Peanut butter white chocolate cookie bars

How long has it been since my last chocolate/peanut butter recipe?  About 5 minutes?  Time for another one then 🙂

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This recipe is sort of like a blondie, however the batter is very thick (exactly like cookie dough), hence the name!  They turn out very dense, chewy and full of peanut butter and chocolate flavour.  My favourite flavour 😀 The light brown sugar gives these bars a lovely caramel taste, which paired with the texture from the crunchy peanut butter is delicious.

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I used a combination of white chocolate and milk chocolate chips in this recipe, however feel free to use all milk or all white.  Now that I’ve had my expedition to the American Sweets shop (and I have family living in the town, so a constant supply, mwhahahaha :-)) I will use peanut butter chips next time in these cookie bars.  Oh yes 😀

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Ingredients (makes 16 squares):

  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 150g crunchy peanut butter
  • 175g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g milk chocolate chips
  • 50g white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to Gas 3/170C.  Grease and baseline a 8 inch square cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter and peanut butter until very soft.  Mix in the egg, sugar and vanilla until incorporated.  Fold in the flour and baking powder, followed by the chocolate chips (dough will be very thick).
  3. Press into the tin and bake for around 25-30 minutes.  Watch the cookie bars carefully, it is better for them to slightly underdone in the centre, as they become dry if overbaked.
  4. Allow to cool slightly in the tin, then take out and cut into squares.

Adapted from ‘Bake!’

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Double chocolate mint poppet cookies

Cookies are back 🙂

Who remembers Poppets?  These are a sweet from my childhood, mini mint cremes covered in dark chocolate.  Delicious.  My fondest memory is buying these in the cinema before a film, managing to spill them down the seat/in my lap/on the floor and being gutted that it was dark and I couldn’t see to rescue them!

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Up until last week, I had no idea that they still made them, until I took a dangerous walk down the sweets aisle of our supermarket.  This walk has got me into trouble before and I’m sure it will again!  I immediately thought that they would work in a dark chocolate chip cookie, adding a minty kick.  Chocolate and mint is one of my favourite combinations 🙂

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These cookies are adapted from a favourite recipe of late, my Chocolate Caramel Cookies.  In order to give them the double chocolate element, 30g of the flour was replaced with good quality cocoa.  It’s really worth buying good quality (even though it is more expensive).  I use Green&Blacks, who also make fantastic chocolate (milk chocolate bar with sea salt?  Genius).  You can probably see from the photos that the cookies baked up higher than the recipe they are based on, this is in part due to the long chilling of the dough and also because these cookies have less large pieces of ‘stuff’ in them, which means the dough can hold them better, whilst still staying puffy.  Taking the cookies out whilst looking underdone also adds to their chewiness, so make sure they have no more than 9 minutes in the oven, as they will firm up on the tray.

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The mint poppets are pretty strong in mint flavour, which is why I chose not to add any peppermint extract, although of course you could choose too if you wish 🙂  I found with my After Eight Cookies that the mint flavour was slightly too strong after adding the peppermint extract.  Another great thing about the poppets is they melt slightly whilst baking, which just adds to the general gooeyness 😀

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Ingredients (makes 12-14 cookies):

  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar (superfine)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 195g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g milk chocolate chips
  • 50g dark chocolate chips
  • 100g mint poppets (or alternative)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas 4.  Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or liner.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg.  Mix in the flour, cocoa, bicarb, baking powder and salt.  Fold in the chocolate chips and poppets..  Chill the dough at this stage for at least 2 hours (I chill mine overnight)
  3. Roll into golfball sized balls and place on the baking tray (leaving some space inbetween), Bake for 8-9 minutes (no longer).
  4. Leave to firm up on the baking tray for at least 5 minutes and then cool on a rack.

Blueberry Bakewell cake bars

Now.  The problem with having lots of jam sitting in the cupboard is thinking of recipes to use it.  Who am I trying to kid? 🙂  The whole reason I made the blueberry jam in the first place is so I could use it in this recipe I’m sharing with you today!  I’m a massive fan of Bakewell tart (or Bakewell pudding, depending on who you ask!)  It’s a delicious cake/dessert that involves lots of almond flavour and raspberry jam.  It’s been the inspiration for my blueberry bakewell cake bars today.

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These cake bars are a combination of delicious almond flavour, my homemade blueberry jam and fresh blueberries.  Having never tried blueberry and almond as a flavour combination, I’m very pleased with the results 🙂

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The cake itself is quite dense and moist, as it uses both flour and ground almonds.  I also added some almond extract to amp up the almond flavour.  The swirls of blueberry jam add a welcome sweetness and the fresh blueberries add freshness.  I have to admit, I now think that buying fresh blueberries in January is a big mistake 🙂  The first batch used for the cake were fine, however eating the blueberry ‘props’ you see in the photos was like eating damp cotton wool.  I therefore ate some more cake to cheer myself up 🙂

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Ingredients (makes 16 squares):

  • 200g soft unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder (use 1 1/2 tsp if using plain flour)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • 40g blueberry jam (for swirling)
  • Flaked almonds (for sprinkling)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to Gas 4/180C.  Baseline and grease a 9 inch square cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs thoroughly with the almond extract.  Fold in the baking powder, flour and ground almonds.
  3. Fold in the fresh blueberries.  Add the mixture to the cake tin and blob the blueberry jam over the top.  Swirl gently with a knife.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and the cake springs back when pressed.

Blueberry jam

I’m back with another post that feels a bit like cheating 🙂  Having had success with my raspberry jam last weekend, I wanted to have a go at blueberry, as I have a lovely recipe coming up for you later in the week that uses it 😀

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Again I chose to use frozen fruit, as blueberries are very much not in season at the moment!  Similarly to the raspberry jam recipe, you cook the fruit gently until it releases some juice (enough for the sugar to dissolve into).  Having very little patience, I decided it would be a great idea to put the sugar in whilst the berries were still pretty much frozen.  Oops.  I persevered with my purple sugary mush until the berries had defrosted properly 🙂

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Here comes the jam science people 😀 Blueberries are a fruit that are quite low in natural pectin (the natural setting agent for jam).  This wasn’t a problem for the raspberry jam as raspberries are naturally high in pectin.  In order to help the blueberries in their jam quest, I added the juice of a lemon to the mix.  Citrus fruits are high in pectin and the lemon also cuts through the sweetness of the sugar.  You could of course use jam sugar (with added pectin).  This is a naturally ‘soft set’ jam, so definitely use the jam sugar if you like your jam more jelly like 😀

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Ingredients:

  • 350g fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 350g sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Sterilise 2 glass jars by washing thoroughly and placing in an oven at Gas 3/170C for 10 minutes.  Place 2 saucers in the freezer to chill.  Cook the fruit and lemon juice in a saucepan gently until a lot of the juice is released.  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Lightly crush some berries, but leave others whole for texture.
  2. Boil the jam rapidly for 5 minutes.  Test the jam by placing it on a saucer and leaving for 2 minutes.  If it ‘wrinkles’ when pressed, it has reached setting point.
  3. Pour the jam into the jars using a jam funnel (an amazing invention!), put the lids on and leave to cool completely.  The jam will keep in a cool place for up to a month.

Enjoy as a cake filling (see recipe coming soon!), on toast or just out of the jar 🙂

Chocolate caramel cookies

I shouldn’t be allowed in the sweets aisle of our supermarket.  There is far too much danger, far too much cookie inspiration, lurking on those shelves 🙂  I promised that I would continue my search for the perfect cookie, and I believe that these are even better than the Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies I blogged about recently.

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Even though I enjoyed my experiment with using bread flour in my cookie recipes, I feel that the cookies turned out slightly more ‘cakey’ than I would have liked.  Not that cakey is a bad thing, but I wanted even more chewy softness.  This recipe uses a mix of white, light brown and dark brown sugars.  The dark brown sugar goes so well with the caramel & chocolate with its treacly flavour and it has the added bonus of ensuring the cookies are really chewy and soft.  Another top tip I’ve learnt for making good cookies, is in most cases you must chill the dough before baking.  It stops the cookies spreading so much in the oven and becoming very flat (although I’m sure they’d still taste great!)

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Bake these cookies for around 7-8 minutes.  It always looks as though they are dangerously underbaked, however it will be ok, trust me 🙂  Give them 5-10 minutes on the baking tray to firm up (don’t follow my impatient self, who tried to take one off the baking tray after 2 minutes and it promptly fell through the gaps in the cooling rack because it was so soft!)  These cookies are stuffed full of caramel chocolate pieces, which melt slightly when baking, which means they end up all squidgy and delicious 😀

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Ingredients (makes around 15 cookies, but you can make them smaller):

  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar (superfine)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g milk chocolate chips
  • 100g chocolate caramel pieces

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas 4.  Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or liner.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Mix in the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt.  Fold in the chocolate chips and caramel pieces.  Chill the dough at this stage for at least 30 minutes (I chill mine overnight)
  3. Roll into golfball sized balls and place on the baking tray (leaving some space inbetween), Bake for 7-8 minutes (no longer).
  4. Leave to firm up on the baking tray for at least 5 minutes and then cool on a rack.

Peanut butter banana oat bars

I have an almost healthy treat for you all today!  I’m taking a brief break for my sugar filled concoctions of late and bringing you something that you can definitely eat for breakfast (which I have for most of this week :-))

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I’ve had a few requests for healthy recipes and I thought I better at least pretend to join in with all this January healthy eating malarky 🙂  In all seriousness, I wanted to make a recipe that I could eat (almost) guilt free and even though I taste everything that I make, most of it is pawned off on very willing tasters (such as my husband and work colleagues!) otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get out of my front door very soon 😀

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These bars have lots of good stuff in them and are perfect for breakfast.  Oats, mixed seeds, banana and natural peanut butter all make an appearance here.  I have added dark chocolate chips (dark chocolate is definitely good for you!), although of course you could leave these out.  It has a very small amount of ‘Sweet Freedom’ syrup in the bars, which is a natural sweetener made from apple and carob.  I think it’s only available in the UK (in good health food shops), however you could use agave syrup or honey just as easily.  Here comes the science…I use the Sweet Freedom syrup as it has a very low GI compared with agave and honey.  The GI (glycemic index) of something measures the tendency to cause ‘insulin spikes’ in the body, which lead to the sugar being stored as fat.  The lack of added sugar to these bars is made up for by using overipe bananas, which also makes the bars soft and chewy 🙂

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Ingredients (makes 16 bars):

  • 300g rolled oats
  • 4 tablespoons mixed seeds
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 100g peanut butter (natural, no added sugar) + 30g extra for drizzling
  • 30ml ‘sweet freedom’ syrup (or agave/honey)
  • 1 egg
  • 50g dark chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C.  Grease and baseline an 8 inch brownie tin.  Mix the egg, peanut butter, banana and syrup until combined.  Stir in the oats and seeds until completely coated with the wet ingredients.
  2. Fold in the chocolate chips if using.  Press the mixture into the tin (sprinkle on extra seeds if you like).  Melt the extra peanut butter in the microwave and drizzle over the top.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until starting to brown at the edges.

Peanut butter raspberry cake bars

Told you I’d be back with the raspberry jam 🙂  I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for a while as a bit of an experiment.  I also have a bit of a confession…up until the summer, I had never had a peanut butter & jam sandwich.  I totally understand if you want to stop reading now and abandon me 🙂  Seriously, I’m not sure why I’ve never tried this combination.  I got to try this on honeymoon during the summer at DisneyWorld.  I’m fairly certain the peanut butter and jam (jelly) sandwich was not meant for me, but it was fantastic!

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The base of this cake is a peanut butter sponge, which I’ve used before (but not yet blogged about).  I’ve got great plans for a peanut butter caramel cake coming your way soon!  The peanut butter and yoghurt in the sponge itself gives great moisture and also means these cake bars will keep for a good few days.  However, I have to admit, I don’t know this for certain, as bringing them into work on Monday (having made them on Saturday), they were gone by breaktime 😀

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These bars are a great mix of dense, squidgy peanut butter cake and sweet raspberry jam swirled through.  I think the jam looks really pretty swirled through, I hope you agree 🙂  If you’d like to make your own raspberry jam (so, so easy!) have a look here.

One last thing…if you think there isn’t enough peanut butter in this recipe, I give you full permission to make this into a ‘peanut butter raspberry cake bar sandwich’.  Oh my word.

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Ingredients (makes 16 squares):

  • 200g soft, unsalted butter
  • 90g smooth peanut butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 150g natural yoghurt
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Raspberry jam for swirling

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C.  Baseline and grease a 9 inch square cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, peanut butter together until smooth.  Add the eggs (one at a time) + a spoonful of the dry ingredients to stop mixture from curdling.
  3. Fold in the yoghurt and then fold in the flour + baking powder.  Scrape mixture into the tin and level the top.
  4. Place blobs of raspberry jam all over the surface of the cake batter.  Using a knife, swirl the jam to make pretty patterns!
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until cake is golden brown and shrinking away from the sides of the tin.