Twix Bars: Secret Recipe Club

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I have been having a bit of a sweet tooth problem lately- as in I want sugar, only sugar, and right now.

This is my dream: a truck of sugar reversing into my apartment complex and dumping its sugar contents directly on top of me until I am completely submerged.  Is it normal to have a fantasy of being suffocated to death by tons of sugar?  Someone interpret that dream.

Given my hyper-intense need for sugar, I was excited when I was assigned That Skinny Chick Can Bake for this month’s Secret Recipe Club.  So many desserts, so little time.  If you ever have a sweet craving, you should definitely check out her site.

After looking through lots of delicious looking recipes, I came to a simple conclusion: sometimes all we need in life is a candy bar.  For me, that candy bar would be a Twix.  Or Take Five or Snickers or Reeses Peanut Butter Cup or any form of sugar in bar form- but today that candy bar I need is  a Twix since I can’t make all those candy bars in one day (or shouldn’t).  A Twix is a classic combo of a shortbread crust, caramel, and chocolate.  So simple and perfect no alterations were needed.

The bars came out wonderful- soft caramel, crumbly crust, and soft chocolate.  Take a moment (obligatory).

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TWIX BARS
From That Skinny Chick Can Bake

INGREDIENTS

For the Shortbread Crust:
1 stick butter, cold and cut in 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the Caramel
12 ounces Caramel bites
2 tablespoons whole milk
Pinch of salt

For the Chocolate Layer:
9 ounces milk chocolate
1 tablespoon shortening

DIRECTIONS

For the Shortbread Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 Line a 9 inch by 9 inch pan with foil. Grease and set aside.

Place sugar and butter in a food processor. Pulse until mixture becomes crumbly. Add vanilla, flour, and salt. Pulse until just incorporated. Press into prepared pan. Price the crust with a fork. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crust is light golden brown color. Cool completely.

For the Caramel Layer:

Combine caramel, cream, and salt in small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until melted. Spread over cooled crust with a greased rubber spatula. Chill for at least 15-30 minutes until caramel layer has firmed up.

For the Chocolate Layer:

In a double broiler combine chocolate and butter. Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally. Spread over caramel layer. Chill for 10-20 minutes at until chocolate layer has set. Cut into bars.



Lace Cookies

Well, here it is everyone: Valentine’s Day.  Whether you plan to spend the day dressed head to toe in red and pink while shooting love arrows at everyone or if you plan to wear all black and hate the opposite sex with voodoo dolls, these cookies can make your day even better.

These cookies are paper thin, crispy on the outer edges and chewy in the middle.  They are buttery, cinnamon-y, and chocolate-y.  Trust me, I am not the biggest fan of cookies in general, but these cookies are addicting.  It is my personal belief that it is humanly impossible just to have one.  But since they have holes in them and mostly consist of air, calories don’t matter.  And it’s Valentine’s Day so eating lots of sweet is mandatory.

Here is my big thrill of the day: besides having a late lab tonight, our department is having a free lunch!  So I will be spending Valentine’s Day at school, eating a free lunch, and coming home to a few treats I have made for myself.

LACE COOKIES
Adapted from a Friend
INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter melted
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-6 ounces melting chocolate

INGREDIENTS

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and heavy cream.  In a second bowl, whisk butter, heavy cream, corn syrup and vanilla extract together.  Slowly stir in dry ingredients.

Drop 3/4 teaspoon size cookies on baking sheet.  The cookies will spread a lot, so space them several inches apart, about 9 cookies per sheet.  Bake for 5-9 minutes, watching carefully.  Cookies are done when they are golden colored.  Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.  Repeat with remaining batter.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Line several cookies on parchment paper in a single layer. Drizzle chocolate on top of cookies.  Chill for 5-7 minutes until chocolate is set.  Transfer to airtight container.  Repeat with remaining cookies.

Makes approximately 36 cookies.

Baked Snickers Empanada

One of the toughest things moving from my family home where someone was always around to an apartment by myself is a few moments of loneliness that crop up occasionally.  One sure way to cure any feeling of loneliness is an empanada.  An empanada filled with peanut butter and a candy bar to be specific.  Also, my parents left me a huge bag of Snickers after moving me in, and they were torturing me just sitting in my refrigerator.

These empanadas are inspired by a favorite restaurant in Houston, Marini’s Empanada House.  I had tried making empanadas before, but I had definite problems with the dough.  It was just off.  So I went searching through the Internet and came across a new recipe.  And it turned out perfect- flakey, salty, and buttery.  The only downside is that it needs to chill for about 2 hours, but I promise it is so worth the wait.

These dessert empanadas are a sweet and salty treat that you can’t live without.  Dare I say it, but my homemade version is even better than what I’ve had at Marini’s.

Also, please excuse my slightly subpar photos.  I am still trying to get used to my new apartments lack of lighting, and I was also in a huge hurry to eat these bad boys.  I may just have to force myself ot make another batch and eat them again. I lead a tough life.

BAKED SNICKERS EMPANADA
Crust Slightly Adapted from Handle the Heat
INGREDIENTS
For the Crust:
1 cup water
6 ounces butter (about 12 tablespoons)
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
For the Empanadas:
3/4 cup peanut butter
20 mini Snickers bars
DIRECTIONS
For the Crust:
In a small saucepan combine water and butter.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.
In a bowl combine flour and salt.  Slowly pour in butter mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a wet, oily paste forms.  Pour dough onto a sheet of cling wrap.  Wrap cling wrap around dough, forming into a disk.  Chill for at least 1 1/2 hours, preferrably 2 hours.
For the Empanadas:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Divide the dough into 20 pieces.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 4 inch circle. Place about 2 teaspoons of peanut butter in the center of each piece of dough. Place a mini Snickers on top of the peanut butter.  Fold over the dough tightly, forming a half moon shape.  Crimp closed with a fork.  Place on lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool slightly before eating.
Makes 16 empanadas.

Salted Caramel Bark

When it comes to chocolate, some people prefer milk, and some people prefer dark.  I love all chocolate, but white chocolate is my choice of poison.  I don’t even care if it’s not techiniquely chocolate.  It’s still sugar, and no one is going to argue against eating sugar, right?

This bark features the super sweet white chocolate with salty pretzels and crunch toffee bits.  Yummmm.  It’s easy to make and a great way to get a sugar fix.  It’s also a great way to cause a sugar coma crash, and it’s a great way to treat a sugar crash and bring you back up on a sugar high.  Make it, and you won’t be disappointed.

SALTED CARAMEL BARK
Slightly Adapted from Pennies on a Platter
INGREDIENTS

12 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
Pretzels, coarsely chopped
Toffee pieces
Chocolate bark

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread white chocolate over parchment paper.  Bake for 40-50 minutes.  Stir every 10 minutes.  Remove from oven when white chocolate is caramel colored.  Spread evenly across the parchment paper.  Sprinkle with pretzels and toffee pieces.  Chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate bark over a double boiler.  Drizzle over bark.  Chill for 30 minutes.  When completely chilled, break into pieces.  Store in refrigerator.

Banoffee Pie

Happy Pi(e) Day! (March 14 = 3.14)

I am not a huge fan of mathematics, but I do like pie so I had to celebrate this nerdy holiday.  I love pie so much that I couldn’t let such a tremendous holiday pass me by without making pie.  So a few weeks ago I began searching for the perfect pie recipe to celebrate this holiday.  Then, I promptly forgot about it.

Luckily, I had a doctor’s appointment today and looked at the date.  Pi(e) day almost slipped past me completely!  So, I turned to a quick almost-no bake pie.  This entire dessert was thrown together in less than an hour and is a perfect way to use up some extra bananas.  A delicious dessert to squeeze in for one of my favorite holidays (let’s be honest any holiday that includes pie is going to be a favorite of mine).

BANOFFEE PIE
Slightly Adapted from Our Best Bites
INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
14 ounces dulce de leche
1 cup toffee pieces
2 bananas, sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Press evenly into a 9 inch pie plate.  Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Spread dulce de leche into cool graham cracker crust.  Top with banana slices.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup toffee pieces.

In a large bowl, mix heavy cream and powdered sugar with a a hand mixer until soft peaks form.  In a separate large bowl, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add whipped cream to cream cheese mixture.  Mix until combined and fluffy.  Spread over pie.  Sprinkle with remaining toffee pieces.  Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.