Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Cookie Bars & GIVEAWAY!

I was provided with a Krusteaz Holiday gift pack to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

My Christmas baking list is quite long (shortbread, gingerbread, fudge, sausage balls, and so much more!) & I have been in a cookie baking frenzy. Well, I was. Until my 7 year old had a terrible asthma flare up that has been going on for weeks now. Several doctor visits, multiple medications, and let’s not forget – NO SCHOOL. I have three kids, and one of them is not in school with only a couple more weeks till Christmas! Do you see where I’m going with this?

Cookie gifts

BUT, there is one thing I do not need to panic over, and that’s the holiday treats. With the help of Krusteaz Cookie Mixes, we can have all the fun Christmas cookies, without all the time & effort on my part. Not to mention, I don’t have to stress over gift giving. I have a few options to share that will help you if you are short on time this holiday season as well. And seriously, is there ever enough time?!

Oatmeal Scotchie Food gift

Food gifts do not always have to be prepared ahead of time. Many people have lots of goodies on hand during the holidays, so packaging up mixes that can be easily prepared later is a fun gift. You can mix up a homemade cookie mix, or you can save yourself some time and package up a Krusteaz mix. Just place in a mason jar (because everything looks cute in a mason jar) add a bow and some instructions on how to bake! I added red, green & chocolate chips to the above jar of mix. You could also layer the chips in the jar with the mix. (Provided you don’t start layering, then knock the jar over so that they get mixed up. Not that I would know about that. *ahem*)

You can also add some Hot Chocolate Mix, because we all know hot chocolate goes great with cookies!

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

On the other hand, baking up treats to take to a friend, neighbor, teacher, etc. is always fun too. Save yourself some time with shortcuts, like using Krusteaz Shortbread Mix to make these yummy Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Cookie Bars!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:8]

shortbread bars

The pan size will determine the thickness of the crust. I used an 8 x 11. You could also add nuts. I added just a few to one end, since my son is allergic.

Christmas Food Gifts

Package your treats in a food safe container, lined with festive tissue paper and a cute tag! My tags & tissue paper came from Zazzle.com, and the little tree clips and plastic container came from Target.

Krusteaz & I would like to help decrease your holiday stress level as well! We have a huge cookie prize pack to giveaway! It includes:

Krusteaz

  • Two boxes of the following mixes: Shortbread, Gingerbread, Snickerdoodle, Butter Vanilla Sugar and Oatmeal Scotchie
  • Some fun holiday baking items like an apron, tote bag, cookie cutters, frosting decorating pen and a mason jar (for gifting and storage!)
  • Holiday cookie recipe ideas for inspiration

Please enter via the rafflecopter form. This giveaway ends soon so that we can (hopefully!) get the winner their cookie prize pack before Christmas (No guarantee on that.) Open to US residents, 18 years or older.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed Contessa, The Dedicated House, Skip to my LouI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime  Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206The Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife

Chocolate Kahlua Coffee Pound Cake

When I see a title that includes chocolate, Kahlua, coffee AND pound cake…it gets my attention. And it goes in the “must make” category. My mom also loves chocolate and coffee, so I made this on an occasion I was visiting so we could share in the rum/chocolate/coffee fabulousness together.

I’m considerate like that. And it might have been Mother’s Day. I’m pretty sure I was the favorite child until my sister went and had the most adorable baby you have ever seen…but this cake definitely puts me ahead of my brother. haha

Chocolate Kahlua Coffee Pound Cake

1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs, room temp
3/4 cup brewed coffee, room temp (leftover coffee is fine. I usually re-use my morning’s K-cup)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup Kahlua coffee liqueur
chocolate covered coffee beans, chopped (optional)

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup Kahlua*  – add in small increments until glaze reaches desired consistency. Mine ended up being a little too thin.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a bundt pan or spray well with baking spray.
  • Whisk together the dry cake mix with the dry instant pudding mix.
  • Add the eggs, coffee, oil and Kahlua to the dry mix. Stir until combined, then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Pour mix into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until done. Cake should spring back when lightly pressed and toothpick should come out clean when inserted into middle of cake.
  • Let cake cool for 15 minutes in pan, then invert onto cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • Pour glaze over cooled cake, top with chocolate covered coffee beans if desired.
Recipe Source: Chocolate, Chocolate and More (the name alone can tell you why it’s one of my favorite blogs!)

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) Nibbles By NicThe Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouI Should Be MoMypping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Mandy’s Recipe BoxSowdering About in SeattleNaptime Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206Anyonita NibblesThe Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife,Play.Party.Pin

Fun Graduation Treats

Whether you are celebrating high school, college, or Kindergarten graduations soon, these fun graduation treats will make any age graduate feel extra special. We will be celebrating 1st, 6th and 8th grade graduations so I will have an excuse to make them as well! (As an added bonus, they are no-bake treats!)

Oreo Cake with Oreo Whipped Cream Frosting

I guess it’s Cake Week on the blog! I have almost always made my kids’ birthday cakes. My mom always made mine (and my siblings’…I would always choose chocolate cake with chocolate icing and my brother would want strawberry cake with chocolate icing and I would get mad. I hated strawberry cake! #itsallaboutme) Now that my girls are getting older, they like to go on Pinterest and find cakes that generally go beyond the “chocolate or vanilla – or strawberry“. I’m sure one day soon their requests will exceed my skill level, but for now, it’s pretty fun!
My oldest chose this Oreo Cake for her birthday this year. Somehow, I have a 14 year old. I’m not sure how this happened. Why does time speed up once you have children? (Unless they have a stomach virus in the middle of the night. Time slows WAY down then.)
The cake has Oreo cookies in the cake itself, Oreos in the icing, and then I added some mini Oreos on top. Both layers had Oreos baked right in, and I loved the flavor and crunch of the baked Oreos.
The only negative is that the whole Oreos made the cake a little difficult to slice. Next time I may use mini Oreos instead.
Oreo Cake with Oreo Whipped Cream Frosting
1 box chocolate cake mix (without pudding in the mix)
1 box (4 serving size) instant chocolate pudding mix (I used Hershey’s)
1 cup sour cream (can also use plain yogurt)
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs, room temp
1/2 cup coffee (room temp or slightly warm, not hot – leftover coffee is fine; can sub with water)
1 package Oreo Cookies, divided
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, and coffee. 
  • Add in eggs, one at a time, stirring until just combined. Scrape down sides.
  • Beat mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. 
  • Spray two cake pans with cooking spray, and line bottom of each pan with desired number of Oreo cookies. I used 11 whole cookies in each pan, but could have squeezed in a couple more!
  • Pour cake batter over cookies in prepared pans.
  • Bake for suggested time on back of cake mix box, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
  • Allow cake to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
Oreo Whipped Cream Frosting
 
1 quart Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 Oreo Cookies (crushed with a rolling pin or pulsed in food processor until crushed in large crumbs. Do not over process.)
small “grab bag” mini Oreos (optional)
  • Place mixing bowl and mixer attachment in freezer for 10-15 minutes to chill.  
  • After chilling, add cream to bowl and mix on medium speed until it starts to thicken.
  • Add vanilla and sugar, and beat until mixture is to desired thickness and forms stiff peaks.
  • Fold in cookies. Keep refrigerated until ready to frost cake.
To Assemble:
Place one layer of cake on a plate. I would recommend Oreo side down on bottom layer, and up for top layer. Having the cookies in the middle made it a little more difficult to slice. Frost entire cake and keep chilled until ready to serve. If desired, add mini Oreo cookies on top for decoration.

This cake was inspired by Bird on a CakeSally’s Baking Addiction,  Makin’ it Mo’Betta

This Oreo Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting was featured at:

DIY Vintage Chic

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouI Should Be MoMypping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Mandy’s Recipe BoxSowdering About in SeattleNaptime Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206Anyonita NibblesThe Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife,Play.Party.Pin

Chocolate Glazed Donuts {Baked}

In yesterday’s post I mentioned Chocolate Glazed Donuts, so I wanted to share the recipe. My son (as with most kids) LOVES donuts. However, being the mean mama that I am, and being all concerned about trans fat and such, I very rarely buy them. Luckily, my children don’t realize that baked donuts are basically muffins in a donut shape, and consider it a treat when I make them.

I’ve made many, many donuts and these are among my top three. My other favorites being these Apple Cider Donuts and these Meyer Lemon Donuts.

Chocolate Glazed Donuts

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (I like to sub 1/4 to 1/2 of the amount with xylitol)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Glaze:
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray donut pan with nonstick spray. (If you do not have a donut pan, you can use a mini muffin pan to make donut “holes” or make traditional muffins, adjust cook time accordingly.)
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (if using). *I usually just whisk everything until no clumps remain, but my girls actually used the sifter for this recipe. Yes, I had flour and cocoa everywhere. 
  • In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, then add milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Whisk until combined and smooth.  Whisk in butter.  
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture (wet to dry) and mix just until combined.  
  • Fill donut (or whichever) pan about 3/4 full and bake for 10-12 minutes (again, depending on pan being used), or until done. (Use the toothpick test if unsure). 
  • Cool for 5 minutes in the pan,then transfer to a wire rack.
  • While cooling, whisk (or sift) the powdered sugar, then add the milk, vanilla and lemon juice. Whisk until combined. (If too thin, add more sugar; too thick, add more milk.) Dip warm (not hot) donuts into the glaze (you can do one side or both) and place on wire rack to set.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

My son always asks for bananas when I am forced to go grocery shopping with my children, and it’s really hard to deny your children fruits and vegetables if they ask for them…even when I know they will not get eaten. Unless I buy one, which I never do, because lets face it – having bananas sitting around going bad is an excuse to make stuff like these muffins. Or this!

Y’all…these are good! As I’ve mentioned every time I post something with bananas, I don’t even like bananas, but these were really good. They had a good texture, they rose well, they were nice and chocolate-y, with only a hint of banana flavor (of course, I didn’t use the full amount of banana called for….I subbed in some Greek yogurt to make up the difference.) All THREE of my kids liked them, which almost NEVER happens..but admittedly happens much more frequently when chocolate is involved!
Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
(Yields 12 standard muffins)
 
1 1/2 cups mashed banana*
1/3 cup oil (I used this Mediterranean Blend)
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar*
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Raw sugar for tops (optional)

*If you do not have the full amount of banana, you can sub in applesauce, yogurt, pumpkin…pretty much any pureed fruit or mild flavored veggie to make up the difference. I used Greek yogurt.)
*The original recipe called for one cup of sugar. I reduced it since my bananas were very ripe and therefore very sweet.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a muffin pan with non stick cooking spray or line with cupcake liners.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas (and yogurt in my case), oil, and egg. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder. 
  • Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips, reserving a few extra for the tops if desired. (This just makes them look pretty!)
  • Fill prepared muffin cups approximately 3/4 full. Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar and remaining mini chocolate chips if desired. 
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until done. (Can check centers with toothpick if unsure…should come out clean, unless you hit a melty chocolate chip!)
Recipe Source: Chef in Training

 

 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars {my favorite bar recipe!}

I know I post a lot of cookies. Like…a lot.of.cookies. I love cookies. Cookies are probably my dessert of choice. And I’ve already typed cookies several times and I’ve just started. Well, I’m not breakin’ out the thesaurus. My point is I’ve baked a lot of cookies, and I have my “go-to” cookie recipe, but these are cookie BARS. Meaning, they are even easier because you don’t have to measure them out, space them, stand near by to bake batch after batch. Yep…these are homemade cookies, made easier, and just as awesome. You’re welcome.

This is my favorite cookie bar recipe to date. No waiting for butter to soften, no scooping out even amounts of dough, just mix it up, slap it in a pan, and bake. Did I mention they are soft, chewy and delicious? These were made with all chocolate chips, but we made some for Thanksgiving with chocolate chips and M and M’s.

I like the ease of this recipe, and you can cut them into any size you want, so they can feed a crowd if needed. I hate to say how quickly the 4 of us can go through a batch. It’s embarrassing.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 1/8 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 large egg
1 large egg yolk*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

*we have made this without the additional yolk and they were just as good, in my opinion
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 11×7 inch baking pan. (Can use a smaller pan for thicker bars or a 9×13 pan for thinner bars, adjust bake time accordingly.)
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until combined.
  • Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla to the sugar mixture and mix well.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix just until combined; do not overmix. 
  • Fold in chocolate chips. (Can reserve a few for the tops if desired.)
  • Press the dough into prepared pan and level out with spatula (or hands). Sprinkle reserved chocolate chips on top if desired. 
  • Bake approximately 25 minutes (depending on pan size), until the top of the bars are a light golden brown. They should still be a little glossy on top, like they are not quite fully baked so they will be nice and chewy.
Recipe Source: What Megan’s Making
So…who’s ready to make cookies?! Above is my favorite homemade cookie bar recipe (as of this posting anyway!), this is my favorite for individual cookies, and this is my favorite cookie bar using a cake mix!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

Winter is…cold. (Thank you Captain Obvious) I’m not a fan. Therefore, there have been lots of hot bevvies filling my day – mainly coffee, but a little hot tea, some apple cider, a hot toddy here or there, and of course, hot chocolate.

I made these for Christmas gifts, and thought they turned out pretty cute…I do love a mason jar. Since my kids are constantly asking for hot chocolate, I am getting ready to mix some up to have on hand at home. It’s nice to have a dry mix available that the kids can prepare themselves.

You can layer it all pretty for gift giving, or mix everything together and store in a sealed container so it’s ready to go. One of my friends who received this did say it wasn’t quite sweet enough for her taste, so you may have to adjust the amount of sugar to your liking.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

1/2 cup dry (powdered) milk
1/2 cup cocoa, unsweetened
1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy
1/4 cup mini marshmallows

 Layer ingredients in order listed in a pint sized jar or mix all together and store in an airtight container. For serving, place 1/3 cup mix in a mug, add one cup (8 ounces) boiling water. Stir well. Enjoy.
Recipe Source and Printable from Cincy Shopper
*For adults, you may want to add a little homemade Peppermint Vodka!
Maybe this will get me through another six weeks of winter. Damn Groundhog.

Loaded Chocolate Bourbon Fudge

Yes, this was another Christmas gift involving booze, but would also be fun for Valentine’s Day. And seriously, anytime you throw together chocolate and booze…it’s going to be a fun day.

Even though this is not my most beloved old-fashioned fudge, it was pretty darn good…I happen to love Jim. And Jack.  It’s also easy…no candy thermometer required! And before anyone asks, yes you can omit the alcohol.

The toppings are your choice as well. I used what I had on hand…Heath Toffee Chips, Mini Baking MM’s, mini Hershey kisses, chocolate drizzle…and I tried doing a white chocolate drizzle, but my chocolate seized up on me…I think it got some water in it. I was doing multiple things at once and that’s never good when dealing with melted chocolate!

Loaded Chocolate Bourbon Fudge

20 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used Chocoley Chocolate, half milk and half dark chocolate)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-5 tablespoons bourbon (I used 5 – Jim Beam and Rave Review! Culinary Blended Bourbon)
approx 1-1/2 cups of desired toppings
1/2 cup milk chocolate, melted

  • Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Melt the 20 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave or using the double boiler method (I almost always use the microwave, just remember to microwave it slowly. I heat for one minute, then stir, then heat for 15 seconds until mostly melted, stirring between each interval).
  • Once melted, stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract
  • Stir in bourbon 1 tablespoon at a time. The mixture will thicken, but continue stirring or folding with a sturdy spoon.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture in the prepared pan and place in fridge for 10 minutes to set.
  • Melt the 1/2 cup milk chocolate using desired method and spread a couple of tablespoons evenly over the top of the chilled fudge. Immediately sprinkle on desired toppings, gently pressing into the chocolate.
  • Use the remaining milk chocolate and drizzle it over the top. This will help keep all the good stuff from falling off when cutting.
  • Let set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • I recommend cutting into small pieces (about an inch or so, because it is very rich!)
Recipe Source: How Sweet It Is
 
I also highly recommend that when cutting this, have it on a nice, flat, non-slip surface. Otherwise, half your fudge may end up on the floor. When it hits the floor, all of your toppings will pop off, fly all over the kitchen, creating havoc as you try to keep two dogs from eating the chocolate. Also, causing much swearing to occur and resulting in your friends getting half the amount of fudge that was intended. I’m just sayin’…it could happen. #thisismylife
 
Disclosure: I received both Chocoley Chocolate and Rave Reviews! Culinary Spirits as samples. This is not a paid post. 

Low Sugar Frozen Hot Chocolate & Cookbook Review

Up until a couple of days ago, we were enjoying mild temps in the upper 70’s, even some 80 degree days. Then it suddenly became winter. Not a happy camper. Thankfully, we are getting back to some warmer temps, because I just don’t do cold well. Unless we are talking about cold drinks that is! With the chilly mornings and warm afternoons, my kids have been back and forth between wanting Hot Chocolate and Frozen Hot Chocolate. Since I worry about the amount of sugar my family has (especially since my husband is diabetic) I was happy to review the new 119-page cookbook ‘Cooking with SweetLeaf Stevia’ put out by SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener and even happier to see it has a low sugar frozen hot chocolate recipe!

SweetLeaf® Frozen Hot Chocolate

1 cup instant dry milk
2 teaspoons SugarLeaf™ (a stevia/cane sugar combination)
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup milk
6 drops Chocolate Sweet Drops™ (we used Double Chocolate Sweet Drops)
3 cups ice
Stir dry milk, SugarLeaf and unsweetened cocoa in a small bowl until completely mixed.
Add ingredients to blender in the following order: milk, Chocolate Sweet Drops, dry mix. Blend for 5 seconds. Add ice and blend for 30 seconds until smooth and daiquiri-like in texture. Pour into a short glass. *I’m not sure “daiquiri-like” texture was the best descriptor that could have been used since my 11 year old was making this and she had no idea what that meant! 
Alternatives:
Add light whipped topping and chocolate shavings of your choice.
Nutrition Facts
Servings per recipe: 4 (we divided ours into 3 nice size servings!)
Amount per serving: Calories 83, Total Fat 3g, Cholesterol 10mg, Sodium 59mg, Total Carbohydrate 11g, Dietary Fiber 2g, Protein 5g (Does not include optional topping.)
*Recipe reprinted with permission from Wisdom Natural Brands cookbook Cooking With SweetLeaf Stevia®

There are many other food and drink recipes in the book that I am looking forward to trying. Stevia has been my preferred sugar substitute for quite some time and I love all the different flavored drops that are out now, like Double Chocolate and Peppermint Mocha! I will definitely be working on a Peppermint Mocha Latte recipe asap! I think I can adapt the Chocolate Almond Coffee recipe in the cookbook…I will let you know!

The book also has recipes for breads, muffins, pancakes, spirited drinks, holiday recipes, salads and dressings…the list goes on and they are all low in sugar! I really need that for the upcoming Holidays!

I was provided with a complimentary copy of the above mentioned cookbook along with samples of Holiday SweetDrops. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.