Bars

Monster Cookie Brownie Bars

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Monster Cookie Brownie Bars: Gooey brownies sandwiched between two layers of monster cookie make for a delicious and comforting dessert/snack. Easy and quick to make, you’ll have these bars in your mouth with little effort involved – total. win.

Monster Cookie Brownie Bars | Sempre Dolce

Hi! I’m back.

I must confess that when taking a break from the blog over the holidays (and a little beyond), I didn’t expect to be gone this long! But life gets busy sometimes, you know?

Actually, what happened was the holidays (= busy), preparing for vacation, vacation, and then after that it’s a bit hard to get back in the swing of things.

So here I am near the end of January (which also means the end of most resolutions, right? Or is that Febraury?) with some photos from our time in the Rocky Mountains and… these Monster Cookie Brownie Bars for you to try (like I said, resolutions end in January, right??).

Idaho Springs, Colorado | Sempre DolceGranby, Colorado | Sempre DolceGranby, Colorado | Sempre DolceGranby, Colorado | Sempre Dolce

My family stayed in a cabin situated on top of a quiet hill near the Winter Park area of Colorado which featured the most gorgeous views. All in all we had a pretty great time, although nothing compared to the time my niece’s had – it was so fun to watch them experience some firsts in winter activities. :)

The Perk Coffee Company Winter Park CO | Sempre DolceGranby, Colorado | Sempre DolceGranby, Colorado | Sempre Dolce

OK, so about these bars. These monster cookies have been a family favorite and one of my personal favorites period (thanks, Sally!). So why not combine them with another one of my favorite desserts?

These bars are easy to make and I don’t think I need to say much about the yum factor. I mean, monster cookies + gooey brownies just kind of speaks for itself.

Monster Cookie Brownie Bars | Sempre Dolce

This recipe is easy to put together as the cookies are a one bowl affair and you can use a box mix for the brownies. I don’t usually go in for boxed mixes, but we had one around the house that needed to be used and since the brownies were going to be sandwiched between peanut butter cookie goodness, I used it to make life easier. And really, in this case you couldn’t tell – #winwin. But feel free to make them from scratch too!  Either way, they’re going to be soo good.

Monster Cookie Brownie Bars | Sempre Dolce

Cottura Felice!

Monster Cookie Brownie Bars
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 C. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 C. light brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ C. + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 C. + 2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ¾ C. + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ C. quick oats
  • 1 1/2 C. M&Ms
  • 3/4 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Ghiradelli’s Double Chocolate Brownie mix) or your favorite recipe (see note below!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Line a 9x13” baking dish with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray.
  3. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand-held mixer and large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until combined, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla, mixing to combine and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, mix in baking soda and flour, mixing until just combined.
  7. With a rubber spatula, fold in quick oats, M&Ms, and chocolate chips.
  8. Set aside.
  9. Prepare brownie batter according to recipe directions.
  10. Press half of cookie dough evenly in the bottom of the pan.
  11. Pour brownie batter on top and then crumble remaining cookie dough evenly over brownie batter.
  12. Bake for 47-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs when inserted. Cover the bars with foil if you notice the cookie top getting brown early (you might check around 30-40 min).
  13. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Let cool almost completely before removing and serving.

Notes

Make sure the brownie recipe you use yields a 9x13" pan of brownies.

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https://sempre-dolce.com/monster-cookie-brownie-bars/

Monster Cookies adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

 

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping: These pumpkin cheesecake bars start with a flavorful gingersnap crust and in the middle feature a luscious pumpkin filling. To finish, the cheesecake is topped with a deliciously tangy marshmallow-sour cream topping. Perfect for the upcoming holidays!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping | sempre-dolce.com“People who love to eat are always the best people.” ~ Julia Child

One of the most used quotes by foodies, but truly one of the best. When I first read it, it was a YES! moment, because no words could speak more to the heart of a person who loves food. :)

I mean, for me, people who enjoy food to the measure my family and I do are seriously fun people to be around; the kind of people who enjoy the delicacies of eating pastry, the people who say you should try x bakery/restaurant and you know it’s going to be good. Also, the people that when traveling know the trip doesn’t just revolve around seeing the sites, but also checking out the local eats.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping | sempre-dolce.com

Food is a powerful thing and can break many a bond. Why a conversation could get started just by someone asking for a recipe; a friendship could be formed over a mutual love of waffles or, you name it. Food can give us something to talk about when other words fail; food can comfort and bring joy. Food is a wonderful thing, people.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping | sempre-dolce.com

Anyway, so I’m assuming that if you’re here, you might perhaps love food too. Great, because I love sharing recipes with you, and it gives me great joy to experiment around that I might bring tasty treats to this blog. No recipe ever gets posted on here unless it brings me personal excitement to do so. That said, there is the occasional recipe that excites me beyond all excitement. A recipe that has me wanting to tell the whole world how awesome it is and wanting e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. to try it. That’s how it was (and still is) with this pumpkin cheesecake from Epicurious. I don’t know what possessed me to try it a few years back – I don’t even like cold pumpkin desserts (sorry pumpkin pie lovers)! – but I did, and it was love at first bite.

The combination of the gingersnap/pecan crust with the flavor of the crystallized ginger shooting through every bite, paired with the flavor and texture of the cheesecake itself (not to mention the marshmallow sour cream topping…) is absolutely killer. Guys, for the first time in my life I was passing the chocolate cheesecake up for this – and if you knew me (#chocolateobsessed) you would know what that means and the volumes it speaks for this cheesecake.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping | sempre-dolce.com

You need this pumpkin cheesecake in your life, your family/friends need it as well. And for the pumpkin pie adverse readers who think this dessert falls in that same category, I hear you. I truly do. I’ve never liked pumpkin pie, still don’t, and never will. But for some reason this cheesecake is different, it has magic powers or something.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping | sempre-dolce.com

I was going to originally post the recipe as is from Epicurious but then decided to try making it in bar form. If you will be making this to take to a gathering, I might suggest making it this way. It’s easier to present (no trying to figure out how on earth I’m going to get that whole thing from the pan to a serving plate) and might be easier for people to carry around and eat. Also, what’s awesome about making cheesecakes for gatherings is that they can be made up to two days in advance (just wait to make the topping until the day you serve it) and actually taste even better the longer they chill.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping | sempre-dolce.com

Well, there it is; my rhapsody of love on a theme of pumpkin cheesecake. I hope you get to make it and then experience the luscious joys of consumption!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Marshmallow-Sour Cream Topping
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Ingredients

    Crust:
  • 2 C. (about 9 ounces) gingersnap cookie crumbs
  • 1 C. pecans
  • 1/4 C. packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 C. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Cheesecake Filling:
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • ½ C. pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. (1 ½ tbsp = 4 ½ tsp.) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (freshly grated can also be used)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Topping:
  • 2 C. mini marshmallows (or large marshmallows cut into ½ in. cubes)
  • 1/4 C. whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 C. sour cream

Instructions

    For the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment or foil (making sure parchment/foil comes slightly over sides of pan) and spray with cooking spray.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, grind gingersnap crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, and ginger until pecans are finely ground.
  4. Gradually add the melted butter using brief pulses to blend.
  5. Transfer crust mixture to prepared pan and press evenly across the bottom.
  6. Bake 10 minutes, or until crust is set and lightly browned.
  7. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  8. While crust is cooling, make filling.
  9. For the filling:
  10. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  11. Add in pumpkin, mixing until combined.
  12. Beating on low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing briefly after each addition.
  13. Add flour, spices, and salt, beating until just blended.
  14. Add vanilla and beat to combine.
  15. Transfer filling to crust and bake for 35 minutes, or until filling is just set in the center and edges begin to crack.
  16. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool, about 1 hour.
  17. Transfer cheesecake to fridge and chill uncovered for 3-4 hours, or overnight.
  18. For the topping:
  19. In a medium saucepan set over low heat, stir together marshmallows and milk, until marshmallows are melted.
  20. Remove from heat then stir in the vanilla and salt.
  21. Let mixture cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  22. Once mixture is at room temperature, add sour cream. Stir (using a combination of stirring and folding) until combined.
  23. Pour topping over top of cheesecake. Spread evenly and leave about 1/2 in. uncovered around the edges.
  24. Return to fridge and let topping sit at least 1 hour, preferably longer.
  25. When ready to serve, remove cheesecake from pan by gripping parchment/foil corners and lifting out. Cut into squares sized about 2 ½ in. x 2 ½ in. (or your desired size) and place on a serving plate/platter.
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https://sempre-dolce.com/pumpkin-cheesecake-bars-with-marshmallow-sour-cream-topping/

Recipe only slightly adapted from Epicurious

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Espresso S’more Bars + News!

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Hello there!

Wow. What a last couple of months it has been! I suppose you might be wondering what I have been up to? OK, maybe not, but remember in my last post I mentioned that I was working on a big and exciting project? Now I’m thrilled to be able to tell you more about it.

Espresso S'more Bars | Sempre Dolce

Since March, my brother and I have been working together to start a magazine devoted to the subject of food photography. I’m super pumped about this. It was a rather quick progression of events, starting with one of my brothers mentioning the idea at lunch one day. I took the idea, played around with it, and then it sort of became a “why not?” situation. It was such a good idea. So after some time on the internet, I approached Landon (my 4th brother and the dude behind most of the photos on here) with a serious proposition to start this magazine thing. Not only did he agree to do it, but to my surprise, he was rather excited about the idea (he’s usually an Eeyore with new ideas).

Espresso S'more Bars | Sempre Dolce Espresso S'more Bars | Sempre Dolce

Long story short, here I am with a deadline to meet and very little time for blogging these days. If you would like to know more about the magazine and its purpose, please visit our website (and PLEASE give us some social media! Though, I have yet to become very active on the social webs yet… one thing at a time, right? ;) – to tide you over until you do though, here is the gist of it: the name of the magazine is Whisk & Camera (“The Art of Food Photography”). It is going to be an online magazine with an option for print-to-order copies published quarterly (3 issues a year). The first issue will be available on August 29th – 9 weeks away!!

Espresso S'more Bars | Sempre Dolce

We are starting Whisk & Camera primarily because in our current culture that seems to be enamored with food, as well as the photographing, blogging, and Instagramming of food, we truly believe that there is a need for a publication that could help others in their (food) photography endeavors. I know that I, personally, have wished for a magazine geared to food photographers and have been bummed at the lack of one. There are a lot of resources to help people with food photography and photography in general (workshops, countless blog posts, books, etc.), but not one place where a person can find tips and information from multiple food bloggers and photographers… in the same place!

It’s Awesome. So awesome.

Espresso S'more Bars | Sempre Dolce

Espresso S'more Bars | Sempre Dolce

So there you have it. I do hope you will visit the website (of which I put a lot of time and effort into… ;P) and I hope even more that you will join us come August!

OK, item No.1 on the list is done, now onto item No.2: these Espresso S’more Bars. These bars have been floating around in my mind for quite some time now.

Espresso S'more Bars | Sempre Dolce

They are: easy, quick (excluding cooling and chill time, but even then…), tasty, tasty, TASTY! And the oven is hardly needed – 5 minutes of baking time, that’s all. No advanced skills needed for this one, folks. They are a super summer (or any time) treat! I mean, when is graham crackers + ganache + espresso + marshmallowy meringue ever a bad idea? Like, never.

Espresso S'more Bars | Sempre Dolce

A couple of things to note: I like espresso in my desserts and really liked the idea of espresso combined with s’mores, but, if this combination doesn’t send you delicious thoughts, cut out the coffee granules – no biggie. Secondly, the meringue is technically a Swiss meringue which to me, tastes like marshmallow. I believe I slightly prefer the texture of the Swiss than that of that of a marshmallow meringue, but if you would rather use marshmallow then I recommend this recipe here.

Enjoy!!

Espresso S'more Bars | Sempre Dolce

 

The lowdown: This recipe provides all the delights of s’mores in bar form. A thick graham cracker crust is topped with a lush layer of espresso ganache and then finished with a toasty Swiss meringue. Easy to put together and super delicious, these Espresso S’more Bars will be sure to make your summer extra special!

 

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Espresso S'more Bars
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Ingredients

    Crust2 C. finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Filling9 oz (about 1 ½ C.) chocolate, chopped *see note below!!
  • 1 C. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. coffee granules (espresso powder would probably work as well)
  • Meringue3 egg whites
  • ¾ C. granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325° f. Line a 8x8 square baking dish with foil or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine.
  3. Press mixture evenly in pan (I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup for even spreading). Bake for 5 minutes, or until crust is firm.
  4. Place pan on a cooling rack and let crust cool completely.
  5. While crust is cooling, make ganache.
  6. For the ganachePlace chopped chocolate and espresso powder in a medium-sized bowl.
  7. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan until almost simmering. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.
  8. Whisk until completely smooth. Cover bowl (I used a kitchen towel) and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour, stirring with a rubber spatula every 15 minutes.
  9. Pour ganache over crust, cover pan and transfer to fridge. Chill for 1 hour, or until ganache is firm.
  10. Make the meringueIn the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites and sugar. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure bowl does not touch water).
  11. Whisk until mixture reaches a temperature of 160° f. or until sugar is completely dissolved and egg whites are warm to the touch, about 3-5 minutes.
  12. Transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form and mixture is thick, glossy, and marshmallow-like in texture – about 5 minutes.
  13. To finishRemove pan from fridge. Pull bars out from pan and carefully slide off of foil and onto desired serving platter. Spread meringue evenly over top of bars. Using a kitchen torch, toast meringue to desired toastiness – serve immediately or return to fridge until ready to serve.
  14. Leftover bars (what are those?) can be stored in fridge.

Notes

For the ganache, I used a combination of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate (1 C. chopped bittersweet and 1/2 C. chopped - or chips - semisweet). I highly recommend this combination but you can use whatever type of chocolate you desire! :) For my bittersweet chocolate, I used Trader Joe's 72% cacao dark chocolate - super yummy (super yummy in cookies too)! For measuring purposes, my measuring cup was a heaping 1 1/2 cups of chocolate, so don't worry too much getting a perfectly even measure.

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https://sempre-dolce.com/espresso-smore-bars-news/

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