CHEW THIS! Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, December 9th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Like a granola bar, only better…
Blaise Doubman

I love a good granola bar! They are the perfect on the go snack and can taste pretty good for something that is supposed to be so healthy! I do have to say that some of my favorite granola bars are the ones dipped in dark chocolate, but dark chocolate is supposed to be good for us in moderation, right? I have tried several recipes for homemade granola bars and they always end up being too hard or too sticky. When developing this recipe, it started out to be something totally and underly different. It started out being a bar that contained raisins, cranberries and banana chips. It ended up being more of a dessert bar, more of a luxury than a necessity. Ha! I did leave the oatmeal but skipped out on the additional mix-ins. Instead I decided I would make a bar that was filled with something. Chocolate? No, even better, peanut butter!

The peanut butter filling in these bars really make the dessert what it is! The chocolate chips sprinkled along top really make a difference too because they add that extra punch to help you get through the thick and rich filling. I find that quick cooking oats work better than the old-fashioned variety because they soften up more and provide less chew. So, let us recap here a moment. These bars contain oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate which are all basically health foods, right? Now, the butter and the sweetened condensed milk may be a stretch in some health-conscious circles but everything in moderation, including moderation, right? Make these on a Sunday evening and snack on them throughout the week! They are delicious!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

These are best made ahead, wrapped and chilled in the refrigerator. Feel free to substitute the semi-sweet chocolate chips for milk, dark or white chips. Smooth peanut butter works best here over crunchy.

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups quick cooking oats
½ cup smooth peanut butter
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the melted butter, packed light brown sugar, pure vanilla extract, baking soda and salt until smooth and combined. Beat in the white all-purpose flour and quick cooking oats. Mixture needs to be combined thoroughly.

Reserve 1 ½ cups of the mixture and place into a separate bowl. Add semi-sweet chocolate chips to the mixture and stir until combined well.

Press in the remaining mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out evenly with clean hands. Bake in preheated oven 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl combine the smooth peanut butter and the sweetened condensed milk. Pour this evenly over the baked base. Do this step easy and carefully with a gentle hand.

Take the remaining mix containing the semi-sweet chocolate chips and sprinkle evenly over the top. Place back into preheated oven and bake 30 minutes more. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Wrap with aluminum foil and place into the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve remove from the refrigerator and cut into squares. Remove and serve.

Ask and Answer: I have been getting questions about where to find me on my newest social media links. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all under the username, btrailblaise Find and follow me for recipes, cookbook reviews, kitchen tips and tricks.

CHEW THIS! Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, February 4th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

A New Take on Banana Bread…
Blaise Doubman

I love banana bread and I have experimented with countless recipes over the years. There has been banana bread with nuts, without nuts, with sour cream, with extra butter, melted butter, softened butter, a combination of butter and vegetable shortening, brown butter banana bread, banana bread with raisins and even a banana bread made with a yellow cake mix. If you think that is a lot, consider the fifty other versions I have tried but did not want to mention in fear of readership boredom and lack of room. Seriously though banana bread, to me, always needed something extra. No, not cinnamon and no, not extra bananas, that only makes the finished loaf tough in the end, I have tried it! I have always thought it was missing… chocolate!

Chocolate! Yes, chocolate. I am a registered chocoholic and proud of it. Anything and everything, to me, is better with chocolate and this recipe is no exception! It took a few rounds in the kitchen with this recipe before it was perfect but the finished result was well worth the extra time and extra work. My taste testers, shout out to Tiffany at Glen Oaks, loved this so much that they encouraged me to bring it again – that next day! Ha! The bread is baked in an untraditional way, in a 9×13-inch baking pan, but does so because you cut this bread into bars! The combination of the moist flavorful banana bread with the chocolate version is pure and utter heaven for banana and chocolate lovers! I highly recommend you stir up a batch of these!

Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

These really stretch when it comes to cutting serving sizes, so cut the bars small and serve for a large gathering! If you want to freeze the leftover bars, do so by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil before placing into a freezer safe zipper bag. Once frozen, bring to room temperature over night to gently thaw before eating.

1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1 cup white granulated sugar
4 large bananas, peeled and mashed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with a non-stick spray containing flour.

Beat together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture. Add in the prepared bananas, large egg and pure vanilla extract. Beat well.

Finally, fold in the white all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Measure out a little less than 2 cups of this mixture and drop by large spoonful’s erratically around the inside of the prepared pan.

Add the unsweetened cocoa powder to the remainder of the batter in the bowl and beat well.

Place the now chocolate banana batter in spoonful’s around the batter that has already been placed in the pan. Do not worry about being neat with this. You will see why in a minute.

Now, with the back of a spoon, carefully spread out all of the dollops so that they gently form together and come together into one large even batter service. Next, take a knife and gently swirl the batter together making a marble effect on the top.

Place in preheated oven for exactly 25 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool slightly before cutting, serving and enjoying.

Ask and Answer: I heard from so many of you with my previous column of my chocolate mayonnaise cake and I love and appreciate your feedback! To answer a few of your questions, yes you can use water instead of the coffee, yes you can make the cake in 2 9-inch circle cake pans, the baking time will not change and you may frost the cake with whatever frosting you desire, or simply sprinkle over some powdered sugar and serve alongside a bowl of fruit. I loved hearing your memories of growing up with a cake very similar to mine in your household.

CHEW THIS! Pecan Pie Bars AND Rice Krispie Treat Brownies

Pecan Pie Bars AND Rice Krispie Treat Brownies

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, December 3rd 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Dessert Bars are perfect for Holidays
Blaise Doubman

Lately I have been testing and developing recipes using the “bar” method, whereas you create some type of dough, and or filling, and bake in a large 9×13-inch pan and cut into bars once baked and cooled. You can take just about any type of cookie dough recipe and transform the cookies into “bars” by using this method, and when pressed for time, it is so much easier to spread into one pan instead of dolloping up each cookie. Same goes for cakes! People ask me all the time if you can take a recipe for a cake, calling for two 8 or 9-inch pans, and bake it instead in a 9x-13-inch pan. Yes, you can! This method of baking got me thinking about different types of pies that could be made into “bars”, as well as brownies that could be “bars, yet brownies”. Yes, this is how my mind works most of the time. Ha! The results were fantastic!

I started with the pecan pie bars. Pecan pie is my favorite pie on earth and my favorite recipe is that of a traditional, old-fashioned pecan pie that I shared with everyone several columns ago, right here! I do have a recipe in my cookbook for a “Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie” which is tasty and delightful too, but for my bar recipe I wanted to stick with traditional. I made a crust recipe, placed it into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan, baked the crust, made the filling, baked the filling, allowed it to sit awhile and chill and the results were fantastic! Better than a traditional pecan pie because transformed into “bars”, the pie suddenly becomes a portable food. Portable pecan pie, how bad could that be? When developing the Rice Krispie Treat Brownies I wanted to combine the two, brownies and the cereal treats, but could not think of a way of holding them together. Then I thought about marshmallow cream and it worked! The combination of and texture of the brownie with the crunch of the cereal treats and the marshmallow sandwiched inside really makes for something fun and different. I would recommend trying both of these desserts to serve to your family and friends at your Holiday table!

Pecan Bars and Rice Krispie Treat Brownies

Each of these dessert bars are the perfect make ahead dessert! Whip up a batch of both, cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to three days. You will find that after both of these dessert bars chill they are not only easier to cut and serve, but the flavors really have a chance to come together. The Rice Krispie topping on the brownies can also be made with Cheerio cereal or Frosted Flake cereal. Each makes one 9×13-inch pan and serves about 20-25 people depending on the size of pieces cut for each. These are deliciously rich desserts!

For the Pecan Bars…
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, soft
½ cup white granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups white all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups white corn syrup
1 ½ cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecan pieces

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour. In a large bowl beat together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar and salt. Slowly stir in the white all-purpose flour and mix until it becomes a soft dough. Press the dough into the prepared pan with clean wet hands. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

To make the filling, combine the beaten eggs, white corn syrup, light brown sugar, pure vanilla extract and pecan pieces in a large bowl. Whisk this together until small bubbles appear in the mixture. Pour the filling over the warm crust and place bake into the 350 degree F oven for 35 minutes. You will know when it is done because the filling will be firm and not jiggly. Remove and allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating. Chill at least 4 hours before cutting and serving the bars. Serve alongside vanilla ice cream if desired.

For the Rice Krispie Treat Brownies…
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, soft
2 cups white granulated sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup white all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 jar (7.5 oz) Marshmallow Fluff
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups Rice Krispie cereal

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour. In a large bowl combine the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture. Beat in the large eggs and pure vanilla extract. Fold in the unsweetened cocoa powder, white all-purpose flour and the salt. Pour this mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, until the edges pull away from the pan. Once bake remove and allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, frost the top with the Marshmallow Fluff, spreading evenly along the top and sides. Place into the refrigerator while you finish making the topping.

To make the topping, combine the peanut butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips in a large microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir until melted and glossy. If you need to microwave more, do so in 30 second intervals. Once melted and glossy, add in the Rice Krispie cereal and stir well to combine and coat all of the cereal. Remove the brownies from the refrigerator and top with the topping, spreading evenly.

Wrap with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before cutting and serving.

Ask and Answer: Sheila Cole Dellinger would like to know what recipes or cookbook I would recommend for someone who has allergies against regular all-purpose flours. Shelia, I would recommend “Flavor Flours” By: Alice Medrich. You can find this cookbook available online and wherever books are sold. Alice is a genius in the kitchen is known for her extensive work on pastries and chocolates. Recently she has been winning awards and gaining followers for her newest venture into diverse types of flours, ranging from almond, coconut and rice flours.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” June 24th, 2016

Who does not love the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It is traditional, delicious and comforting all rolled into one. I got to thinking about that, and thought – why not transform that sandwich into a dessert? I thought about peanut butter and jelly cookies (my Grandma Barbra eats jelly on top of her peanut butter cookies) but decided for it to be portable, and less messy, it would need to be a “bar” of some kind. The first time I tried these with less jelly, but in the end, decided they needed more jelly. These are absolutely perfect!

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, slightly melted
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups smooth peanut butter
3 cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups strawberry jam or jelly

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F and spraying a 9×13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Next, line the pan with parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. This will ensure the bars to be easily removed when finished baking.

In a large bowl, combine the slightly melted butter and white granulated sugar until thoroughly mixed, light in color and creamy.

Next, add in the pure vanilla extract, large eggs and smooth peanut butter. Combine this and mix together well.

Finally, add in the white all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Stir this together just until everything is combined thoroughly.

Place over half of this mixture into the prepared pan, spread and push down evenly with clean fingers. You want the base to be as even as possible – this is important.

In a medium sized bowl, place the strawberry jam/jelly and stir well until it turns into a spreadable consistency.

Place the jam/jelly on top of the dough base and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon.

Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the top of the jam/jelly. Don’t worry about consistency here – just crumble as evenly over the top as you can.

Place in preheated oven for 40 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving. This is best kept refrigerated.

Enjoy!