Caramello Blondies

Caramello Blondies-Caramel

Caramello bars have always been one of my favorite candy bars!  So when I came across this recipe I thought, let’s do this! Making these blondies was both a good and bad decision. Good, because they were delicious. Bad, because I wanted to eat them all! Luckily I was able to pawn some off…uh I mean give some,  to a friend.  From what I was told, her family loved them!

These bars are super sweet and tasty! Now, just a warning, they may be too sweet for the average person. I cut an 8×8 pan of blondies into 16 squares and you could probably eat half of one of those and be satisfied. I definitely recommend eating one with a glass of milk nearby. If you love sweet treats, caramel, and white chocolate, then you will love these!  Bake it or leave it?  Bake it!

Here’s where I found the recipe: http://www.ohbiteit.com/2012/06/caramello-blondies.html

Servings: 16

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40-50 minutes (including melting caramel)

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:Caramello Blondies-Mixing Bowl

1 Box of yellow cake mix

60 Individually wrapped KRAFT caramels (one bag plus about 10 from another)

1 Cup finely chopped pecans

1/2 Cup white chocolate chips

1/2 Cup melted butter

1/3 Cup evaporated milk

1/2 Cup evaporated milk (additional)

1/4 Cup powdered sugar (only if you want it for dusting the bars)

Caramello Blondies- Bottom Layer

Caramello candy bars for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F

In a medium bowl, combine the cake mix, pecans, butter, white chocolate chips, and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk and mix well.

Spray a 9×9 (or 8×8 in my case) pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Split the dough in half and press one half down into the bottom of the pan.  Try to make sure it’s even.

Bake this at 350 F for 8-10 minutes.

While that is baking, melt the caramels in a double boiler with the 1/2 cup of evaporated milk.  (If you don’t have a legit double boiler, you can use two pots stacked on top of each other.  Or you can use a metal bowl on top of a pot. Just make sure it doesn’t have a plastic bottom.)Caramello Blondies-Double Boiler

Make sure to constantly stir the the caramel to help it melt evenly.  Just be patient, it’ll take some time for this part : )

Pour the melted, gooey, delicious caramel onto the bottom blondie layer and set aside.

Take the other half of your dough and press it into a kind of square shape.  I put some flour on a rolling mat and rolled it into a square shape.  I then just turned the mat upside down over the pan and plopped it on top of the melted caramel.  You could also place wax paper under the dough and roll it on that and then just peel if off of the paper and place it on top of the caramel layer.

It’s OK if your dough doesn’t completely cover the caramel layer.  It will expand while baking.

Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes or until it’s lightly golden brown and firm.

Let it cool and then place it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to set up.

When ready, you can cut your blondies into squares and dust with powdered sugar and top with a broken up Caramello bar!  I only used the powdered sugar and Caramello bar for my picture.  I think the blondies are plenty sweet without the added sugar on top : ) But it does look pretty!

Caramello Blondies-Final Shot

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving):

Calories: 395

Carbs: 54

Fat: 19

Protein: 4

Sodium: 282

Sugar: 40

*Courtesy of MyFitnessPal recipe calculator (nutrition facts do not include powdered sugar or Caramello bar for topping)

Banana Cake

Banana Cake-Sliced Into

Let me start off by saying this. I love banana cake and banana bread. Who doesn’t? It’s delicious. So when I had a few VERY ripe bananas sitting on my kitchen counter, I knew exactly what to do with them. I searched Pinterest for a tasty and easy looking recipe and came across this one. I had all of the ingredients on hand so I went for it. The result? Super moist and tasty banana cake. It came out better than my banana bread ever has.  I will definitely be making this one again! I’m just not sure how I feel about the lemon icing. I think I would make a basic vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting to go with it next time.  Fun fact, turns out the creator of this recipe is a well known chef in New Zealand. That’s pretty cool. You never know where Pinterest will lead you! So bake it or leave it? BAKE IT!

Here’s where I found the recipe:  http://www.annabel-langbein.com/recipes/banana-cake/255/

Servings: 8 (that’s for a large slice)

Prep Time: 15 minute

Cook Time: 50-60 minutes (mine took about 70-75 minutes)

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

250 g butter, softened (about 18 Tbsp)

1 1/2 Cups sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp natural vanilla essence (pure vanilla extract)

4 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 2 cups)

2 tsp baking soda
Banana Cake-mixing 2

1/2 Cup hot milk

3 Cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

 Lemon Icing: 

50 g butter, softened (about 3 1/2 Tbsp)

3 Tbs lemon juice

3 Cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 170 celsius or 338-350 Fahrenheit (I did 338 degrees F, so cooking time was longer).  Line a 23 cm round cake tin (about 9″) with baking paper or prepare cupcake tins (I used an 8″ spring form pan and I skipped the paper step and just buttered my pan).

Banana Cake-Cooked

Beat butter and sugar until creamy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla, then the mashed bananas.  Dissolve the baking soda in hot milk over the stove and add to the mixture.  Sift the flour and baking soda over the mixture and fold in.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan or tins and smooth the top.  Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is springy to the touch.

One large cake will take about 50-60 minutes, allow 45-55 minutes for 4 medium cakes and about 20 minutes for cupcake-sized cakes.  (As you can see in the picture above, I like to place my spring form pan on a cookie sheet so it’s easier to take out of the oven)

Cool in tin and frost when cool.  Store in a sealed container in a cool place for 2-3 days or wrap non-frosted cake and freeze. (Tip for covering the cake: put a mixing bowl upside down over the cake. That’s what I did so as not to disturb the frosting)

To make the icing, beat together butter, lemon juice, sugar, and 1/2 Tbsp hot water until creamy (I didn’t use the water).

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving):

Banana Cake-Full 2

Cake 

Calories: 598

Carbs: 83

Fat: 28

Protein: 9

Sugar: 44

Sodium: 477

Lemon Icing

Calories: 226

Carbs: 46

Fat: 5

Protein: 0

Sodium: 1

Sugar: 44

*Courtesy of MyFitnessPal recipe calculator (nutrition varies based on serving size)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs

Ball_1So this recipe has been calling to me for some time now.  I first spotted it on Pinterest but was afraid it would turn out to be one of those recipes that doesn’t taste as good as it looks.  But I decided to give in to the temptation and lure of the picture and just make it.  I am so glad that I did!  These things have a lot going on but it all works well together and one flavor doesn’t overpower the other.  If you love raw cookie dough, which I do, and chocolate (who doesn’t?), then this recipe is for you.  But just a warning, these are very sweet and delicious.  These “bombs” will satisfy your sweet tooth and after just one, you won’t be able to eat any other sweets for at least a day.  I think these would be easy, tasty treats for parties or holidays.  The recipe makes about 20 “bombs”, you can eat them with your hands, and you can make them ahead of time and just freeze them!  So when it comes down to it, bake it or leave it?  I say BAKE IT!

Here’s where I found the recipe: http://thedomesticrebel.com/2013/02/20/chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-brownie-bombs/

Servings: 20

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes (brownies & chocolate)

InactiveTime: 1 hour 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup butter, softened

3/4 Cup brown sugar

1/4 Cup granulated white sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp milk

Pinch salt

2 Cups all-purpose flour

2 Cups miniature chocolate chips (divided)

1 pkg fudge brownie mix (baked according to box directions and cooled)

1 pkg Candiquik  or chocolate almond bark (I used the bark)

Directions:

Using a stand mixer, beat together the sugars until creamy.  Add the milk and vanilla and beat to combine everything.  Then beat in the flour and pinch of salt until a soft dough forms.  Stir in 1 Cup of mini chocolate chips.

Line a baking sheet with foil and drop rounded, tablespoon size balls of dough onto lined baking sheet (I used a cookie dough scoop so  mine may have ended up a bit larger).  Freeze the cookie dough balls for about an hour.

Cut the brownies into small, 1 inch size squares.  (I think mine ended up being more like 2 inches.  Maybe that’s why they were so big). Try to avoid the edges of the pan since they can be a bit more well done. And you don’t want weird crunchies in your “bomb”.

Pick up a square and gently flatten it in your hands (I found that this works much better than trying to flatten it on a different surface).  At this point you’ll see why it’s  important to use fudge brownies rather than cake brownies (they flatten easier and retain their moisture).

Place a dough ball in the middle of the flattened

d brownie and gently wrap the brownie up around the cookie dough.  You can kind of squish the brownie around until it fully covers the cookie dough ball.  Repeat this with all of the cookie dough balls.  Then return the brownie covered balls to the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Once the balls are done in the freezer, prepare the chocolate bark or Candiquik according to package directions.  Use a fork to dip the brownie balls into the melted chocolate.  Make sure you cover the whole thing in chocolate and then let the excess drip off.  Return  he ball to the foil lined sheet and sprinkle the remaining mini chocolate chips onto the chocolate-dipped brownie balls.  You can then store these in the fridge or freezer  in an airtight container (I prefer the freezer myself).

Now go enjoy your Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs!

Ball_finished

Nutrition Facts (per serving):

Calories: 578

Carbs: 77

Fat: 32

Protein: 4

Sodium: 106

Sugar: 59

*Courtesy of MyFitnessPal recipe calculator

Maple Cheesecake

Where’s the maple?

Final-Maple Cheesecake

I first saw this recipe on Pinterest and instantly thought of a maple bar donut.  Yum!  I decided to give this cheesecake a try yesterday and found the recipe here:

http://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/246175527/maple-cheesecake/

Sadly, it did not taste like a maple bar.  It didn’t even taste like maple at all!  I was so disappointed.  This recipe is a pretty easy, straightforward cheesecake recipe with some maple syrup added.  As far as cheesecakes go, this one tasted pretty darn good.  But if you’re going to call it “Maple” Cheesecake then it better taste like maple.  If I were to make it again, I would add some maple extract to give it a some flavor.  I would also cook it a little longer.  My springform pan was a little smaller than what the recipe called for and I added an extra 10 minutes to the cook time but I think it could have used at least another 5 minutes.  All in all, this is a good cheesecake.  However, if you’re looking for a “maple” cheesecake, this is not the one for you.  If you make some adjustments to the recipe with maple extract, it could be much better.  As a cheesecake, I say bake it.  As a “maple” cheesecake should you bake it or leave it?  I say LEAVE IT.

Servings: 8

Prep Time: 20 min

Inactive Time: 6-8 hrs

Cutting Butter-Maple Cheesecake

Cook Time: 50-60 min (depending on size of pan)

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients: 

For the Crust:

3/4 Cup flour

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 Cup butter

1/4 Cup toasted chopped pecans

For the Cheesecake:

3 (8oz) packages cream cheese (room temperature)

Crust-Maple Cheesecake

1 (8oz) container mascarpone cheese (room temperature)

3/4 Cup brown sugar

1/2 Cup pure maple syrup

1/4 Cup half and half

2 Tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs (room temperature)

Maple Whipped Cream:

2 Cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 Cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 packets Whip-It (optional, I didn’t use this)

maple flakes (optional, I used chopped pecans on top instead)

Directions:

Mixture-Maple Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar.  Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or fork and add the chopped pecans.

Press the mixture onto the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan (you can use other sizes, you may need to adjust the cook time accordingly).  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool completely.

In a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese.  Beat until smooth.

Pour the cheesecake filling over the cooled crust.Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, half and half, flour, and vanilla to the cheesecake mixture.  Mix well.  Add the eggs to the mixture and beat until they are just combined

Ready for Oven-Maple Cheesecake

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until outer edges are set and the middle still jiggles (I think mine was still too jiggly so make  sure the majority of the cheesecake is more firm).  Let it cool in the pan for 15

minutes.  Then gently run a knife around the edges of the pan and remove the ring.  Let cool for 2 hours and then cover and chill in the refrigerator for 4+ hours.

Before serving, whip the heavy cream and Whip-It (if you decide to use this) until soft peaks form.  Add the maple syrup and vanilla and continue to whip until the mixture is thick.  You can pipe the cream onto the cheesecake or just put a dollop on each slice.  Sprinkle with maple flakes or chopped pecans and you are ready to serve!

The cheesecake, without the whipped cream, can be made in advance and frozen for up to one month.

Cooled-Maple Cheesecake

*WARNING: YOU MAY NOT WANT TO LOOK AT THE NUTRITION FACTS BELOW.  THEY ARE A BIT TERRIFYING*

Nutrition Facts (per serving, doesn’t include Whip-It or Maple Flakes):

Calories: 1000

Carbs: 72

Fat: 73

Protein: 14

Sodium: 567

Sugar: 54

*Courtesy of MyFitnessPal recipe calculator

Super Lemony Lemon Squares

Lemons

The sunshine today inspired me to make something light and refreshing.  So I made lemon squares!  I went with a recipe from Emeril Lagasse and boy am I happy I chose this recipe today!  It’s the perfect combination of sweet and tart.  This is a very easy recipe to follow and comes with awesome results.   Bake it or leave it? Definitely BAKE IT!  Here’s where I found the recipe:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/super-lemony-lemon-squares-recipe/index.html

Servings: 12 (Emeril’s recipe says 24, but seriously, who’s only going to eat a tiny little square like that?)

Prep Time: 12 min

Inactive Time: 50 min

Cook Time: 55 min (my crust took 35 minutes to turn golden brown)

Difficulty: EASY

Ingredients: 

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter

2/3 Cup powdered sugar, plus some extra if you want it for garnish

1/4 Cup cornstarch

Lemon Juicer

3/4 teaspoon salt, plus an extra pinch

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/3 Cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 Cup whole milk (I used skim milk since that’s what I had on hand and it worked well also)

2/3 Cup fresh lemon juice, make sure to strain for seeds : ) (I like to use a little juicer as pictured above)

2 tablespoons limoncello or another lemon flavored liqueur (I used a lemon drop mix that I already had)

Directions: 

Lightly butter a 9×13 baking dish and line with a sheet of wax or parchment paper.  Butter the top of this paper and then place a second sheet of paper crosswise over the first sheet.  You’ll want a big enough piece of paper so that some is hanging over the edges.  This will help you pull the lemon squares out of the pan later.  Set the pan aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups of the flour, 2/3 cups of the powdered sugar, the cornstarch, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and mix thoroughly.  Cut the 12 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture.  Work the butter into the flour mixture using your hands, 2 forks, or a pastry blender (I personally prefer a pastry blender).  The mixture should resemble coarse meal.  Transfer the butter-flour mixture to the prepared baking dish and press down until it’s about 1/4 inch thick all over and press some slightly up the sides of the dish as well.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the crust is in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the crust until it’s golden brown, about 20-25 minutes (it took 35 minutes for my oven, so just keep an eye on it).

While the crust is in the oven, prepare the filling by combining the eggs, granulated sugar, flour and lemon zest in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.  Stir in lemon juice, milk, limoncello, and remaining pinch of salt.  Mix well.

When the crust is golden brown, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven

Lemon Pantemperature to 325 degrees F.  Stir the lemon mixture, then pour it onto the warm crust.  Bake until the filling is set, which should be about 20 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.  Grab the wax paper or parchment paper that lines the side of the dish and remove the bars by pulling up on the paper gently.  The bars should easily come out of the pan (I waited for the bars to cool in the refrigerator before I pulled the dish out to cut them.  If you do this, you may need to use a spatula around the edges of the dish to dislodge the paper).  You can then transfer it to a cutting board and cut it into squares.  Or you can just grab a fork and enjoy haha.   If you want to dress up the bars, you can put some powdered sugar into a sieve and sprinkle the bars lightly with the sugar.  You can then serve your lemon squares immediately or refrigerate them wrapped in plastic wrap.  They should be good in the refrigerator for up to two days but I highly doubt they’ll go that long without being gobbled up.

I hope you enjoy these delicious lemon squares! I sure am enjoying mine!

Lemon Square Close Up Use

Nutrition Facts (per serving):

Calories: 319

Carbs: 46

Fat: 13

Protein: 4

Sodium: 173

Sugar: 30

*Courtesy of MyFitnessPal recipe calculator

Gooey Butter Cake 3.18.13

Butter CakeI’ve been wanting to make this recipe for some time now.  I first saw it pinned throughout Pinterest and it looked so good!  So I finally decided to make it over the weekend and found the recipe here:

http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/view2/gooey_butter_cake.

I must say, I was quite disappointed.  I read rave reviews about this recipe but they must have been eating something different because I sure didn’t love it.  For one thing, I think the cook time is a bit long, at least for my oven.  I put it in for 40 minutes but the bottom got a bit burned and nobody likes a burned bottom hehe.  I must admit, I did forget to check on it though.  I got too caught up watching Biggest Loser while baking this.  I know I know, who makes butter cake while watching a show about weight loss right?  Apparently the message of the show was lost on me this weekend.  I just felt that even if I hadn’t burned the bottom, the cake didn’t have a lot of flavor.  It tasted exactly like what it’s called, butter cake.  I have seen other recipes where they add strawberry cake or chocolate chips, so maybe that would make it better.  Or maybe serve it with fresh berries and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream?  But by itself, I’m not a fan.  I did enjoy the texture of this cake though, nice and moist.  Overall, there’s a lack of flavor and it’s just not worth the calories.  So if asked to bake it or leave it?  I say LEAVE IT!

Servings: 8

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 40 min

Difficulty: EASY

Ingredients:

Cake:

1 pkg yellow cake mix (I used butter yellow)

1 egg

8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling: 

1 8-ounce pkg cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 16-ounce box powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Combine cake mix, egg, butter and mix using an electric mixer.  Press the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan.

Beat the cream cheese until smooth in a large bowl.  Add eggs, vanilla, butter and mix together.

Add the powdered sugar and mix well.  Spread over the cake batter in the pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.  You want the center to be gooey.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):

Calories: 731

Carbs: 104

Fat: 33

Protein: 5

Sodium: 534

Sugar: 80

*Courtesy of MyFitnessPal recipe calculator