Smores Cookie Bars

A soft, chewy bar loaded with milk chocolate chips and marshmallow creme. No campfire required. 

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 Confession time. This bar was originally designed to be a smores chocolate chip cookie. But in all failures comes genius. When my chocolate chip cookie dough turned out crumbly after a  night in the fridge, I decided to roll with it and turn into a bar. And boy oh boy am I glad I did.

Ok so I am getting ahead of myself.  First, let’s talk about the chocolate chip cookie dough base.  I took a well known cookie recipe, adapted from Jacque Torres, that is all over Pinterest and changed it a little.  I changed it by using all purpose flour instead of cake flour and adding a pinch of cornstarch.  Two reasons, one I didn’t have cake flour handy.  Cake flour is basically all purpose flour with cornstarch added to it.  Check this out for making your own.  Why add cornstarch? Cornstarch makes your cookies soft and chewy  and gives them a little lift. _MG_7532

Ok besides, the flour switcheroo I also added one egg and one egg  yolk (instead of the called for two eggs).  Egg whites can dry out cookie dough. So with the additon of just the yolk you are adding the chewiness you want in a cookie. 

What happened next? Well I knew I wanted to make these smores cookies, so I threw in a cup of graham cracker crumbs and milk chocolate chips (because every good smore uses milk chocolate).

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And that’s when all seemed right went a little wrong.  I decided to scoop the cookies and chill in the fridge overnight. The original plan was to then sandwich two cookies together with a layer of marshmallow creme in the middle. The problem? The dough was too crumbly to do so. (Maybe because of the graham cracker crumbs?) Oh well. So I took the cookies and crumbled into a 9 x 13 pan, reserving some for the topping. Spread a generous thick layer of marshmallow creme in the middle. Crumbled the remaining cookie dough on top. Then …just…bake. Eat. Enjoy.

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So, yes this recipe makes quite a few thick, chewy smores bar. But can you really ever have enough smores? 

P.s. After eating waaa-a-a-y too many of these. If you want a truly smores campfire experience, stick these in the microwave for about 10 seconds or so. The marshmallow creme gets a little melty, and toasty tasting. So a smores minus all the campfire trouble. You’re welcome. 

Smores Cookie Bars
Yields 1
A chewy bar loaded with all the essential smores ingredients- graham crackers, milk chocolate chips, and marshmallow.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
  2. (8 1/2 ounces) AP flour
  3. 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  4. 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  5. 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  8. 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  9. 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  10. 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  11. 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  12. 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  13. 1 1/4 pounds milk chocolate chips
  14. 1 16-oz container of marshmallow creme
Instructions
  1. 1. Sift flours, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. 2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add egg and yolk, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.
  3. 3. Chill the dough in the fridge for 24 hours. Then when ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Reserve about 1 cup of the mixture and set aside. Press the cookie dough into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Spread the marshmallow creme over the dough. Crumble the remaining dough over the marshmallow layer.
  4. 4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 22-25 minutes.
Notes
  1. I chilled my dough first before then preparing the bars. I haven't tried the bar recipe using the dough immediately, so if you decide to omit the chilling overnight step you may find that you need less time in the oven. Just keep an eye on the dough. You know your oven better than me!
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

basic crepe recipe

A basic crepe recipe that can be made ahead of time and frozen ready to be turned into a dessert or stunning breakfast!

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For the longest time the thought of making crepes completely FREAKED. ME. OUT. They seemed so complicated. The whole swirling of the pan thing. You had to have a special crepe pan I thought. They were French so they had to be complicated, right?  Then my sister sent me a text saying SHE was making crepes and convince to get over my fear and make them already. They were easy she said. So I decided….let’s finally get over my fear and make them.

Boy, oh boy am I glad I did. They truly were easy. And special crepe pan? Pish posh applesauce. I used my 10 inch nonstick skillet and they were came out perfect.  I used the recipe my sister sent me (so origin? no idea.) and they were quickly whipped up in one bowl and before I knew I was all ooh la la and making crepes the French way.

They do take a bit of time to make an entire batch. Totally worth it, though. Couple things I learned my first venture out. 

1.  Ladle the crepe mixture directly in the center of the pan. THEN swirl the pan so it spreads into a nice thin circle. There is really no science behind this but to spread the batter out evenly. Then let them cook for a few minutes on each side.

2. Then it’s time to flip. Cue scary music. If it doesn’t flip easily, give it another minute on that side. I used a fork to pick it up one side and with a spatula was able to give it a flip. If it doesn’t perfectly flip over just fix it. Julia Child completely understands.

3. They freeze incredibly well. I mean who can eat 12 crepes in one sitting? Simply layer wax paper between each crepe then wrap in plastic wrap or put in a plastic bag. They will freeze up to 3 months (assuming they will last that long). So any time you need a quick dessert or breakfast you will have crepes ready to go.

The possibilities with crepes are endless.  I decided to fill mine with strawberries and bananas topped with an easy and decadent chocolate ganache. 

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Now that I am over my fear of crepes, I can’t wait to whip up new delicious creations.  So if you too have a fear of crepes. It’s time to get over it! You won’t be sorry you did.

Basic Crepe Recipe
Yields 12
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For the crepe batter
  1. * 1 cup flour
  2. * 1 1/2 cup milk
  3. * 2 eggs
  4. * 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  5. * splash of vanilla
  6. * 1 tablespoon sugar
For the chocolate ganache
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
Optional
  1. strawberries
  2. bananas
Instructions
  1. 1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crepe batter and whisk to combine.
  2. 2. Prepare a non stick skillet with cooking spray or wipe down with oil or butter. Heat over medium heat.
  3. 3. Using a measuring cup, ladle a 1/4 cup of batter into the center of your pan. Swirl the pan to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet.
  4. 4. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Keep a close eye on the crepe. I waited until I saw a slight browned edge then give it a flip and cook on the opposite side. The second side cooked a little faster.
  5. 5. Continue with the rest of your crepe batter. Eat immediately with fresh fruit and chocolate ganache or freeze for later use!
  6. 6. If making ganache. Place chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Then, in a saucepan, heat the heavy cream to a full boil then pour over the chocolate. Tap the bowl to settle the chocolate into the cream. Let it sit for one minute. Then stir to combine starting in the middle and working out to the edges. Stir until smooth.
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/
 

 

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars

A soft sugar bar cookie loaded with sprinkles covered with a thick layer of vanilla frosting!_MG_7520

 These bars were something I had bookmarked awhile back from a blog I love, Sally’s Baking Addiction.  Everything she makes look always scrumptious and right up my sweet tooth’s alley! These bars I had been drooling over for quite awhile and finally found the right time to make them. I made these bars as a sweet ending to a 4th of July celebration in Cape Cod.  These bars would be perfect for any sweet occasion you have coming up.

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The bars are basically a sugar cookie dough topped with a vanilla buttercream.  I swayed from Sally’s recipe and used my go-to vanilla frosting recipe. And SPRINKLES. Lots of sprinkles. Don’t forget to reserve some sprinkles for the top of the bars. Don’t they just look too pretty eat (Ha, yea right). 

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The key to the bar’s soft chewy texture lies in the secret ingredient: cornstarch. Cornstarch is typically used in savory dishes to thicken a sauce or soup.  Cornstarch will work in the same manner in keeping these bars wonderfully thick and soft. 

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And unlike, making typical sugar cookies, waiting for the dough to chill is not required. Thank heavens for that. This recipe then is a cinch to throw together and will be a big crowd pleaser. Promise. 

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And the frosting. Be still my heart. A fluffy vanilla buttercream that is spread in a layer just as thick as the bars. If you are one of those odd creatures (it’s Ok I used to be one too) that scraped frosting off of baked goods (gasp! I know!) this frosting will change your life. The secret to it’s fluffiest is making sure you let your stand mixer whip this frosting for a good 8 to 10 minutes. Yup, you heard right. The longer mixing time ensures that sugar is all incorporated and enough air is whipped into it for the lightest and fluffiest texture you have ever had. Oh man, my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.

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I guess, you don’t have to use as much frosting as I do. Or as Sally did. But hey, they are called FROSTED sugar cookie bars, so go ahead and frost your heart out. 

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars
Yields 16
A soft, chewy sugar cookie bar loaded with sprinkles and topped with thick layer of vanilla buttercream frosting. Then topped with even more sprinkles!
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Prep Time
25 min
Prep Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  2. 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  3. 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk*
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) spoon & leveled all-purpose flour
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  10. 1/2 cup (80g) rainbow sprinkles (not nonpareils)*
  11. VANILLA FROSTING
  12. 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  13. 2 1/2 cups (270g) confectioners' sugar
  14. 2 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or half-and-half*
  15. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  16. salt, to taste
Optional
  1. Food coloring (I used blue, and a a few drops of a purple)
  2. Sprinkles, extra, for topping the bars
Instructions
  1. For the bars: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave enough overhang on the sides. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Get it nice and smooth, then add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 different parts. The dough is quite thick. Once combined, gently fold in 1/2 cup sprinkles using a rubber spatula (or by mixing on low speed).
  4. Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-26 minutes or until very lightly browned on top. (My bars puffed up while baking, then collapsed and cracked a bit on top. It did not seem to affect the overall yumminess). You want the cookie bars to be extra soft, so careful not to overbake. Allow the bars to cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature before frosting.
  5. For the frosting: If you don't want a super thick layer of frosting as pictured, halve the frosting recipe. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes until fully incoroporated. Scrape down as needed. Then add in the cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 8 full minutes. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. I usually add anywhere between 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Beat in food coloring, if using.
  6. Remove cooled bars from the baking pan using the aluminum foil overhang on the sides. Frost the bars with a thick layer of frosting and decorate with extra sprinkles if desired. Cut into squares. Use a very sharp knife and wipe off with a paper towel between each cut to make neat, even cuts.
  7. Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator up to 5.
  8. * To soften your butter quickly, cut into small pieces, and let sit out for 30-45 minutes. Go catch up on your favorite television and when you come back the butter should be perfectly softened ready to go.
  9. *Room temperature egg and egg yolk preferred. To bring the egg to room temperature quickly, place in a warm glass of water for about 10 minutes as you get the other ingredients ready. Or just set out when you set out the butter to soften 1 hour ahead of time.
  10. *Please use regular sprinkles (aka "jimmies") in the cookie bar base. Nonpareils (the little balls) will bleed their color and turn the sugar cookie dough green/purple/brown. I order my sprinkles in bulk here.
  11. *Heavy Cream or half-and-half is preferred for creamiest, fluffiest frosting. I have used milk when in a pinch and it still came out delicious!
  12. *You can try a different size pan. I originally tried putting it in a 9x13 pan but wasn't happy with the thickness of the bar and went back to my trusty 8x8 pan. Baking time would be less if in a bigger pan.
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/
 

 

Piping 101

An intro to four basic cupcake swirls that anyone can do.

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Now I’m no expert on piping and cake decorating but you might think so if you saw my cupboards. I finally got around to organizing my kitchen cupboards and all of my pastry odds and ends and man oh man do I have a lot of stuff. So after making a batch of frosting, I decided maybe I would post about some basic cupcake swirls.

Whenever I bring cupcakes somewhere, people always ask what bakery did I get them at? Those swirls are perfect, I hear. Ok, feels pretty good to hear that. Not going to lie. What’s funny to me is how perfectly simple the swirls are. With just couple tips and a pastry bag your cupcakes can be “bakery worthy”.

Now I’m not going to say it won’t take practice. It will. And not every cupcake will come out prefect every time. Don’t give up. Even now, after many cupcakes later I, once in a while, will scrape off the frosting and start over. Failure is OK. 

To achieve a great swirl, you want to start on the outside and work your way in building as you go. For a step by step photo, check out this link. Or this you tube video, gotta love the accent.

The four basic swirls I flip flop between are the French method.  This is achieved using a Ateco French star tip.  I only  use Ateco tips. There are definitely other pastry tip brands out there but it is just the brand I prefer. It really is a matter of preference.

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The second swirl I use quite a bit is this one.  This look gets achieved using a plain pastry tip (again Ateco is my go to). There are definitely different size plain pastry tubes, so play around with which one you like. I tend to gravitate towards a slightly larger opening. How much frosting comes out will also depend on how much pressure you apply to the pastry bag.

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The third pastry tip, the closed star, (personally my favorite) will get you two different looks, the classic “icecream swirl” as I tend to call it. Or a beautiful rose on top of your cupcake. The difference is in where you start your swirl. To get the “ice-cream swirl’ effect, start on the edge of your cupcake and work your way in building up as you go. For the rose look, start in the middle and work your way outwards staying in a circle as you go.

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For a great set, which includes all these tips and a couple more for an unbelievable price, check out this set.  For a little bit more money, but more versatility and bigger sizes, this always a great set too.  Whatever you choose, get yourself some pastry bags and get piping! Perfect looking cupcakes comes from practice practice and more practice! Happy piping :)

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

A buttercream that is perfect for piping the ideal cupcake swirl!

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I have a confession to make. Growing up I used to hate frosting. Yup. I was that weird kid on the block.  I would scrape it off and eat just the cake. I never understood the whole fuss over frosting. It was always too sugary and cloyingly sweet for my taste and ruined the perfectly moist cake underneath it. Fast forward a few decades and I can’t get enough of the fluffy white stuff. Why the transformation? It’s simple. I grew up on the canned stuff or the stuff from the supermarket that was all sugar and no substance. Little did I know that homemade frosting was so beyond compare. Like cashmere vs. polyester. The latter just doesn’t come close to the former.

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So let’s step away from the cans, put down that spoon and talk REAL buttercream folks.

My go to is the traditional American buttercream. And this is my go to recipe. It is simply perfect. American buttercream is usually a combination of butter and confectioner sugar, sweetened with a little vanilla or some other extract. I add in a little bit of heavy cream to mine. Totally wrong, but totally worth it.  

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But sometimes I like to stray. And when I do I stray over to the Swiss side.

What’s the big difference you ask? Well actually a whole lot. American and Swiss couldn’t be more different. Swiss buttercream is a cooked buttercream. Yup. Cooked. It starts with egg whites and granulated sugar. The mixture is then heated over a double boiler until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees (to get rid of all that nasty Salmonella that might be lurking).  No digital thermometer? No problem. Martha suggests feeling the heated mixture between your fingers. It should be smooth not gritty letting you know all the sugar has dissolved. Just be careful not to burn your digits!

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After a good workout with a whisk, the egg whites and sugar get transferred to a mixer with a whisk attachment. Then the egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks. How the heck do you know you got to stiff peaks? Two tricks. One, is look for the whisk attachment to begin to leave a “trail” in the egg whites that doesn’t disappear. Second, when you pull up the whisk, the peak should stay upright and not fall over. At this point, your mixture is ready for the butter. This process probably will take about 10 minutes. The idea is to not only whip the egg whites and also cool down the mixture. Feel the bottom of your bowl? Fairly cool to the touch? Now you’re ready to go.

Now, it’s time to add the butter.  Switch to your paddle attachment and add a few tablespoons at a time on low speed. It may start to look, well, yucky at this point. The butter and egg whites might not come together right away. Do. Not. Worry. Keep on mixing friend!

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In the end, this buttercream has a much more truer butter taste. It’s not for the faint of hearts. And those who grew up on American style buttercream, may not know what to do with this new frosting that lay before them. The texture with this style is by the far the crème de la crème of frostings. Like not kidding folks. If I could use this a lotion I would.

Make some you will see. The great thing about swiss meringue buttercream is that stability of it all. Like a good book or a boyfriend. It’s not going to wimp out on you. Because it is a cooked frosting, no need for refrigeration and it really holds up to the heat. Perfect those outdoor outings this  summer. It’s perfectly light and makes great cupcake swirls, and it’s lightness in flavor would pair well with the addition of other flavorings or fruit fillings.

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So whether it’s American or Swiss, please I beg of you step away from sugar laden store bought stuff full of God knows and try this frosting out. Your cupcakes and cakes will thank me.

***For a step by step photo of this recipe try out this site.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
A silky smooth buttercream that makes a perfect cupcake swirl!
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Ingredients
  1. 5 large egg whites
  2. 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  3. Pinch of salt
  4. 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. 1.Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
  2. 2.Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  3. 3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day.
  4. (Optional) To tint buttercream (or royal icing), reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.
Notes
  1. I made just a half batch of this recipe. An egg white is about 2 tablespoons, so measure out just one tablespoon and voila! Half an egg white. But I highly recommend, making the full batch of this recipe. Swiss meringue buttercream, will keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week. Leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes. It will also freeze well for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw it out, place it on the counter overnight and re-whip for 5 minutes with the paddle attachment in an electric mixer. If buttercream still doesn't have its satiny finish after rewhipping, microwave 1/3 of the buttercream for approximately 10 seconds and add to remaining buttercream in mixer bowl, beating for a few moments to incorporate.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

A light and spicy dinner all wrapped up!

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Once in awhile this Boston baker puts down the sugar and picks up the spices. A girl can’t live (as much as she might try) on sugar alone. And to be able to eat as many sweets as I might like, this girl needs a light dinner now and then. Enter this hot little number.

Buffalo.

Chicken.

Lettuce wraps.

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It’s been about oh 95 degrees this past week in Boston. Perhaps this was the inspiration to making these one night. Besides packing a one two punch in your mouth, this recipe is also pretty simple. Start with some pre-cooked shredded chicken. I made mine in the slow cooker. You definitely could use a rotisserie chicken and save yourself a ton of time. Throw it in a skillet with some hot sauce and butter (just a little, don’t worry). And the secret ingredient? Celery salt. Every good buffalo chicken recipe needs a little celery.

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Then in like two minutes, it’s ready to go. Spoon a 1/2 cup of the of the buffalo mixture into a lettuce cup and top with some bleu cheese crumbles, bleu cheese dressing (it was lite, I promise) and some shredded carrots (or celery) if your heart so chooses.

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Quick. Spicy. Fairly healthy. Not too bad for a weeknight dinner.

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Don’t worry I’ll be back to sweets in not time.

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce wraps
A light and quick dinner that is hot, hot, hot!
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Ingredients
  1. * 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  2. * 1/2 cup hot sauce
  3. * 2 Tbs. butter
  4. * 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  5. * 4-8 lettuce leaves (depending on size, mine were quite large cups)
  6. * bleu cheese crumbles
  7. * bleu cheese dressing (or ranch!)
  8. * shredded carrots (or celery)
Instructions
  1. 1. In a non-stick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
  2. 2. Add your chicken, hot sauce, and celery salt. Stir to combine.
  3. 3. Heat through for about 2 minutes.
  4. 4. Spoon the warmed chicken (about a 1/2 cup) into each lettuce cup, and top with cheese, dressing, and shredded carrots. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. I didn't add in any amounts to the toppings for this recipe. Who am I to say how much cheese and dressing you want to add to your wraps?
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

Milk Chocolate Carmelitas

A buttery brown sugary oatmeal bar layered with salted caramel and milk chocolate chips. No mixer required!

carmelita 1 with text

I can’t believe I have never made carmelitas before. Tell me I’m not the only one out there, people. I’ve seen these bars all over the blogging world, but just never got around to making them. After eating one, I now see why. They are dangerous. Like, eat one and hide the rest because you will want to eat all of them.

These bars have everything I love.

Salted Caramel. Swoon.

Chocolate. Check.

Sugar. Check, Check.

Simple to throw together. Sweet.

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These bars require are a cinch to throw together and you don’t even need to bust out your mixer. The first step is making what will become the bottom and top layer of these bars. You start with melted butter and add brown sugar and vanilla. After they are combined, stir in your flour and oats. Then take half of the flour-oat mixture and spread into a prepared 8 x 8 pan. It’s ok, just eyeball what half is. It’s ok if it’s not perfect.

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Bake this layer for 10 minutes. Then it’s time for the ooey-goodness. On top of the oatmeal layer, cover it with chocolate chips. I used milk chocolate chips because that’s what I had on hand. They usually call for semi-sweet chocolate chips. Heck, I’m sure white chocolate would be good too or any combination. Then pour salted caramel sauce over the chips. I made my own. Don’t feel like you need to. You can find a great recipe here. But do what is easiest! It’s summer!

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Then take the remaining oat-flour mixture and spread on top. Then bake until the edges are golden brown. Mine took about 18 minutes. I started watching at 15 minutes. You can never be too careful. Nobody likes a burnt bar!

The hard part with these bars is waiting for them to cool. If you don’t wait, you will end up with a hot sticky mess and caramel all over your fingers. And the bars might not be as pretty looking. _MG_7461

These bar are simple and hard to resist. As far as their origin. Google stumped me. And that rarely happens. I couldn’t find where these were made first. Rumor on the internet has it that people have been making these since the 1960′s. One bite and you will know why.

Milk Chocolate Carmelitas
A brown sugar oatmeal bar layered with salted caramel and milk chocolate chips. No mixer required!
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup butter, melted (1 1/2 stick), unsalted
  2. 3/ 4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  3. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  4. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  5. 1 cup whole-rolled old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cook)
  6. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  7. pinch salt, optional and to taste
  8. 1 cup milk chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)
For the caramel layer
  1. 1 cup caramel sauce, homemade
  2. OR....
  3. 35 caramel squares, unwrapped
  4. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste, if you prefer salted caramel sauce
Instructions
  1. 1.Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Lining your pan is highly recommended for ease of cleanup due to the stickiness of the caramel; set pan aside.
  2. 2.In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 90 seconds.
  3. 3.Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
  4. 4.Add the flour, oats, baking soda, optional pinch salt, and stir until combined. Mixture will be quite thick.
  5. 5.Add half of the mixture to the prepared pan (just eyeball it), and smooth it with spatula or the back of a spoon, to create an even, smooth, flat layer; set remainder aside.
  6. 6.Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.
  7. 7.In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the caramels, cream, and heat on high power in 60-second bursts to melt caramels, stirring after each burst. It will likely take about 4 to 5 minutes total to melt; heat until mixture can be stirred smooth. Alternatively, combine caramels and cream in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat to melt, stirring nearly continuously, until mixture can be stirred smooth.
  8. 8.Optionally stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste, for salted caramel sauce; set sauce aside.
  9. 9.After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate.
  10. 10.Slowly and evenly pour caramel sauce over the chocolate.
  11. 11.Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.
  12. 12.Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes (I baked 16 1/2), or until edges are lightly browned and center is bubbling slightly.
  13. 13.Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving, giving the molten caramel time to firm up. This can take up to 4 hours, or overnight, at room temperature. You can speed it up by placing pan in fridge with a sheet of foil over the top to prevent fridge smells. If you don't wait for bars to cool completely, they'll be a literal hot mess. They'll taste fine (don't burn yourself), but they won't slice neatly with clean cuts. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Adapted from Averie Cooks
Adapted from Averie Cooks
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

4 ingredient Nutella Brownies

A fudgy brownie loaded with Nutella flavor and only 4 ingredients? Shut the front door…

 nutella 2 with text

 

Happy Summer, everyone! It’s been way too long since I have been able to post anything. My apologies everyone. It has literally been two months! Holy smokes how time flies. I started a waitressing job and wrapped up my third year teaching. So yea time got away from me. But now I have two glorious months to get back into this whole blogging thing! And what better way to say hello summer than a a super simple dessert you will want to bring with you to your next barbeque, picnic, couch sitting event of any kind- holy crap these are delicious and way too friggin easy to make. You ready for this? All you need is..

Nutella

2 eggs

10 Tablespoons flour

And some chocolate chips if you feel like it. I definitely felt like more chocolate the better. I think that’s like my mantra in life. And yeah, that’s it. Really. In a bowl, stir, pour and bake. 

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Ok well maybe not pour, but spoon into your prepared pan. It’s a pretty thick batter. Not that I tasted any of it or anything. Ok I did. I totally did. Worth every lick.

The reason this recipe works in all it’s simplicity you ask? Great question. Nutella already has some fat, milk and chocolate in it. What would you add to brownies? Exactly. All those things. So why not simplify the process and get to brownie nirvana faster!

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So here is to summer, and more baking, and more blogging. I promise.

4 Ingredient Nutella Brownies
Yields 12
Easy Nutella brownies made with only 4 ingredients!
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Ingredients
  1. * 1 cup Nutella
  2. * 2 eggs
  3. * 10 Tbs. flour
  4. * 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8x8 pan. (I used my new Pampered chef brownie pan for individual brownies).
  2. 2. In a bowl, combine all four ingredients.
  3. 3. Spoon into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes (much less time if you using a brownie or cupcake pan. Mine took about 10 to 12 minutes).
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/
 

 

One Bowl Carrot Cake

A moist carrot cake that is easily whipped up in one bowl!
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Ah, carrot cake. A cake made with vegetables. So healthy, right?  Covered in cream cheese frosting. Ok, not healthy at all. Carrot cake is the only cake that can steer me away from chocolate desserts at a buffet table. Ok, I mean I’ll have the chocolate dessert in the end, but I’m starting with a big piece of carrot cake covered in cream cheese frosting.

I made this cake for Easter, and it was such a cinch to throw together. No, really, I promise. I even made it one bowl. When holidays are hectic, it’s good to know you have a knock out dessert that won’t take long to throw together.

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Layered cakes are impressive don’t get me wrong. But, when did we steer away from the simplicity of the sheet cake? One bowl thrown into one pan. No fussy decorations and leveling of the cake layers, just a simple layer of frosting on top. I grew up on sheet cakes. Ok boxed yes, but still the simple sheet cake is what I remember with every family get together. From birthdays to barbeques. They  just scream, “let’s get the family together and throw a barbeque!” It’s the girl next door of cakes. Not pretentious. Not trying to be fancy, just promising to be delicious.  Simple. Delicious. End of story.

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I adapted this recipe from Ree Drummond’s carrot cake. Some carrot cakes are merely a spice cake in disguise. This one is not. It is perfect. I umped the cinnamon from 1 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons. And I threw in some chopped walnuts, because I believe every carrot cake should have the crunch from a walnut in it. I also decided to just make it one bowl, and found it worked perfectly like this. No need for two bowls at all. If you use your food processor for the carrots, this carrot cake is made in a cinch. Of course, if you are in need of a workout for the day, by all means, bust out the box grater. I’m on vacation, so food processor it is.

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And as I said, no sheet cake is complete without a generous layer of frosting on top. I made a simple cream cheese frosting. I have spent many hours frosting mile high layer cakes. Smoothing down the sides and cursing in my kitchen when it’s just not quite smooth. This cake took me all of about 20 seconds to frost. Before I knew it my family was digging in.

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So get out a bowl. And then get the family together. Of course, if they are anything like mine, their noses will lead them right to the table without you having to ask. Enjoy :)

One Bowl Carrot Sheet Cake
Yields 1
A carrot sheet cake mixed up in one bowl!
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◾ FOR THE CAKE
  1. ◾2 cups Sugar
  2. ◾1 cup Vegetable Oil
  3. ◾4 whole Eggs
  4. ◾2 cups All-purpose Flour
  5. ◾1/2 teaspoon Salt
  6. ◾1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  7. ◾1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  8. ◾2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  9. ◾2 cups Grated Carrots
  10. ◾ 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  11. ◾ For Icing
  12. ◾1 stick Regular Butter, Softened
  13. ◾7 ounces Cream Cheese
  14. ◾2 cups powdered sugar
  15. ◾2 teaspoons Vanilla
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Mix together the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl. In the same bowl add your flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Then add carrots and walnuts and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured pan (bundt, sheet cake, 9 x 13 pyrex) and bake at 350F until done, 25 (sheet cake) to 50 (Bundt pan) minutes, depending on the pan you use.
  3. Cool completely.
Icing
  1. In larger bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla and blend, then mix in the nuts. Spread on cooled carrot cake.
Notes
  1. Why 7 ounces and not 8? Because I had a bagel that morning, and couldn't resist slathering it in cream cheese. So if you have 8 ounces, don't be afraid to throw the whole block in.
Adapted from Pioneer Woman
Adapted from Pioneer Woman
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/

Pistachio Orange and Chocolate Whole Wheat Scones

A whole wheat scone studded with chopped pistachios, orange zest, and chocolate chips.

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 I just love scones, don’t you? I mean, it’s pretty obvious if you have visited before. I made these scones, and these scones, scones loaded with chocolate , scones with nutella, scones with peanut butter and jelly, and oh yeah these too.  Ok, so you get it. I love scones. I feel like they get a bad rep. They’re dry, you say. Pish posh applesauce. A good scone shouldn’t be like nawing on the side of a hockey puck. It should still have a tender moist crumb. And this one does.

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And can you keep a secret? It’s kinda healthy too. I mean it’s still a scone. But it’s made with whole wheat flour and greek yogurt, so that counts right? I think so. At least in the breakfast pastry category.

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I used half whole wheat and half all purpose flour. That way you get the added nutrition for the whole wheat, and the tender crumb from the all purpose flour. All whole wheat, I think would be too dense. And that WOULD make for a bad scone.

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This tasty breakfast also is made with a combination of buttermilk and vanilla greek yogurt. If you have plain yogurt, I’m sure that would just fine as well. The combination adds a nice tang and added moisture.

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To finish these off, I threw in chopped pistachios, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and orange zest. I just love adding the zest of a citrus to really brighten up things. I also topped each scone with a orange zest and sugar mix. All you need is the zest of an orange and few tablespoons of sugar (I prefer turbinado for those big crystals, but regular granulated is fine if that is all you have). I then rub the zest and sugar together with my fingers to make this beautiful sweet and crunchy topping for each scones.

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This recipe was adapted from a recipe out of Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook. I just love her, don’t you?

Pistachio Orange and Chocolate Chip Scones
A "healthy" scone made with whole wheat flour and greek yogurt, jam packed with pistachios, chocolate chips, and orange zest.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour
  3. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  4. 1/4 cup sugar
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, and cut into small chunks
  7. 1 cup pistachios, chopped
  8. 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  9. zest of 2 oranges, divided
  10. 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  11. 2/3 cup buttermilk
  12. 2-3 tablespoons of turbinado sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, zest one orange. Add the turbinado sugar. With your fingertips, rub the zest and sugar together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, baking powder, and salt. Add the chilled butter pieces and with a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour mixture until the largest piece of butter is the size of pea. Toss in the pistachios, chips, and zest and stir to combine.
  4. Make a well in the middle of your flour and butter mixture. Pour the buttermilk and greek yogurt in the well. Stir to combine.
  5. Transfer to a well-floured surface. Sprinkle a little flour over the dough. Pat the dough into a 7-inch square, about 1 inch high. Cut into 8 triangles, or use a biscuit cutter to cut dough circles out.
  6. Transfer each scone to the baking sheet. Sprinkle each scone with the orange zest and sugar combination.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes until they are lightly golden around the edges. Cool in the pan for one minute, and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool and set up before digging in, or at least try to let them cool a little bit!
Notes
  1. Scones are easy to make, but if you find stirring the dough together a bit tricky and some the flour refuses to combine, don't be afraid to get in there with your hands. They are after all your best tools in the kitchen. You want the dough a little damp and sticky, so they aren't dry hockey pucks, but if the dough it too sticky sprinkle with a little extra flour and they should come together in a snap.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Boston Girl Bakes http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/