Peanut Butter/Chocolate Bark

It’s beginning to get so very hectic, so much stuff to make …” sung to the melody of “It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas.”

It’s nearly crunch time, and if you’re scrambling to get all of it done — particularly all the making and baking — remember you can make something wonderful that isn’t necessarily time consuming or hard.

Like this peanut butter/chocolate bark. I tried it out a week or so ago and gave it to He Who Must Be Fed who agreed to test it out. He took one piece, then another, then another, then another, then put the lid back on the container and begged me to put it back in the kitchen and out of his reach.

I didn’t have to ask him if he liked it. I didn’t have to.

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s delicious. And it’s bound to make someone you love happy.

Ingredients:   

  • 8 oz. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
  • 1 10 oz. package of peanut butter chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped

BarkIngredientsCover cookie sheet or tray with wax paper.

Place your peanut butter chips with the shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium for about a minute and stir. If the chips aren’t completely melted, wave for another 15 seconds and stir again until smooth.

Add the peanuts, and spread onto the wax paper-lined cookie sheet.

Place your chocolate chips in another medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium for about a minute, then stir. If the chips aren’t completely melted, wave for another 15 seconds and stir again until smooth.

Drop spoonfuls of the melted chocolate onto the peanut butter. Then, using a knife, swirl for a marbled effect. Gently tap the tray on your countertop to even out the thickness of the mixture.BarkSpreadOut

Refrigerate for about an hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in a cool, dry place, away from He Who Must Be Fed. J

If you need to roast your peanuts – I didn’t realize I bought raw peanuts – heat your oven to 350°. Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until light brown.

BarkFinished

 

Peppermint Patty Brownies

Sometimes I use my friends as guinea pigs. Don’t tell them that, OK? I was having a holiday lunch with my friends Anne and Sandy, and I wanted to make them something I hadn’t made before. I saw this recipe for Peppermint Patty Brownies and thought they sounded just perfect. But, I had never made them before. Should I experiment on my friends? (It’s a rhetorical question, faithful food readers. 🙂 )

I made them, and they looked really awesome. But, did my friends like them? You betcha. Just ask them.

Ingredients:

For the brownies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup chocolate chips

For the peppermint layer

2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
peppermint sugar sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter or nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine melted butter with sugar and vanilla extract, whisking until combined and almost smooth. Whisk in each egg one at a time, stirring until a smooth batter forms. (C’mon, work those biceps.) Add in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, stirring until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter in the 8×8 baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Remove and let cool.

While brownies are cooling, add powdered sugar, butter, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and peppermint extracts to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth and creamy. Pour over brownies and spread in an even layer with a spoon or spatula. Place in the refrigerator until set, about 30 minutes.

This recipe called for ganache to drizzle over top. However, I realized I didn’t buy any heavy cream at the store the week before because it was $4.38 a pint. I could have bought a gallon of milk for that price. (I know, it was probably mismarked, but I was in too much of a hurry to ask someone.) So, I had to think of something else to do.

Ever the food fixer, I melted a half cup of chocolate chips and drizzled that over the top then added  some peppermint sugar sprinkles to make them look pretty and super-festive.

PeppermintPattieBrownies

 

Chocolate peppermint fudge

I haven’t had great success with fudge in the past. As a kid, I watched my Aunt Edie make it with ease, but for some reason, I could never get into her fudge groove. (I bet she never even knew she had a fudge groove.)

But, now I’m fudge grooving, too, because I found some super-easy fudge recipes, like the one I shared earlier this week for cookies and cream fudge. Here’s another one: chocolate peppermint fudge from Ree Drummond of the Food Network.

It’s easy. It’s tasty. It’s festive looking. What more could you want?

Ingredients:  

  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Peppermint candy, crushed

Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

CrushingCandyCanesIn a plastic bag, add your peppermint (I used candy canes) and crush using a rolling pin or another heavy tool. A meat tenderizer will work as well. Be sure to seal the bag first. 🙂

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate chips and the sweetened condensed milk. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.ChocolateMelting

Pour into your pan. Sprinkle with the crushed peppermint. Refrigerate for two hours.

Lift the foil out and peel it off the fudge. Cut into small (or big) squares.

Enjoy it along with your new fudge groove.

ChocolatePepperminFudgeDone

Cookies and Cream Fudge

As you can probably guess, I love holiday time. For me, it’s like the Food Olympics. I spend most of my free time in the kitchen, lifting heavy pots and pans (weight-lifting competition), wielding a chopping knife (fencing competition), racing to get everything made in time (marathon competition).

My goal is to make something delicious – at least I hope it’s delicious — for someone I care about.  I’m willing to put in the work, but it is awesome when I find a super-easy and super-yummy recipe.

A perfect example is this cookies and cream fudge recipe.

It’s so easy I’m almost embarrassed to share it with you. But, it’s so unbelievably good that I would be remiss in not sharing it with you.

Ingredients:

  • 18 oz. white chocolate chips. (I recommend Hershey’s brand because they melt very well.)
  • 2½ cups Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Line an 8×8 pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

CrushingOreosPlace 2 ½ cups of Oreos into a plastic bag and seal it. Use a rolling pin, meat tenderizer or other heavy object to coarsely crush the cookies. Set aside.

Combine the white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until the chips are all melted. Your time will vary depending on the power of your microwave. Stir until the mixture is smooth. VanillaChipsMelting

Add the cookies to the melted chocolate and pour into the pan. Let cool at room temperature for at least two hours. Or, you can pop them in the refrigerator where they will cool faster. When cooled, cut into bit-sized pieces. (Or bigger pieces if that’s what your loved ones like.)

Scary good. That’s what these are. And they were so easy that you now have time to make something else. I made chocolate peppermint fudge. That recipe is coming next.

CookiesAndCreamFudgeDone

 

Pumpkin Scones

I love scones. I’m not sure why. There are certainly richer, more savagely delicious treats than scones. Perhaps, I just love the idea of scones, nibbling on one while sipping hot tea and perhaps reading a book or solving a mystery. (Can anyone say Miss Jane Marple?)

Regardless of the reason, they are tasty. And, unless you’re a food masochist, they’re easy to make. I made pumpkins scones after I saw this recipe from the Food Network little booklet of 50 canned pumpkin recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 stick of cold butter, cubed
  • 2/3 cup solid pack pumpkin
  • ¾ cup cream

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. Work in the cold butter with a pastry blender. In a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin and cream then stir into the flour mixture.SconeSquare

Pat into an 8-inch square on a floured surface, then cut into 16 triangles. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F, 20 minutes.

Full-recipe disclosure: I drizzled glaze and sprinkled cinnamon on mine to make them extra tasty and pretty.FinishedScone