December 30, 2012

Winter Green Salad with Chorizo Vinaigrette

Kale Salad with Chorizo Vinaigrette

Winter salads require a little more imagination than their summer sisters. Really good tomatoes, cucumbers and delicate lettuces can be hard to find in the darker months, so I turn to hardier greens such as kale, spinach, frisee and mustard greens. Because they're sturdy and a little bitter, they can handle a strongly flavored vinaigrette such as this one, which incorporates smokey, spicy Mexican chorizo sausage.

I know it sounds strange, a meat vinaigrette, but think of it as a riff on a spinach salad with bacon dressing. Makes more sense now, yes? Homemade croutons round this out and really make a difference. If you have some good parmesan cheese, a few shavings are a great addition.

Winter Green Salad with Chorizo Vinaigrette

Makes enough for 4

5-6 cups sturdy greens (whatever you like: frisee, kale, beet greens, spinach - any combination)
4 ounces bulk Mexican chorizo sausage, or one sausage with casing removed
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler (optional)

Wash greens in ice-cold water (makes them crisp), dry thoroughly and cut into bite-sized pieces, discarding any tough stems. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo, breaking it up into very small pieces with a fork or potato masher, and sauté until cooked through. Remove sausage to a plate lined with paper towels and drain off excess fat from pan.

Return the pan to the heat and add vinegar, shallots and dijon mustard. Whisk to combine, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking to blend. Bring to a boil and let reduce for a minute, then turn heat down to a simmer and stir in chorizo, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Add croutons to greens. Spoon warm vinaigrette over salad, add parmesan shavings (optional) and serve immediately.

Note: Vinaigrette can be made ahead of time,  just heat until warmed through before serving.


Half loaf crusty bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375º.

Remove crust from bread and cut into 3/4 inch cubes. Toss with oil, sprinkle with salt and lay out on a baking sheet (lined with parchment, if you like). Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. These are best for salad the day you make them, but you can store in an airtight container for a few days and use leftovers in soup.

December 24, 2012

Clementine Snowball Cookies

Clementine Snowball Cookies

"Really, Mom?" my daughter deadpanned. "Give them a chance!" I implored.

She was not pleased that I would take one of her favorite holiday cookies and... add orange flavor to it.

But not just orange, clementine! Sweet clementines with their bright citrus-floral flavor go so well with the walnuts, sugar and butter in this cookie. You just add zest and juice to a basic snowball recipe and, voilá, a modest and delicious variation on an all-time-great. Even my skeptical offspring had to agree.

Clementine Snowball Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups walnuts
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons clementine juice
1 tablespoon clementine zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325º. Finely chop walnuts. Put 1½ cups of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl or pie tin and set aside. Cream butter and remaining ½ cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add zest, juice and vanilla and beat to combine. Mix in walnuts and flour. Take teaspoonfuls of dough and roll into balls, Place on ungreased (or parchment lined) sheet pans. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until slightly brown on the edges. Remove from oven and put in powdered sugar pan. Roll gently and place on wire racks. When cool, sift more powdered sugar over the top.

Before baking - don't these look a bit like potatoes?

A frolic in the snow

Clementine Snowball Cookies
And ready to go

December 21, 2012

Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Peanut Noodles with Broccoli and Peppers

This is a dish that works well for busy times. It's easy, fast, healthy and vegetarian but tastes rich and indulgent. You can make it ahead of time and serve it hot or cold (it warms up well in the microwave). 

I've made several variations of peanut noodles over the years including one with 13 ingredients just for the sauce! I really like this one, a variation on a recipe given to me by a friend who has a knack for simplicity. Once you get the ingredients, they can sit on your shelf and in your refrigerator for a long time and be ready when you need them. The noodles can be soba, udon, spaghetti or whatever noodley taste and texture you like.

I blanch the broccoli in the pasta pot towards the end of the cooking time so they're a tad crispy, but not mushy or raw. The peppers and onions are bright and crunchy and so good. 

Note: Broccolette are long slender stems of broccoli. If you shop at Costco, you've probably seen them. I think they're great because the stalks are tender and quite edible. 

Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Serves 4

8 ounces soba noodles (or thin spaghetti)
2 cups broccoli or 8 stems broccolette (see note)
4-6 scallions
1 red pepper

Peanut Sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup natural peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar*
2 tablespoons Mirin (rice wine)*
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (spicy, delicious stuff)
1 teaspoon minced/grated ginger

* you can substitute 1/4 cup of rice vinegar for these

1. Put all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Chop broccolette or broccoli into small florets. Chop stem into tiny pieces (so they cook in same amount of time as florets)  If you're using broccoli you may need to shave off the tough top layer with a vegetable peeler before you dice it. Cut red pepper into thin strips, discarding stem and seeds. Trim root off scallions and slice thinly. I use both white and green parts.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add noodles. Cook according to package instructions, adding broccoli for the last minute or two. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water to thin sauce if needed. Drain briefly in colander, then dump into a big bowl, add sauce and gently mix (initially it may seem like a lot of sauce but the noodles will absorb it). Add peppers and scallions and toss again. Serve hot, room temperature or cold.

If you chop the stems small (especially with broccolette)
 there's no reason not to use them.
Blanching the broccoli with the noodles makes  this so easy.
Great to have on hand in your refrigerator

December 17, 2012

Chopped Salad with Green Vinaigrette

Chopped salad with green vinaigrette

Is there anything better than a salad loaded with all the ingredients of a great sandwich? Salami, cheese, peppers, mushrooms, hummus (OK, garbanzo beans), basil and arugula...great between two slices of bread and great in a bowl topped with creamy white balsamic vinaigrette (that happens to be green).

Feels healthy and makes everyone happy. Even kind husbands who just shoveled us out of the first "I hope school is closed tomorrow" winter whopper.

This is adapted from the Marshall Field's (now Macy's) cookbook. I tell you - those department store restaurants really knew what they were doing. The hard-boiled egg in the dressing is a secret weapon. You don't taste egg, but it boosts the depth and creaminess and you don't have to worry about those scary "if salmonella is a problem in your area" warnings that you see with raw eggs.

Chopped Salad

Makes enough for 4 servings

½ lb. salami, sliced thick and cut into matchstick size strips
½ lb. Provolone cheese, cut into matchstick size strips
1 pepper (orange or red), cut into (you guessed it) strips
1 package (8 oz.) white mushrooms, caps sliced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons
8 cups arugula or other lettuce of your choice cut into bite-sized pieces
Parmesan cheese, shaved with your vegetable peeler 

Green Vinaigrette

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
1 hard boiled egg, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Put everything in the blender except oil. Flip it on and blend to combine, then add oil in a few additions and process until it pulls together and is smooth.

December 14, 2012

Pretzel Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars

Pretzel Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars

These are unbelievably easy and tasty. The only hard part is you must wait for HOURS and HOURS for them to set-up before you can eat. But it's worth the wait. The pretzel flavor is subtle - a little toasty and salty to accompany the spicy-sweet gingersnaps. You can cut them into large squares and eat with a fork like a civilized human being or into smaller pieces (like tiny skyscrapers) and eat with your fingers on-the-go as you dash around making everything merry and bright.

Pretzel Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars

Makes 9 large or 18 small

8 oz. gingersnaps (about half a bag/box or 40 small cookies)
1 cup pretzels (look for ones with no added sugar/corn syrup)
1 stick butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350º

2. Butter and paper an 8 x 8 baking dish

3. Grind pretzels in a food processor until they resemble a rough flour (think cornmeal). Dump into a bowl. Put gingersnaps in the food processor and grind until fine. Add ground pretzels back in and pulse a few times to combine. Drizzle in melted butter while processor is running until everything comes together. Pat firmly into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

3 packages cream cheese (light or regular), room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Reduce oven to 325º

2. Clean out the bowl of your food processor and add cream cheese and sugar. Process until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, then flour and vanilla. Process until smooth, stopping once to scrape down sides of bowl.

3. Pour into prepared crust and bake for 30-40 minutes or until center does not jiggle when shaken. Cool on rack for 20 minutes then in refrigerator for 4-6 hours until completely set. Carefully lift out of pan, remove paper, cut and enjoy. 

December 10, 2012

"It's Cauliflower, Dal(ing)!"

Red lentil cauliflower dal

Sorry about that, "dal"ing reader. Dal, as you may know, is a staple of Indian cooking. It's kind of like a stew made with legumes, often lentils. I love Indian food - it's rich and spicy and bright and just feels like home cooking. But I haven't made much of it except for a very time-intensive, somewhat authentic, Indian themed progressive dinner years ago. It took days to prepare and a trip to a sweet Indian market for a basketful of bags of spices and jars of curiosities. You know, the kind of meal that once you've prepared - you can hardly stand to look at?

So here I go again...but not really. I'm wiser and busier. I have some red lentils and a lovely head of cauliflower. You'll also need relatively fresh curry powder, canned tomatoes, an onion, garlic and a knob of ginger.  Yogurt and cilantro to put on at the end really pulls this together, so try not to skip it. Fresh lime juice and chopped peanuts are nice too, but not absolutely essential.

"Red" lentils...
not really red

Red Lentil Dal with Cauliflower

Serves 4

1 cup red lentils
Medium white onion
3 cups water (or chicken stock)
1 cup mini-diced tomatoes (from 14 oz. can), drained
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ginger root, grated
1 teaspoon salt
Cauliflower (3/4 head)

1 cup cilantro, chopped
Plain yogurt
Lime wedges
Peanuts, chopped
Hot cooked rice

Slice onion into thin rings. Mince garlic and grate ginger (a microplane works well). Wash cauliflower and break into bite-sized florets (I like mine tiny - easier to eat and more in scale with lentils). Rinse lentils well and pick out any small stones (I've never found any, but am told they might be in there). Put a large saucepan over medium heat and pour in a little olive oil. Add onion and saute for 5-10 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, ginger and curry powder and cook for another minute. Add lentils, water, tomatoes and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are almost tender.

Remove 2 cups, puree in blender and return to pan. Add cauliflower and simmer for another 20-25 minutes or until tender. Serve over rice with fresh chopped cilantro, plain yogurt, chopped peanuts and lime wedges.

December 4, 2012

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

I love donuts. Love 'em! It's wrong, I know. I shouldn't. My father-in-law reminds me at least once a quarter that they're one of those foods on the "never eat, ever" list he got from his Cardiologist. And yet.

My poison are the cake variety, plain, chocolate frosted, or coated with cinnamon sugar. I cannot eat just one. I know all the bakeries nearby who make them and can tell you in order of preference which I like best (Wuollet's). 

But I'm not crazy and didn't ever contemplate making them at home. I mean really, a hot pot of oil on the stove sending rivulets of grease onto every surface of the kitchen and beyond? It might put me off donuts and we have too much history for that. Then I saw a post by PJ Hamel for baked donuts at the King Arthur Flour site.  I spotted a kindred spirit and decided this, I have to try. You do need a special pan. I found mine on Amazon for about $9.

They are really good - not exactly a donut...but better than many I've had, without all the grease. Kind of a cross between a donut and fresh cinnamon toast.

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

adapted from King Arthur Flour

Makes 18 donuts

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour 
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

5 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

1. Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl or plate and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425º

1. Lightly oil donut pan. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugars until creamy and light in color. Add oil and eggs, one at a time while beating, then add vanilla and applesauce and beat until combined.
3. Add dry ingredients, alternating buttermilk and dry mix, stirring well with wooden spoon until blended. Spoon into donut pan (you may need to use your finger to push the batter around the molds).
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes then turn out onto wire racks.
5. Brush with melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.

baked cinnamon sugar donuts

November 29, 2012

Crispy Polenta with Puttanesca

crispy polenta with puttanesca

Wasn't polenta one of those trendy 90's foods like pasta and Chilean sea bass?  It was the decade of carbohydrates (carbs were good, fat was bad, and yet we all got fat). Then Dr. Atkins came along and pasta, bagels and potatoes were tossed over like a chatty Pollyanna on a lifeboat. I think we're more balanced now, some carbs, some protein (and increasingly from vegetable sources) and not worrying about it too much. Sensible.

Today I thought I'd revisit polenta and make it from scratch. If I had known it was this easy, I never would've bought those pre-made rolls in the grocery store. You can top it with just about anything, a fried egg like my daughter, an arugula salad like my other daughter or like me with a quick puttanesca sauce.  I like how the bold, acidic flavors of puttanesca are offset by the creamy polenta.


Serves 4-6 
(Makes approximately 9 three-inch rounds with leftover scraps)

3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 cups polenta/corn grits
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt

November 25, 2012

Pretzel Jammy Tarts

Pretzel Jammy Thumbprints, tarts, pretzel cookie

Today I'm tweaking my mom's beloved holiday jammy tarts.  I can do this because I know she'll still make her classic version and I'll get to enjoy this delicious cookie two ways. These have the au courant salted sweet flavor, fruity jam and crunchy pretzels.  The cookies have both pretzel "flour" I made by pulverizing mini pretzels in my food processor, and pretzel bits on the outside of the cookie.  I make them on the large side (so it feels like I'm eating fewer?), but you could make bite-size ones (like my mom does) and they would be quite elegant. This is one good cookie.

Pretzel "Flour"

Pretzel Jammy Tarts

Makes approximately 2 dozen

1 cup butter (two sticks), room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks (save whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups mini pretzels*, divided
1 cup flour
1 cup pretzel flour (see directions below)
2 egg whites, beaten lightly
Jam of your choice

* look for pretzels without corn syrup or sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375º. 

2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 

3. Put 3 cups of pretzels into the food processor and run until it resembles a coarse flour (don't worry if it's not completely uniform). Pulse other 3 cups of pretzels into tiny pieces (or bash in a plastic bag with a rolling pin). Put in a shallow bowl and set aside.

4. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer. Add egg yolks and vanilla and mix until combined. Add flour and pretzel flour and stir until combined. It won't be a smooth dough but will come together when you scoop and roll it. Form into balls (approximately one inch) by rolling gently between your hands. Roll in egg white, then in pretzel crumbs.

5. Put on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from oven and make small indentations in the center with a small spoon. Add a spoonful of jam. Return to oven and bake for an additional 6-7 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet and place on racks to cool. 

Rolling in crushed pretzels

Peach and strawberry jam
Pretzel Jammy Tarts Thumbprints
Jam added - back to oven for 7 minutes
All done

November 21, 2012

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

This is something I never thought I'd make (maybe a throwback to fussy childhood eating and it looked like a throw-everything-in-the-pot kind of soup with suspicious things floating around), but I wanted to bring a meal to a friend who recently had surgery and knew this was a favorite of hers, so I decided to give it a go. What a nice surprise. Tons of complimentary flavors and textures - heat, citrus, smoke, herby, creamy and crispy all in familiar and healing chicken broth. Plus avocado, cilantro, crunchy tortilla strips and lime that you add to your own bowl, which is always fun. So fresh and satisfying.

Tortilla Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or use a purchased rotisserie chicken)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
2 red or yellow sweet peppers
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 jalapeno pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, drained
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 lime
2 avocados, diced
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350º

2. Put chicken breasts on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Cool and shred with a fork. Set aside.

3. Dice onions and sweet peppers. Mince garlic. Cut the top off the jalapeno, split in half lengthwise, remove seeds and white membrane then chop into a fine dice (try to touch it as little as possible with your bare hands - the substance (capsaicin) it leaves behind burns like the dickens and takes a while to wear off).

4. Heat the olive oil in a large soup kettle over medium heat and add onions and peppers. Saute until soft, 10-15 minutes, then add tomato paste, garlic, cumin, paprika and jalapeno. Saute for another few minutes, being careful not to brown the garlic, then add chicken stock, salt and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add beans and shredded chicken. Partially cover and leave alone for 20 minutes or so.

5. Squeeze half a lime into the soup, stir, and serve with lots of avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips, cheese, sour cream and maybe a bit more fresh lime juice.

Tortilla Strips

6 flour or corn tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Cut tortillas into 1/2 inch strips. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through so they brown evenly. Cool and serve with the soup.

November 18, 2012

Pear Apple Cranberry (Leftovers) Crisp

Pear Apple Cranberry Crisp

It's clean-out-the-fridge day and I need a reward for cleaning out the nasty plastic containers of leftovers and far beyond their purchase date dairy items. Opening these things and dumping their contents into the trash...the odor of spoiled food...beyond words. Are you hungry yet?

I have a few pears, apples and a partial bag of cranberries that need to be used so I'm putting them all together in a crisp. Sometimes I make the topping rustic, with oatmeal and chopped walnuts, but today I thought I'd try something a little softer and more refined. So no oatmeal and finely ground almonds (almonds and pears are great together) instead of walnuts.

The result is warm fruit topped and laced with crispy sweet crumbs. Add a spoonful of vanilla ice cream while it's still warm and I promise it will bring you to a happy place. It worked for me.

Leftovers (Pear Apple Cranberry) Crisp

Serves 4-6

4 1/2 cups (approx.) mixed apples, pears
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup toasted almonds
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick cold butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350º

Peel, or partially peel, pears and apples, cut into one inch chunks and put into an 8 x 8 baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice and toss to combine.

Grind almonds in a food processor until you have a coarse meal. Add flour, sugars, salt and butter cubes and pulse until incorporated and sandy looking. Cover fruit with topping, banging dish gently on countertop so it sifts throughout the crisp. Bake for 45 minutes or until brown on top and bubbly around the edges. Let cool for 15 minutes then serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

November 14, 2012

Savory Corn Pancakes

Savory corn pancakes

Here's another one from Dorie Greenspan, whose warm and light-hearted writing is like a balm. Corn pancakes that have lots of fresh corn flavor and, here's the shocker, the corn comes FROM A CAN! I can't tell you the number of corn recipes I've been put off by because I don't want to soak, roast, remove silks, and cut those ricocheting kernels from the cobs. Plus, who can find good fresh corn this time of year anyway? Hello pantry...

These are so good on their own (OK, maybe as a side dish) drizzled with a tiny bit of butter and a sprinkle of salt, but you can also make tiny ones (like a blini) and serve them as an appetizer with a spoonful of black bean salad, or sour cream and smoked salmon, or shredded BBQ chicken, or whatever else you can think of that would be tasty with corn.

She recommends frying them in canola oil, but I found that with my good nonstick skillet I needed just a whisper of oil and they turned golden and didn't stick. But you may need to experiment with your own pan.

They freeze fairly well. So these are a good choice for a make-ahead party appetizer. Just thaw and reheat in the oven or microwave the day of your party.

Corn Pancakes

From "around my french table" by Dorie Greenspan

Makes 6 Servings

1 16 oz. can corn (with no added sugar or corn syrup - check label), drained
2 eggs
6 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
Canola oil for frying

1. Preheat oven to 250º

2. Put everything in the blender and puree (it won't be completely smooth).

3. Wipe a cold nonstick pan with a paper towel soaked with a little canola oil*, or put a few tablespoons of oil in a regular pan.  Place over medium heat until hot.

4. Pour batter by spoonfuls (for tiny blinis) or larger if you like, onto skillet. Cook a few minutes until golden (make sure they don't brown too fast, or the center won't be cooked through) and flip. Cook another minute and remove to a plate lined with a paper towel, then to sheet pan lined with parchment and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Alternately, you can cool and freeze them (separating layers with a pieces of wax paper or parchment). Rewarm in oven or microwave.

* According the this New York Times article, the only time to grease a nonstick pan is when it's cold. That way the oil adheres to the pan and not the food.

November 10, 2012

Salted Nut Roll Leftover Bars

When procuring Halloween candy to give out to the kiddies, I tend to buy a bag or two of stuff they like and a bag of stuff that my husband and I like. This year it was Skittles® for them, and Salted Nut Rolls® for us. Some kids like them, but others gave me a look that said, "that might as well be a carrot".

So I've got a lot of leftover nut rolls and I decided to try to make bars with them. Why do I feel compelled to take an already plenty sweet goodie and add more sugar, fat and carbs to it, I can't say. I just really like a chewy bar and am always on the lookout for an excuse to make them. The basic dough is a Blondie recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking.

Salted Nut Roll Bars

Makes 9 large bars

12 "fun size" Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls®
1 stick butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/4 cup AP flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350º

2. Butter the inside of an 8 x 8 pan. Slice candy bars and set aside. Put flour, baking soda and baking powder into a bowl and whisk to combine.

3. Melt butter in large saucepan until boiling. Boil for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly until brown. Take off heat and stir in brown sugar and honey. Let cool a bit, then add flour mixture and stir until combined. Add candy bars and fold in (they will melt, but the flavor, sticky caramel and crunchy peanuts will be left behind).

4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares. 

Optional Topping: Melt 7-10 candy bars in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, mix vigorously and spread immediately over cooled bars for chewy, crunchy topping that is totally unnecessary but delicious nonetheless.

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