Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

chunky chocolate peanut butter bars

chunky chocolate peanut butter bars

For those of you who follow my blog, you may have noticed that I have been missing for a while. I was packing, then moving, and then unpacking. Now my new (awesome) kitchen is set up and I am back in baking action. To commemorate the event, and to have dessert to bring to a party, I made these bars with the delectable combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

With a delicious recipe in hand that I found on the blog “Handle the Heat,” I set out to veganize it. Vegan margarine was used instead of butter, and I substituted aquafaba for the eggs. To be more health conscious I swapped some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Then, for altitude, I used a bit less baking powder. The party guests gobbled them up and my husband is already asking for more.

Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars based on Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Bars
1 stick vegan margarine
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
7 TBS slightly reduced aquafaba
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces vegan chocolate, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 350°F. Create a parchment paper sling by lining an 8 x 8” metal baking pan with parchment in both directions, with a slight overhang. You will grab the overhang later to remove the cooked brownies.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the margarine. Add brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Add aquafaba and whisk until well combined. Allow to cool. In a large bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Once peanut butter mixture is cool, add vanilla and stir. Pour peanut butter mixture into flour mixture and stir to create a thick batter. Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate chunks, reserving the rest for sprinkling on top.
Transfer batter to prepared pan, spreading evenly to edges. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chunks, lightly pressing them into batter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is golden and edges are slightly browned. Allow to cool in pan. Use parchment sling to remove the bars before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

guittard chocolate

Guittard chocolate

Until next time, happy baking!

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DIY Protein Bar

Protein Bar

DIY Protein Bar

Have you ever thought about making your own protein bars? My athletic husband, having tried and complained about many pre-packaged bars, inspired me to look into how to make them. After doing research I realized that I don’t have to experiment, thanks to Creation Nation’s Protein Bar Mixes. I discovered them at Natural Products Expo West and thought that the DIY homemade bar idea was brilliant.

The mix is vegan and requires no baking, so it made my job easy. But, being a decadent dessert maker, I had to take it up a notch. I made a peanut butter frosting for the PB & Jelly Get In My Belly bars that took them from tasty to mmmmm tasty. I melted some creamy peanut butter on the stove to make it stirrable. After I removed it from the heat, I stirred in a little vegan powdered sugar and almond milk. The frosting was then drizzled onto the refrigerated bars. I was winging it so I didn’t measure any ingredients, so feel free to add as much or as little to get your desired taste.

The bars themselves are customizable, too, depending on how sweet you want to make them. It also offers add-in choices so you can use what you have on hand. I added almond milk and agave sweetener to the packaged mix. I made them a bit less sweet so my peanut butter frosting didn’t take them over the top. It was nice to use a mix and have a fun treat (or simple breakfast) ready in a flash.

Protein Bar Ingredients

Protein Bar Ingredients

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Oatmeal Jammies

Oatmeal Jammies

Oatmeal Jammies

Have you ever looked at your baking supplies and wondered what to do with 1/2 cup of this flour, or a little of that flour? I was confronting that dilemma when I found a recipe for oatmeal bars. With all of the rolled oats and other textures, no one would notice that I had a flour mixture added in. I also decided that they would be tasty for breakfast, snack, or dessert, so they were winners.

To adapt to high altitude and dryness, I reduced the baking soda and added non-dairy milk to the recipe. To make them vegan, the easy swap was using oil in place of butter. The original recipe had packaged caramels as an ingredient which are generally not vegan, so I left them out and used jam instead. My final change was to make more of a crust layer underneath, thus creating a sturdier and less sweet bar.

Oatmeal Jammies adapted from Oatmeal Carmelitas
3 cups flour, mixed (I used a mixture of all purpose, whole wheat, and pastry flour)
3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
2-1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 heaping tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp salt
1-1/8 cups canola oil
1-1/2 tsp non-dairy milk
1 cup seedless blackberry jam, gently melted
1 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 13″ x 9″ pan. In a bowl, add flours, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine. Add oil and milk and stir until crumbly. Reserve half of the crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon jam to the edges of the crust in the pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over the jam. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture evenly to coat.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and bubbling around the edges. Cool for 1 to 2 hours on a wire rack or until completely cooled. Cut into bars, then store covered with foil at room temperature.

Until next time, happy baking!

Almond S’mores Bars

Almond S'mores Bars

dig into Almond S’mores Bars

You may be thinking, “What, another s’mores recipe?” Yes, it is, but it’s just in time for American Labor Day picnics. Besides, the combination of chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers is the quintessential summer treat. So, what better way to say goodbye to summer than with s’mores bars?

The recipe I found was a riff on the typical s’mores, but to make it vegan I needed to make a vegan sweetened condensed milk. It sounds odd, yet it’s very simple to make. Although you will probably want to plan ahead because it takes awhile. My vegan version also used vegan margarine instead of unsalted butter.

It didn’t need a high altitude adjustment, but I did adjust the recipe for what was in my kitchen. I am not a fan of peanut butter chips, so I decided on nut butter. Almond butter was in my cupboard, and so were almonds, so I nixed the overly sweet chips and the cocktail peanuts and used my almond items instead. Say so long to summer with these s’mores.

Almond S’mores Bars based on Peanut S’mores Magic Bars
18 graham crackers, gluten-free if desired
8 TBS vegan margarine, melted
2 cups vegan sweetened condensed milk (recipe below)
1/2 cup almond butter
1 cup roasted almonds, chopped
2 cups vegan chocolate chips
One (10-ounce) bag vegan marshmallows
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line a 9-by-13-inch broiler-proof baking dish with foil, leaving a 2” overhang on both sides. Grease the foil with margarine. Pulse 14 graham crackers into fine crumbs in a food processor. Combine melted margarine and graham cracker crumbs in a bowl with your hand (mixture should hold together when squeezed). Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and press into the bottom in an even layer. Combine sweetened condensed milk with almond butter and pour over the crumbs.
Sprinkle almonds then chocolate chips over top. Break remaining 4 graham crackers into chunks and sprinkle evenly over top. Bake until sides are golden brown and begin to pull away from baking dish, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, and turn broiler on. Scatter marshmallows over top of bars and put dish under broiler until marshmallows are dark golden and toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool completely then refrigerate to set, about 1 hour. Using foil liner as handles, pull s’mores out of baking dish and remove foil. Cut into bars.
Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions
6 cups soymilk
2 cup vegan sugar
Put both in a pot and simmer over low heat until liquid reduces to 2 cups. Strain before serving.

Until next time, happy baking!

Decadent Baked S’mores

decadent s'mores

decadent s’mores

Don’t you just want to reach through the picture and grab one of these? Yes, they are that good. But I digress. Last week’s American holiday barbecues had me dreaming of S’mores. During the summer I do become infatuated with that wonderful combination of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers. But I needed to find a way to make them less messy and more decadent. Enter – baked s’mores.

The recipe I found was already vegan so no changes were necessary on that front. The bars didn’t need high altitude tweaking either. What I altered was to make them more decadent by adding a layer of raspberry jam. This did make them sweeter so only one square is necessary for melty marshmallowy chocolatey bliss.

Decadent Baked S’mores based on S’mores Bars
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3/8 cup vegan sugar
3 TBS seedless raspberry jam
3/4 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
6 large vegan marshmallows, cut in half
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8” pan with parchment paper. Combine graham cracker crumbs, flour, margarine, and sugar in a food processor and pulse until a dough forms. Press crust into pan and bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove pan from oven and change heat to broil. Spread jam over crust, sprinkle on chocolate chips, and then add marshmallows. Broil for a few minutes, until chocolate is melted and marshmallows are golden brown. Let cool a little before slicing.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Haystack Bark

chocolate haystack barkLately I’ve been seeing recipes for chocolate bark everywhere. It’s no surprise because it’s tasty and makes a great gift. But I have also come to realize that bark should use tempered chocolate to have the right snap and be done properly. Not wanting to spend the time required to temper, I looked to haystacks which are treats with melted chocolate gluing them together. In today’s recipe I morphed those two delights to come up with my own version.

Because no baking was involved, these require no altitude changes. And as long as you use dark chocolate with minimum additives, then they are already vegan. The alterations that I made were in the basic recipe. Feel free to do the same by picking and choosing what you coat the chocolate with, such as seeds, dried fruit, dried coconut pieces, and the like. I did find that the small amount of salt on the pretzels rounded out the flavor nicely.

Chocolate Haystack Bark
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole unsalted almonds, roasted
1/2 cup lightly salted gluten-free pretzels, broken into large pieces
1/2 cup brown rice cereal
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, heat chopped chocolate, stirring occasionally, until it is just melted. Put almonds, pretzels and cereal into a large bowl. Pour melted chocolate over mixture and stir to combine. Let cool a minute and then pour onto baking sheet. Place sheet in fridge for 30 minutes until bark hardens. Invert bark onto a work surface and break into pieces.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Halloween Rice Krispie Monster

frank n krispie treat

Halloween rice krispie treat

Halloween and Frankenstein go hand in hand for a good scare, so I found a scary Halloween Frankenstein treat. I know Halloween is tomorrow, but this recipe is fun and easy so there is still time. It’s based on a classic childhood delight making it even more of a holiday inspiration.

In a web search I discovered the design of a Frankenstein looking rice krispie treat. Then I grabbed the basic recipe from a bag of Dandies vegan marshmallows. So, without further ado, I bring you …

Halloween Rice Krispie Monster adapted from Fork & Beans
For the treats:
2 TBS vegan margarine
2 TBS coconut oil
10 oz. bag vegan marshmallows
5 cups brown rice cereal
5 drops green food coloring
For the decorations:
1/2 cup vegan chocolate, melted together with 1 TBS coconut oil
chocolate sprinkles
extra marshmallows
Line an 8×8” pan with wax paper. In a saucepan, melt margarine and coconut oil on medium/low heat. Add marshmallows and melt, stirring often. Once melted, remove from heat and add food coloring until well combined. Quickly stir in cereal. Place in pan and pat down gently. Cool down for 10 minutes. Remove from pan using excess wax paper as handles. Gently remove wax paper. Cut into 6 rectangles. Place a lollipop stick into each treat.
Coat tops of treats with melted chocolate and add chocolate sprinkles. Make eyes out of cut marshmallows with blobs of melted chocolate. Cut marshmallows for bolts. Secure eyes and bolts by gently pressing them into the head. Draw mouths with melted chocolate. Allow to set. Makes 6, unless you eat the scraps like I did and then it makes 5.

Until next time, happy un-baking!