Cheesecake Blondies

Cheesecake BlondiesI have been debating for three days whether or not I should post these Cheesecake Blondies or use Independence Day as a “free pass” to take a rare blog day off.Cheesecake BlondiesCheesecake Blondies won out though, because they are the perfect treat to sink your teeth into while you watch the fireworks. Creamy cheesecake and chewy brown butter blondie in near-equal layers? Sign. me. up.Cheesecake BlondiesAnother great thing about these blondies? They are super easy to make and bake up in just 25 minutes!Cheesecake BlondiesThe most difficult part of making Cheesecake Blondies is waiting for them to chill. Those three hours can seem eternal, but they are completely necessary—nobody likes warm cheesecake.Cheesecake BlondiesOnce the chill time is up, slice up the blondies and revel in their cuteness. Chocolate chips have a way of making things more adorable, don’t they?Cheesecake BlondiesMake a batch of Cheesecake Blondies for your holiday cookout or pack a box into a cooler and take them on the go! You and your friends and family will love the combination of tangy cheesecake and sweet, brown buttery blondie ❤ Cheesecake BlondiesHappy Fourth of July!Cheesecake Blondies

Cheesecake Blondies
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan, about 9-16 blondies

Blondie Batter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips + more for scattering

Cheesecake:
8 ounces (1 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with foil and grease lightly. Set aside.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl.

Add brown sugar to the brown butter and stir to combine. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula to stir in flour and salt, scraping down the bowl as needed. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan. Set aside.

Make cheesecake. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Pour on top of blondie batter and smooth to the edges of the pan. Scatter additional chocolate chips over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, tenting with foil at the 15 minute mark or if anything begins browning too quickly. Blondies are ready when the cheesecake just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled. Let cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until completely cold.

Use foil overhang to lift blondies out of the pan. Carefully peel off foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve.

Leftover Cheesecake Blondies will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. For best storage, separate layers with wax paper.Cheesecake Blondies

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Nutella Swirl Brownies

Nutella Swirl BrowniesHey y’all! I’m writing from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where my baby sister (who is not a baby—she’s 30) is graduating from Harvard.

Yes, that Harvard. She’s wicked smart.
Nutella Swirl Brownies
I’m so proud of her and could write all about how incredible she is, but I’ve already done that twice. While she and her accomplishments are wonderful, I’m pretty sure you’re here for some Nutella Swirl Brownies.
Nutella Swirl Brownies
I don’t blame you. I’m pretty excited about Nutella Swirl Brownies, too.
Nutella Swirl Brownies
They’re exactly what they sound like: rich, chewy, fudgy brownies swirled with everyone’s favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread.
Nutella Swirl BrowniesNutella Swirl Brownies
The base is my very favorite recipe for Cocoa Brownies. It’s a foolproof no-mixer recipe that bakes up perfectly every time. The resulting brownies have just the right amount of squidge, and they’re only made better by swirling 1/2 cup of creamy Nutella right into the batter.
Nutella Swirl Brownies
Mmhmm.

So, in conclusion, sisters are great, Harvard’s great, graduate degrees are great, but Nutella Swirl Brownies are what’s really important…on this website, anyway.

Nutella Swirl Brownies
makes one 8-inch pan, about 16 brownies

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I prefer dutch process here)
2 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of an 8-inch square pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Stir butter, sugars, and cocoa together in a large mixing bowl. Let mixture cool for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs one-by-one, mixing until they are completely incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold in flour and salt just until combined.

Transfer batter into prepared pan. Drop spoonfuls of Nutella over the top of the batter and use a butter knife to gently swirl it into the batter. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Slide a knife around the edges of the pan before inverting to release. Slice into 16 squares.

Store leftover brownies in an airtight container, placing wax paper between layers. They will keep for a few days at room temperature or up to a week in the refrigerator.

Nutella Swirl Brownies

Monster Blondies

Monster BlondiesRemember that huge, ridiculous M&Ms Surprise Cake I posted last week? It’s long gone.Monster Blondies You know what’s still taking up space in my kitchen? This comically large container of M&Ms. It’s made it through two of those cakes, a batch of cookies and lots of late night snacks, and it’s still kickin’.Monster Blondies Also taking up space in my kitchen? Three different jars of peanut butter. THREE. And they’re all different brands. Just…what? I really need an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all my baking supplies so I’m not compelled to pick up peanut butter every time I see it on sale.Monster Blondies So, what does one do with all that peanut butter and that huge container of M&Ms? Add some oats and make Monster Blondies, of course!Monster Blondies What makes these blondies so…monstrous? Well, they’re a riff on Monster Cookies, a sort of “everything but the kitchen sink” cookie that, at its most basic, contains peanut butter, oats, M&Ms and chocolate chips.Monster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesThe original cookies are terrific, but skipping the cookie dough and tossing all those ingredients into blondie batter is absolutely the way to go! The resulting blondies have all the flavors and textures from their namesake recipe, but with an extra thick and chewy peanut butter base.Monster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesNot only that, but blondies are way easier to make than cookies—this recipe comes together with just one bowl and a silicone spatula! And, of course, they don’t require baking in batches. Monster Blondies are ready to come out of the oven just 40 minutes after you start making the batter!Monster BlondiesOnce the blondies have cooled slice them up and dig in! You’ll love the soft & chewy blondie base, the slight saltiness from the peanut butter, the texture from the oats and crackly candy coating, and tons of chocolate. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the very best kind of mid-week pick-me-up ❤ Monster BlondiesMonster Blondies
makes 16 blondies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup M&Ms candy

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving some overhang on two sides. Grease with butter. Set aside.

Place butter and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Melt together in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Transfer to a medium large mixing bowl. Stir in light brown sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Fold in oats, followed by chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Spread the blondie batter in prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes (mine took 28 minutes), or until turning golden at the edges. Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Use foil to lift blondies out of pan. Peel off foil and transfer blondies to a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Serve.

Leftover blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.Monster Blondies

Almond Joy Shortbread Bars

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsI don’t want to write about baking today—I want to write about how much I love the Olympics. I’ve watched the coverage every night and had it on in the background while I’ve baked during the day. This isn’t a recent habit—I grew up in a family that gathered to watch the games (summer or winter) every night they were on, and I even once had a wall of my teenage bedroom dedicated to the decorated short track speedskater Apolo Ohno.

Yeah…when it comes to the Olympics, I’m a real big nerd. I’m also a baseball nerd and an Oscars nerd, so…well, maybe I just watch too much TV. That’s probably it.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsAnyway, this isn’t an Olympics blog. It’s a baking blog. So, let’s talk about baked goods, specifically Almond Joy Shortbread Bars.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsIf you’re going to try to improve on the practically perfect combination of chocolate, almonds, and sweet coconut filling, layering it all onto a buttery chocolate shortbread crust is a pretty good way to start.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsAll the layers in these bars make them look like they take hours to prepare, but in reality, they take about 90 minutes from start to finish and are nearly no-bake. That easy chocolate shortbread crust is the only layer that has to spend time in the oven.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsIt’s topped with a thick layer of coconut filling and dotted with whole roasted almonds…Almond Joy Shortbread BarsAlmond Joy Shortbread Bars

…and a layer of milk chocolate. You can use dark chocolate if you like, but apparently Almond Joys are made with milk chocolate. I’ve been wrong for two years. Oh well.

Almond Joy Shortbread BarsAlmond Joy Shortbread BarsBut back to the bars. Slice ‘em up and admire your handiwork. #thoselayerstho

The flavor is everything you love about sweet, chewy, crunchy Almond Joys, but better because they’re homemade. Oh, and because they have a crispy layer of chocolate shortbread offsetting all their sweetness. After sinking your teeth into one of these, you’ll never be able to go back to the mass-produced candy bar.

Y’all, these are seriously good. I know I say that about everything on this blog, but I really mean it today. These are a gold medal recipe for sure.Almond Joy Shortbread Bars

Almond Joy Shortbread Bars
makes one 9-inch square pan, about 16 bars

Chocolate Shortbread Crust:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

Coconut Filling:
1/2 cup whole raw almonds
5 fluid ounces (10 tablespoons) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Chocolate Topping:
6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil and grease well with butter. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, light brown sugar, and salt. Use your fingertips to rub butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Bake 14-15 minutes, until no longer wet-looking. Let shortbread crust cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Make the filling. Place almonds on a dry baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in coconut. Mixture will be very thick. Drop filling in spoonfuls over the cooled crust and spread across the entire surface. Arrange almonds in lines (or as desired) over the top of the coconut and press down to adhere. Freeze full pan for 15 minutes.

Make the chocolate topping. Combine chopped milk chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, just until melted. Drop chocolate over filling one spoonful at a time. Use a small offset icing knife (or a silicone spatula) to carefully spread it over a section of the filling. Continue dropping and spreading chocolate until it’s all used and the almonds are covered. Freeze until chocolate has hardened, about 15 minutes.

Use foil overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Carefully peel foil down the sides. Use a lightly-greased sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Lift bars from foil with a thin spatula. Serve.

Bars may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. Layer them with wax paper if they are to be stacked.

Almond Joy Shortbread Bars

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter Blondies

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesIf you scroll back through my Instagram to before October 21, 2015, you’re going to find a string of mediocre photos of A LOT of baked goods. In an effort to learn as much as I could about baking, I posted a new baked good almost every single day for a full year before I began blogging.

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesThere were a few repeats and many variations (so. many. scones.), but I feel like that year was crucial to my development into the baker I was when I first hit publish. At the time, I felt most confident about my cookie baking skills and had just formulated my beloved Cream Cheese Pie Dough.

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesIn turn, all the recipes and photos I’ve posted since that first day as a blogger have helped me evolve into the baker I am right now. These days, I’m very excited about yeast doughs and non-traditional layer cakes, and thinking very hard about adding to the doughnut section of my Recipe Index.

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesOreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesOreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesOreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesThat’s all well and good, but sometimes I can’t decide what to blog about or I’m testing a recipe that’s more complicated than I anticipated. Those are the moments when I am very glad I have that year of photos to serve as inspiration and remind me of what I was really excited to bake when I was just getting started, before I learned new skills and started complicating things.

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesOreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesOreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesI rarely look at that old section of my Instagram these days, but it’s full of simple, solid recipes that I was once totally jazzed about. Luckily, I was smart enough to write down almost all of them (even the ones that didn’t work) so that Future Me would know where to start when I revisited them.

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesOreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesLet’s all give a quick shout-out to Past Me for filing away the recipe for these Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter Blondies. The version I posted to Insta three years ago was damn good, but with all the experience I’ve gained, it’s even better now. I didn’t even know it was possible to improve upon the combination of peanut butter and Oreos!

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesThis easy, no-mixer recipe comes together in under an hour and is far more than the sum of its parts. The peanut butter blondie base is soft, chewy, and studded with melty mini chocolate chips. Oh, and it’s stuffed with a layer of Oreo cookies. I’m totally obsessed with the cross-sections of cookie on the sides of every blondie ❤

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter BlondiesYeah, I was pretty psyched about these when I posted them to Instagram on April 2, 2015, and I’m still pretty excited about them on February 16, 2018. I hope you are, too.Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter Blondies

Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter Blondies
makes 16 blondies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
16 Oreo cookies

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving some overhang on two sides. Grease with butter. Set aside.

Place butter and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Melt together in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Transfer to a medium large mixing bowl. Stir in light brown and granulated sugars, followed by egg and yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Fold in mini chocolate chips.

Spread half the blondie batter in prepared pan. Arrange Oreos in an even layer over the top. Carefully spread remaining batter over the top. Bake 25-30 minutes (mine took 27 minutes), or until golden at the edges. Center may look a bit underdone. Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Use foil to lift blondies out of pan. Peel off foil and transfer blondies to a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Serve.

Leftover blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.