No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (A.K.A. Homemade Reese’s)

PBBarsLogo

Who loves Reese’s cups?!  (All the people raise their hands.)  We do too.  Even better than the regular cups are the holiday editions.  Reese’s pumpkins?  Yes, please.  Do they seem fresher to anyone else?!  And the chocolate to peanut butter ratio is so much more on-point than with the regular cups, we can all agree.  Well, guess what?  This recipe for No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars is a close comparison to those Reese’s pumpkins we all love so much.  The chocolate to peanut butter ratio is perfection.  Trust us.  And the best part:  They are NO BAKE!  You can make the whole thing in less than 10 minutes in the microwave, and only dirty one bowl.  Doesn’t get any easier than that, folks.  These are great when you need something for a pot-luck or a school bake sale in a hurry… or just any time you get a craving for something sweet and satisfyingly rich.  Kathy gave me this recipe years ago and it’s been a hit everywhere I take them.  I like to make them for myself at Halloween, because my kids have learned to hide all their good candy.  Pretty sure that kangaroo might be hiding some in her pouch. 🙂  ~Erin

20171030_133704

Ingredients:

½ c. (1 stick) butter

½ c. packed brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups peanut butter

2 ½ cups powdered sugar

2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.

Microwave on high a minute or two, until butter is melted; stir until well-combined.

Pat into a 9×13 inch cake pan.

In the same microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips in 30 second increments (stirring after each 30-second round) until fully melted.

Spread over the peanut butter mixture.

Chill just until firm; then remove from the refrigerator and store at room temperature.

Advertisements

Brookies

BrookiesLogo

I have a confession.  I am kind of a dessert snob.  Now let me clarify what that means… I am not a snob when it comes to eating desserts. I will eat any and all desserts. (With the exception of minced meat.  Sorry minced meat, you and I cannot be friends.  Ever.  No offense to the minced meat lovers in the world -I know there are some out there.)  Ultimately what it boils down to is that I will only make desserts that I really like.  I like a lot of desserts!  Lots!  Many!  All kinds!  You get the picture.  And I like to make desserts as often as I can.  Unfortunately my waistline suffers.  That’s a blog post for another time.  Oh well.

Anywho, on occasion, I need/love a dessert that’s quick and easy to throw together but extremely tasty.  Sometimes, something just a little different.  What could BE (reference Chandler Bing here) more awesome than a brownie and chocolate chip cookies combined?  I’m glad you asked!  A semi homemade version that won’t let ya down!  You will not miss any of the extra effort that you would have to put into making all the batters yourself.  I promise!  Give this a whirl.  You will thank yourself!  I will not judge if you hide in a closet and devour the whole pan.  I feel your pain!  😉

~ Kathy

 

Ingredients:

1 box chocolate cake mix

1 stick of butter, melted

1 egg

Pinch of salt

½ tsp. vanilla

1/3 c. chocolate chips

1 pkg. refrigerated Tollhouse mini chocolate chip cookies (you will only need 14 from the package)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Spray a 9×13 cake pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Melt butter and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Add cake mix, egg, salt and vanilla.  Combine well.  Mix in chocolate chips.  Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of cake pan.

Remove one and a half rows of chocolate chip cookie dough (14 Mini cookies).  Randomly spread them out over cake mixture, placing them whole, broken pieces, etc.

(Use the remainder for more Brookies or bake them for good old chocolate chip cookies).

Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Velvety Chocolate No-Bake Pie

 

VelvetyChocolatePie_Logo

I live in a part of Utah where it is unusual to have air conditioning.  Water coolers and window units are about it.  In fact, I can’t think of anyone near where I live that has central air conditioning.  To those in the south, I understand that seems barbaric!  So needless to say, as the weather heats up, I try to avoid turning on my oven as much as possible.  This no-bake pie is perfect for a night when it’s too hot to cook, if you need a quick dessert for the family, or to deliver to someone else (believe me they will appreciate the gesture!).  It’s really the perfect chocolate pie for any day.  It’s amazingly easy to mix together but ultimately decadent.  Its velvety texture is irresistible.  ~ Kathy

Ingredients:

1 Pre-made graham cracker crust (I use the one that says 2 extra servings)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 T. sugar

Pinch salt

½ tsp vanilla

1/3 c. milk (whole or 2% recommended)

4 oz. German Sweet Chocolate baking bar

3 T semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), thawed according to directions

Instructions:

In a microwave safe dish, melt chocolates at 15 second intervals, stirring between until smooth; set aside.  Stir occasionally to prevent top from hardening.  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla until well blended.  Gradually add in melted chocolate and milk.  Fold whipped topping into chocolate mixture until well combined.  Spoon into crust and spread evenly.   Freeze for 4 hours, or until firm.   Store covered in refrigerator.

 

 

 

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

ChocIceCream

Posted by Kathy

It is tradition in our family to make homemade ice cream often. During the summer, especially summer holidays, we had a buffet of homemade ice creams to sample.    Our Mom has a great no-cook vanilla ice cream recipe that she has been making our entire lives, but today I’m happy to share what is by far my favorite chocolate ice cream recipe.  My boys love it and request it often.   It makes enough to fill a 4 quart ice cream freezer, but it can be cut in half for a smaller, countertop batch (But honestly, less ice cream? That’s ridiculous!).   After it’s frozen, you can fold in miniature marshmallows, pecans and mini chocolate chips to make a Rocky Road version.  But our favorite is basic, wonderful, chocolate ice cream!

Ingredients:

3 c. whole milk

3 c. half and half

10 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 ¾ c. sugar

¾ tsp salt

6 c. heavy whipping cream

2 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

In an extra large sauce pan, combine milk and half and half.  Scald the milk mixture by heating slowly, but be certain to remove from the heat just before boiling (to about 170˚).  Stir in chocolate, sugar and salt.  Stir until chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Stir in heavy cream and vanilla.

Cool quickly by placing in an ice bath.  Stir for 2 – 3 minutes.   Allow to cool completely.    Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Pour into ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer directions.

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

SkilletCookie

Posted by Erin

Here’s a fun fact about me:  I love to bake but I have no self-control around really good homemade desserts.  Like, NONE.  I’ll nibble and take a bite here and there throughout the day and, before I know it, I’ve eaten the majority of the pan of brownies or half a pie.  It’s why I’ve been in Weight Watchers going on 17 years!  I recognize my own weaknesses so I’ve learned to make portion controlled desserts.  My favorite is this skillet cookie.  On a night when I need something rich, warm, and decadent but don’t want a pan of desserts sitting around all weekend to tempt me, I make this cookie.  It’s big enough for my husband and me to share but, I’m not going to lie, I usually eat it all by myself with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  So, go ahead and make one for you and one for your husband.  Wait until your kids go to bed and that will save you from having to share.  Ha!  Oh, don’t act like you haven’t done it.  😉

I always make this cookie in small cast iron skillets that I got one year for Christmas.  They were part of a little skillet brownie kit.  That mix’s brownies were BLECH (if you haven’t tried our family brownie recipe, you really need to do that for yourself), but the skillets are awesome so if you see any of those sets around the after-Christmas sales this year, grab a few!  If you don’t happen to have a cast iron skillet yet, you can just make these in a regular baking pan too.

 

Ingredients:

2 T. butter (I always use real butter for baking.)

2 T. firmly packed brown sugar

1 T. granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

¼ c. all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

¼ c. roughly chopped pecans, optional (but SO good – I usually add extra!)

Non-stick cooking spray

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Spray a 7″ or larger skillet/pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.  In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the butter in 10 second increments until it’s soft and just beginning to melt.  Blend softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla together with a spoon.  Add the egg yolk and stir until it’s well blended.  Add flour and baking soda and stir again until combined.  Lastly, stir in chocolate chips (and pecans, if desired).  Heap the dough into the center of skillet/pan and flatten slightly.  No need to spread it to the edge; it will spread as it cooks.  Bake for 10 -12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly.  Do me a favor and wait until it’s not scalding hot before you dig in.  It will be the longest few minutes of your life.  Top it with ice cream, and eat it straight from the pan!

Cookies & Cream Cake (and a one-of-a-kind birthday theme)

CookiesNCreamCakeLogo

Posted by Erin

So my daughter recently turned 10.  Double digits!  Shortly after her last birthday, on the way home from school one day she said to me, “Mom, guess what?!  I have the same birthday as Thomas Jefferson!”  As I replied, “Wow, that’s cool!” I noticed she looked thoughtful.  “By the way,” she asked, “who is Thomas Jefferson?”  Ha!  I laugh every time I think of that story.  Silly, sweet girl.  Anyhow, ever since she learned more about this mystery man who shares her birthday, she’s wanted to have a Thomas Jefferson themed birthday party.  Of course I had to oblige.  So I give you (drumroll please), a presidential birthday party complete with TJ’s face on the cake, a vintage Thomas Jefferson Value Book, and a $2 bill banner.  Nothing fancy but my girl was super impressed… plus I let her keep the $2 bills.

The cake was also her choice.  She loves to bake with her momma and is often coming up with new recipes.  This one was a success.  We combined our favorite cake-mix-based chocolate cake recipe with our favorite buttercream recipe and threw in some crushed Oreos.  It resulted in a rich, creamy cake, reminiscent of a milk-dunked Oreo.   I’m sure Thomas Jefferson would approve.  🙂

Cake Ingredients:

1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

1 small box instant chocolate pudding (dry)

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

½ cup buttermilk *see note on how to make, if you’re like me and don’t keep buttermilk

½ cup strong coffee, cooled (to enhance the chocolate flavor – or use more milk if you’d rather)

½ T. pure vanilla extract

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup crushed Oreos

 

Cake Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Grease & flour 3 9-inch round pans; set aside. (I also line the bottoms of my pans with parchment, cut the shape of the pan.)

Whisk together the dry pudding mix and cake mix.

With a mixer, blend in eggs, sour cream, oil, buttermilk, coffee, and vanilla until smooth.

Gently stir in chocolate chips and Oreo crumbs.

Divide the batter evenly among your pans.

Bake for about 35 minutes until toothpick comes out mostly clean.

After 10 minutes, remove from pan to wire rack.  Cool completely before frosting.

 

Frosting Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) real butter, softened

4 cups powdered sugar (approximately)

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup to ¾ cup heavy cream

2/3 of a family size Oreo package, crushed

 

Frosting Instructions:

Making frosting isn’t an exact science…

Start with 1 cup softened butter, mix on high until fluffy & smooth.

Add 2 cup powdered sugar, some of the heavy cream and 1 tsp vanilla; blend until smooth.

Add the crushed Oreos, more powdered sugar, and more heavy cream until it reaches the desired consistency (and desired taste – Yes, taste as you go!)

 

Place one layer of cake on cake plate or platter.  Cover the first layer of cake with frosting, add the second and third layer with frosting between those as well.

End by frosting the sides of the cake & sticking on a few whole Oreos for decoration.

 

I found this cake was better refrigerated… more like an Oreo dunked in cold milk!

 

*To make buttermilk, warm your milk in the microwave or on the stove just until it’s barely more than room temp.  Not hot!  Stir a ½ Tablespoon white vinegar into your ½ cup of milk.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Ta-da!… buttermilk!

Grandma Anson’s Brownies

Brownies_Logo

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we wanted to share a recipe that’s near and dear to our hearts.  With that in mind, the recipe that stands out is our Grandma Anson’s Brownies.

Early in our grandparents’ married life, our grandpa worked at a small town grocery store.  This brownie recipe was on a grocery store pamphlet that grandpa brought home.  Though it’s been adapted slightly over the years, it’s been a closely held family secret.  Don’t tell anyone that we told you.  🙂

Seriously though, this brownie recipe is the ONLY brownie recipe used by our entire extended family.  That may not make much of an impression right now but let me explain what I mean when I say the “entire” family.  Actually it might be best if I just show you…

MomsFamily

This is the Anson family…our grandparents and all 18 of their children.  (That’s our mom on the top left.)  Yes, Grandma gave birth to all of them.  All of them single births, no twins.  This picture was taken in the late 1960s, and it hangs on the wall in our grandparents’ house to this day.  Some things have changed.  Our grandpa has passed (We miss him so!), and all of these kids are all grown up.  Most have kids and grandkids of their own.  So, we have more than 50 first cousins on this side of the family and have honestly lost count of how many second cousins.  (If there is an Anson family member reading this, somebody get a headcount!)

You’d think with a family this size, we’d be out of touch with one another, but we’ve always been close.  As kids, we traveled to Grandma and Grandpa’s house every Sunday.  Everyone came!  The women would gather in the kitchen to cook and cackle…you could hear their laughter all over the house.  The men played cards or stood outside shooting the bull.  We kids would just play, play, play.  On any given Sunday, we literally had enough kids to form two full baseball teams for a game in the field out in front of the house.  From long games of hide-and-seek in the dark or serious handstand contests, to covert missions to steal homemade rolls before dinner…the list of wonderful memories at Grandma and Grandpa’s house is endless.

Ever-present in Grandma’s kitchen, you see why these brownies are near and dear to our hearts, a dessert classic passed down to all the kids and grandkids.  Aside from that, they taste amazing and have a perfect crusty top and chewy, fudgy center.  They’ve ruined all other brownies for us forever.  Allow us to share this heirloom recipe with you.  You can thank us later.

 

Ingredients:

1 c. vegetable shortening (the Crisco baking stick work well)

2/3 cup + 1T. unsweetened cocoa (we prefer Hershey’s)

4 eggs, very lightly beaten (see hint below)

2 c. sugar

1 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

1 t. vanilla

1 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Melt shortening and cocoa together in the top of a double boiler (you can melt this together in a microwave safe dish, though our Mom thinks this is sacrilege).  Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients:  flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Combine lightly beaten eggs and sugar in large mixing bowl.  Stir melted cocoa mixture into eggs and sugar.  Blend well.  Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined (do not whip).  Stir in vanilla.

If you really love nuts you can add some chopped pecans before you bake these brownies.  Personally, the four of us don’t understand why anyone would add something from the meat group to chocolate – but, if you’re in a nutty mood, go for it.

Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 baking dish.  If you’re a short cut user like we are, use a baking spray with flour.  Our Mama says don’t mess with the batter once you’re spread it out or you don’t get the right crusty top.

Bake for 20–25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean.

Enjoy a really large brownie with some ice cold milk while you ponder why you ever ate brownies from a box.

*Hint #1 – If you’d like to eat these in the slightly overindulgent manner of our grandpa, you can butter the top of a warm brownie before you eat it.

*Hint #2 – We’re serious when we say “very lightly beaten” eggs.  If you beat the heck out of these eggs, these brownies become cakey.

*Hint #3 – For our high altitude friends add 1T. butter to the shortening and cocoa mix and an addition 2 T. flour.