Samoas Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie Samoas Bars - thick and chewy sugar cookie bars topped with rich, buttery caramel and toasted coconut, then drizzled with milk chocolate! Just like a Samoas Girl Scout Cookie!Every year around this time, I start to realize bikini season is creeping up on me… and every year around this time, I vow to eat better, exercise more, and transform myself into a Victoria’s Secret model.

And for awhile, it works. I’ll throw spinach in my smoothies. I’ll walk an extra mile a day. I’ll send Victoria’s Secret my bikini modeling pictures and they’ll call me and tell me to please stop sending photos to them. Same old routine, you know?

But then… then something happens. I’ll be walking to the grocery store to buy more birdseed to snack on when suddenly, I’m attacked by throngs of miniature girls with ribbons in their hair and teeth missing in their mouths asking me in their cute voices if I’d like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies. And then there’s always that one little girl dressed up like a gigantic Tagalong or something and I just want to scream why are you doing this to me!? because it’s so rude to say no to a girl dressed up like a giant cookie, you know?

It’s like, I may say no to a cookie here and there, but a cookie with a face? A cookie with a toothless grin, pigtails, and shoes that light up when she dances? That’s a low-blow to breeze on by and be like, I don’t need you, dancing cookie girl. I just can’t do it.

Sugar Cookie Samoas Bars - thick and chewy sugar cookie bars topped with rich, buttery caramel and toasted coconut, then drizzled with milk chocolate! Just like a Samoas Girl Scout Cookie!So inevitably I spend my kale money on Do-Si-Dos and Thin Mints and Samoas and insist to the moms multiple times that I’m buying for my family, we all love cookies, har har har, and then I get home and eat every last crumb of those evil concoctions. I’ll check the boxes later after the damage is done and see that one serving is two cookies and I’ll laugh because everyone knows that eating two Girl Scout Cookies is equivalent to the impossibility of seeing pigs fly, finding Justin Bieber attractive and eating pizza on the moon. It’s just not possible.

Sugar Cookie Samoas Bars - thick and chewy sugar cookie bars topped with rich, buttery caramel and toasted coconut, then drizzled with milk chocolate! Just like a Samoas Girl Scout Cookie!So while my kale and boiled chicken diet may be done, my Girl Scout Cookie diet is alive and well. And since Samoas are my favorite Girl Scout Cookie in all the land, I have been ramping up my baking with tons of Samoas-inspired recipes for when Girl Scout season is over and my cravings are still alive and well. And you guys, these bars could not be easier and they taste just like a thicker, softer Samoa cookie!

Don’t mind me, just making the impossible into possibles. Except for J.Biebs. He’s a lost cause.

Sugar Cookie Samoas Bars - thick and chewy sugar cookie bars topped with rich, buttery caramel and toasted coconut, then drizzled with milk chocolate! Just like a Samoas Girl Scout Cookie!*sugar cookie bar recipe adapted from Lauren’s Latest

Samoas Sugar Cookie Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
Thick, soft and chewy, these Sugar Cookie Samoas Bars taste like the Girl Scout Cookie classic but can be made yearround when the craving strikes!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg Kraft Caramels, unwrapped
  • About 3 cups toasted coconut, cooled
  • 1 pkg Chocolate CandiQuik
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9" baking pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Mist the foil liberally with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and almond extract until combined. Lastly, beat in the baking powder, salt, and flour, adding the flour about a cup at a time, until a soft dough has formed.
  3. Press the dough evenly into the baking pan. Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown and center is set. Cool the bars completely in the pan.
  4. Melt the caramels according to package directions, or until smooth. Stir in the toasted coconut, tossing to coat. Working very quickly, spread the caramel-coconut mixture on top of the sugar cookie bar base. Using your greased hands or a greased off-set spatula or spoon, spread the mixture to cover the entire base; you may have to press it out, but be gentle about it as to not crush the sugar cookie base beneath. Allow the caramel coconut layer to set, about 15 minutes.
  5. Once the bars are set, lift the bars out using your foil handles and cut them into squares. Melt the CandiQuik according to package directions, until smooth. Dip the bottoms of the bars into the CandiQuik and place onto a wax-paper lined surface. Repeat with remaining bars. Pour the remaining CandiQuik into a resealable plastic bag, seal out the air, snip off a corner of the bag, and drizzle the remaining CandiQuik over top of the bars. Allow the CandiQuik to set, about 10 minutes, before serving.

Sugar Cookie Samoas Bars - thick and chewy sugar cookie bars topped with rich, buttery caramel and toasted coconut, then drizzled with milk chocolate! Just like a Samoas Girl Scout Cookie!

Sugar Cookie Samoas Bars - thick and chewy sugar cookie bars topped with rich, buttery caramel and toasted coconut, then drizzled with milk chocolate! Just like a Samoas Girl Scout Cookie!If I could, I would subsist exclusively on the caramel and toasted coconut layer alone – it is fabulous! These are so chewy and gooey, and such a great way to transform a basic sugar cookie bar into a fantastical Samoas-inspired dessert!

Sugar Cookie Samoas Bars - thick and chewy sugar cookie bars topped with rich, buttery caramel and toasted coconut, then drizzled with milk chocolate! Just like a Samoas Girl Scout Cookie!Have a sweet day!

xo, Hayley

Mint Oreo Overload Cake

Mint Oreo Overload CakeSoft serve has been a part of my world for my entire life.

Growing up, I’d beg my grandma to relinquish me into the wild and walk up to the nearest Yogurt Delite store with my friends. It sat there loyally in the same shopping center for years, with its black and white checkered floors, completely abandoned lobby, and one strange woman who worked there.

For awhile I didn’t notice the fact that no one ever went there. But then, as I became a more frequent customer, I realized that really, no one went there. It was kind of sad, actually. The Yogurt Delite woman was forever alone, banished to her home in the back of the yogurt shop. She’d emerge when she heard the delightful jingle of bells on the door, only to see the same dorky pre-teen and her gaggle of friends. She would quietly dispense our frozen soft serve and scoop spoonfuls of rainbow sprinkles on top of mine, no matter what flavor I got (okay, it was usually vanilla, swirl, or mint).

Then one day, I noticed someone in there buying something from her. She went into the back to get it and handed it over to him quickly in a brown paper bag. They spoke in low voices, occasionally emphasizing random words while raising their eyebrows in what I can describe as the worst subtlety ever. It dawned on me: perhaps she was running a side business. Like an underground secret business within her facade of a yogurt shop business. From then on, I was kind of suspicious of the Yogurt Delite lady, sitting in the back of the shop behind the empty yogurt cartons, plotting murders or dabbing in international espionage or smuggling arms into the country or something.

Okay, so she probably wasn’t, but hey, it got her more business – I kept coming back hoping to catch her trading a missile to someone in a large paper bag, but it never happened. However, I did get a ton of mint soft serve with sprinkles, and thinking back to that time in my childhood (plus the fact that St. Patty’s Day is approaching) inspired me to create this Mint Oreo Overload Cake!

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DSC_0447ALast year, I made both an Oreo Overload Cake and a Golden Oreo Overload Cake, both of which were dangerously delicious. A mint one was bound to happen, and this one happens to be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. Mint + green? Instantly festive — can’t beat that.

And totally, totally delicious.

Both spies and non-spies, please enjoy.

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Mint Oreo Overload Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Cakes/Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A thick, two-layer chocolate cake filled with a light and fluffy mint frosting and topped with Mint Oreos! Perfect for St. Patrick's Day or anytime a mint craving strikes you.
Ingredients
  • 1 box chocolate fudge cake mix, plus ingredients on back of box
  • 1 small box chocolate pudding (just the dry mix)
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp mint extract - you want MINT, not peppermint, divided
  • 1 tub Cool Whip, thawed
  • A couple drops green liquid food coloring
  • About 10 Mint Oreos, very finely chopped
  • FOR TOPPING:
  • 1 can chocolate frosting
  • 1 tsp mint extract
  • About 10 Mint Oreos, coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350* F. Liberally grease two 9" cake pans with cooking spray and set aside. Meanwhile, prepare the cake mix according to package directions; stir the box of dry pudding mix into the cake batter.
  2. Spread the batter evenly among both pans. Bake according to instructions on box, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool for about 20 minutes in the pan, then very carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, mint extract and green food coloring with an electric mixer, beating until smooth for about 2 minutes. Fold in the Cool Whip until the mixture is uniform and combined. Lastly, fold in the very finely crushed Mint Oreos.
  4. Place a cake layer on a plate, flat side up. Top with the whipped mint filling - this will be a HUGE pile of mint filling, but you will use all of it! You want a nice, thick layer. Using an offset spatula, spread it out to the edges so it's a thick layer. Carefully top with the remaining cake layer, flat side down. Allow the cake to set in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cap and foil from the can of frosting and microwave for about 20 seconds, stirring until smooth and pourable but not super melty. Stir in the mint extract to combine.
  6. Pour the melted chocolate mint frosting mixture on top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Immediately top the cake with the chopped Mint Oreos. Serve immediately, or store leftovers in the fridge, covered, for about 2-3 days.

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DSC_0468AI love this light and fluffy mint whipped filling! It’s so delicious and creamy, thanks to the tang of the cream cheese and the lightness of the Cool Whip. Combined with the rich, moist chocolate cake layers and the crunch of the Mint Oreos, this cake is a dreamy one you’ll love!

Mint Oreo Overload CakeHave a sweet day!!

xo, Hayley

Biscoff S’mores Seven Layer Bars

Biscoff Smores Seven Layer BarsAs you’re reading this, I am partying my face off in Orlando, FL for the Food Blog Forum conference. We’re at Disney World, and I’m pretty positive I will convince the cast members to let me move into Cinderella’s castle.

…or being kicked out of Disney World for pouting at their obvious ‘no, you may not live in Cinderella’s castle’ answer. Whatever.

With that being said, I’m gonna keep Sunday’s post short and sweet by introducing you to your new favorite dessert: these Biscoff S’mores Seven Layer Bars. I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

DSC_0120ASo yeah, Biscoff S’mores Seven Layer Bars. It combines the classic flavors of s’mores with an unexpected but delightful twist of Biscoff spread. You guys have heard of Biscoff right? It’s got the consistency of peanut butter but is made with ground Biscoff cookies, creating a very smooth, sweet and slightly spicy spread that’s perfect on virtually everything… including seven layer bars.

DSC_0128ASince graham crackers and Biscoff are similar enough, I decided to swap out classic honey grahams with Biscoff cookies in this recipe. It creates a nice, spicy kick to the bars thanks to the ginger, cinnamon and rich flavors in the Biscoff cookies, and it pairs so nicely with the sweet, fluffy marshmallow and the rich milk chocolate. You guys are gonna love these bars.

Okay, gotta go infiltrate the castle. I’ll invite you over for Biscoff S’mores Bars when it’s mine.

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Biscoff S'mores Seven Layer Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
These seven layer bars have two unexpected flavors that come together for a truly delightful and delicious sweet treat: Biscoff and S'mores! You'll love this new, winning flavor combination.
Ingredients
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup oil
  • 4 pkgs (8 total) S'mores Pop Tarts
  • 1 cup Biscoff Cookies, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Kraft JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
  • ½ cup Biscoff spread
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • About 2-3 squares of Chocolate CandiQuik
  • About 1 cup Kraft JET-PUFFED Mallow Bits, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9" baking pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil generously with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg and oil with a spoon until a soft dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake for approx. 12 minutes. Remove from the oven but keep the oven on.
  3. Line up the Pop Tarts gently onto the crust. There should be four on top and four on bottom, but if needed, break up Pop Tarts to fit. Top first with the miniature marshmallows, then the chopped cookies and chocolate chips. In a small bowl, quickly whisk together the Biscoff spread and sweetened condensed milk until combined; pour the mixture evenly on top of the bars.
  4. Return to the oven and bake for approx. 18-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Center will appear just about set. Cool completely, preferably overnight.
  5. Once bars are cool, cut into squares. Prepare the chocolate CandiQuik according to package directions or until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate into a small resealable baggy and snip off a corner of the baggy. Drizzle the bars with the CandiQuik and immediately top with the Mallow Bits for garnish. Serve!

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DSC_0136AThese are so unbelievably delicious, you guys. Sweet, chewy, gooey, slightly spicy and just oozing with chocolate and marshmallow… they are a s’mores lovers dream come true! I highly recommend you bake with Biscoff cookies to add that additional crunch and spice – it’s what makes these bars extra special!

Biscoff Smores 7 Layer BarsHave a fabulous day!!

xo, Hayley

 

Samoas Magic Bar Pie

Samoas Magic Bar PieWhen I was in Girl Scouts, our troop leader totally didn’t do anything cool. Other troops were raising money to go to Disneyland, or sleepovers at the zoo, or other cool things.

We went camping. Once. It was lame because two girls kicked me out of their tent.

We went to a safety school. We learned not to walk in front of cars. All it made me do was want to walk in front of a car.

And the rest of the time, we spent in a cold, empty classroom at my elementary school. All the girls knew each other super well, so they clamored together. I was just kinda the outcast brownie, the one who never had all her patches sewn on, the one who didn’t get along with the other girls, and the one who longed for sleepovers at the zoo while secretly hating our troop leader for being a loser who totally dropped the ball on this life-building girl-power skills thing.

But I didn’t need the girls there. I had cookies, obvi. The cookies were pretty much the only redeeming factor of putting up with all those shenanigans because the second it was cookie season, I was alllll about the Samoas. To me, the Samoas are pretty much the perfect cookie. Crunchy shortbread, creamy caramel, sweet toasted coconut and that perfect drizzle of chocolate… it’s pretty much one heavenly, perfect little bite. And I know I’m not the only Samoa-freak out there… there’s hoards of ya, and this is our time to unite and REJOICE over the invention of this fabtastic pie.

DSC_0354AYou know magic bars? This is that… in pie form. It’s chewy, gooey and positively luscious. It tastes of Samoas, thanks to the classic components swirled in every bite: actual Samoa cookies, coconut, bits of caramel, chocolate chips, Rolos, and the whole thing is smothered in sweetened condensed milk (aka the nectar of the Gods). Then it’s baked until golden and bubbly and served up to Samoa-lovers everywhere. You’re welcome.

DSC_0372AOkay. Enough chit-chat. We need to dig in. This caramel is bananas. Or rather, s-a-m-o-a-s. I’ll stop.

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Samoas Magic Bar Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Samoa-cookie lovers everywhere, rejoice! This chewy, gooey, outrageous pie tastes just like a giant Samoa cookie, in a fun twist between magic bars and pie!
Ingredients
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust, room temperature
  • 1 pkg (24 count) refrigerated chocolate chip cookies, room temperature
  • 1 pkg (about 20) Samoas cookies, roughly chopped (if you can't find Samoas or don't want to chop up a box, Keebler makes a similar cookie sold at most supermarkets)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 pkg Kraft caramels, unwrapped and cut in half
  • ½ cup Rolos, unwrapped and chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9" pie plate with cooking spray. Roll out the pie crust to fit into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Crimp the edges of the pie crust if you'd like.
  2. Using your hands, press the cookie dough into a plane of dough and press into the bottom of the pie crust; it'll be super thick. Top evenly with chopped Samoas cookies, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, caramels and chopped Rolos. Drizzle evenly with the sweetened condensed milk. Cover the edges of the pie crusts with a pie shield.
  3. Bake for approx. 30-35 minutes or until the center is golden brown and bubbly, but appears set. If it slightly jiggles, that's okay, but it shouldn't be sloshing around. Allow the pie to cool completely before cutting into squares. Serve with ice cream or more caramel, if desired.

DSC_0381AGooooooooey. So very gooey!

DSC_0388ATo be honest, I added the chocolate chip cookie dough into the bottom layer for a couple reasons. 1) for substance. It helps create a nice, thick, gooey cookie base for this pie. 2) because I needed to use up some refrigerated dough I had in my fridge (oops). And 3) because it’s freaking delicious – why are you questioning my decision? :)

Samoas Magic Bar PieHave a delicious day!!

xo, Hayley

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Oreos

DSC_0009AADo you guys remember when Cookie Dough Oreos came out last year?!

It may or may not have been the best day of my life… but this isn’t about me.

Seriously though, I loved them. Some people disliked the filling and said it was too coffee-y, but I thought the filling was just fine – and this is coming from a non-chocolate kinda girl. (#TeamVanilla!) Howeevvvver, I’m not one to turn down any kinda cookie dough, so I instantly fell in love with these amazing, one-of-a-kind cookies.

Cookie Dough Oreos4But then Oreo decided to toy with my emotions and did away with them. Limited edition? More like broken hearted forever. No bueno, Oreo. So I took matters into my own hands and made my very own Homemade Cookie Dough Oreos! I’m sharing them over at Food Fanatic today!

Cookie Dough Oreos3Do they taste like Oreos? Yes, but they’re softer, chewier, and have a real-deal cookie dough filling. They kinda remind me of Oreo Cakesters but better because they’re homemade and completely addictively delicious. You guys will not be fighting or nitpicking this filling – it’s pure, unadulterated cookie dough, and it’s awesome.

GET THE RECIPE for these bad boys over at Food Fanatic today, where I’m their resident Cookie Dough Fanatic!

Have a delicious day!!

xo, Hayley

XXL Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chunk Cookies

XXLBrownButterCookiesWhen I was younger, I really wanted to open a bakery.

I thought selling cupcakes, cookies, super fudgy brownies and cakes would be so fun. Whipping up fresh buttercream, adorning each cake with cute sprinkles, packaging up fresh-baked cookies… it all sounded so blissful… until I realized how HARD owning a business is.

First of all, hiring employees. I was always a stellar employee at every job I’ve held, but trying to interview the mass public to find people to entrust with my business? Oh hell to the no. Could not do it.

Second, the hours! I would have zero me-time, and I’m someone who needs adequate me-time. I’d constantly be in the bakery at 2am baking cupcakes and frosting cakes and likely wouldn’t leave until late at night when I’d have to restart the whole process. Nope nope nope. That’s like, two hours of me-time a day and it would take about 4 days before I would commit myself.

And third, the work-related issues… like gaining ALL THE WEIGHT from eating ALL THE COOKIES. Especially cookies like these ones, because I could not stop eating these when I made them. Holy mother of pearl, peeps. These are out of control. And if they would be any indication of my bakery, I would weigh 34587634 pounds and would have no customers… because I would eat every product.

So yeah, owning a bakery is not in the cards. But baking bakery-style cookies? Totally doable. I don’t even need to hire anyone to do my bidding because I’ll gladly eat every last crumb of these bad boys.

DSC_0259AThe best thing about bakery cookies are their size! Bakery cookies aren’t your standard wimpy cookies – they’re easily double the standard cookie size for maximum cookieage. BTW, ‘cookieage’ is totally a word. Bakery cookies are also jam-packed with flavor and texture, creating a heavenly eating experience that makes you want more. These cookies boast both mega-flavor and uber-texture, thanks to five very important, super crucial components that make these cookies over-the-top, outta-the-field AMAZING. Those components include…

Brown Butter. Brown butter takes these to the next level of awesomeness. My standard cookie recipe features 3/4 cup of butter, but this recipe has 1 full cup of butter – 1/2 of which is browned. Brown butter simply means that you cook the butter down in a saucepan until its a nice, deep amber color with flecks of brown bits on the bottom. Those brown bits impart SO much flavor, it’s crazy. The result is an added richness and nuttiness that’s positively irresistible.

Vanilla Bean Paste. One of my favorite ingredients, vanilla bean paste elevates any dish it touches. Vanilla bean paste is stronger than extract since it’s more concentrated and comes out thick like caramel sauce. It has flecks of vanilla beans in it, lending the cookies a ton of rich vanilla flavor and wonderful flecks of bean throughout the dough.

DSC_0271AChocolate Chunks. Because chocolate chips are for losers. Kidding! But chocolate chunks really set these apart from your standard chocolate chip cookie. The chunks add great texture and cover more surface area of the cookie, giving a melty burst of chocolate in every bite! I love using Nestle’s Chocolate Chunks or Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chunks which are both roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate. Semi-sweet is recommended in this recipe, but milk could easily be used.

Sea Salt. It adds a great finishing touch on each cookie with those sexy, salty crystals on top. The coarse salt really off-sets the sweetness of the chocolate and vanilla bean.

Last but not least? Espresso Powder. Yes, espresso! These cookies do not taste like coffee, nor do they taste like mocha. If you want that, simply add more espresso powder to the batter. Espresso powder functions as another element to deepen the flavor, adding more richness to the chocolate and heightening that flavor of the brown butter, chocolate chunks and vanilla bean. A little goes a long way which prevents the cookie from A) tasting like coffee; and B) being undetectable but still present in the dough. If you want to omit this, you totally can – but I highly, *highly* recommend adding a little smidge in.

DSC_0253ADoesn’t it sound like I should open a bakery? If these cookies were involved, I probably would. They’re kinda-sorta life-changing. Promise.

Now who wants to work for me?

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5.0 from 2 reviews
XXL Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
Thick, chewy and XXL chocolate chunk cookies are special in many ways, thanks to the use of espresso powder, vanilla bean paste, brown butter and sea salt. The chocolate chunks elevates these cookies from a classic to a modern, delectable twist.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided (make sure you're using REAL butter, not butter spread or margarine)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks
  • Sea salt, for garnish/sprinkling
Instructions
  1. First, make your brown butter. In a small saucepan, melt ONE (1) stick of butter over medium-low heat. The butter will eventually melt, then start to bubble, pop and foam up, turning frothy. This is normal. Cook low and slow for about 5-7 minutes, swirling the butter around the pan occasionally, until the butter is amber in color and fragrant, almost nutty. Do NOT burn the butter! Once butter has browned and is amber and fragrant, remove from heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl to cool, about 20 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar with the paddle attachment for approx. 2 minutes, until creamy and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla bean paste to combine. Add in the salt, espresso powder, baking soda and cornstarch, and beat to combine. Add in HALF of the flour, beating to combine. Stream in HALF of the browned butter. Add the remaining flour, beating to combine, then stream in the remaining browned butter, adding in all the bits at the bottom. Once dough comes together, stir in the chocolate chunks.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for AT LEAST 2 hours, but I recommend refrigerating for 4 hours to overnight. This step is MANDATORY as the dough will spread significantly if it does not sufficiently chill. The dough needs to be super duper cold before baking, so I really stress chilling for at least four hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment sprayed with cooking spray. Drop ¼-cup rounded mounds of cookie dough onto the baking sheets, keeping about 2-3" apart. Sprinkle the tops with sea salt as desired.
  5. Bake for approx. 10-13 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even cooking. Cookies may appear slightly under-done; this is normal and they will continue to firm up as they cool. If desired, add a couple more chocolate chunks on top of the freshly baked cookies for a prettier appearance. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets before serving. Store leftovers airtight at room temperature for up to a week.

DSC_0268AThese cookies *do* require a chilling time of a recommended 4 hours. I know, I know – major suckage. BUT I promise you that the results are MORE than worth it. Seriously – these may be one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Swearsies. They are SO soft, chewy and moist, bursting with rich chocolate, sprinkles of sea salt, and are packed with amazing flavor from the nutty browned butter and sweet vanilla bean. They are positively INCREDIBLE and I know you’ll love them!

Chocolate Chunk CookiesHave a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

Bacon Shortbread Cookies {3 Ingredients!}

BaconShortbreadCookiesI’m gonna keep this short and sweet, just like today’s recipe.

And honnnney – today’s recipe is the bees knees. It’s bacon-wrapped cookies, people. And it’s pretty darn phenomenal if I do say so myself.

This recipe (which I struggle to deem a ‘recipe’) isn’t really one at all. It was adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s famous Bacon-Wrapped Crackers which I have had and yes, they are as divine as they sound.

Basically, the recipe consists of this: sprinkle club crackers with brown sugar. Wrap coated crackers in bacon. Bake low and slow for a couple hours. Consume gleefully. See? Easy.

This recipe is the same thing, minus the club crackers and adding shortbread cookies… because everything is vastly improved when cookies are involved. These poppable, bite-sized treats are sweet, salty, crunchy and buttery and absolutely perfect for dessert, breakfast, snacks, gifts, or mid-day pick-me-ups on a Sunday. Or you know, perfect all the time.

DSC_0191AASo if you’re craving something absolutely outrageous and smothered in bacon, this is your dessert.

Now if you don’t mind me, I have a batch of cookies I need to attend to.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Bacon Shortbread Cookies {3 Ingredients!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Buttery, sweet and salty, these crunchy shortbread cookies are wrapped with bacon and are perfect for get-togethers or random afternoons when you're jonesing for some bacon.
Ingredients
  • 2 pkgs (24 count) Pepperidge Farm Shortbread Cookies (or your favorite shortbread cookies)
  • 1 (12 oz) pkg. bacon, cut in half horizontally
  • Brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a metal cooling rack on top. Mist the cooling rack with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Working carefully, sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of brown sugar onto each shortbread cookie, and wrap the cookie with the bacon piece. Place the cookies onto the wire rack and repeat with remaining cookies.
  3. Bake for approx. 60-90 minutes or until the cookies smell fragrant and the bacon appears done. Cookies will be a darker colored brown and that's okay as long as they don't appear burnt. Cookies also may appear to crack slightly; this is normal.
  4. Cool cookies completely before serving.

DSC_0197AWhat I love about these cookies (besides being wrapped in bacon)? Their simplicity! It’s just so easy to whip them up for an impressive and addictive dessert or snack. As the bacon cooks, the grease soaks into the crisp shortbread cookies, absorbing all that lovely flavor. They are just so. stinkin’. delicious and I can’t recommend you making them enough!

Want more bacon desserts? Check out my other tasty treats!

baconcrackMaple Bacon Caramel Crack – one of my most popular recipes!

maplebaconwhoopieMaple Bacon Cinnamon Roll Whoopie Pies – a fun twist on whoopie pies!

maplebaconpoundMaple Bacon Pancake Pound Cake – a delicious alternative to classic pound cake!

Have a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

 

Chocolate Cherry Cookie Bites

Chocolate Cherry Cookie BitesIt’s come to my immediate realization that I’ve never had anyone do anything romantic for me.

Like, ever.

After reading a forum on a website which asked the question, “what was the most romantic thing someone’s done for you?” I realized that no one has done anything remotely romantic for me. Why I’m incapable of having romantic things happening to me, I do not know, but I demand some answers.

Never have I ever had a candlelit dinner.

The last time I had a walk on the beach, we were fighting.

Romantic, spontaneous getaways for the weekend? Planned by me.

In fact, I don’t even know if my past significant others knew my favorite candy, which is clearly an indication that we were never meant to be since candy is like, my lifestyle.

Oh well. I suppose I’m meant to eat my Red Vines by candlelight alone.

At any rate, despite being single this Valentine’s Day, I’m actually really excited about it. There’s something exciting about love, even if I’m not in it. So I just make treats to compensate for my loneliness, and it all works out in the end. *cue rom com music here* Today, I’ve made for you – my valentines! – these delectable Chocolate Cherry Cookie Bites. They’re super delish and take hardly any time at all to make, thanks to some easy store-bought, seasonal swaps I found.

DSC_0923AEnter: Pillsbury’s new Chocolate Cherry Cake Mix and Frosting! They have a rich chocolate flavor with sweet hints of cherry swirled throughout, and they’re the base for these simple-yet-scrumptious cookie cups. Your Valentine will be none the wiser with your little store-swap secret, and you’ll be dubbed the best significant other ever. You’re welcome.

(And yes, I will take my Red Vines now).

DSC_0915A

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate Cherry Cookie Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
These sweet and simple cookie cups are made using Pillsbury's new Chocolate Cherry cake and frosting mixes! Both of these ingredients lend for easy swaps in the kitchen yet impart a great, rich chocolate cherry flavor.
Ingredients
  • 1 box Pillsbury Chocolate Cherry cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup oil
  • About 1 cup Chocolate Cherry Delightfulls Morsels (by Nestle - they're cherry-filled chocolate chips; find them on your baking aisle, or sub another chopped chocolate-cherry candy)
  • 1 can Pillsbury Chocolate Cherry frosting
  • Maraschino cherries with stems, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 24-cavity miniature muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg and oil with a spoon until a soft dough has formed.
  2. Drop rounded Tablespoonfuls of dough into each muffin cavity, then gently flatten them down with your fingers. Bake the cookie cups for about 12-15 minutes or until the edges are set; do not over-bake. Allow the cookie cups to set in the muffin cups for about 5 minutes.
  3. Gently use the handle of a wooden spoon to make an indentation in the middle of the cookie cup, careful not to puncture through the cup. Immediately fill the well with a heaping pinch of the chocolate-cherry morsels. Allow the cups to cool completely before gently popping them from the muffin tin.
  4. Remove the cap and foil lining from the frosting and microwave it on medium-high power for about 30 seconds, stirring vigorously so it's smooth and pourable. Dunk each cookie cup into the melted frosting briefly, covering the top. Allow excess to drip off and return the cookie cups to a foil-lined baking sheet or wire rack. Immediately top with a maraschino cherry. Repeat with remaining cups, then serve!

DSC_0927AThese could not be simpler or any cuter! I’m a huge fan of the chocolate & cherry flavor combination and these cups hit it outta the park with their rich, chocolaty flavor and the bright bursts of cherry. If you can’t find the chocolate cherry cake mix or frosting, substitute regular chocolate cake mix with a teaspoon or two of cherry extract or maraschino cherry juice. And stir some cherry extract or maraschino cherry juice into canned chocolate icing in a pinch.

I hope you enjoyed! Have a great day, lovers!!

xo, Hayley

Strawberry Meringues

Strawberry MeringuesSo, unless you were born today, the Super Bowl was yesterday. And if you have Facebook friends like mine, they were updating you with play-by-plays the entire freaking time.

Like, I get it. If I wanted to watch approximately 235974 hours of football, I would be doing so. But I use Facebook as an escape – a way to creepily peer into the lives of my friends and acquaintances, not get misfit ESPN commentators giving me second-by-second descriptions of everything happening.

It’s kinda like how I feel about going to the movies, with everyone talking and repeating lines during the film. It’s a movie, not a freakin’ interactive play. Keep yo’ trap shut, homie.

Maybe I’m just bitter? Probably. Don’t answer that.

DSC_0887AAnywho. After an unsuccessful attempt at escaping to Facebook yesterday, I decided to do some brainstorming for Valentine’s Day inspiration. It was then that I remembered I had made some Cotton Candy Meringues a couple years back and how delicious they were! Meringues only seem hard, but they’re actually quite simple to prepare and make for a light, airy, and quite delectable cookie!

If you’re feeling super fancy, feel free to dip these in chocolate!

DSC_0882A*adapted from my Cotton Candy Meringues, recipe above

4.0 from 1 reviews
Strawberry Meringues
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 48
 
Light and airy, these melt-in-your-mouth cookies are delectable and so perfect for Valentine's Day! If you'd like, dip the bottoms in melted chocolate or melted white chocolate for an extra special treat!
Ingredients
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar (make sure it hasn't expired!)
  • 1 pkt. Duncan Hines Strawberry Shortcake Frosting Creations (if you cannot locate this, feel free to substitute about 1 tsp strawberry extract and a couple drops of pink liquid food coloring)
  • Valentine's sprinkles, optional but recommended
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees F and line two baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, fill the bottom of a medium pot with water and bring it to a simmer on the stove. Place the metal bowl of a stand mixer (or another glass bowl larger than the pot) over the simmering water and quickly add in the egg whites and sugar, whisking them until frothy. Once frothed, remove from the stove and quickly attach the stand mixer bowl to the machine or pour the mixture into a stand mixer bowl.
  3. Add in the cream of tartar and strawberry shortcake flavor packet, and using the whisk attachment, begin whipping the mixture until stiff, glossy peaks have formed (about 6-8 minutes on medium speed). The peaks are done when they stand straight up. IF YOU ARE USING STRAWBERRY EXTRACT, blend in the extract and food coloring once the peaks are just about stiff, then whip until stiff.
  4. Spoon the meringue into a disposable piping bag attached with an open star tip and pipe little mounds of meringue onto the prepared baking sheets. If you'd like, top them with assorted Valentine's sprinkles for a festive touch. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even cooking. Once the meringues are done, turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and allow the meringues to set and finish cooling in the oven.
  5. Once cooled, remove from the oven and gently peel from the baking sheets. Dip in chocolate if you'd like, or serve immediately!

DSC_0889A

DSC_0883AI love how tender these soft and airy cookies are! They practically dissolve on your tongue with a delectable, airy texture and a wonderful strawberry flavor :) The sprinkles add a festive touch and make these cookies extra special, but feel free to omit the sprinkles if you’d like, or use sparkling caster sugar for a sparkly feel!

Have a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

Coconut Ranger Cookies {And My Caribbean Vacay Recap!}

Coconut Ranger CookiesSo if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know I went on a blog-related Caribbean cruise a couple weeks ago. And it was amazing.

It was my first time cruising, so I was a little *teensy* bit skeptical. I mean, what if we encountered a rogue iceberg? Or killer pirates? Or sharks with laser beams on their heads, Austin Powers-style? It could happen.

But none of it did (that I know of, anyway) and I lived to tell the tale. And truth be told, it was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I learned so much, I met so many new, fabulous friends, and I ate my freakin’ weight in food. Like, the laser-beam sharks would surely eat me first since I was filled to the brim with cookies.

We traveled on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which is actually one of the largest cruise ships on the ocean. It’s taller than the Golden Gate Bridge and what seems like miles upon miles long, and is packed with plenty of things to see and do at any given time. Want to see a Broadway show? They were performing Cats. Want to ride on a surf simulator? Yep, they have that, too (and watching people biff may be my new favorite pasttime). Want to eat free Coconut Ranger Cookies all the live long day? I do, and I did. Oh man, I did.

Thankgodforleggings.

As I mentioned before, it was a blog-related cruise called the Click Retreat. The Click Retreat is a photography based conference that focuses on all things click-y to do with your camera. Not only did I meet some amazing photographers, but I was surrounded by some of the best bloggers you could think of. I felt beyond blessed to be sailing in the middle of the teal blue Caribbean learning about F-stops and ISO, taking pictures of sunsets while drinking champagne. It was seriously like I was a socialite, except with less fancy clothes.

We traveled and toured Nassau, Bahamas; Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas; and Marigot and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, which turned out to be my favorite island by far… and I’ll have pictures of my experience at the end of the post if you’re interested :)

Overall, it was a phenomenal experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better time. And before I forget, let’s go back to those aforementioned all-I-can-eat cookies. The cookies I could not get enough of where Coconut Ranger Cookies… have you heard of them? They’re kind of like Kitchen Sink Cookies in that they have a little bit of everything in them: coconut, cornflakes, oats. The kind on the ship didn’t have chocolate chips, but you could totally throw those in there, or even butterscotch or peanut butter chips. But they’re the perfect balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and ultra chewy, with great texture and this wonderful deep, toffee flavor. I fell in love with them, and Joan and I could not stop sneaking them back to our rooms. I vowed that when I returned home, I’d recreate this dreamy cookie … and lucky for me, it’s pretty identical to Royal Caribbean’s!

DSC_0869AIt’s kinda like I’m on a cruise… except I’m not seasick and I’m not being served champagne. Also, no one makes my bed and there’s dog hair everywhere. Okay, so it isn’t like a cruise at all, but if I can’t live on a ship forever, at least I’ll have ship cookies :)

DSC_0866A*recipe adapted from All-Recipes

Coconut Ranger Cookies {And My Caribbean Vacay Recap!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Chewy, crisp and loaded with delicious toffee and coconut flavors, these fabulous cookies are one of my favorites! Feel free to sub in chocolate, butterscotch or even peanut butter chips for an added touch if you'd like!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 & ½ tsps baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp dried nonfat milk powder
  • 1 & ¾ cup old fashioned oats (not instant)
  • 1 & ¾ cup crushed cornflakes cereal
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners, or mist baking sheets lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar with the paddle attachment until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated. Lastly, add in the baking soda, baking powder, milk powder, salt, and flour until a soft dough forms. Stir in the oats, cornflakes cereal and coconut by hand, (and if using chips, stir those in now, too).
  3. Drop rounded, Tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the baking sheets, keeping about 2" apart. Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even cooking. Cookies are done when the edges are light golden brown. The cookies may appear slightly undone; this is okay - just do not over bake. Allow the cookies to cool for about 15 minutes on the sheets before transferring carefully to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Store cookies airtight, at room temperature, up to a week. Cookies are best served warm or at room temperature.

DSC_0875AThese are so chewy, with buttery-crisp edges and a scrumptious texture thanks to the chewy, nutty coconut and the crushed cornflakes! The brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla and milk powder help create that deep, rich toffee undertone to these cookies that pairs beautifully with the shredded coconut, old fashioned oats and the crunchy cornflakes cereal. As I said before, feel free to add in chopped nuts or chocolate chips for a different flavor or texture! :)

And now, for pictures! Enjoy!

DSC_0559AThe most delicious banana daiquiris in St. Thomas! And the view is Magen’s Bay, their famous (and gorgeous!) beach.

DSC_0586AIn St. Thomas, we had the pleasure of sampling some Cruzan Rum! My favorites were the banana and black cherry, but they were all so delicious! 

DSC_0602AThis was my wonderful, incredible, awesome, fantastical room-mate, Alyssa from Simply Quinoa! We couldn’t have more different blogs, but we connected on so many levels. I love her! 

DSC_0621AI had the unique opportunity to break away from my Click Retreat group and take a Butterfly Farm tour in St. Maarten on the French side, Marigot. The Butterfly Farm was a gorgeous place where hundreds of different species of butterflies lived among flowers, plants and the gorgeous Marigot countryside. I love butterflies! 

DSC_0689AThis was the cutest little street in Philipsburg, the Dutch capital of St. Maarten. And you bet your bottom dollar that I bought nearly every flavor of chocolate in that authentic Belgian Chocolate Shop! I also found this fantastic homemade jam, rum and spice shop called Ma DouDou located on this street. I bought myself a Coconut Caramel jam that’s to-die for! Everything is made in-house and it’s a family owned, artisanal food shop. Loved it.

DSC_0716AOne of my favorite things about my cruise was touring Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas‘ kitchen! Um, it’s a mega-kitchen, easily the size of my house or larger. On the Oasis of the Seas, everything is prepared in-house for the upwards of 6,000 guests and crew members daily. One thing I was surprised to learn was that Royal Caribbean chefs prepare the fresh-baked pastries daily, including these phyllo cinnamon buns that I couldn’t get enough of. Must copycat this recipe! 

DSC_0745AThe group and I had lunch at one of the ship’s renowned restaurants, Sabor. I was so excited since I was having Mexican food withdrawals. Sabor had these incredible bacon-wrapped chicken-stuffed jalapenos as an appetizer… but Barbara from Barbara Bakes and I kept ordering plate after plate! They were spicy, smoky, sweet and drizzled with this fabulous Mexican crema. Thankfully, Barbara recreated them, so grab that recipe

DSC_0764AWe also had a great spread of Mexican-inspired desserts, including creme brulee, flan, Ancho chile chocolate crepes, churros, and chocolate & banana empanadas. Oh, how I wish I had this spread in front of me right now.

DSC_0614AI mean, how can you not fall in love with this!?

Overall, I had an incredible experience and I am so blessed to have gone on this amazing journey! I would love to personally thank the fantastical bloggers I met at the Click Retreat and the AWESOME sponsors who made this trip possible, including Southwest Airlines (for the seamless flights from Sacramento to Fort Lauderdale! — and FREE checked bags!!), Royal Caribbean (for the wonderful accommodations aboard their monster ship), Blurb Books, Sabra Hummus, Chatbooks, Patron, and more! Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

And for more information about Click Retreat, be sure to follow Today’s Mama, the most gracious host for this life-changing conference!

Have a wonderful Sunday!!

xo, Hayley

 

 

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