Saturday, 25 January 2014

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

We are (hopefully) nearing the end of yet another cold snap here in South Western Ontario - bring on the snow, I enjoy snow - but this bone chilling cold is defeating.  It's too cold for skiing and outdoor skating, too cold for little puppy dogs to go for walks, too cold to do anything - definitely hibernation time.

I was just waiting for this kind of inspiration to come along, but it had to be the type of inspiration that didn't require a trip to the store - because it is just too dang cold to leave the house unless it's absolutely necessary.  And for those of you that know me, you know it's cold when even I won't go to elaborate lengths to satisfy a peanut butter and chocolate craving.

These peanut butter oatmeal bars have a soft centre and a crispy top - bake for a few minutes longer if you want a crisper bar.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
slightly adapted from Love and Olive Oil 

1 1/8 cups flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups oats
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 plus 1/8 cups unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup M&M's or chocolate chips

Grease a 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan. 
Melt butter on stovetop or in microwave.  Set aside to cool slightly. 
Combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl.
Mix together sugar, peanut butter, cooled butter in a large bowl.  Beat in egg.  Add vanilla. 
Mix in the flour mixture and M&Ms or chocolate chips. Turn into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.   Let cool before removing from pan. 

Check out Lindsay's blog for more delicious recipe ideas:

Monday, 20 January 2014

Cocoa Ribbon Coffee Cake

I have been suffering from Bakers Block this week.  Usually I am brimming with ideas and cravings that make the decision of what to bake easy - but not lately.   I just couldn't decide....I almost made banana cake (but the bananas were frozen), then brownies (far too much Christmas chocolate left-over), then granola bars (just didn't feel right).  Cookies - meh.   

Eventually I decided to try out this mega coffee cake recipe - this makes a lot of cake.  Looks like coffee cake for breakfast, after school snack and dessert all week long.  Things could be worse, right?

I have to say, I am not a devoted fan of the topping - so next time I may experiment a little more with that.  The cake is denser than your average cake, and the cocoa-cinnamon ribbon running through it nicely acts as a foil to the vanilla cake,  reducing the sweetness.

Cocoa Ribbon Coffee Cake

adapted from Joy the Baker's Extra Crumb Coffee Cake

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Cocoa Ribbon
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup plain yogourt
1 1/4 cups milk

Oven: 350 degrees F
Tools: 9x13 inch pan

Prep the cake batter first:
Cream together butter, brown and white sugar in a large bowl.  Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating well in between.  In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set both bowls aside. 

Next: the cocoa ribbon:
Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside. 

Now prepare the topping:
Combine sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add the butter and mix together with your fingers until the butter bits are the size of corn flakes and peas. Set aside.

Put it all together:
Mix the yogourt and milk together in a small bowl.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the sugar/butter/eggs bowl.  Mix together loosely, then add 1/2 the milk/yogourt.  Add another 1/3 flour mixture and the rest of the milk mixture.  Stir a bit, then add the final bit of flour.  Make sure the flour bits are all incorporated to the rest of the batter. 

In a greased 9x13 inch pan, spread out half of the batter.  Sprinkle the cocoa ribbon mixture over top, and top with the remaining batter.  Take a small spatula or butter knife and stroke it through the batter in swirling motion - this creates the cocoa ribbon.  Sprinkle the topping over top of the batter.  

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 50-60 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.