S’mores Rice Krispie Treats

It’s starting to feel a bit like summer. And by this, I mean I am boggled down with projects, papers, exams, and stress.
Summer is long walks in the woods with bug-spray amply applied, trips to Maine for fresh lobster, weekends spent on the beach, thunderstorms rattling the house, humidity blowing up my hair, breathing in the night air, eating fresh strawberries, biking to the store instead of driving, and of course, s’mores made on a fire pit.I don’t have a fire pit with me in my college-owned housing (shame), but I can make s’mores in the microwave if I’m desperate. This is not the same thing, of course, as a melted, toasted, perfectly charred marshmallow sandwiched between chocolate and graham crackers, made on a hot summer night. I decided that if I can’t have my s’mores like I do in the summer, then I’ll at least take microwaved s’mores up a notch and make S’mores Rice Krispie Treats. My housemates gobbled these up in one night. Addicting, delicious, almost-as-good-as-the-real-thing bites of goodness.

Smore’s Rice Krispie Treats

3 cups mini marshmallows

1 Tbs butter

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1 cup Graham Crackers, original or honey flavored, coarsely chopped

1 cup milk chocolate chips

Microwave marshmallows, butter and vanilla in a bowl until the marshmallows begin to soften, or about one minute. Stir mixture and microwave for another minute until fully melted. Add the Rice Krispies to marshmallow mix, then graham cracker pieces and chocolate chips. Press into a greased 8″x8″ pan. Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Cut into squares.

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A Long Run, and Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Coming home from Mexico, with only four weeks until the Boston Marathon, I vowed to eat more protein, vegetables, and whole grains. I was doing a tremendous job, eating hard-boiled eggs, hummus, vegetable-filled sandwiches, and Greek yogurt. What loomed over my head all week was my 21 mile training run. I carbo-loaded on Thursday night, eating bowls of cereal instead of my vegetables (I know how my digestive system would act if I ate my traditional vegetables and legumes right before running 21 miles). Then, I ran and ran and ran and ran. Until my legs felt like goop, my sweat caked to my forehead, and my  body felt arthritic. Success!

I counteracted this extreme exercise with an extreme dessert, as a gift to my friend who vigilantly held water for me during the run.  My friends gathered around the pan of gooey, crunchy, sweet and salty masterpiece. The pretzels take this cookie bar over the top.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz. bag peanut butter chips

1 1/2 cups mini pretzel twists, chopped.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a square baking pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients. Fold in half a bag of chocolate chips, half a bag of peanut butter chips, and chopped pretzels. Spread batter in pan, press down. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. While still hot, sprinkle bars with additional chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, as well as pretzels. Place in oven for a minute so that chocolate and peanut butter melt. Cool completely, then cut into squares.

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Many times when I was little, I would try baking cookies on my own and forget and/or mix up ingredients. Take for example the time I filmed my friend and I making chocolate chip cookies, as if we were on a cooking show. We left out the vanilla extract. There’s the time I put in baking soda rather than powder in a recipe. And then there’s the big “no-no” of melting butter in cookie recipes.

Using stiff butter is the proper way to make cookie dough, regardless of how difficult it is to cream. One of those $200 pink KitchenAid stand mixers is what I lust after. Unfortunately, as a college student, I don’t have a stand mixer or even a hand mixer, nor are my arms and willpower strong enough to cream butter and sugar by hand. This is when cookie bars come into the picture.

Like brownies, bar cookies typically involve (cooled) melted butter, whether in the microwave or on the stovetop, in order to add consistency to the batter. The recipe I used to make these devilishly good Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars is essentially a cookie recipe, but suitable to be baked in one flat sheet. I avoided an arm workout and got to enjoy the taste of chocolate chip cookies. As if the mention of not having to cream butter is enough, let me reiterate how simple this recipe is. If you need a dessert in a flash, this is it. I used a good brand of chocolate chips, which I recommend for taking these bars up a notch.You of course could add nuts, other kinds of chocolate, or even dried fruit.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 pan.

Mix butter with sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Brownie Mix no More

I was either a really weird kid when I was little or I had great panache, wearing my huge fuzzy turquoise earmuffs while baking brownies. Probably being a really weird kid is a more accurate description. There’s a photograph of this moment, me with a bowl of chocolate brownie mix, with brownie-batter-smeared cheeks on either side of my toothless grin. The final baked product was never nearly as much fun to devour as the goodness of bowl-licking batter.

But then I made these brownies. Not from a mix, not with unknown sugary things, not with the Hershey’s fudge sauce packet that you get to squeeze into a powdery concoction. No. These are pure, fudgy, chewy, chocolately brownies that, when baked, taste just as good as the batter, if not more. The secret? A quarter teaspoon of instant coffee powder. You can certainly add walnuts or more chocolate chips. However I was delighted in the simplicity of these brownies, no added flavors necessary.

Brownie Mix No More Brownies

Source: Broma Bakery

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups cocoa powder

1 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 teaspoon instant coffee powder

2 eggs

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup vegetable oil

6 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix both sugars, salt, coffee powder, cocoa powder, and flour. Then, add eggs, melted butter, oil, and water. Fold in chocolate chips.

In a greased 9″x13″ pan, pour mixture and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into brownies.

Bars or Squares

Nearly every Sunday morning of my childhood was spent at my grandparents’ house. I suppose this was my version of going to Church. Except that there was margarine-laden popcorn, grape soda from DeMoula’s, toxically-orange-colored crackers with peanut butter, and my uncle’s fantastic freshly baked treats.

I would always dash up the stairs of the old house, dragging my bag of library books and new board games to show my grandparents. I’m pretty sure this was just a way of relief for my parents from my only-child-induced energy. Nonetheless, the best part about every Sunday of my childhood was the food (other than playing with Lincoln Logs). My grandmother once showed me how to make a pie, which merely ended up with me making cut-out stars and hearts out of the dough. My uncle would bring tins full of hermit cookies and his famous spice cookies:

To put it simply, I ate well on Sundays.

In my head, I split my family into two classes. My mom’s side does most of the savory, dinner dishes whereas my dad’s side does the baking, both dessert and dinner. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but in general this holds true. It’s the best of both worlds.

Skip ahead to my freshman year of college. I received a package in the mail right before I had to take my dreadful general chemistry final exam. I assumed it was another one of my dad’s joke packages (past mailings included a picture of him with a stuffed squirrel on his shoulder, or more infamously the one-inch squared box of sand he sent for me to put underneath my car’s tires in the snow).

Instead, he sent me Magic Squares. Delicious graham-cracker crust with chocolate chips and coconut piled on top, a common recipe that has been passed down and evolved through our family. My chemistry exam wasn’t fun but at the end of the day, I at least had these to devour, raising my spirits incredibly.

The following summer, I diverged from the family-recipe and made Congo Bars. Congo Bars are essentially Magic Squares but without the graham-cracker crust and condensed milk. Both are divine to eat, and both have quite unappealing names (Magic Squares sound like pot brownies and Congo Bars just remind me of Conga dance lines).

Since I’m in Australia currently, I don’t have the Magic Squares recipe on hand. For now, make these Congo Bars. I dare you to only eat one.

Adapted from: The Curvy Carrot

Makes 12 bars

 

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

12 tbs (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 and 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping

1/2 cup white chocolate chips, plus more for topping

1 and 1/2 cups shredded coconut

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, use electric mixer to combine the melted butter and brown sugar. On medium-low speed, add the eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Stop the mixer and fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, mixing until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and coconut to the batter.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan. Top the batter with extra chocolate chips and coconut. Bake for 22-25 minutes.