28 May 2011

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

I had planned to show before and after photos of my garden this afternoon.  The rain changed all that.  I'll have to share the before now, and the after tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

I spent hours a few nights ago trying to remember where I had found this recipe, which I wanted to make for our last day of work luncheon.  We traditionally have a salad lunch on the day after the student's last day.  Now that I'm no longer baking desserts at home I have to jump at the opportunity to bake and take!  Note to self:  bookmark all recipes you might make, don't plan on remembering where to find them!


For the oatmeal layer:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup salted honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
For the chocolate layer:
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup salted honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.   Grease the sides of the pan with butter.
To make the oatmeal cookie layer, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Whisk to blend.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium-high speed until it is soft and creamy, about 1 minute.  Add the brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Mix in the oats and peanuts with a rubber spatula until evenly combined.
Reserve 1½ cups of the mixture.  Place the remaining dough in the prepared pan and press over the bottom of the pan in an even layer.
To make the chocolate layer, combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Stir occasionally until the mixture is warm and the chocolate chips and butter are melted.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and peanuts.
Pour the warm chocolate mixture over the oatmeal cookie layer and spread evenly with an offset spatula.  Crumble the remaining oatmeal cookie mixture and scatter evenly over the top of the chocolate.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the chocolate layer is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Cut into bars as desired and serve.

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23 May 2011

Creme Brulee Fench Toast

 This is my favorite take to a potluck brunch recipe.  Easy to whip up the night before and bake in the morning.  If I'm making it at home I lower the calories by using whole milk, rather than 1/2 and 1/2.
It's always on our table on Christmas Morning!  I've used sourdough bread, without the crust, a baguette, with the crust and brioche bread from Trader Joe's and all turn out yummy.


1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cube (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 8 - 9 inch loaf of sourdough bread, crust removed and cut in 1 inch  slices
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon salt


In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish.  Cut six !-inch thick slices from center portion of bread and trim crusts.  Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing slightly to fit.  In a bowl whisk together  eggs, half-and-half, Grand Marnier, vanilla and salt until well combined, pour evenly over bread.

Chill  covered at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.  

Preheat oven to 350 F and bring bread mixture to room temperature.

Bake uncovered in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 - 40 minutes.

Serve immediately.