Fudge Bars with Peanut Butter Chips

As I’ve mentioned before, I love the recipes that come on packages. This recipe comes from a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter baking chips, and can be baked either as cookies or bars.

I chose to bake mine as bars, and I have an important caveat for you, my fellow bakers. These definitely baked over the edges of my jelly roll pan, so the next time I make them, I’ll place some parchment beneath the pan to catch the overflow. Mike proclaimed these very fudgy, with a nice hint of peanut butter. They’re coming to work with me tomorrow for a video shoot, and I’m hoping they’ll be a hit.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 10-ounce package Reese’s Peanut Butter baking chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 15 x 10 x 1 baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine.

Add flour mixture in two batches, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Spread dough in prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, until set. Allow to cool completely before cutting; use a bench knife to cut into bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Makes 36.

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Peppermint Spiral Cookies

Peppermint is one of my favorite flavors, and this time of year is a great time for peppermint-themed baking. These peppermint spirals, which I found at Taste of Home, are delicious, even if they didn’t quite turn out how I was hoping.

As you can see in this photo, there are cracks and holes in the center of my cookies. How does this happen? Rolling spiral-style cookies is a delicate business; you’re usually working with two thin sheets of dough and trying to roll them together tightly enough without tearing them. My spirals definitely left something to be desired looks-wise, but they have a wonderful peppermint vanilla flavor and great texture. Maybe next time they’ll be pretty!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon red liquid food coloring

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat to combine, then add flour mixture in two batches, beating on low speed, then on medium, until dough comes together.

Divide dough in half and add peppermint extract and red food coloring to one portion. Roll out each portion of dough between two sheets of waxed paper into a rectangle about 16 by 11 inches. Remove top sheet of waxed paper from each rectangle, then carefully flip the red rectangle on top of the plain rectangle and remove the waxed paper from the red. Roll up on the long side making as tight a log as possible; wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment.

Remove dough from freezer and unwrap, then cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Place about 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes, until set. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes 3-4 dozen, depending on the thickness of your slices.

Brown Sugar Crinkles

I’ve rarely met a cookie I didn’t like, but these brown sugar crinkles combine some of my favorite ingredients. Dark brown sugar, toasted pecans, and butterscotch extract combine to give these treats wonderful depth of flavor without being too rich. And the powdered sugar coating is absolutely genius. Not that I’m surprised – this recipe is adapted from one in the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, and those bakers really know their stuff.

My adaptation of this recipe involves unsalted, toasted pecans rather than the salted version, and I also used 12 drops of butterscotch extract instead of vanilla extract or just a few drops of a strong butterscotch or butter rum flavoring. You could certainly use salted pecans if you like; before toasting, just spritz your pecans with water and sprinkle them with fine table salt. I don’t think you can go wrong either way.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 12 drops butterscotch extract*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

*I use a dropper for this (and for fiori di sicilia) so I have better control of how much flavoring actually goes into my dough.

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine baking soda, salt, and flour; set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar, butter, and butterscotch extract until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl.

Add flour mixture in two batches, beating to combine, then stir in the pecans. Cover the bowl and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.

Break off generous tablespoon-sized chunks of dough and roll into balls, then toss in powdered sugar to coat. Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 11-12 minutes, until they’ve cracked on top but still look puffy between the cracks. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread-themed baking continues with this gingerbread biscotti, which is adapted from Good Housekeeping’s basic ginger biscotti recipe. Although I think it still needs a bit more cloves, or perhaps nutmeg, this biscotti is easy to make and very tasty.

While biscotti can look fancy and might sound complicated to make, what with the baking, cooling, slicing, and re-baking, it’s actually quite easy. Biscotti also travels well, so it’s a nice idea for holiday gifts, or to send to faraway family and friends.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, ginger, allspice, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping your bowl between each. Add flour mixture in two batches, beating on low to combine and scraping your bowl well.

Sprinkle your counter top very lightly with flour and turn dough out, then knead one or two times to bring the dough together (it will be sturdy and easy to handle). Shape into a log, then transfer to your baking sheet and press it down evenly so your log becomes about 16 inches long.

Bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean from the center; remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Transfer the log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut log into 1-inch slices (you could make thinner slices, but I wanted nice, thick pieces). Return to the baking sheet, placing them upright on their bottoms, and bake for another 10 minutes; lay all of the pieces on their sides and bake 2 minutes more, then flip over and bake on the remaining side for another 2 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 16.

Gingerbread Muffins

‘Tis the season for gingerbread. While you could certainly bake gingerbread any time, gingerbread-themed treats take over in December the way pumpkin does in October. Suddenly it’s everywhere, from coffee to pastries to, as I saw earlier this week, even cereal.

There are plenty of ideas for gingerbread treats, and I found this recipe for gingerbread muffins at Betty Crocker after an attempt at gingerbread cupcakes went awry. I adapted the recipe slightly to include a spice glaze, which pairs very well with the spicy notes in the muffin. A word of caution about baking time: I should have pulled them about two minutes before¬† I actually did, so they were drier than I intended. I reheated them in the microwave for about 20 seconds before having them once they’d cooled, and this really helped cut down on the dryness.

Ingredients

For the muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg

For the glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • About 1 tablespoon water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, ginger, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

In another large bowl, stir together brown sugar, molasses, vegetable oil, milk, and egg until well-blended. Add flour mixture and stir until just moistened, with no dry streaks remaining.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 full; I used a 2-inch cookie scoop, that that worked well.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven, then remove muffins from tin and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once muffins are cooled, make the glaze: combine powdered sugar and allspice in a small bowl and add water, about 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring to create a thick glaze. Drizzle over tops of muffins; store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Reheat when serving.

Makes 12.

 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin whoopie pies? Yes. Pumpkin. Whoopie. Pies. Delicious, pumpkin spicy treats with cream cheese filling. What can I really say other than that?

This recipe is a hybrid, using the cookie recipe from King Arthur Flour and the filling recipe from Martha Stewart. I adapted the recipe only in the size of the cookies I scooped – rather than using a 1/4 cup scoop, I used a two-inch scoop to yield slightly smaller treats. Next time, I think I’ll use a one-inch scoop for mini treats.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 15 ounces canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons molasses

For the filling

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, vegetable oil, and molasses*. Beat until completely combined, then scrape down the bowl and add flour mixture in three batches, mixing well between each.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until they feel firm to the touch; a slight indentation will remain when you press your finger in the middle. Cool on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, then add vanilla extract and 1 cup powdered sugar and beat to combine. Add remaining powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well between each addition.

Flip cookies over and drop a 1-inch scoop of filling onto half; spread with an offset spatula, then top with another cookie.

Store in an airtight container, individually wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

My batch made 19 whoopie pies and one extra cookie without a partner, which I topped with some filling.

Maple Cookies

Fall is a great time for maple-themed baking, especially when you’re able to use real maple syrup. To me, real maple syrup is absolutely worth the price – which can be a bit steep – from a flavor perspective. The good news is that maple syrup can last for up to a year in the refrigerator, so you can definitely get your money’s worth and use it in many recipes.

I found this recipe over at Genius Kitchen, after an extensive search for a basic maple cookie recipe. When baked, they resemble peanut butter cookies and have a nice subtle maple flavor and one of the best cookie textures I’ve ever found. They’re very soft and chewy without being fragile or crumbling to pieces, and they keep very well for a few days after baking. This recipe also makes a very large batch, at 5 dozen!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add egg, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and beat until very well combined.

Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing well and scraping the bowl between each addition, until completely combined.

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls, then roll in sugar. Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten with a fork.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are set; you don’t want the cookies to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Makes 5 dozen.