Milky Way Chocolate Chip Blondies

For friends’ birthdays, I like to ask about their favorite flavors and surprise them with a special treat. Sometimes I try to fly under the radar and just pepper food questions into normal conversation so they don’t suspect what I’m up to. Other times…I’m way more obvious about it and literally ask people to send me their favorite flavors.

DSC07981That’s the kind of questioning that led to these awesome blondies. One of my friends said she really loved Milky Way candy bars–and I couldn’t resist finding a way to bake with them.

Lucky for me, Crazy for Crust had already thought about this. I used her recipe for Milky Way Chocolate Chip Blondies, but cut the caramel chips. I’m a huge fan of recipes that use a ton of flavors but for some reason, the caramel chips felt like too much going on.

These bake up beautifully, with a classic blondie top and a really nicely textured middle layer of caramel, chocolate and nougat. The Milky Way candy bars melt into a wonderful flavor combo and take these bars to the next level.

I never would have thought to bake with Milky Ways since I don’t really eat them–so thanks to the friend that inspired this!

Milky Way Chocolate Chip Blondies

Original recipe:  Crazy for Crust. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~30 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~1 hour

Cook Time: ~25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed firmly into your measuring cup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 15 Fun Size Milky Way candy bars, chopped into pieces

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray
  3. Use the paddle attachment on your mixer cream your brown sugar and butter
  4. Add eggs and vanilla, then beat until combined
  5. Add baking powder, salt and flour. Mix until combined
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped Milky Way bars
  7. Press your dough into the prepared pan. The dough can get sticky, but you can spray your hands with cooking spray so the dough doesn’t stick as much while you’re trying to spread it
  8. Bake for about 22-25 minutes. Keep a close eye on these blondies–you don’t want to overcook them! The center will still jiggle a bit when the bars are done, but they’ll firm up as the bars cool
  9. Let the bars cool completely before slicing them into pieces

These keep for a few days in an airtight container, or you can freeze them to save the goodness for longer.

 

Advertisements

M&M Blondies

Sometimes I do things like bake basil into cupcakes. Other times…I just want something simple.

IMG_3432

Such delightful color!

These bars are certainly simple, but they’re also incredibly good. Brown sugar makes for an excellent blondie base, and Mini M&Ms add a bit of chocolate to every bite. The M&Ms also add a nice burst of color—which is never a bad thing.

This is an easy recipe that comes together quickly, but you’ll want to allow for a couple of hours of chill time. That helps the bars firm up and locks in the flavor so you get the best blondie possible. I won’t tell anyone if you sneak some extra M&Ms while you wait for the bars to cool…

M&M Blondies

Original recipe: Inside BruCrew Life. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 30 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 3 hours (includes a couple of hours for the bars to fully cool and firm up)

Cook Time: ~22 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Mini M&Ms

Instructions 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Beat the butter and brown sugar together until they’re creamy
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla, then beat the mixture again
  4. Sift together your salt, baking powder and flour
  5. Slowly beat your dry ingredients into the butter mixture
  6. Measure out a cup of the M&Ms, and mix them into the batter by hand
  7. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray
  8. Pour your batter into the dish
  9. Sprinkle your remaining M&Ms over the top of the batter
  10. Bake 22-24 minutes. They’ll look a little under-done when you pull them out, but will firm up as they cool
  11. Let the bars cool for a couple hours, then cut them into squares. Bars keep well in a covered container.

Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls

I stayed in alone last night – so naturally, I decided to bake cookies. I’d been wanting to bake with cookie butter again for a while, and decided last night was the perfect night to do so. Now, originally I had planned to make cheesecake-stuffed cookie bars. But I just wasn’t in the mood for cheesecake. Instead, I decided to use the base dough from the cheesecake recipe I’d saved as a starting point, and play around with it a bit.

This is an easy trick to customize your baked goods: start with a base you trust, and then play with it. I have a few baking blogs I turn to for the base doughs – e.g. I love Picky Palate’s chocolate chip cookie dough and I adore this brownie base from The Food Charlatan. These bases are essentially your canvas, and then you can try out different additions, substitutions or “hacks.”

IMG_0387

That darker bit in the middle is the cookie butter layer – mmm!

Last night’s experiment led me to make these Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls. I used a cookie butter blondie dough as the base and decided to split it into two layers, with a cookie butter filling between them. This turned out to be a great choice: the cookie butter filling baked into a smooth, moist layer that adds another kick of gingery, caramelized flavor. After putting the second round of dough on top of the cookie butter filling, I decided to add a Nutella swirl into the very top of the bars. And then I decided to sprinkle on some sea salt because really, why not?

IMG_0369

Next time I’d slather a layer of Nutella over the cookie butter.

These bars came out great! I loved the extra cookie butter layer in the middle and the Nutella on top adds a nice bit of chocolate right when you bite into the bar. Next time I think I’d add a layer of Nutella in the middle, on top of the cookie butter. The bars tasted great out of the oven, when the cookie butter layer was still hot and melty. I actually like them even more on Day 2, because the cookie butter layer has solidified a bit and has a stronger flavor. I tend to like my blondies more on Day 2 – often, flavors meld together over time and are more pronounced after they’ve been sitting around a bit.

I took these bars to brunch today as a sweet surprise for some friends. They were more than happy to be my taste testers!

Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls

Original recipe: The base dough for this recipe came from Confessions of a Baking Queen.

Yield: 20 bars 

Suggested equipment: Mixer makes it easier 

Total Time: ~50 minutes 

Cook Time: ~25-27 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cookie butter (I used Trader Joe’s version, but use any brand you’d like)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 heaping cup milk chocolate chips (you can swap in a different kind, of course)
  • 10 tsp cookie butter for the filling (this is a rough estimate; you’ll want to eyeball it)
  • 10 tsp Nutella (this is a rough estimate; you’ll want to eyeball it)
  • Fine sea salt, to sprinkle (totally optional!)

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Line an 9×9 pan with foil and grease the pan thoroughly. I only have an 8×8 so I used that, and just left out some of the dough so it wouldn’t be overfilled.
  3. Use your mixer to beat the butter for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the sugar and brown sugar, then beat for about 4 minutes until it looks fully combined.
  5. Add your cookie butter, and beat until it’s uniformly mixed.
  6. Add an egg, mix. Add the second egg, mix again.
  7. Add in the vanilla and mix it all together again.
  8. Add the baking soda, salt and flour. Mix on low, until all of the flour streaks are gone. You’ll need to scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure you get it all mixed in.
  9. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon.
  10. Press half the dough into the prepared pan.
  11. Put dollops of cookie butter on top of the cookie dough. Mine were about 2 tsp each. Then, use a knife to spread the dollops around the dough so you effectively have a cookie butter layer (see pictures below for help!)
  12. Layer on the second half of your cookie dough.
  13. Now, put dollops of Nutella on the top cookie layer. You’ll then use a knife to sort of swirl the Nutella into the cookie dough so it bakes into the top.
  14. Sprinkle some sea salt on top, if you’d like.
  15. Bake your bars for about 25-27 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took 27; start checking around 23 minutes to see what’s going on.
  16. Let the bars cool in their pan for 15 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These will stay good for a few days if you put them in an airtight container. I’m guessing they’ll freeze well, too, so I threw some in the freezer!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies

The minute I saw Trader Joe’s was selling Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter, I knew I had to bake with it. Cookie Butter has been on a rapid ascent to U.S. popularity over these last couple years, particularly within the crowd that shops at Trader Joe’s. It’s actually not a Trader Joe’s invention: abroad it’s known as “speculoos” and it’s been popular for quite some time. It’s also been sold as Biscoff spread here in the States. But Trader Joe’s definitely gets credit for making cookie butter accessible to more Americans- and for that, I salute them.

Once I had a jar of Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter in my 20151031_191932hands, I had an important decision to make. Should I put it into a cookie dough, adding that flavor into the cookie base itself? Or should I stuff it into chocolate chip cookies, like I did with regular cookie butter earlier this year? The answer was clear: I wanted to see what flavor the cookie butter would impart to dough itself. So I turned to my trusted Cookie Butter Blondie recipe from Confessions of a Baking Queen. I’ve made this recipe with regular cookie butter, to great results. I had my winner.

IMG_2754.jpgI followed Elizabeth’s original recipe, only swapping in the new variety of cookie butter. It turns out that putting Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter in her recipe is a really, really delicious choice. The flavored spread added a nice touch of pumpkin, along with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Yes, that’s right- unlike many “pumpkin spice” products, this spread does have pumpkin, along with all the spices usually included in “pumpkin spice.” So you get hints of allspice and cloves, pumpkin, plus the gingery taste of the typical cookie butter ingredients. Add that to a blondie base with chocolate chips- and I think you’ll understand why my friends were excited to see these appear at a Halloween party. Another important note about these blondies: they were the first thing I baked in my new apartment’s oven. Monumental, right?!

I plan to make these again very soon, probably to share with coworkers. Trader Joe’s actually sold out of the spread at the store closest to me, and the worker told me they probably won’t restock. So, dear readers, I encourage you to go out right now and seize the day- and seize some Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter, too.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies

Source: Confessions of a Baking Queen, with just a flavor swap 

Yield: One 9×9 pan of blondies (roughly 20 blondies, depending on how you cut) 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes 

Cook Time: ~25 minutes 

I broke the original recipe into a few more detailed steps and wrote my own commentary below. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, at room temp.
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter (if you can’t find any, I implore you to still make this with regular cookie butter!)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips/ chocolate chunks
  • Sea salt for garnish

Directions

Get prepped to bake 

  1. Melt your butter
  2. Line a 9×9 inch pan with foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 350F

Make your dough 

  1. Once the butter is cooled, combine it in the mixer with sugar, brown sugar and vanilla
  2. Then, add in the egg and mix until incorporated
  3. Mix in the cookie butter, and set the bowl aside
  4. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt
  5. Add the dry ingredients (flour etc.) into the wet ingredients (butter etc.) and mix
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips (I always do this part by hand so I don’t over-mix the dough) 
  7. Spread the dough into your prepared pan, trying to make it even on top
  8. Sprinkle sea salt lightly over the top of your dough. Just a sprinkle does the trick, you don’t want the entire top covered in salt!

Bake your blondies 

  1. Bake for ~22-27 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took a little longer so I ended up leaving it in around 25 minutes
  2. Let cool for 30 minutes in the actual pan, then use the foil to remove the blondies from your pan