Reese’s Pieces Bars

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It’s that time of the month again… end of the month treats! If it weren’t for end of the month/end of a rotation treats, this blog would pretty much never have any dessert or baked goods on it. [Check out some of our previous end of the month treats, like… Strawberry Streusel Bars, Mint Chocolate Bars, or Sweet & Salty Snack Mix!]

We don’t eat candy a whole lot, but Reese’s Pieces are pretty high up on my list of favorites! I love anything that’s peanut butter and chocolate. Which makes it all the more shocking that I’ve had this recipe saved for awhile and haven’t made it until today. This no-bake dessert is really quite simple to put together. Two tips though, so you can improve from our learning experience. They should be kept refrigerated until before serving – while still delicious, when they’re room temperature, these bars will fall apart in your hands a bit. (Not going to lie, they’re amazing when gooey like this, but kind of hard to serve in public. If you’re sitting on your couch, doing some solo Netflix watching, shoveling treats in your mouth, by all means let them get warm and gooey!) And secondly, don’t refrigerate overnight/for an extended period of time before you cut them. We did this and the chocolate layer is hard to cut – hence our non-uniform pieces you see in the pictures. Should’ve thought of that… but they were delicious despite their appearance! Like we always say… this is real-life blog 🤷

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Reese’s Pieces Bars

(Adapted slightly from this recipe)
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup Reese’s Pieces, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions:
  1. Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, blend the first 6 ingredients – butter through 1 cup of peanut butter. Mix until smooth.
  3. Gentrly, stir in 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces. Press into the baking dish evenly. Refrigerate while making the top layer.
  4. For the top chocolate layer, combine remaining peanut butter with the chocolate chips. Melt the chocolate and peanut butter in a double boiler (or very slowly in the microwave), stirring frequently until well-combined.
  5. Pour chocolate over top the bottom layer. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces to finish!
  6. Refrigerate for ~1 hour or until set. Slice to desired size. Keep refrigerated until serving.
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Chocolate Rugelach

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We may have mentioned it once or twice, or a million times, but Selim definitely has the sweet tooth in this family. I could eat chips & dip for the rest of my life, but Selim could easily subsist on sweets, especially chocolate! We like to joke that he has a separate dessert stomach. It’s amazing – he can be stuffed after a dinner out or something big that we cooked at home, and then not five minutes later, he’s asking for the dessert menu or if we have any chocolate hidden in the house.

So when I decided to attempt rugelach for our Hanukkah dinner this year, I browsed a lot of recipes. I personally was enticed by the many recipes with nuts and cinnamon sugar, but I knew I had to make chocolate for Selim. I decided to stick with the more American preparation, that generally includes cream cheese in the dough, as opposed to a more yeasty Israeli preparation.

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Chocolate Rugelach

(Adapted from the following sites- here & here & here!)
Ingredients: 
  • 4oz  butter, softened
  • 4oz regular cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cups flour (+ additional for dusting)
  • 4oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
Instructions: 
  1. Allow the butter and cream cheese to sit out so they soften.
  2. Combine the butter, cream cheese, regular sugar, 1 tbsp brown sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cream all of these ingredients together.
  3. Slowly add the flour in while the mixer is running.
  4. Once well-combined, turn out onto a floured counter and knead into a ball. Divide the ball into two equal pieces and flatten slightly into round discs.
  5. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1 tbsp brown sugar with the cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
  7. In another bowl, whisk together an egg with the remaining 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. After the dough has chilled, remove each disc, one at a time from the refrigerator to work on.
  10. Roll out into a large circle. Sprinkle with the sugar-spice mixture, leaving a slight edge. (Remember to only use 1/2 of the mixture – or make more, whatever…!)
  11. Now top with chopped chocolate.
  12. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough like a pizza, into 8 pieces. Roll each one up, starting with the wider edge.
  13. Place the rolled up rugelach on a lined cookie sheet. Brush with cinnamon egg wash.
  14. Repeat steps 9 through 13 with each piece of dough. Keep dough refrigerated until using/ready to bake.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  16. After removing from the oven, let cool on a wire rack.
Makes 24

 

Dinner Rolls

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At every family meal we have on my maternal side of the family, everyone gets really excited when they find out that my Aunt Bobbie has made the rolls or bread. She’s famous in the family for delicious, fluffy, homemade rolls and bread. At this most recent Thanksgiving, when she was slicing bread to place out on the table, my brother elbowed me and whispered, “Do you think anyone would notice if I just ate all the bread before dinner starts?” For the record Kev, I do think so…

We’re having Friendsgiving today this year, and so I decided to try to make her rolls. It’s never quite as good when you make someone else’s recipe that you love, but I thought it was worth the challenge. I adjusted a smidge from her recipe in the family cookbook, so we’ll know where I screwed up when it’s not the same!

Results? Pretty darn good, but shockingly, not exactly the same. Hers are fluffier. But these are still pretty fluffy, especially if you eat them right out of the oven! (How else would you want to eat them…?)

Dinner Rolls

(Recipe from my family cookbook, by Aunt Bobbie, obviously)
Ingredients: 
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 3 1/4 tsp yeast
Instructions: 
  1. Sift together the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a bread hook.
  2. Stir the yeast into the warm water.
  3. Beat the egg and then whisk in the sugar. Then add 2 tbsp of melted butter, followed by the water and yeast.
  4. Pour all of the wet ingredients in with the dry. Start the stand mixer and knead for 3-4 minutes.
  5. {If needed, add tiny amount of flour or water to combat too sticky or too dry dough.}
  6. Place dough ball in a large, greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for 2 hours.
  7. Divide dough into individual rolls. Bobbie suggests 24; we did 18. Place rolls on a baking sheet.
  8. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and generously brush on top of all the rolls.
  9. Set aside for another 2 hours to rise again. They should double in size.
  10. Finally, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Sweet & Salty Snack Mix

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It’s that time of the month again where we make treats for the staff of the hospital before we move on to our next rotation next month. I think the fact that we like to make these treats for our teachers of the month may be solely responsible for ensuring that we actually make and share dessert recipes on here. (Desserts = my Achilles heel, I’m sure I’ve mentioned that once or twice…) But with this motivation, we’ve cooked up a few pretty delicious recipes to share, like the Strawberry Streusel Bars or the Mint Chocolate Bars.

We went a little different direction this month. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stop thinking about making a snack mix. Obviously, this recipe could be modified a million different ways. We made it the way we did because we felt it struck a good balance between the sweet and the salty! These proportions make a rather large amount of mix – we were trying to make enough to send to two separate groups of people. But it would be a good amount for a large Halloween party, or could easily be pared down.

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Sweet & Salty Snack Mix

Ingredients: 
  • 16 cups kettle corn (yield from two large popping bags for me)
  • 4 cups mini pretzels
  • 2 cups honey roasted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 cups Reese’s Pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups M&Ms
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp butter
Instructions:
  1. Melt chocolate chips with the butter in a double boiler (or in the microwave on a lower heat setting).
  2. Pop the popcorn and combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips and butter, in a large bowl.
  3. Attempt to stir up, though this is a bit difficult. Spread the mix out on wax-paper lined cookie sheets.
  4. Drizzle the mix with the melted chocolate.
  5. Allow to sit out until the chocolate hardens. Alternatively, refrigerate for ~10-15 minutes.

 

Pumpkin Roll

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I’ve had this recipe pinned for a long time, because I knew Selim would like it, but I found it really intimidating. When I bake, things just never turn out as pretty as the should. {I blame my friend/old roommate Terry – she is an amazing baker/dessert wizard. I’m just assuming that when we lived together, any ounce of baking ability that Katie, our other roommate, and I might have ever possessed leeched out of us and went to her. Actually, maybe she absorbed all the potential baking ability of everyone she’s ever lived with – she’s that good. I mean, people pay her to make desserts for their special events out of our little old kitchen. She made our wedding cake! Let’s all gang up on her and peer pressure her to open a bakery; it will be for the betterment for all of humankind!} But anyway… I promised Selim I’d make him a fall treat and that I’d use real pumpkin, so here we are. Obviously, I haven’t tried this dessert with canned pumpkin puree, but I don’t think roasting your own pumpkin really added that much more work. I’m sure it’s worth it 🙂

Now, I’m not going to lie. This dessert is a little bit of a project. The active time really isn’t all that much, but there’s a lot of down time. It’s a perfect fall weekend project, while you’re around the house anyway! Pumpkin roasting in the oven = watch a quarter of football. Rolled cake cooling = rake some leaves. Entire roll chilling in the oven = go on a walk around the neighborhood.

Mine didn’t turn out quite as pretty as my model from Gimme Some Oven, or as pretty as Terry would’ve made it, but it was tasty!! What can I say, I’m a baking work in progress 🤷

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Pumpkin Roll

(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 sugar/pumpkin pie pumpkin (utilizing 2/3 cup of pumpking puree)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla, divided
  • 8oz block cream cheese, softened/room temp
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar + extra for sprinkling
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out all of the seeds and strings. Roast face-up for an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in one large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients from flour through salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla.
  5. Once the pumpkins are done, scoop the flesh out and into a food processor. Blend a few times until you have a nice puree.
  6. Take 2/3 cup of the pumpkin puree and whisk in with the other wet ingredients.
  7. Now, fold the wet and dry ingredients together until you have a well-combined batter.
  8. Splash a tiny bit of water into a 10 x 15 glass baking dish. Press wax/parchment paper into the dish, with extra hanging over the edge (you’ll use this to lift the cake out of the dish).
  9. Pour the batter into the dish and then bake for 15 minutes. [When it’s done, the dough will spring back when you touch it with your finger.]
  10. Lift the cake dough out of its pan and lay on a counter-top. Trim the paper so it is just past the edges of the cake. Roll the dough from short end to short end, as tightly as you can.
  11. Set the roll, seam down, on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool.
  12. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese filling. Using a hand-held mixer, ombine all of the remaining ingredients – cream cheese, 1 tsp vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar.
  13. If the cake has cooled to room temperature, unroll it and spread the cream cheese mixture onto it. Leave a little bit of an edge on all sides.
  14. Re-roll! Peel the wax paper away as you’re rolling. Wrap the now-completed roll tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  15. Prior to serving, slice off the edges (and eat them!), so you have a pretty edges to show the world!
  16. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired. Slice with a bread knife and serve those rounds.

Spiced Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

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Some friends of our were getting together for a Sunday evening get together, nothing fancy, but of course we wanted to bring something tasty. Since it’s technically autumn (even though it’s 85 & humid here in SC), spiced cookies sounded delicious and with chocolate, you can’t go wrong, right? Spiced desserts are fun to make because we get to bake with some of our favorite spices like cardamom & cinnamon. Cardamom is used quite often in Turkish desserts, coffee, and chai, imparting a distinctive aromatic flavor that reminds us of being in Turkey a couple of years ago. Here’s a little piece of culinary trivia: cardamom is the 3rd most expensive spice behind vanilla and saffron.

The cookies themselves aren’t super sweet, but once you put that chocolaty goodness between two of them, lookout, they’ll go fast. Consider baking these and bringing them to Thanksgiving or Christmas, we know they’ll work well for either one. Also, have fun with cookie cutters, especially for holiday cookies. We don’t have any so instead we used the rim of a small wine glass.

Spiced Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients: 
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 6oz unsalted, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 jar chocolate almond/hazelnut spread (or any other delicious spread you prefer – ie Nutella)
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together all of the dry ingredients, except for sugar (flour through allspice) and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
  4. Next add the vanilla, followed by the 2 egg yolks.
  5. Then slowly, add the dry ingredients.
  6. Once well combined, form into a big ball of dough. Knead briefly, then divide into four equal portions.
  7. Roll each into a ball and then flatten into a pancake, roughly 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can refrigerate as a ball, but may need a little longer to cool completely.)
  8. Using a rolling pin, roll out to 1/6th of an inch thick.
  9. Using cookie cutters or the mouth of a glass, cut into individual cookies. [We made fairly small cookies, given that once they were sandwiches, you’d really be eating two cookies! Our were 2 1/4 inches in diameter, but you do you!]
  10. Bake, on a silpat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet, for 7 minutes.
  11. Remove to a drying rack and allow to cool completely.
  12. While cookies are cooling, boil a few cups of water. Remove from heat once boiling and then set the jar of chocolate-almond spread (still in the jar!) into the pot. Don’t submerge the jar entirely! Let it sit for a few minutes until the spread warms a bit and is more easily spreadable.
  13. Once cookies are cooled and spread is warmed, spread a generous dollop of the chocolate almond spread in between two cookies. Set aside to cool again.
Makes 2-3 dozen sandwiches, depending on size

Honey Baked Peaches

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You know those word association games/tests that psychologists (at least on TV) use to gain deep insight into your psyche? You know the one – they ask you to say the first word that pops into your mind when they say something seemingly innocuous like “mother” and then learn a lot about you depending on whether you reply with “love,” “lipstick,” “lazy,” or “laundry.” (Side note: this is not to say that those are my first four words for my mother; I was just going for some alliteration for your Sunday evening!) Well somehow I got to thinking about this in terms of dessert. If you were said imaginary psychologist and prompted me with “dessert,” these would be my words: “baking,” “oven,” “chocolate,” “sugar,” “sweet,” and “timer.” In my own self-psycho-analysis, I’ve concluded that I somehow only associate dessert with baked goods and a time-consuming process. This is, of course, not true at all. The moral of my story is that I need to branch out a little bit. (I played this game with Selim, and when I offered the word “dessert,” he immediately responded with “chocolate.”)

Tonight’s dessert is a perfect example. The prep-work is literally 2 minutes long, and you’re eating your dessert barely after you even thought about it! All you need is a couple peaches in your fruit bowl and a few standard pantry ingredients, and voila! You have a delicious dessert! Also, I think this is the perfect dessert to bridge summer and fall, aka the month of September. You’ve got the last of a your juicy summer peaches, but baked with some of your favorite fall flavors!

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Honey Baked Peaches

Ingredients: 
  • 2 peaches
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Honey
Instructions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice peaches in half and remove the pit.
  3. Place cut side up on a foil-lined pie pan.
  4. Drizzle each peach half with some honey.
  5. Stir together all dry ingredients and then sprinkle over top each of the peach halves.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. After removing from the oven, drizzle with honey again!
  8. Serve as is or top with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!
Serves 2-4