Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy 2nd Anniversary! Let's celebrate with Sugar Cookie-Chocolate Crunch Fudge

Today is Shaking N Baking's second anniversary! Woot!
When I started this blog I was not really sure where it would go or how long it would last. I am excited that it is still up and running and with just a few exceptions I have been fairly consistent in my posting. I hope that you (whoever you are!!) enjoy reading my ramblings and the recipes I share.

To celebrate, I thought I would make something chocolate again. The perfect recipe to try came across my path via a calendar that I get every year from Pillsbury. The calendar has a new recipe each month and this is February’s recipe this year. It is a Bake-Off winner too!

I also thought that this would be a great thing to send to my niece Jessica in our ongoing cookie tin. I am hoping it won’t melt when it crosses the frozen East Coast into the warmer climates of the West Coast.

The ingredients are all very easy to purchase, or you may even have them on hand already (like I did!). It all came together fairly quick as well (15 minutes or less). The tricky part is getting it to 160 degrees…without a candy thermometer this could prove difficult.

The result is very yummy fudge that reminds me a lot of a Hershey’s Krackle bar (which you can only find in the miniature mix now). The granola adds a crunch that is welcomed, yet in an unexpected way. Certainly a quick and easy fudge to make if you want something a bit different.

Photo from

2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies, cut into small chunks
2 bags (12 oz each) semisweet chocolate chips
5 teaspoons vanilla
6 Nature Valley® pecan crunch crunchy granola bars (3 pouches from 8.9-oz box), coarsely crushed (heaping 1 cup)*
Fresh mint sprigs, if desired

In 3-quart heavy saucepan or deep 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook corn syrup, butter, salt and condensed milk over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until well blended. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in cookie dough chunks. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and candy thermometer reads 160°F. Remove from heat.

Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Add crushed granola bars; stir until well blended. Cook over low heat 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is shiny. Spread in ungreased 12x8-inch or 13x9-inch pan.** Refrigerate uncovered at least 2 hours or until firm.

Cut into 8 rows by 6 rows. Serve in decorative candy cups or mini paper baking cups on platter garnished with mint sprigs.

* To easily crush granola bars, do not unwrap; use rolling pin to crush bars. (Or unwrap, place in sealed plastic zip bag and use rolling pin to crush.)

** To easily cut fudge, line pan with foil so foil extends over sides of pan. Lift candy from pan using foil.

Enjoy with Love,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Marbled Cheesecake Bars, Lemon Bars & Scott’s Almond Roca

Hey look! It is finally a new post from me! I am so sorry that I took a bit of a break from blogging, but sometimes that is what happens when life gets too busy. I am excited to be getting back to it though and thought as a treat I would share with you a few of the things that I have made recently. Catching up so to speak but also sharing some sites and recipes from others.

Marbled Cheesecake Bars
The first recipe I want to share is from Eagle Brand. I know them best as the sweetened condensed milk people. I made these yummy cheesecake bars because I wanted to make something chocolate-y for a church event, but I didn’t want it to be overly chocolate. I also wanted to be able to cut them into individual servings and display in cupcake paper cups so that they were easy to serve.

They were a big hit at the event, and I even had enough left over to take into work the next few days. They kept well and I thought they were delicious. A bit rich, but hey, that’s what cheesecake is all about and certainly with just a bite-sized piece (or two!) you had enough to satisfy and not be overwhelmed.

My only recommendation or change to this recipe would be to use more of the vanilla batter when you first pour it in and make less chocolate batter. I did a true 50/50 and the bars ended up being mostly chocolate with a vanilla swirl versus a true swirl of both.

Photo from Eagle Brand Website

Recipe: Marbled Cheesecake Bars

2 cups finely crushed creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 24 cookies) (Think Oreos)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

HEAT oven to 300ºF. Combine cookie crumbs and butter in medium bowl; press firmly into bottom of 13 x 9-inch baking pan. BEAT cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Pour half the batter evenly over prepared crust. STIR melted chocolate into remaining batter; spoon over vanilla batter. Swirl through batter with knife or metal spatula to marbleize. BAKE 40 to 50 minutes or until set. Cool. Chill. Cut into bars.

Lemon Bars
The next recipe is from one of my favorite food bloggers ever: Smitten Kitchen. She is brilliant! I always turn to her for recipes and tips when I need something that I know will work out perfectly. She takes the time to adapt the recipe so that it works…and shares how and why she made the adaptations. Her photography is brilliant too (check out her link for photos for sale). Her blog is a work of art!

So, at the aforementioned church function, I also wanted to take something that was NOT chocolate. I know everyone says they love chocolate, but if you are like me, you also crave the not-chocolate, not-vanilla tastes every now and then. I thought lemon bars would be perfect for this reason. They could also be individually cut and slipped into cupcake paper cups for display and serving.

This recipe was perfectly easy to follow…the only thing missing was how long to bake it if you wanted to have a 1:1 ration of filling to crust as was recommended (if you read her post, you will see what I mean). I baked mine for about 20 minutes. I thought I’d burnt them, but they tasted wonderful and got RAVE reviews. I would recommend watching them after the 15 minute mark and making your own judgment call on how long to bake them.

Photo from Smitten Kitchen
Head to her site for more yummy photos…She offers them for sale, this one included!

Recipe: Lemon Bars
As adapted by Smitten Kitchen

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the full-size lemon layer:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

[Or] for a thinner lemon layer:
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (less if you are using the thinner topping), or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Scott’s Almond Roca
This final recipe comes from a friend. He is a wonderful guy who owns cats, loves wine, has a great sense of humor and apparently one kick-butt recipe for a mock almond roca. Scott posted that he was making this delicious treat on his Facebook page awhile back (around December if I remember right). I immediately asked for the recipe because I love Almond Roca. I have very fond memories of stealing several pieces from the pink can at my Grandma’s. For those that do not know about Almond Roca visit their site, but it is similar to an English Toffee, only in a round piece covered in nuts. Yum!

Scott tried to slip a fast one on me by giving me a faulty recipe but I caught it before I made an attempt at making this and he came clean on the real recipe. (I want to believe it was a simple error on his part… heehee!) Do not make this unless you want to become instantly addicted…that was the warning I got and will pass along to you…because it is accurate. This candy is so easy (well, besides having to stir for 20 minutes) and so worth every minute you have to wait to break it up to eat. Thanks Scott for sharing!

(I do not have a photo of these treats….they were gone way too fast!)

Recipe: Scott’s Almond Roca
1 cup Slivered Almonds
1 cup White Sugar
1 tbs. Water
1 tbs. Light Karo Syrup
1 cup Butter (DO NOT substitute margarine)
2 Large (1/2 Pound Each) Hershey Bars* (or however many it takes to get to a pound of the smaller chocolate bars!)

Combine almonds, sugar, water, Karo syrup and butter in a frying pan or pot on medium-high heat.** Stir constantly until the mixture turns one shade darker than light brown sugar (this takes approximately 20 minutes). When it starts to caramelize it happens quickly so be patient and watch the mixture closely. Try not to let it smoke or it will have a burnt taste.

Pour the mixture into a well-greased 13" x 9" pan (it will be extremely hot, so be careful). Place each Hershey bar on top (they will soften quickly) then spread evenly over the entire pan. Top with some extra almond slivers.***

Let cool/harden and cut or break into pieces.

Scott’s Tips
* I've used various (semi-sweet, dark, etc.) Hershey chocolate chips which also melt well. I've experimented with other brands of chocolate (e.g., Ghirardelli), but none seem to work as well as Hershey.
** I like to add a shot of brandy, rum and/or a small amount of vanilla extract for flavor. It works best to add the alcohol just after the butter completely melts (the alcohol content evaporates by the time the caramel is ready).
*** I like to add a few sprinkles of cinnamon (after everything cools off), as well.

Hopefully you will take the time to make and enjoy each of these recipes. They are all wonderful and from trusted sources of yummy food. Do you have a favorite food blog that you enjoy to cook from (you know, besides mine!)? Share it with me in the comments!

Enjoy with Love,