Sunday, April 20, 2014

Red Velvet Oreo Gooey Cake Bars

There’s just something about Red Velvet that is simply irresistible. It's truly a southern favorite. I love Red Velvet cupcakes, but I wanted to change it up a bit. I'm a huge fan of cake bars...especially ones stuffed with chocolate! And of course who can resist something with Oreos mixed in? This combination is perfect! 
Chewy Red Velvet bars stuffed with chocolate chips and Oreos, all drizzled with sweetened condensed milk...making them super ooey and gooey. Un-believable. 
I've made these a few times before, but the entire pan seems to disappear before I can even snap a picture. This time I made them for a little slumber party with my two favorite kiddos. I made sure to take a few photos before everyone came over!

Red Velvet Oreo Gooey Cake Bars

Recipe adapted from Picky Palate 
1 box red velvet cake mix
1 large egg
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
5 oz milk chocolate chips (1/2 bag)
10-12 Oreos, broken into pieces
1 can sweetened condensed milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil that’s been generously sprayed with cooking spray. 

2. Place cake mix, egg, and butter into a large mixing bowl. Mix until a nice dough forms similar to a cookie dough. Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer with Oreos and chocolate chips. 
Drizzle half of the sweetened condensed milk over top. Top with remaining half of dough pressing evenly. Drizzle the rest of the sweetened condensed milk over the dough.

3. Bake for 28-33 minutes, until cooked through
. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes then take a plastic knife and run along edges to loosen. 

4. Let cool completely then remove bars from pan with foil edges. Cut bars into squares and serve. They are delicious room temperature or chilled.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Whiskey Caramel Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite. A simple, classic cookie that everyone instantly recognizes and loves. Perfectly soft, chewy, and super chocolatey. 

This is one of those someone-hide-these-from-me-immediately desserts. After quite a bit of quality control, I was able to send these packing to my mom and sister.

I may or may not have left a couple hiding somewhere in the kitchen.
I doctored these up by making them into bars, throwing in some crushed pretzels and toffee pieces...oh and of course adding some whiskey caramel to top it all off. The salted caramel just finishes the bar off perfectly and gives it the perfect level of gooeyness. I could seriously put this stuff on anything and it would be amazing!

These cookie bars on their own don’t taste super boozy. The caramel layer brings a nice kick of whiskey, but it isn’t over-powering, just a nice addition to the sweet, salty, and chocolatey flavor from the bars.

Whiskey Caramel Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars
For the cookie layer:
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup crushed pretzels
1/4 cup toffee pieces (I used Heath)

For the whiskey caramel:

1/2 cup whiskey
1 14 oz bag of soft caramels unwrapped (I used Kraft)
1/2 tsp sea salt

For the chocolate layer:

1 cup chocolate chips
1 tbs butter

For the topping:

16 whole salted pretzels

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking pan or line with aluminum foil and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugars. Add the egg and yolk, mixing until smooth and well-combined. Add the vanilla.

Add the flour, baking soda and salt over the wet ingredients and use a spatula to fold together until just incorporated with no streaks of dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips, pretzels, and toffee.

Spread dough into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden and crisp and the inside feels set. Cool.

For the caramel:
While the bars are baking, combine the whiskey and caramels in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until caramels have melted completely and the whiskey is mixed in. Cook until you reach the softball stage (240 degrees F), which is about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should have reduced a bit. Spread over cookie bars.

For the chocolate:

Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 20 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. DO NOT OVERHEAT. 

Spread over the caramel layer and top with pretzels - sticking them into the melted chocolate. Let bars cool completely before removing from pan and slicing.