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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate chips’

Within minutes of cracking my eyes open and my feet hitting the chilly carpet, the morning sunshine was overshadowed by gloomy sadness—it’s the same tinge of grief that creeps in every September 18, the anniversary of my best friend’s unspeakable death.

Since 22 years of heartbreak can’t be mended with a bottle of Patrón and Duct tape, the next best thing for me is baking. So after I got off the phone with Darya’s dad, Darryl, I wiped my tears with a lotion-y Kleenex and cranked the oven to 350°.

6 and a half layer bars

I recalled a story her mom, Carmen, told me recently. One time, Carmen put a pan of 7-layer bars in the oven and had to leave the house so she asked Darya to turn the oven off when the timer was done. Well, Darya did just that. She turned the oven off but she didn’t take the bars out of the oven. The bars continued to bake and caramelize and as Carmen puts it, “…best bars we ever had and we can’t seem to duplicate that.”

In sweet memory of my friend, I tried to recreate what she had done so many years ago. I changed up the recipe a little because I thought adding caramel, milk chocolate toffee bits, and salty pretzel crumbs could only make the bars better. I was right.

Just remember to turn the oven off and let them sit in there for a while.

6 and a half layer bars

What makes these eight-and-a-half layer bars? I swapped (pretzels for nuts) and added a few ingredients (caramel and toffee bits) from traditional 7-layer bars and, because I’m not a raging fan of coconut, I only use half the coconut most recipes call for. A sprinkling really.

Eight-and-a-half layer bars

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup pretzel crumbs

11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) butter, melted

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup milk chocolate toffee bits

1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping (such as Mrs. Richardson’s butterscotch caramel)

1/2 cup (or your desired amount) shredded coconut

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Stir together cracker and pretzel crumbs with melted butter. (I use a blender to make the crumbs and then add the butter.)
  3. Dump and firmly press the crumb mix into pan.
  4. Evenly scatter butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and toffee bits onto crust.
  5. Drizzle on about 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping.
  6. Sprinkle with coconut, reserving a tablespoon or two.
  7. Pour condensed milk over coconut. Sprinkle with last bit of coconut.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn off oven. Leave bars in oven for about 15 minutes before transferring pan to a cooling rack.
  9. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Store in airtight container.

With sweet memories of my BFF,

Staci

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If my best friend Darya hadn’t been killed by her husband when she was 22, we would have celebrated her 44th birthday last month. She was Lutheran. My Grandpa Elroy died quite a few years ago. He was Baptist. My sisters and I grew up with the teachings and influence of a Protestant church. They both belong to different churches now.

monster cookie bars

 

I’ve spent the past 14 years attending Mass and holy celebrations with Jason and his family. Last fall I decided to convert. This Easter I will be baptized into the Catholic Christian church. As I’ve been attending Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes, I’ve been thinking about what happens to us when we die. Of course, I want to spend my eternal life in heaven with my family and friends, no matter their Christian religion. I want to be in the presence of Darya’s spirit again. I want to eat hard butterscotch candy with my grandpa. I want to hang out with my kids and my sisters. If we get to kiss in heaven, I want to kiss Jason each heavenly morning. So however we need to live our lives on earth to get to heaven, let’s be there together.

monster cookie bars

What does that have to do with a big batch of monster cookie bars? It was my turn for treat night at RCIA the week of Darya’s birthday. People loved these, especially Father Andrew. I gave him an extra one to take home. It was a compliment that people came back for seconds.

Cookie dough balls ready for freezer

Read about how I got this recipe and how I freeze cookie dough balls in Your IT guy knows how to make monster cookie bars and strips.

Monster cookies and bars

2 sticks softened butter

2-1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

2 cups white sugar

2 cups brown sugar

4 teaspoons baking soda

6 eggs

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla

9 cups quick-cooking oats

2-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 cups plain M&M’s

Heat oven to 350°. Prepare pans. If you want to use all your cookie dough at once, you can make one 13×9 pan of bars (baking time takes about 20-25 minutes) and at least two dozen large cookies (baking time takes about 12-16 minutes). Or, you can make two 13×9 pans of bars. Or if you only want cookies, you can make at least six dozen enormous cookies, a few more dozen if you make smaller cookies.

  1. In large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream softened butter and peanut butter together.
  2. Add white sugar and brown sugar, beating until well combined.
  3. Add baking soda.
  4. Add eggs and beat well.
  5. Pour in corn syrup and vanilla. Continue mixing until everything is incorporated well.
  6. At this point, you should be able to add at least a few cups of the oats and still use your mixer. But once the dough gets too heavy, stop using the mixer and continue adding oats stirring the batter with a wooden spoon. Use your sexy arm muscles.
  7. Stir in the M&M’s and chocolate chips.

If you are making bars, spread half of the dough into a 13×9-inch pan. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until nice and golden brown. If you take the pan out before they turn golden brown, the middle will not be done.

For cookies, baking time depends on how large you make them. Place on cookie sheet. Using the back of a spoon, gently push down the dough a little bit so that they spread out instead of baking in one mound. Bake at 350° for 12-16 minutes, or until golden brown. I like to sprinkle just a tiny bit of pink Himalayan salt or sea salt on mine when they come out of the oven.

Sweet heavenly wishes,

Staci

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Baking isn’t a sure thing. I’ve heard it’s a science but since I’m not an exact measurer and English was my best subject, my talents lie more in unpretentious, candid culinary storytelling and sharing goods from my kitchen when they turn out to be delicious.

Enter banana bread. Other than the rare few who don’t like anything baked with brown bananas, people will generally accept the offering of a fat slice of tender chocolate chip banana bread.

chocolate chip banana bread

If you’re on the baking end, banana bread recipes are typically easy-going and tolerant of even the most novice bakers. But somehow I found a way to bake a deep, doughy sinkhole in my most recent loaf. The problem wasn’t the recipe.

chocolate chip banana bread

I tried to be too fancy by placing thin slices of bananas down the center of the loaf before sliding it into the oven. Why? Because one of my favorite muffins, banana chocolate chip, from Kowalski’s Markets has a few crunchy bananas baked on top and I wanted it to be like that. But I think the mushy rows of bananas on top wouldn’t really bake—I even turned the broiler on at the end! I finally had to take the bread out of the oven because the top was getting too brown.

I think I tried doing this once with banana chips but I can’t remember how it turned out. Maybe I need to wait until the bread is half or three-quarters baked and then toss banana chips on top. Or perhaps a baker from Kowalski’s Markets will tell me their secret.

chocolate chip banana bread

To top off my fiasco, I was planning to share the bread with my sisters that day so I needed it to cool down quickly. After the bread cooled for an hour or so, I stuck it in the fridge and next thing I know, there was a cavernous sinkhole down the center. The upside of this story is that this recipe is a keeper (if you don’t add mushy banana slices to the top). It is magnificently tender and chocolatey.

I only slightly adapted the recipe from one of my go-to recipe and entertaining blogs Reluctant Entertainer. My additions to Sandy’s Sour Cream Banana Bread include a cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, and using white and brown sugar.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup mashed overripe (brown or spotted) bananas, about 3 bananas

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Heat oven to 350° and grease a 9-inch loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy (about 4 minutes).
  3. Beat in eggs.
  4. Stir in bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat on medium-low until incorporated.
  5. In a separate medium bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, cardamom, soda, and salt.
  6. Gradually and slowly beat in the flour mixture in three batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each, but be gentle—overbeating the batter will create a tough banana bread. It’s fine to see some flecks of flour still.
  7. Fold in chocolate chips.
  8. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean (or with only melted chocolate).
  9. Cool 15 minutes then remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Store at room temperature in airtight container up to four days.

Sweet, sinking wishes,

Staci

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Like speed limits, recipes are merely suggestions for when normal conditions exist. But who defines normal conditions? Maybe you never have a box of Chex cereal (or three) in your cupboard when you have the hankering to make traditional Chex™ Muddy Buddies™ so you have to think outside the box. Why not make puppy chow, also known as people chow, with the traditional peanut butter, chocolate chips, and powdered sugar but use your favorite cereals?

people chow puppy chow

In my most recent batch, I folded in Golden Grahams, Corn Pops, and Corn Chex cereals for an even tastier version of puppy chow. I planned to toss in chow mein noodles but I forgot to add them. Did you know that if you store puppy chow in an airtight container in the refrigerator it stays crunchy longer?

hodgepodge people puppy chow

You might also like Corn Pops Clusters

Corn Pops Clusters

If you have a box of Golden Grahams cereal, reserve four cups to make what will become a fight-over-the-last-piece family favorite: Marshmallow Creme Crunchy Graham Brownies.

marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies square

Of course there’s always a special version of Chex Mix Like You Mean It.

Staci's version of Chex mix

Hodgepodge Puppy Chow with Corn Pops, Golden Grahams, Chex, and Chow Mein Noodles

9 cups of a combination of your favorite cereals and maybe chow mein noodles

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1½ cups powdered sugar

  1. Put all the cereal in a large bowl.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter together. Stir until melted and creamy. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal and toss until all the cereal is drenched in chocolate.
  5. Using a 2 or 2.5 gallon plastic zipper bag, dump in 1/2 cup powdered sugar, chocolate coated cereal, and top with remaining 1 cup powdered sugar. Seal bag and shake it like a Boggle game until everything is coated with powdered sugar (everything in the bag, not your kitchen).
  6. Spread the cereal mixture onto a sheet of wax paper until cooled.
  7. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

May your recipes feel like suggestions,

Staci

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It didn’t start out to be a Labor Day weekend in the kitchen but in the past 24 hours I’ve washed a lot of dishes.

It started with a text from my nephew Garritt. “How busy r u this weekend?” I proceeded to tell him that I’m around, working on a few things around the house and waiting to see if my daughter was coming home. He asked if he could put in a request for me to make something – pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Well how do I say no to a sweet, innocent face like this?

(Disclosure, I Photoshopped a small injury off my forehead because I didn’t want to tell you that right when I was hosting the CBS Sunday morning crew for my real job, I cracked my head open a tiny bit with my car door. But now you know anyway. So, I Photoshopped the injury back on my forehead.)

Staci Garritt 2014

The two middle children in our family. T-R-O-U-B-L-E is our middle name.

Staci Garritt 2015

So, I baked Garritt’s favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

pumpkin chip cookies

While I was at it and washing dishes anyway, I made the Caramel Apple Nut Bars that I had intended to make for my sister Kalli’s birthday last week. I delivered them today. Better late and sweet than never I guess.

Caramel Apple Nut Bars

I’ve been trying to thin out the shelves in my pantry a little so today seemed like the perfect day to bake a big old pot of Make-It-Your-Way Rainy Day Chili. (I should’ve made Beer Chili instead so I could also get rid of a bottle of beer).

rainy day chili

Of course I made from-a-pouch cornbread and added a few dollops of Lake Benton honey. And a bowl of French vanilla pudding with banana slices (because Jason likes it).

And a pie plate of Cherry Crunchobblerumble (because we both like it).

Cherry Crunchobblerumble | Random Sweetness Baking

Well, enough about all the dishes I washed this weekend. Tell me about all the fun you had!

Sweet wrinkly wishes,

Staci

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There’s a border battle between two Minnesota housewives and for that reason, I am sworn to secrecy and cannot share my sister’s super-secret-better-than-everyone-else’s Special K bar recipe.

For years, Heidi has been knocking the socks off family and friends with her secret Special K bars. But there’s this one housewife [Lincoln County Housewife] who is unkind (like cyber-bullying unkind) to my sister but that lady’s husband and sons (who are nice and friends of the family) love Heidi’s bars. So she bakes them for the guys but won’t share the recipe with anyone but her sisters. Ah, sweet revenge.

Special K bars

When I told Heidi I was writing this post and assured her that I would not share her secret recipe, she told me a few interesting facts about what happens when she makes a pan (or two) of her famous Special K Bars. [I didn’t use the guys’ names.]

Heidi: When I make these for them, there are rules. They are rationed between each other.

Me: LOL, what? Between Lincoln County Husband and Sons?

Heidi: I don’t really know, but it is wild hog code of rules about who gets bars, when they get bars, what size bars each get. I stay clear!

Me: Oh it’s wild hog rules amongst themselves – they’re not your rules? Is that more than just Lincoln Co. Husband and his boys? Or is it Pipestone Co. Husband and the other guys too? You just toss them a pan and run??

Heidi: Yes. It’s (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male) and (Male).

And the chivalrous “ladies first” rule does not apply.

It gets even better. 

Here’s an excerpt from a message from Lincoln Co. Housewife to my sister:

“Made my husband more bars, huh…I’d like to know what obsession you have about making bars for my men in my family…” blah, blah, blah something about the “fatning” bars… (her spelling not mine) “[Lincoln Co. Husband] told me today that he told you to stop making him bars…you better listen to him…”

Me to Heidi: Did he tell you to stop?

Heidi: Hell no!

Who knew a pan of bars could create such turmoil? We will forever refer to her secret recipe as Special K-iss My Ass Bars.

Special K Bars

(A standard, non revolution provoking recipe)

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup white sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

6 cups Special K cereal (or corn flake cereal)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

In a large saucepan over medium heat bring corn syrup and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth. Fold in cereal. Press into a buttered or parchment paper-lined 8 x 11½ or 9×13 cake pan.

In a small saucepan melt chocolate and butterscotch chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Once smooth, pour over bars and spread evenly. Cool completely before cutting.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Come back later this week for: 3 piggies in a breakfast pie.

Super secret sweet wishes,

Staci

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It’s not like anything needed to be improved upon with the original marshmallow creme crunch brownies. In addition to being a favorite treat around these parts, the recipe has been one of my most viewed on Random Sweetness — more than forty thousand people in the past few years. I hope at least half of them baked and shared the sticky squares.

But just like Golden Grahams cereal makes sweet no-bake s’mores bars, I had the feeling that using it instead of Rice Krispies would make marshmallow creme crunch brownies even harder to resist.

marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies

Did it? Well, there are a few globs of marshmallow creme stuck on my camera and there are definitely a few brownies missing from this picture.

marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies square

Marshmallow creme crunchy graham brownies

For Brownie Layer:

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

6 Tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup flour

*************

7 ounce jar marshmallow creme (Sometimes I use most of a 13-ounce jar but they get pretty sticky.)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

12 ounce bag chocolate chips

4 cups Golden Grahams cereal

  1. Beat softened butter on medium for 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat 4 minutes. Beat in cocoa, vanilla, and salt. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in flour just until combined.
  2. Pour brownie batter into a well-greased 13×9 pan (or lined with parchment paper). Bake at 350˚ for 25-30 minutes or until done. Cool completely.
  3. Spread marshmallow creme on cooled brownies.
  4. Melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips together over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in cereal. Spread over marshmallow creme layer.
  5. Chill before serving.
  6. Store in refrigerator.

Sweet marshmallowy wishes,

Staci

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