Crunchy Peppermint Bark Blondies

Are you guys finished with Christmas yet? Because I’m not. We’ve still got the decorations up. The freezer is still full of Christmas cookies. I’ve got all my new toys strewn around the house. And, I’m just getting around to blogging my holiday recipes.

Maybe next week I’ll be ready for the new year?

I made these blondies for a cookie swap. I had intended them to be cookies, but as things evolved they ended up being bars instead. I actually think they came out even better than the cookies would have and they were a lot easier, since I only had one pan to bake instead of multiple cookie pans. You could also make these a bit less holiday-oriented by swapping the peppermint bark for chocolate chips.


Crunchy Peppermint Bark Blondies
(adapted from Christina Tosi via Glamour)
Makes 1 9×13″ pan of blondies

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. light brown sugar, tightly packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 c. frosted flakes
1 lb. of peppermint bark, roughly chopped
1 1/4 c. mini marshmallows

Using a mixer, cream together the butter sugars for 2-3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, scrape down sides and beat for an additional 7-8 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together.

Stir in frosted flakes peppermint bark and marshmallows  just until incorporated. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line a 9×13″ baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Press dough into the lined pan, spreading to the edges. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice and store in an airtight container.


What’s Baking: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


This month’s What’s Baking theme, hosted by Sandra from She Cooks and Bakes, is favorite childhood treats with a modern twist. My favorite childhood treat, hands down, was chocolate chip cookies. I loved coming home from school to find fresh baked chocolate chip cookies for snack. Sometimes, Mom would even make them before school and we’d get them in our lunches. Cookie days were always awesome days.

Making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies seemed like the perfect twist, considering the season and how popular everything pumpkin is now. It also seemed appropriate since I wouldn’t touch pumpkin as a kid, but as an adult I’m loving the flavor. These are a perfect, more grown-up version of one of my childhood favorites.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line two cookie sheets.

Dissolve the baking soda in milk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg until well combined. Add in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, baking soda mixture and mix well. Stir in vanilla until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoon-full onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cook for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container. These are best enjoyed the next day.

PB Pretzel M&M Rice Krispie Treats

I’m pretty sure these could be considered a health food. Marshmallows and pretzels are low-fat. Chocolate has antioxidants. Peanut butter is a good source of protein. Mix it all together and it’s practically a superfood.

No? Not buying it?

Well, these are worth making anyway: quick, easy and a crowd pleaser.


PB Pretzel M&M Rice Krispie Treats
(from Cait’s Plate)
Makes one 9×13″ pan

1 bag of regular marshmallows
3 T. butter
6 c. rice cereal
1/2 cup peanut butter, melted
1 medium bag of pretzel M&Ms

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until melted. Stir in the melted peanut butter.

Add the melted marshmallow mixture to the rice cereal in a large bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the pretzel m&ms and stir to combine.

Press the mixture into a lightly greased 9×13″ baking dish. Let cool before slicing.

What’s Baking: Rum & Coke Cookies


As soon as bake your favorite cocktail was announced as the July theme for What’s Baking, I started looking up rum and coke recipes. Rum and coke was my go-to in college and even though I’m more likely to opt for a glass of wine, I still consider it my favorite. Old habits die hard, I suppose.

When I started looking for recipes, I assumed I’d make cupcakes… and then I ran across these. These start with store-bought sugar cookie dough and then you dress them up to make them rum or cola flavored. I thought having two separate doughs would make the flavors come through more strongly, but the flavor of the cookies is on the subtle side. Knowing they’re rum and coke, I can totally pick out the flavors, but if I was just handed the cookie and told to guess, I’m not 100% sure I could.

Either way, these were delicious and a very fun baking experiment!


Rum & Coke Cookies
(from She Knows)
Makes about 3 dozen

2 tubes Pillsbury sugar cookie dough
2 c. flour
1 egg white
1/4 cup white rum (and 1 Tbsp. rum extract, if desired – I skipped this but would recommend it!)
20 oz. Coca-Cola
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

Mix one tube of the cookie dough until smooth and creamy and then mix in one cup of flour, white rum and rum extract (if using) until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Add Coca-Cola to a saucepan and over medium-high heat, reduce until only 1/4 cup remains. Cool slightly. Mix the other tube of dough until creamy and smooth. Add boiled-down Coke, remaining one cup of flour and cocoa powder and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

After the dough has chilled, roll them into rectangles, approximately 1/4-inch thick. Brush egg whites on the rum-flavored dough and stack the coke flavored dough on top. Cut in half lengthwise. Brush the top of one half with egg white and stack the other half on top of it. Repeat until you have a stack the desired width. Wrap log in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Unwrap the chilled dough and slice the stacked layers approximately 1/4-inch thick. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

What’s Baking: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies

When I saw this month’s What’s Baking theme was sweet and salty, I knew I’d be making something with a chocolate/peanut butter/pretzel combo. It’s embarrassing how many recipes I have saved with that combo – it’s clearly a favorite!

This recipe won out over the others because the cookies are portable – perfect for taking on vacation! We’re renting a house on the Outer Banks so I’ve been working on some dishes and snacks to bring with us. Even though we’ll have a kitchen, I don’t want to spend my whole vacation cooking! Having these already done will make for an awesome treat.

You can check out the rest of the sweet and salty recipes next week in a roundup on Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies
(from Keep it Sweet Desserts)
Makes about 3 dozen 2″ cookies

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. creamy peanut butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 t. vanilla extract
2/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. pretzel pieces
Sea salt for sprinkling

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Slowly mix in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces. Chill the dough for two hours.

Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons-full onto a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly brown around the edges. Let cool on the making sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

My Mother-in-law’s birthday is on Wednesday so we did some early celebrating this weekend. Mark definitely gets his please-don’t-make-a-big-deal-over-my-birthday thing from his Mom so we kept things pretty low-key. Cake is a necessity, though, no matter how low-key you’re going.

Mom’s go-to dessert is always blondies, so I thought a chocolate chip cookie cake would be right up her ally. It’s basically one, giant chocolate chip cookie. I used some store-bought icing to dress it up a little. (And hide how lousy a job I did pushing the batter to the edges of the pan!) Regardless of what it looked like, it was delicious – enough so that she and I had seconds before she went home. Perfect.

Happy Birthday, Mom!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
(from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
Makes 1 9″ Cake

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t.cornstarch
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Line a 9″ square pan with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient until it forms a cookie-like batter. Stir in chocolate chips.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 16-20 minutes or until the edges just start to turn brown. Let the cookie cool completely before removing it from the pan.

Frost as desired.

Macadamia Lemon Bars

The latest recipe swap covered my favorite topic: dessert. I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like.

I was really pleased about my assigned recipe from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles. I’ve had lemon bars on my to-make list for quite some time, but they always get bumped in favor of something chocolately. This was the perfect opportunity to finally try them out!

These were just as good as I was imagining and I really loved the addition of the macadamia nuts. Another check on my cooking bucket list thanks to the recipe swaps!



Macadamia Lemon Bars
(from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles)
Makes an 8×8 pan of bars

For the crust
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. macadamia nuts, finely chopped

For the filling
1 c. sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs
3 T. lemon juice
2 t. lemon zest
2 t. macadamia nuts, chopped
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir togetherthe flour, powdered sugar and melted butter until well combined .  Stir in the nuts.  Press the crust mixture into the bottom and 1/2″ up the sides of prepared baking dish.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Beat in the eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Pour the filling over hot crust and sprinkle with nuts.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and the center is set.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Dust with powdered sugar and cut into bars.  Chill until ready to serve.

You can see the rest of the yummy desserts made as part of the swap below. Thanks to Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting!


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Buckeye Brownies

My favorite part of award season is trying to guess the winners. Each year, I set up pick ’ems for my friends and offer up baked goodies to the winners. These delicious little things are going in the mail today for Laura, our Grammy winner.

I just had to sample these before mailing them off and, my goodness, they’re delectable – a really dense, fudge-y brownie with a creamy, peanut butter element. I must find a reason to make these again soon!


 Buckeye Brownies
(from Cookies & Cups)
Makes 1 9″x13″ pan

1 box (18-19 oz) Brownie Mix
2 eggs
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. coarsely chopped peanuts
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Lightly grease a 9″x13″ pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the brownie mix, eggs and oil until smooth. Stir in the chopped peanuts. Press half of the brownie mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan – set the remainder aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter. Spread over the brownie mixture in the pan. Drop remaining brownie batter over the peanut butter mixture by spoonful and press down into the peanut butter mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes until the peanut butter mixture is just set. Let cool completely before cutting.

Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies – Cookies and Crafts for Sandy Hook

While I’m sharing another cookie recipe today, I’m not thinking of Christmas as I write this post. I’m thinking of all of the people who lost their lives in the horrific shooting in Newtown, CT last Friday. Today, bloggers are coming together to honor the victims.

We’re also spreading the word about Newton Youth & Family Services, a non-profit mental health clinic that is providing emergency counciling to anyone in the Newton community that wants it. You can donate to them here.

These cookies are comfort food – soft and very peanut-buttery. The Nutella swirl gives them an extra nutty kick. They’re a perfect feel-good treat.


Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies
(from The Sisters Cafe)
Makes about 3 dozen

1 c. butter (2 sticks) room temperature
2/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 2/3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
Heaping 1/3 c. Nutella
In a large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined. Add Nutella in dollops over the top of the dough and swirl through the dough using a butter knife.  Chill the dough in fridge for 15 minutes to firm the Nutella.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, until slightly brown at edges.  Let cool a few minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.


Nutella-Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

To celebrate the holidays, I participated in a cookie swap with some of my food blogger friends. I recieved an awesome batch of monster cookie bars from Heather and I sent this batch of cookies off to Christine.

Oh, how I wanted to keep these, though.

These are truely amazing cookies. With browned butter and three different kinds of chocolate chips, they’re like chocolate chip cookies taken to the next level. And then, you bite in and find the gooey, Nutella center. So, so awesome.


Nutella-Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from Ambitious Kitchen)
Makes about 2 dozen

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. of salt
2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter
1 1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 T. plain greek yogurt
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed until just combined. Fold in all of the chocolate chips.

Cover the dough and chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled Nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball — it doesn’t have to be perfectly rolled! Make sure that the nutella is not seeping out of the dough. Add more dough if necessary. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and flatten with your hand gently to flatten out the top slightly.

Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.