Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

I received the below mentioned products for free from OXO, but in turn they will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post (up to our $100,000 commitment*.)

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

These.are.amazing. Seriously. If you like anything chocolate you’ll love these. I don’t want to hear that you aren’t on the salted caramel band wagon. You don’t like pecans or nuts on your sweets, that’s okay because you’ll be too busy scarfing these down to even realize. Now, if you are allergic, just skip them, it will be okay without them. The base of these bars is a delicious chocolate shortbread. It’s delicious on its own, but is definitely not the star of the show and acts as a nice base for all the goodness that is  poured on top of it. Salted caramel and dark chocolate are where it’s at. This gooey layer on top is what you’ve been dreaming of all along. Add the toasted pecans for crunch and you have perfection!

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

Thanks to OXO I got to make these delicious bars with what is now my new favorite baking and storage dishes, the OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware and their Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer. Honestly, I didn’t know I could love a hand mixer until I met this beauty! It has intuitive digital controls to steadily increase or decrease speed. There are no surprises as you change your speed which means no splatters all over the kitchen counter! When you’re finished, the on-board beater clip, wrap-and-secure cord, and flat, stable base allow for compact, upright storage. My favorite part is that it the base is flat and the cord can be tucked in on either side. That means that there is no awkward way of setting the mixer down. Just plop it down, the cord will handle itself and you can get on to whatever task you’re doing. Thank you OXO! 

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

Now let me back up to the OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware for a minute. I’ve talked about these containers before but what I love about the Glass 3 Qt Baking Dish with Lid and Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish with Lid especially is that the lids don’t lay flat. They allow a little space so that casserole you make or dessert you frost doesn’t get smooshed. The lids also seal very well and you don’t have to second guess yourself all of the time. Of course they’re also made from BPA-free borosilicate glass and can withstand extreme temperature changes. Not to leave anything out, the OXO Brownie Spatula is an extremely handy tool to make serving so much easier and more presentable!
Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

 

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars

Ingredients

For the Shortbread Base

  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1⁄3 cup (67 grams) sugar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Caramel Topping

  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream, at room temperature (or slightly warmed in a microwave)
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and very soft
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fleur de sel or a good-size pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 ounces (57 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • About 1⁄2 cup (60 grams) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter (or spray) an 8-inch square pan.

To make the shortbread base:

Whisk together the flour and cocoa powder. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low until the dough comes together. This will take a little longer than you might expect, so don’t get discouraged. Give the dough a few last turns with a flexible spatula and scrape it out into the pan. Using your fingertips, pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan; press down and make sure to get the dough into the corners. Bake the shortbread for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, or until it is slightly darker around the edges and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan; it will not feel completely firm if poked gently. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the shortbread to cool completely.

To make the caramel topping:

Put a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush (preferably silicone) next to the stove. Put the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan or skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the ingredients to bubble away, brushing down the sides of the pan with cold water if there are spatters and swirling the pan a couple of times once you start seeing some color, until the caramel turns a pale to medium amber. (Don’t let it get as dark as mahogany.) Lower the heat, stand away from the pan and add the cream, followed by the butter and salt — ingredients that might cause the caramel to roil. Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the chocolate and, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir to blend.Pour the hot caramel over the shortbread and sprinkle with the nuts. Allow to set at room temperature.

When the caramel is firm, run a table knife around the sides of the pan, care- fully unmold the cookie onto a rack and turn it over onto a cutting board. Using a long thin knife, cut 21 bars (cut into 3 strips and then cut each strip into 7 bars). Alternatively, leave the cookie whole and cut individual bars as needed.

When the caramel is fully set, the cookies (cut or intact) can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Remove them from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 21 bars

Source: Recipe from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Deconstructed Lasagna

Deconstructed Lasagna ~ This quick version of lasgana is so easy, you can get the kids to do it! ~The Way to His Heart

This summer I had my daughter helping out in the kitchen a bit. Although, not as much as we had anticipated, but we did build upon her skills and she has been moved up to sous chef and my son will be learning the prep chef role this Fall. One of the big things I wanted her helped with was truly prepping dishes and preparing some dishes that she doesn’t entirely care for. A lot of meals that are easy, go to weeknight meals she wont eat. The funniest of them all is any kind of baked pasta dish. She loves pasta and will eat it any chance she can get. She eats marinara sauce on pizza, but not pasta. She likes all cheeses and she eats ground beef in hamburgers. So, it was time to show her the ingredients that she knows and have her assemble the meal. No more talking about it, she was going to do it. And, it was so easy. While she assembled the dish, I set the table and prepped the salad, her normal job. She thought it was a lot of fun to change roles for the evening.

Deconstructed Lasagna ~ This quick version of lasgana is so easy, you can get the kids to do it! ~The Way to His Heart

Now, I will go ahead and mention that I browned the beef and I boiled the pasta. She is six and she isn’t quite ready to man the stove top just yet. But once those were done she did everything else besides taking it in and out of the oven. If you want to make this dish even easier, go ahead and grab some store-bought sauce. The whole point of this meal is to get that great lasagna taste that you love, while not making a big fuss about it!

Disclaimer, poor iPhone picture but when we make this meal it’s all about enjoying it and getting to the fun stuff. Every time. So, I decided to just go ahead and share it with you!

Deconstructed Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef, browned
  • 1 lb pasta (we used bowties here since it grabs everything nicely), cooked al dente
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

In a large baking dish, pour about 1/4 up of marinara sauce and spread to cover bottom.

In a large bowl stir the ground beef, pasta, ricotta, and remaining marinara sauce until combined.

Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top. Place dabs of butter on top of the cheese.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Source: The Way to His Heart

Compost Cookies

Compost Cookies ~ From the very best, Momofuku Milk Bar, these amazing cookies are chewy, crunchy, sweet and salty with so much flavor ~ The Way to His Heart

We haven’t done much in the way of baking new things this summer. My idea of a quiet summer hanging around the house with the kids has not been realized. The only days we don’t have something planed we are using as re-coop days. Two weeks ago I decided to get into the kitchen and create. While a few were created on the spot, these cookies were made with purpose. Ever since I had heard of them I knew I just had to have them. I also had a good opportunity to send most to work with my husband so my willpower wouldn’t be tested too much!

The beauty of these cookies is that they were created by using bits of this and that around the kitchen. Kind of a “everything but the kitchen sink” idea, hence the name “Compost Cookies.” My daughter thinks the name sounds disgusting so she calls them “the most amazing, super-duper cookies ever.” So, feel free to call them that as well because they are! The flavors in these cookies don’t compete, not get lost. Some how it’s a perfect balance. I love the slight coffee flavor, and the saltiness and then the butterscotch with the chocolate and chips. Oh my! I love a good cookie dough, but this was the most amazing dough ever. I could have eaten the whole batch without even baking them. Yeah, yeah salmonella, but I’m a daredevil that way.

Whether you want divine cookies for yourself or want to make something to impress, go ahead and make up a batch of these. While you’re at it, go ahead and make up a few batches since you’ll have ingredients to spare and they freeze nicely!

Compost Cookies ~ From the very best, Momofuku Milk Bar, these amazing cookies are chewy, crunchy, sweet and salty with so much flavor ~ The Way to His Heart

 

Compost Cookies

Ingredients

For the graham crust:

  • 10 t0 12 graham crackers (enough to make 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup milk powder
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

For the cookies:

  • 16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 Tbsp glucose (can substitute with 1 tablespoon corn syrup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 recipe graham crust (recipe below)
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground coffee (NOT instant coffee)
  • 2 cups potato chips (kettle chips work best)
  • 1 cup mini pretzels

To make the graham crust:

In a food processor, process graham crackers. Transfer to a medium bowl and add milk powder, sugar, and salt.

In a small bowl, mix melted butter and heavy cream. Add to graham cracker mixture and mix until combined. Use 1/4 of the recipe for the cookies and refrigerate rest for later (a pie or some more cookies).

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugars, and glucose together on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

Reducing the speed to low, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined. Then add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, and coffee. Mix until just combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and scoop out cookie dough using a cookie scoop or 1/3 measuring cup. Gently flatten the tops of each mound. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week.

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Place cookies 4-inches apart and bake for 18 minutes. Cookies should be slightly brown at the edges but have yellow centers. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for 1 month.

Leave cookies to cool on baking sheet.

Makes about 15 to 20 cookies.

Source: Momofuku Milk Bar

 

Cherry & Chocolate Ice Cream Pie ~ What's better than ice cream cake? Ice cream cherry pie! This dessert is so easy to assemble, you'll make it often! ~ The Way to His Heart

Happy Birthday to me…Happy Birthday to me…

Last week I turned another year older which really meant that we had a reason to have cake and I got to eat whatever I wanted for dinner! I’m a big fan of ice cream and ice cream cakes. I’ve had this ice cream cake since I was little for most of my birthdays. This year I wanted to change it up a it and I found a delicious and easy frozen dessert that will probably become a go to dessert when needed. You could even simplify this even more but purchasing a pre-made Oreo crust. We made the kid-friendly version of this dessert, but I’m sure the adult version would be extra tasty as well. This didn’t last long in our house. It was devoured pretty quickly which is a good thing because

it means I wont be raiding the freezer for days!

Cherry & Chocolate Ice Cream Pie ~ What's better than ice cream cake? Ice cream cherry pie! This dessert is so easy to assemble, you'll make it often! ~ The Way to His Heart

Cherry & Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

Ingredients

  • 15 Oreo cookies
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup hot fudge ice cream topping
  • 4 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen dark sweet cherries, pitted and quartered, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. thawed cranberry juice concentrate
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp cherry liqueur, optional

Pulse cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Add butter; process until blended. Press mixture onto bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Carefully, spread hot fudge topping over bottom of crust. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Combine the ice cream and 1 cup cherries; spread over hot fudge later. Freeze until firm, about 8 hours.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cranberry juice and cornstarch; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining cherries. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until thickened and cherries are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; if desired, stir in liqueur. Cool completely.

Remove pie from freezer 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with sauce.

Serves 8

Source: Taste of Home Summer 2016