Friday, March 16, 2018

Nutella Butter Cookie Bars

I love Nutella and Biscoff spread. I realized I haven’t used them in any recipes lately and I wanted to fix that! I have a couple of different recipes that I have pinned lately. I noticed that nearly all of the recipe that I have pinned lately have been bar cookies, and I certainly have made quite a few bar cookies lately. I love bar cookies and could make them all the time.

This recipe is a butter cookie with vanilla pudding mix in the dough. The original recipe didn’t specify what flavor of pudding to use, but vanilla seemed the most logical choice. I suppose you could get exotic and try something else if you’d like! I ended up doubling the recipe and baking the bars in a 9” x 13” pan. They bake for about the same amount of time and be careful not to over bake as you don’t want the cookies to be dry.

As I said, I doubled this cookie to bake in a larger pan. That gave me extra dough, theoretically, based on the area of the pan, but the layer of dough is quite thin. I used a little less Nutella than the recipe called for. I microwaved the Nutella for about 30 seconds to make it more spreadable, which helped a lot. My top layer wasn’t perfect, and I really had to work to get the dough thin enough to cover, but it works out in the end. Who minds if there is a little Nutella sticking out here and there? When I tried these cookies, I was instantly reminded of the flavor of a cookie that my grandma used to make. The crispy cookie part reminded me of these chocolate stuffed cookies she used to make. The filling flavor is different, but none the less, this cookie evoked a lot of great memories.

Nutella Butter Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup Nutella

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8” square baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until combined. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again on medium to incorporate. Add the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together.

Divide the dough in halves. Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the Nutella on top of the dough. Use the remaining dough to create another layer over the Nutella. The top layer does need to be perfect, but try to cover the filling as much as possible.

Bake for 33-35 minutes, until lightly browned along the edges. Allow the cookies to cool before cutting into bars. 

Recipe from Picky Palate

Friday, March 9, 2018

Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

A friend of mine posted this recipe on Facebook the other day, and as soon as I saw them I wanted to give them a try. I have made a number of vegan recipes, but by changing up ingredients in a standard recipe. My friend at work eats eggs, which makes baking for her a lot easier. These are truly vegan, with no eggs either. I haven’t used vegetable oil in a recipe, so I was intrigued.

This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, calls for bittersweet chocolate chips. I was curious about that, as I thought that even bittersweet chocolate would have some dairy. I looked at the chips linked to the recipe, and that particular brand was dairy free. The ones I had in my cupboard, of course, were not. I went to the store and bought dairy free chocolate chips. These are semi-sweet.

The dough must be refrigerated overnight. Sometimes you can get away with shortening the refrigeration, but not with these cookies. The dough is quite oily, even after refrigeration. I also learned that my freezer is not large enough for a baking sheet. When we bought a new refrigerator a couple of years ago, I made sure that a baking sheet would fit, but I hadn’t thought about the freezer. Oh well. While the dough is quite a different before baking, the cookies bake up to lovely cookies. They are soft but a little crispy around the edges; very nice!

Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups bittersweet* chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon water
 Sea salt

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and stir to coat. In a large mixer bowl, beat the sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil and water on medium for two minutes. Add the flour mixture and stir on low just until the flour disappears into the dough. The dough will be very soft and somewhat oily. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats. 

Drop the dough into the prepared baking sheets, about 1-1/2 tablespoons of dough per cookie. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for ten minutes before baking; this will help the cookies retain their shape. Before baking, sprinkle the cookies with sea salt.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until lightly browned along the edges. The cookies will not brown significantly. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Recipe from King Arthur Flour  

*Depending on the brand, the bittersweet chips may or may not contain dairy. Check the ingredients.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

My schedule was a little different this week, which threw off my baking schedule. I got to the point that I was headed home and knew I would be baking that evening, but I hadn’t planned on what to bake. I didn’t really want to have to go to the store, so that limited my options. I wanted to make this week’s cookies dairy free, so my coworker could enjoy them too.

This recipe came up in my Pinterest feed, and it looked perfect. I barely had 1 cup of oats, but I had just enough. I substituted vegetable shortening for the butter that the original recipe specified. I try to keep dairy free chocolate chips on hand, so that’s what I used. The recipe also called for peanut butter chips, which I had, but they are not dairy free.

These are the world’s easiest cookies. The only challenge, if you could call I that, is that it’s not a lot of dough to spread in the pan. It was also sticky, so the best option to spread the dough evenly is to use slightly damp hands. They bake very quickly. The firm up as they cool, so don’t bake them until they look “done,” as then they will be over baked. These are a lovely homey cookie, with oats and peanut butter. Simple, but still great!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup oats
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup chocolate chips

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

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and oats; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine the shortening, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk and mix on medium to combine. Add the flour mixture and stir on low until almost incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir on low until he chips are distributed throughout the dough.

Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. The bars may look under baked, but will be very lightly browned on the edges. Cool before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Together as a Family