“Baking and love go hand in hand, for as one bakes a tasty treat and fills the room with its sweet aroma, the true joy is to take what has been made and share it with another.” - Heather Wolf, Kipnuk has a Birthday
It's true, baking is no fun if the final result isn't going to be shared with anyone. Over the weekend we took a long road trip from our home in Colorado to visit our son who is at the University of Nebraska. He is playing club rugby for UNL and we hadn't had a chance to see him play yet. This past weekend was our opportunity, and we'd been looking forward to it for weeks. I'm firmly in the "food is love" camp, and so I wanted to bring him a treat that would survive the car ride, have a good shelf life and be conducive to sharing. Gooey Peanut Butter M&M Oat Bars fit the bill perfectly. This recipe is an adaptation of one I have been making for a long time. It originally appeared in a little cookbook I bought at a Southern Living at Home party years ago but called for regular Milk Chocolate M&M's. So feel free to make that substitution if you prefer. Each variation is pretty outrageously good!
Gooey Peanut Butter M&M Oat Bars- makes 1- 9x13" pan
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted (you could use dry roasted unsalted peanuts, too) but I prefer pecans)
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (einkorn flour or gluten free flour may be substituted)
2 cups Old-Fashioned (Rolled) oats (use gluten free , if desired)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
12 ounces (approx a full 1 1/2 cups) Peanut Butter M&M's , divided (or a mixture of Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate, per your taste)
1- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter (I like Jif)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9x13" baking pan with aluminum foil; lightly grease or spray with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine pecans, flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and oats. Mix on low to combine.
3. On low speed stir in butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. Press the remainder evenly into the prepared 9x13 pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
4. Meanwhile, place 8 ounces (approx 1 full cup) of Peanut Butter M&M's in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on 50% power for 30 second intervals, pressing on candies with back of wooden spoon to mash between intervals, until candies are pretty much all melted with pieces of the candy shell speckling the mix). Stir in sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and peanut butter. Stir until well combined. Pour mixture over cooled base, leaving a small border around all sides.
5. Combine reserved crumb mixture with remaining 4 ounces (approximately a full 1/2 cup) M&M candies.
6. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Press lightly to adhere. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until bars are set and nicely golden.
7. Let bars cool completely before cutting (to cut, remove bars from pan using foil ends. Peel off foil and cut bars into desired size). Bars keep well for 3-4 days, wrapped tightly in foil, at room temperature. They freeze beautifully, too, wrapped air-tight in foil and placed inside zip top freezer bags for up to 2 months.
* Note: if using Einkorn flour reduce butter to 7 ounces. Proceed as for bars above.
“And when all of the flourless chocolate cakes & chocolate mousse or ganache cakes have come and gone, there will still be nothing like a fudgy brownie, dry & crackled on top, moist & dense within, with a glass of cold milk.” -Richard Sax
Did you try the brownies I featured last week (recipe here)? Well, if not, I bet today's post is going to have you running to preheat the oven! This recipe for Caramel Brownie Parfaits is so good! This recipe is a family favorite and we tend to make them for lots of our special occasion and holiday meals because they are, well, um... caramel and chocolatey , like together! There are a few steps, but all of them are quite simple. Also a little waiting is involved, so plan to start the recipe about 24 hours ahead, especially if you also need to make the brownies. In fact, this is a great make ahead dessert.. The caramel sauce can be made up to a week ahead, store in the refrigerator. The brownies can be made up to 3 days ahead, store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Make the caramel cream 24 hours in advance. Assemble parfaits up to 24 hours ahead of serving. Got your game plan ready?
The recipe makes about 6 , depending on the size glass you use. They would also be so, so darling (and less caloric) made in little mini portions for a crowd. Whatever size you choose to make them, these creamy, fudgy, gooey parfaits will have you licking the spoons and the inside of the glass for every last bit! So let's get started, shall we?
Caramel Brownie Parfaits
3 cups (approximately) of cubed (about 1/2") pre-made brownies
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 Tablespoons corn starch
3/4 cup plus 10 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cups milk, divided
1 1/2 cups plus 2/3 cup heavy cream, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
1 small pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Make Caramel Cream: In a medium sized bowl, whisk egg yolks well. While whisking, sprinkle in 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar. Combine well. Whisk in cornstarch and lastly, whisk in 1/4 cup milk; set aside.
2. In a 1 1/2- quart saucepan, combine 7 Tablespoons granulated sugar and 2 Tablespoons water.
3. Cook sugar mixture over medium to medium heat, stirring. STOP stirring as soon as mixture begins to boil. Before mixture comes to a boil, brush down sides of pan occasionally with a wet pastry brush. Continue cooking sugar, swirling pan gently as needed to cook evenly, until mixture is a medium dark amber color.
4. Once desired color is achieved, remove pan from heat and immediately yet carefully pour in 1/2 cup of milk. Mixture is extremely hot and will rise up and sputter- exercise the utmost caution here.
5 Return pan to heat and cook over medium-low heat, whisking continuously until caramel is melted and mixture is smooth.
6. Temper reserved egg yolk mixture by pouring about 1/3 of the hot milk-caramelized sugar mixture into egg yolks, while whisking constantly (you don't want scrambled eggs here). Return egg-milk mixture to pan and cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat proof rubber spatula, until mixture has come to a boil. Cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly.
7. Immediately strain mixture through a fine sieve into a clean heatproof bowl to remove any lumps then stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
8. Cover mixture directly on the surface with plastic wrap, poking a hole in to allow steam to escape. Refrigerate until very cold at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
9. Make Caramel Sauce: in 1 1/2 qt sauce pan, combine 3/4 cups granulated sugar with 3 Tablespoons water. Combine well. As with caramel cream recipe, cook sugar over medium to medium-high heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil (brush down sides occasionally with wet pastry brush).
10. Once mixture comes to a boil, STOP stirring. Continue to cook, swirling pan occasionally as need to cook evenly, until mixture comes to that same medium-dark amber color mentioned above.
11. Remove from heat and very carefully pour in 2/3 cup heavy cream (mixture is extremely hot and will sputter-exercise extreme caution).
12. Return to heat and cook over medium-low heat until caramelized sugar has melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl or pitcher. Stir in butter, small pinch of sea salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Combine well. Allow to cool at room temperature, then cover and store in the refrigerator until needed.
13. Assemble Parfaits: Remove caramel cream from refrigerator. In a mixing bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with a hand held mixer until medium peaks form.
14. Whisk about 1/3 of cream into chilled caramel cream base, Fold remaining whipped cream into caramel cream; set aside.
15. Remove caramel sauce from refrigerator. Gradually and gently liquefy it at 15-20 second intervals in the microwave on defrost just to a drizzling consistency (you don't really want to heat it it as otherwise the hot caramel will melt your caramel cream.
16. Cut your brownies into cubes, if you have not done so already. Place 3 brownie cubes and 2 -3 teaspoons of caramel sauce in the bottom of each glass (adjust accordingly if you chose to make mini versions).
17. Top with approx. 1/4 cup of caramel cream. Continuing layering brownies, caramel sauce and cream, ending with brownie cubes and caramel sauce as shown.If not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
18. When ready to serve, top with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and a small brownie cube, if desired.
19. Dig in! Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Note: this parfait would also be great with a little added crunch. Try layering toasted chopped pecans or these praline pecans (divine!!) in the brownie layer. Feel free to leave a comment if you try this recipe. I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Happy creating! ♥