Category Archives: Blondies, Brownies, & Bars

Friday Favorites: Pumpkin II

Okay, I give in.

I’m a real stickler for keeping pumpkin (and other fall flavors) off the blog until it’s actually fall—I’m not a year round pumpkin person and you’ll never see me breaking out my stash of Libby’s on August 1st. That said, insufferable as I am, I could really go for a Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie Square right now. So, there will be no *new* pumpkin content until Wednesday, when it will finally be fall. Pre-existing pumpkin though? Don’t mind if I do.

If you’ve been here a while, you may know that I did a Friday Favorites for pumpkin three years ago, but I’ve made a lot of new pumpkin recipes since then, so let’s call this a companion piece. Enjoy these favorites from the archives! Oh, and come back Wednesday for a new pumpkin recipe, and in three years for Friday Favorites: Pumpkin III.
Friday Favorites: PumpkinPumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles

These soft, chewy cookies have a double dose of pumpkin pie spice! It’s mixed into the pumpkin dough and then whisked into a sugary coating before baking. If you are a pumpkin spice purist, these are for you.
Friday Favorites: PumpkinPumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}

If, however, you like your pumpkin extra-shareable and with a side of chocolate, go this route. Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies are vegan, due in large part to the fact that pumpkin makes a great egg substitute. From there, I just swapped the usual butter for coconut oil. Easy peasy.
Friday Favorites: PumpkinPumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

I love a good blondie recipe! These are quick and easy and studded with chocolate chips. Can’t wait to make a batch in Maine in a few weeks.
Friday Favorites: PumpkinPumpkin Spice Latte Cookie Squares

I’ve never loved Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but I will gladly throw pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and granulated espresso into cookie bars and then top them off with a thick layer of vanilla buttercream. What can I say? I’m filled with contradictions.
Friday Favorites: PumpkinPumpkin Babka

This, the one and only babka on this blog, was a labor of love. I made 18 of them before I got this recipe how I want it. This is so delicious, y’all. Buttery brioche dough is filled with pumpkin pie filling, twisted together, baked until golden and made glossy with a pumpkin spice syrup. Enjoy this yeasted cake for breakfast or a snack, or use it for a hyper-seasonal French toast.
Friday Favorites: PumpkinPumpkin Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Puff Pancakes are my all-time favorite weekend breakfast, so of course I had to make a pumpkin version! Super easy, super delicious. This is perfect for any lazy morning, or as a Thanksgiving breakfast.
Friday Favorites: PumpkinCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread

This quick bread is actually a half-batch of my Pumpkin Bundt Cake swirled with cheesecake and baked in a loaf pan. It’s very simple and a stunner every time.
Friday Favorites: PumpkinPumpkin Pie with Toasted Pecan Crust {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

Everyone needs a great pumpkin pie recipe, and while I have a more traditional one in the archives, I think this vegan, gluten-free version is my favorite. The filling is lightly sweetened with maple syrup and coconut sugar and the crust is made primarily of pecans, cornstarch and coconut oil, and the whole thing is really fantastic. Put it on your Thanksgiving menu, or maybe just make one for the hell of it.
Friday Favorites: PumpkinPumpkin Oat Dog Treats

Yes, I even have pumpkin for pups! These nutritious five ingredient treats come together in a food processor, and though they are for dogs, they are delicious for humans too. That’s right, I have to taste test everything on this blog. Even the dog treats.

Have you made any of these or any of my other pumpkin recipes? What’s your favorite thing to make with pumpkin? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Friday Favorites: PumpkinFriday Favorites: Pumpkin

Oatmeal Creme Pie Bars

Oatmeal Creme Pie BarsJust like clockwork, every August I crave old back-to-school lunchbox favorites. Yes, I know I am a childless adult who is more than a decade away from her last first day of school, but I guess it’s pavlovian. In years past, it’s been peanut butter & jelly and Rice Krispies Treats. This time around, it’s arguably the second* best packaged sandwich cookie out there: Oatmeal Creme Pies.

*Oreos are first, obviously.Oatmeal Creme Pie BarsNow, I already have a recipe for a homemade version of Oatmeal Creme Piestwo actually—but this is a non-traditional school year and I think that warrants a non-traditional recipe. Nothing radical, nothing complicated. We’re talking all the flavor, soft texture and marshmallow magic of Oatmeal Creme Pies, but less than half the work.Oatmeal Creme Pie BarsOatmeal Creme Pie Bars, y’all! These sweet squares are a cross between a thick cookie and a blondie topped with a soft & swoopy marshmallow frosting, and they taste *just* like your favorite school lunchbox treat. Yesssss.Oatmeal Creme Pie BarsThe cookie layer is a streamlined version of my usual Oatmeal Creme Pie dough, made with quick oats (homemade or store bought) and a hint of cinnamon. The only “major” change is the addition of a tiny spoonful of baking powder for a little extra lift. The batter comes together in minutes before being spooned into a pan, then baked until golden at the edges and nearly cakey in the middle, the way all good Oatmeal Creme Pies are.Oatmeal Creme Pie BarsThe marshmallow frosting is a take on my usual Oatmeal Creme Pie filling. It’s super smooth and a bit glossy in the best possible way. In the past, I’ve used shortening in my Oatmeal Creme Pie filling for maximum nostalgia, but swapped it for butter here with good results.

Heads up that this frosting will not “crust” or set in the same way as a traditional American buttercream, but a brief chill helps it to slice cleanly. It should be soft but not runny, and completely irresistible. With both marshmallow fluff and confectioner’s sugar, it will seem too sweet, but keep in mind that the cookie bar base is pretty light on sugar compared to most, so the end result will be pretty balanced. I mean, it’s still dessert, but it’s not cloying.Oatmeal Creme Pie BarsThis batch of Oatmeal Creme Pie Bars came together in a relative flash—less than two hours top to tail, including cooling—meaning you might have time to whip some up soon, regardless of the fact that lunchboxes may not be a part of your life right now, whether it be because school is virtual or because you’re a 35 year old childless adult with a snack cake habit.

That said, I have it on good authority that after-school/afternoon snacks apply at all ages.Oatmeal Creme Pie Bars

Oatmeal Creme Pie Bars
makes one 8- or 9-inch pan, about 16 bars

Bars:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
3/4 cups quick oats*

Marshmallow Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
7 ounces marshmallow fluff (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment, leaving some overhang on two sides for removal. Grease again. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, 60-90 seconds. Beat in brown sugar, followed by egg and yolk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix to combine. Mix in quick oats.

Spoon batter into the pan and spread in an even layer all the way to the edges. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let bars cool completely in their pan on a rack.

Make the marshmallow frosting. Cream the marshmallow fluff and shortening with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar and salt. Add in vanilla and mix on high until the frosting is very fluffy.

Spread frosting over the top of the cooled bars. Chill for 30 minutes to set. Frosting will not harden.

Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, then use the parchment overhang to lift the bars onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars, wiping clean between cuts. Serve.

Leftovers may be kept covered at room temperature for a couple of days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Ideally, they should be kept in one layer, but if stacking, place layers of parchment or wax paper between.

Note:

If you don’t have quick oats, you may blitz 1 cup of old-fashioned oats in the food processor until there are no whole oats visible. Steel cut oats will not work in this recipe.

Oatmeal Creme Pie BarsOatmeal Creme Pie BarsOatmeal Creme Pie Bars

Peanut Butter Carmelitas

Peanut Butter CarmelitasSometimes you—and by “you,” I mean “I”—want a dessert that is purely about peanut butter. No chocolate or candy or jelly or Oreos—just peanut butter in all its glory. You could, of course, remedy this by going directly to the pantry and dipping into the jar with a spoon, or you could make a batch of these Peanut Butter Carmelitas. Peanut Butter CarmelitasYou should make these, period. They’re a peanut butter lover’s paradise! Two layers of crispy peanut butter cookie are sandwiched together with a thick layer of peanut butter caramel and then sliced into crumbly, chewy bars. It’s like someone—and by “someone,” I mean “I”— took my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe and turned it up to 11. Oh my word, these are good.Peanut Butter CarmelitasThey’re easy to make, too! Start by mixing up a crumbly peanut butter and oat dough, tossing in some chopped roasted peanuts for good measure. Pack half of it down, and then drizzle on a bunch of caramel candy that you’ve melted with peanut butter and heavy cream. Mmhmm.Peanut Butter CarmelitasPeanut Butter CarmelitasFinish it all off with the remaining dough and then bake until the edges are golden and the caramel bubbles up in a few spots and then—and this is very important—let them cool completely.Peanut Butter CarmelitasI’m serious! Don’t be tempted to slice these (or any carmelitas) while they’re still warm. I know gooey peanut butter caramel is extremely tempting, but the mess isn’t worth it. I promise you that the middles of these carmelitas are just as enticing at room temperature. We’re talking soft, stretchy peanut butter candy magic, y’all.Peanut Butter CarmelitasYes, the caramel is the star of this show, but don’t sleep on those cookie layers. Crispy, crunchy, buttery, salty-sweet, crumbly cookie held together by caramel? Sign me up! These bars will crumble at bit when you bite in, but it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing.

Very good.Peanut Butter Carmelitas

Peanut Butter Carmelitas
makes one 8-inch pan, about 16 squares

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted), roughly chopped

Caramel Layer:
1 11-ounce bag caramel candies
1/4 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease heavily with butter. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, light brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Combine butter and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold it into the dry ingredients—mixture may be crumbly, but should hold together when pinched. Ensure that the dough is not too warm before folding in chopped peanuts. Set aside.

Combine caramels, peanut butter and heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Firmly press about 2 1/2 cups of the dough into an even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour caramel over the top and smooth to the edges. Scatter remaining dough mixture over the top. Use the palms of your hands to gently pack it into a even layer, covering the caramel.

Bake full pan for 23 minutes, or until turning golden at the edges. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack,

Slice bars with a lightly greased chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Do not try to slice bars until they are completely room temperature.

Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Layer them with wax paper to keep them from sticking together.Peanut Butter CarmelitasPeanut Butter CarmelitasPeanut Butter Carmelitas

S’mores Magic Bars

S’mores Magic BarsThis summer is going to be a little different, but one thing remains the same: its unofficial kick-off, Memorial Day, is coming up next week. While it’s highly unlikely that I’ll find myself around a campfire or even on a rooftop anytime soon, I will not let this year go by without a s’mores-centric treat.S’mores Magic BarsIs there anything that says “summer” quite like a s’more? I mean, what’s not to love about crisp graham cracker, milk chocolate (or lemon curd!) and toasted marshmallow stacked together while everything’s still gooey?S’mores Magic BarsThese S’mores Magic Bars aren’t your traditional summertime fare, but they have plenty of graham crackers (in the form of crust and crispy shards), chopped milk chocolate and toasted marshmallows. It straight-up doesn’t count as a s’mores dessert if the marshmallows aren’t toasted, am I right?!S’mores Magic BarsS’mores Magic BarsS’mores Magic BarsAs with all magic bars, these are held together with a can of sweetened condensed milk. It serves as the structural backbone of this whole operation (along with the graham crust), and caramelizes in the oven for a toffee undertone.

S’mores + toffee = basically everything I’ve ever wanted.S’mores Magic BarsThe sweetened condensed milk also gives these bars a slightly gooey finish, which is a good thing because while the marshmallows do get nice and golden brown, they also have to cool completely before you slice the bars. Like I said, we’re not going for tradition, we’re going for the most efficient way to get toasted marshmallow, graham cracker and milk chocolate into our faces in a less than ideal summer situation!S’mores Magic BarsAlso, unlike traditional s’mores, these sweet squares will stay good for days after baking. Days! That’s a very good thing, because I have a feeling I’m going to need a few batches between now and Labor Day.S’mores Magic Bars

S’mores Magic Bars
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan

Crust:
9 sheets graham crackers
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, divided
2 cups mini marshmallows, divided
2 sheets graham crackers, broken into small pieces
4 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch square pan and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the crust. Place graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and process until no large pieces remain. Add light brown sugar, melted butter, and salt. Process until the mixture resembles wet sand, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer the mixture to prepared pan and use the bottom of a measuring cup (or clean hands) to press the mixture onto the bottom of the pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Cool it on a rack for a few minutes while you prepare the filling.

Pour 1/2 cup of the sweetened condensed milk into a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Set aside.

Drizzle remaining sweetened condensed milk onto crust. Top with 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows, followed by graham pieces and chopped milkchocolate.

Drizzle on reserved sweetened condensed milk and scatter on remaining mini marshmallows. Bake 30-32 minutes, until everything is golden brown and the center of the pan just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use parchment overhang to remove them to a cutting board before slicing with a large, sharp chef’s knife. For clean edges, carefully wipe the knife blade clean with a damp towel between cuts.

Layer leftovers with wax paper (or parchment) in an airtight container. Bars will keep covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.S’mores Magic BarsS’mores Magic Bars

Oatmeal Raisin Blondies

Oatmeal Raisin BlondiesI posted my best-yet Oatmeal Raisin Cookies last fall, but now I have one-upped myself by simplifying them and baking them up in a square pan. Oatmeal Raisin Blondies, y’all!Oatmeal Raisin BlondiesIf you are an Oatmeal Raisin fan, you’ll love these sweet little bars. They’re super chewy thanks to low flour content, a glut of old-fashioned oats, and a high brown sugar-to-dry ingredients ratio. The raisins are plumped in simmering water before mixing for maximum flavor and texture.Oatmeal Raisin BlondiesOatmeal Raisin BlondiesDeep toasty flavor comes courtesy of brown butter and toasted oats. You could, of course, just melt your butter and use your oats straight out of the bag, but spending a few minutes drawing out their nutty richness makes a huge difference in the final outcome. A teaspoon of cinnamon rounds out the batter and makes these blondies pretty irresistible!Oatmeal Raisin BlondiesThese blondies bake up in 25 or so minutes, until the top is puffed and a little glossy. Let them cool until room temperature and then slice into pieces. The tops will crack in the best way and the middles will be dense and…well, they’re *very* good. The perfect low-maintenance sort of thing to make on this quarantine Wednesday.Oatmeal Raisin Blondies

Oatmeal Raisin Blondies
makes one 8- or 9-inch pan, about 16 servings

1 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup raisins
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment, leaving a little excess on two sides for ease of removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Scatter oats on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Toast 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside to cool until you can handle them.

Plump the raisins. Put raisins and water in a small saucepan; if water doesn’t cover the raisins, add more until it does. Put over medium-high heat. When it reaches a simmer, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

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 small-medium mixing bowl.

Add brown sugar to brown butter and whisk to combine. Mix in the egg and vanilla, followed by flour, cinnamon and salt.

Pour raisins and water through a fine mesh sieve to discard water. Fold raisins into batter.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread in an even layer all the way to the edges. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until the top is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes back with only a few moist crumbs (not batter).

Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use excess parchment to lift blondies onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into 16 pieces. Serve.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to four days.Oatmeal Raisin Blondies Oatmeal Raisin BlondiesOatmeal Raisin Blondies