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    Entries in chewy goodness (2)

    Friday
    Mar302018

    Extra Special K Bars

    Growing up we had bars similar to these but they were made with Rice Krispies and they were called Scotcheroos. Well, a local bakery sells Special K bars, which, as the name implies, are made with Special K Cereal. Apparently, in some parts of the country, that’s how they’re always made. Who knew? Both varieties are basically a chewy, crispy, peanut butter bar, topped with chocolate, butterscotch topping. For me, that’s where they have always come up a bit short. Butterscotch chips have a very strong, artificial flavor and smell about them. So much so, that Hubby hates it when I buy one from the bakery because my whole kitchen will smell like them. Well, I have discovered a delicious alternative, and as usual, the homemade version beats out any I’ve had before.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 6 cups Special K Cereal
    • 1 cup peanut butter
    • 1 cup syrup
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips
    • 1 cup Ghirardelli Caramel chips 

    I realize the ingredient “syrup” sounds a bit vague. The thing is, I don’t use corn syrup. Ordinarily, I use brown rice syrup, but when I was at Target picking up ingredients, they didn’t have that, but did have Sugar in the Raw Cane Syrup. I’ve never seen that before, so I thought I’d give it a try. It worked wonderfully and tastes way better than corn syrup. That being said, if the only thing you can find is corn syrup, it will work.

    First up, measure your cereal into a really big bowl and set it aside. (keep in mind, you’ll need plenty of room for stirring)

    Next, put the sugar, syrup, and butter into a pan over medium low heat.

    Here’s the secret to bars that are deliciously soft and chewy... don’t overcook the syrup. When I was researching recipes, the most common question I came across was, “Why are my bars always hard?” I’ve seen some recipes that say to boil the mixture for 3-5 minutes… nope. That’s just asking for bars you’ll break your teeth on. Basically, you want the sugar to be dissolved, and it’s ok if it just barely starts to bubble. If you're having trouble getting all of the sugar to dissolve without it boiling, add 1-2 tablespoons of water. That way you can cook it longer and/or bring it to a boil without overcooking it. 

    Turn off the heat and add the peanut butter. Mine was a new bottle that hadn’t yet been refrigerated so it was of pouring consistency, which made for easy measuring, but not a very pretty picture.

    Add the vanilla and stir until everything is incorporated.

    Pour that over your waiting cereal.

    Stir to coat all of the cereal. Keeping it all in the bowl, rather than all over the bar and floor, will be the hardest part. Just be patient and eventually it will all cooperate.

    Glop it into a parchment lined 9x13 pan. Yes, glop is the appropriate term for that.

    Press it into the pan, slowly working it toward the edges. If it’s cool enough, you can use your hands. Otherwise, a spatula will work fine, it will just take a little longer.

    Now, onto the topping. Remember how I said I don’t care for butterscotch chips? Well, it turns out, Ghirardelli has started making caramel flavored chips, and they are delicious!

    Place 1 cup of those and 1 ½ cups of milk chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.

    Nuke 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir… until it’s all melted and smooth.

    Pour that over the bars. (Is it just me, or is there something seriously delectable about flowing chocolate?)

    Spread that over the top, getting all the way to the corners. Then, another hard part, walk away and leave it to cool and set up. It will probably need a good 3 hours. You can speed it up by putting it in the fridge, but they’re better served at room temperature.

    When they’re ready, go ahead and cut them into whatever size bars you want. I recommend small because I guarantee you’ll be coming back for a second, regardless of the size. As you can see, cutting is not my strong suit. Having two different sizes was done purposely because I needed some big ones for pictures, but not having one straight line in the bunch, well, that’s just how my brain works. I guess I’ll have to blame it on cooking while intoxicated again.

    Regardless, they taste amazing! They are perfectly chewy, peanut buttery, and sweet, with a subtle underlying caramel flavor. And best of all, no artificial, butterscotch weirdness.

    What’s your favorite childhood treat?

     

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    Monday
    Sep122016

    Zucchini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Well, here in Utah, Zucchini season is starting to wind down, but if you grow zucchini, you will have already had sautéed zucchini, breaded zucchini, baked zucchini, fried zucchini, zucchini pasta, zucchini casserole, zucchini bread, and, of course, the oh so fad-tastic zoodles. *shudder* That word is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Anyway, my point is, we can all use more zucchini recipes. Options are a good thing. These cookies are cake like, in texture, with a bit of chew from the oats, warm spices, and plenty of chocolate.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • ½ cup butter (1 stick) – softened
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup grated zucchini
    • 1 cup flour
    • ½ cup whole wheat flour
    • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon spice mix
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup oats
    • 2 cups chocolate chips 

    Preheat your oven to 350°. Then go ahead and grate your zucchini. I like to just use a box grater. Even though I still make a mess, it’s much easier to clean up than the 87 parts of the food processor.

    There we go. This looks like a lot, but I was doubling the recipe, so just ignore that.

    Now, in your mixing bowl, beat the butter for about a minute, until it’s nice and soft. Add the sugar and mix on medium speed for about two minutes, scraping everything down a time or two in the middle.

    Add the egg.

    Mix until it’s thoroughly incorporated, scraping everything down again, and then add the vanilla.

    When that’s mixed in, add the zucchini. Just a quick note, the zucchini should be room temperature when you grate it, so if you’ve had it in the fridge, make sure you pull it out ahead of time.

    Once the zucchini is incorporated, step away from that for a minute to deal with the dry ingredients.

    Let’s talk spices for a minute. Along with the cinnamon, I used Penzey’s Pie Spice. It’s just a mix of spices. Cinnamon (China, Korintje, Ceylon, Vietnamese), vanilla sugar (sugar, vanilla bean), mace, ginger, nutmeg, anise seed and clove, to be exact. I also added an extra bit of mace, because I just love the stuff. You can really use whatever mix of spices you like, though. Put them into a bowl along with both flours, soda, powder, and salt.

    Give that a good whisk to get rid of any lumps and get everything evenly distributed.

    Now, when you go back to your zucchini mixture, it’s going to look like a swampy mess, but don’t panic. The zucchini just needed to give off some water. 

    Give it a quick stir and then add the dry ingredients. See, everything is fine. 

    Add the oats. I like to use a combination of old fashioned and quick oats, but if you only have one or the other, it will be just fine either way.

    Stir them in. This is going to be unlike a typical cookie dough. It will be more like a thick cake batter in its consistency.

    Add the chocolate chips. I have a couple opinions when it comes to chocolate chips. Firstly, as long as they’re good quality (I like Ghirardelli, but Guittard is also a good brand.) you can never have too many of them. And secondly, in baked goods, a combination of types of chocolate (milk, semisweet, dark, etc.) is always better than using just one. I used milk, dark, semisweet, and mini semisweet. Use whatever combination you like.

    And, one last stir. I like to just use a silicone spatula for this one, and just sort of fold everything together. 

    Scoop the dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan. I would definitely use parchment for these cookies, because they tend to be a bit sticky. My scoop is about 1 ½ Tablespoons, which I think is the perfect size for these cookies.

    Into a 350° oven for 14-15 minutes. When they’re done, they’ll be dry on top and just starting to brown around the edges. And look how lovely they are with their bits of green and loads of chocolate chips.

    Allow them to cool on the pan for about 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

    Here’s a look at that wonderful cakey texture I told you about. They’re soft, chewy, and simply fabulous. I have a feeling even picky eaters will love these. Hubby (who is probably the pickiest eater I know) said they are the best cookies he's ever tasted. 

    Are you sad to see summer coming to an end, or just glad to finally get a break from the heat?

     

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