice on a plate and the plate dips…you know the piece is too big.  So, start small on this one.  Also, I served it with some whip cream but I think vanilla ice cream would also be amazing with this.  And if you’ve never tried ice cream with cheesecake, you don’t know what you’re missing!  Try it…trust me

So, in the end, Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecake should be made and shared with friends.  And eaten in the middle of the night while watching the Olympics.  Or maybe that’s something only I do.  Either way, this is delicious and you should give it a try.

Fudge!

fudge

I absolutely, positively love fudge!  It’s one of my favorite treats and I love making it.  This week I’ve made 2 versions of fudge that I’ve never done before but I’m so happy I’ve made them now.

First up let’s go with the more classic of the 2, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge. Just that name puts a smile on my face.  I love peanut butter cups and I love fudge so you know it’s gonna be good and it so is.  Now for people who have a fear of making fudge this is the recipe for you.  No double boilers needed, no candy thermometer needed…just a glass bowl and a microwave and you’re good to go.  But as easy as this is let me give you a couple of helpful hints.  You start out by placing whole peanut butter cups in the bottom of the pan. It was a little warm in my house so I put them in the fridge for about 10 minutes and this helps when it comes to unwrapping all of them.  Your hands get warm and those little suckers will start melting on you quick.  Now the recipe called for 3 cups of chocolate chips and again how many cups are in a bag? Well, it’s approximately 2 cups in a bag so you’ll need a bag and a half but you can eyeball this and still come out just fine.  Last helpful hint, make sure everything is dry before you start melting your chocolate.  Just a little bit of water can ruin chocolate and there’s no coming back.  If I’m melting chocolate in the micorwave I put my glass bowl in there empty first and heat it for about 20 seconds. If there’s any moisture in the bowl it will be dry now and it heats the bowl up giving the chocolate a little head start.  After melting everything down you just pour it over the peanut butter cups smooth it out and top it with chopped up peanut butter cups.  It is awesome….trust me on that!

Next up was the Red Velvet Cake Batter Fudge.  This recipe intrigued me because it’s really freaking weird. It’s start with dry red velvet cake mix, which is odd enough for fudge but then you heat it with butter and a little bit of milk.  When it came out of the microwave I was a little concerned because it had the consistancy of really lumpy cake batter.  Then I stirred in my white chocolate chips and the texture didn’t change all that much and I was honestly very concerned at that point.  Fudge is supposed to be smooth and creamy but this looked very grainy and weird.  Now I did go my own way on this recipe because to me, it’s not red velvet without the cream cheese frosting.  The recipe suggesting topping the fudge with white spinkles but I decided to swirl in some cream cheese frosting instead.  When I had it all together it looked like a horrifying mess and I was pretty convinced that this stuff was not going to see the outside of my kitchen.  But I covered it and put it in the fridge over night like the recipe said.  The next morning I pulled it out and it still looked a little odd but I sliced it and gave it a taste test and it was smooth and creamy and delicious.  I have absolutely no idea how that happened other than magic fudge elves came into my kitchen and worked a little magic on it.  I would be interested to see if you could do the same with other cake mixes.

In the end I would give both of these recipes a thumbs up.  These would be ideal for holiday parties or gift giving.  The chocolate fudge is best at room tempture whille the Red Velvet seems to be best a little colder, just an FYI.  But you should totally give them both a try…even if it’s just to test and see if you have Fudge Elves in your kitchen too!

 

Shortbread…it’s still a thing!

shortbread

I can’t remember the last time I made shortbread and I don’t know why I don’t more often.  It’s buttery and delicious and super easy to make.  Seriously, give this a try.  The recipe I chose this week was White Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Magic Bars.  Again with the overly long name.  I think “magic bars” could be left off but that’s just me.

The recipe is very easy to follow and I didn’t run off and do my thing with this one. Except the recipe said to bake for 40 to 45 min but mine was done in 30.  So let that be a little lesson, keep an eye on your baked goods all ovens run a little different.  And my oven is a special little flower that needs a lot of attention and a good oven thermometer.

The thing that bugs me sometimes with recipes is the measuring of chocolate chips.  Do any of you actually measure them out cause I don’t.  I just eyeball it.  With the shortbread I used about a half of bag of mini chips and for me that was plenty.  I think if you get too many in there you might as well just use regular size chips.

The pouring of the sweetened condensed milk on top of the dough before cooking was a new thing for me.  I honestly wasn’t sure if that was going to work or not.  I like to rotate my pans half way through cooking and when I went to turn the pan the milk had kind of pooled and was even runnier than when I started so I was a little concerned.  But fear not by the time it was done cooking the milk had set and caramalized on top making it a little sticky and gooey.  Yum.

After it cooled I frosted it with peanut butter and did my whole Jackson Pollock thing on top with melted white chocolate.  The only thing that was missing was a big glass of milk. Seriously, we were out of milk…I don’t even know how that happens.  But I give this recipe a big thumbs up and highly recommend it.

shortbread2
Yep, I cut them into squares even though the recipe says “bars”.  I’m a rebel!