If You Amore S’mores – Try Peanut Butter S’more Bar Cookies

If You Amore S’mores – Try Peanut Butter S’more Bar Cookies

Sorry for the horrible twist on words in this title. I couldn’t help myself! But seriously, these cookies are outrageous. You may not want to tell your dentist or dietician you’ve eaten Peanut Butter S’more Bars because the sugar content is off the charts. Just sayin’!

I want to give credit to the bloggers who led me to these wonderful cookies.

I follow Six Sisters’ Stuff. Their roundup posts on baked goods always include some keepers. I’ve struck gold many times and last week was no exception. They linked to a recipe by Melanie who writes The Sweet Life. Her recipe is wonderful just as it and I encourage you to visit her site and try the original recipe. I made a few small tweaks to Melanie’s recipe and this was my end result.

Buon appetito!

Peanut Butter S’more Bars

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (about 1 1/2 packs)
2 large bars Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup bars
1 small jar marshmallow fluff

Directions

s'more cookie dough

Using paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and continue beating until incorporated. Add salt, baking powder, flour, and graham crackers crumbs. Mix until incorporated.

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Press 1/2 of dough into the bottom of a buttered 8×8 baking dish. Lay individual squares, evenly placed in four rows on top of dough. Press in slightly to keep them from shifting.

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Spread a layer of marshmallow fluff over the peanut butter squares.

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Scoop remaining dough onto the top of the fluff layer and carefully spread out to cover entire layer. Tip: An offset knife works great for spreading!

Bake for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees or until the center of the top layer is cooked. Cool and cut into squares.

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I have no clue on the calorie content for these bad boys. Make sure you have a glass of milk handy! If these are too sweet for your liking, try my Chocolate Pillows which use a spritz dough and are not quite as sweet!

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Chocolate Pillows – The Best Cookies You Will Ever Eat

Chocolate Pillows – The Best Cookies You Will Ever Eat

It is not Christmas if there is not a batch of Chocolate Pillows on the cookie plate in my family. It has been a family favorite since my grandmother tore the recipe out of her Pillsbury’s 15th Bake-Off in 1964. Second Grand Prize Winner Gemma Jane of Olympia, wherever you are – God Bless You!

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The Chocolate Pillow is brilliant in its simplicity. It is never the prettiest cookie on the platter, but is always the first one gone. It was my father’s favorite, my favorite, and now the favorite of countless friends who put in their orders every year!

You will need a cookie press to make these. Buy one today.

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Chocolate Pillows

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 full size Hershey bars, broken into sections

Directions

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Cream softened butter with sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix until dough comes together.

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Using cookie press with sawtooth disk, lay long, straight strips of dough (ridge side facing up) onto cookie sheet. Place chocolate sections end to end along each strip of dough. Press a second strip of dough over each row, covering the chocolate pieces.

Using your finger to find the space between each chocolate bar, make a slice with a sharp floured knife.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until some of the edges start to brown. Cool slightly before breaking apart. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

I would love to hear whether any other families out there have been baking these cookies since the ’60s! Buon appetito!

Half Moon Cookies Will Make You Howl in Delight

Half Moon Cookies Will Make You Howl in Delight

I love sharing my family recipes. I would hate to see so many delicious treats end with me someday rather than delighting new generations for years to come. I recently sent my gram’s recipe for Half Moon Cookies to Jeanie and Lulu’s Kitchen, a food blog that features recipes passed down to Leigh from both of her grandmothers.

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I hope you’ll visit Leigh’s blog and peruse through her family treasures. And if you are looking for a new cookie recipe that is cakey, moist, chocolaty, and scrumptious, be sure and bake up a batch of Half Moon Cookies (also called Black and White Cookies.) They are perfect in October as a Halloween treat!

Let me know how you like them!

Here is another wonderful cookie recipe if chocolate is not your thing but you love cinnamon rolls!

Include a Hedgehog at Tea!

Include a Hedgehog at Tea!

mygrandmasrecipebookThank you Morgan for this delightful recipe! If you’ve never visited mygrandmasrecipebook.com, you are in for a treat – or two! Morgan chronicles some great old-fashioned recipes including this one she sent exclusively for my blog!

Chocolate Hedgehog Slices

This is a very nice, traditional Australian recipe from the 70’s and 80’s that is often served for afternoon tea or parties.  I remember my grandmother and mother both making this for children’s birthday parties or just a special treat.

Ingredients
400 grams (14oz) plain sweet biscuits/cookies (shortbread or plain graham crackers would work)
250 grams (9oz) unsalted butter
1 cup caster or granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons shredded coconut
2 eggs
1 cup chopped pecan nuts


Putting the biscuits/cookies in a zip-loc plastic bag, crush the biscuits with a rolling pin or other heavy tool until they are small pieces.


Melt the butter in a large bowl.  Add the cocoa powder and stir until mixed.


Add the other ingredients and the biscuits, and then stir to combine.

7 in the tray

Line a lamington tin (13” x 9” slice tin) with baking or greaseproof paper and spread the mixture into a thick layer.

8 finished slice

Refrigerate for 1 hour; before the slice is set too firmly, cut into squares.

Keep refrigerated until served.

Notes:
It is possible to substitute walnuts or almonds for the pecans.

This is an unbaked recipe using eggs, so it is not advised for young children or pregnant women. Please practice good egg safety.

Note from Brad: This no-bake dessert really hits the spot when you need a chocolate fix.  And since it uses cocoa powder and nuts, it’s a bit healthier than other sweets! Give it a try and let me know what you think! Better yet, make it at home and tag me (@GourmandBrad) and Morgan (@grandmasbook) on a photo of your concoction in Twitter.

Vacation Vittles – Pizza, Seafood, Sausage

Vacation Vittles – Pizza, Seafood, Sausage

I spent last week on Hilton Head Island. I love that place. So many great spots to eat! In a slight departure from my usual topic of home cooked goodness, I thought I would share some of the yummy dinners I dined on.

If you frequent Hilton Head, some of these places might be familiar. Feel free to let me know what your favorite HH restaurants are so I can try them on a future vacation.

Il Carpaccio

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If like me, you fell in love with pizza in Naples, Italy, then you will understand that even though fresh seafood is the specialty on Hilton Head, I cannot leave the island without at least one pizza from Il Carpaccio. The thin, charred crust and delicate fresh tomato sauce is the closest I’ve found in the U.S. to the real thing. I chose the vegetarian this visit. Artichoke hearts, bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini tasted fresh and delicious.

I sometimes go off menu and ask for prosciutto, Gorgonzola, pine nuts, and pear or some other combination I tried in Italy. They are very accommodating!

The Carolina Crab Company

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You absolutely, positively cannot leave Hilton Head without trying a Low Country Boil. If you’ve eaten a LCB in some other state, you will be in for a delightful surprise when you try one from the region where it originated. What you cannot see in this image of yumminess is the loaf of hot bread I used for dunking in the flavorful broth. I’ve never tried to make my own boil, I know the timing is essential for each added element. I have a feeling it takes practice to get it right!

The Skull Creek Boathouse

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Skull Creek Boathouse is a favorite with locals and tourists. It has a huge outdoor dining area that looks over the tidewaters. The view is wonderful. The food is even better. I tried coco scallops with a pineapple salsa. The creamy coconut sauce was delicious when pared with the heat of the jalapeno and sweetness of pineapple atop the perfectly seared scallops. I plan to start experimenting with my own versions of this delectable entree. It was one of those meals that had I been in the privacy of my own home, I would have licked the plate clean!

Street Meet

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I usually get a Hoffman snapper at Street Meet, but I could not resist this Cleveland specialty sandwich. Who could pass up grilled kielbasa on a hoagie bun, then piled high with fries, creamy coleslaw, and barbecue sauce? Certainly not I! Accompanied by their own fresh cut potato chips, this was an explosion of flavor in my mouth! The combination of sweet slaw with salty fries and meat was pure heaven. This great little bar/restaurant doubled in size a few months ago so there is now ample indoor seating.

What food vacations have you enjoyed lately? Fee free to post a few pictures with descriptions and links to the restaurant!

Cookbook Recommendations by Brad Nierenberg

Cookbook Recommendations by Brad Nierenberg

Every so often I like to curl up with a good book and a glass of single malt. This weekend, the books were from my overloaded stack of beloved cookbooks. I know I typically share a favorite recipe each week, but today I’m sharing a few old friends! I hope you will be inspired to share a bit about your favorite sources for recipes as well!

Mr. Food Cooks Pasta
Art Ginsburg
Copyright 1993 by Cogin, Inc.

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I picked up my copy of “Mr. Food Cooks Pasta” back before Borders went out of business. It was tucked away on one of those bargain shelves. It’s been one of my go-to sources ever since. The writing style is easy to read and conversational. And though this little black and white book lacks any pretty photos, I still find myself using it on a regular basis.

Mr. Food, Art Ginsburg, provides a guide for pasta shapes, includes a simple chart for sauces and uses for each shape, and the opening chapter on pasta “particulars” includes a brief history and cooking instructions. Next, one of the best sections, is a quick pasta recipe chart for “meals in minutes.” The follow-on segments include pasta appetizers and side dishes, pasta soups and stews, pasta salads, pasta main courses, family favorites, and pasta sauces.

Since I love to cook and eat pasta, it’s great to have this guide to an easy and delicious meal! I think I’ve made almost every recipe in the book at least once. Many of the dog-eared corners are turned down to save the ones I like best.

Ginsburg is not Italian to my knowledge, but no matter, whether lemon linguine or chicorina soup, this cookbook is a winner in my book.

Barefoot Contessa at Home
Ina Garten
Copyright 2006 by Ina Garten

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Quentin Bacon’s photography in Ina Garten’s fifth cookbook is true food porn! After the cook’s lengthy introduction (and to be honest, I’ve never read it) she leads right into chapters entitled soup and sandwich, salads, dinner, vegetables, dessert, and breakfast.

She includes a nice section of small places to visit in the Hamptons for food. These are places she mentions on her cooking show and would be fun to add to your traveling itinerary if vacationing in the area. The last section called menus takes all the recipes from the cookbook and puts them together into menus you can try at home. I think this is brilliant!

I have not come close to recreating all the yummy recipes in this extensive cookbook, but the ones I’ve made do not disappoint. Her Sunday Morning Oatmeal is a regular in my rotation and I have zero desire to ever try another recipe for coconut cake after falling in love with hers. Where I think she really shines though is in the dinner section. From cornish hens to Asian salmon, there are several delicious and doable recipes in this section.

Holiday Cookies
Martha Stewart
2006 Issue

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Okay, so Martha Stewart’s annual holiday cookie magazine is not exactly a traditional cookbook, but if you could see the tattered pages you would know I use it often. It’s really the perfect cookie guide!

This 2006 version includes more than 100 cookie recipes and the breakdown is spot-on (as my British friends would say). The table of contents features a photo of each cookie and they are categorized as soft and chewy, crisp and crunchy, light and delicate, crumbly and sandy, cakey and tender, rich and dense, and finally, chunky and nutty. Likewise, the recipe index in the very back is alphabetized by cookie with a picture of each one for easy reference.

I wish I had the time (and calorie allowance) to make and test each and every cookie, but rest assure I have given it the old college try! It’s great to have one consolidated source to find a recipes for chocolate chip cookies identified as crisp, chewy, or cakey. After all, some days you prefer one type to another!

If you don’t own your own copy to savor, keep an eye out for this magazine next fall. A complete cookie guide is a must-have for every home baker!

What are your favorite cookbooks? I hope you’ll share the titles below!

Cinnamon Roll Cookies Are Too Good To Be True!

Cinnamon Roll Cookies Are Too Good To Be True!

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Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite breakfast items. This year I decided to find a new Christmas cookie to share with friends. I set my sights on a cinnamon roll cookie.

This one is delicious. I used the recipe from http://www.melskitchencafe.com, but made a few minor alterations. It still needs a bit of tweaking, but my taste testers agree this one is a keeper!

Bake 350 degrees           9-11 minutes

Ingredients

Cookie dough
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla (get the good stuff!)
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Filling
3-4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
ground cardamom
fresh ground nutmeg

Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs milk

Sprinkles or toasted chopped nuts.

Directions

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  1. Using paddle attachment to mixer (or beaters) cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix only until incorporated. Dough should be smooth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or longer. IMG_2769
  2. While dough is chilling, mix the filling. Should be crumbly like streusel topping. IMG_2770
  3. Remove dough and separate into two halves. Work each into a log and flatten with rolling pin to 15″ x 4″.  Tip: draw two 15″ x 4″ rectangles on a large piece of parchment and flip it over. Roll your cookie sections on the parchment using the lines as a guide. IMG_2771
  1. Spread thin later of butter over each section all the way to the edges. Sprinkle streusel filling over each section, end to end. Sprinkle cardamom and freshly grated nutmeg over each section. Press topping down lightly. IMG_2773
  2. Tightly roll into logs, leaving seams on the bottom. Re-chill dough for 15 minutes. This is a good time to preheat your oven. Slice logs into equal disks about 1/4″ wide. Place each disk on cookie sheet (using parchment) about 2 inches apart. Bake 9-11 minutes. Cool. IMG_2777
  3. While baking, beat the frosting until smooth. Spread onto cooled cookies. Top with sprinkles or nuts.

Enjoy!