Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bar hopping

There's something about bars.  I know I've expressed my love for this form of baked good before, so it should come as no surprise that I've whipped up a few more batches since.

Uncharted brownie territory...
A few months ago, I was hit with a peanut butter and chocolate craving.  Badly.  As in, a scoop of PB on a spoon and a couple chocolate chips just wouldn't do.  My parents have this new philosophy, which I think is pretty smart: only eat what's in the house already.  So basically, no quick trips out for just one or two ingredients just because you want something; try to make do with what you have on hand.  Cuts down on food spending, food waste, gas to get to the store, etc.  I was raised by some smart people, let me tell ya.

Back to the craving.  In keeping with this philosophy, I wasn't willing to head out and buy some Reese's cups (as Hubs suggested).  Instead, I hit up Allrecipes.com to figure out what I could rustle up.  Behold!

Got a little fancy... I couldn't justify eating the whole pan, so a number came with me to work for a baby shower.
Does a brownie officially become a dainty if it's in a wrapper?  Also, has anyone heard the term "dainty" in this context outside of Manitoba?
I altered the original recipe a touch, adding about 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips and about 1/3 cup roasted peanuts.  I also followed the advice of a commenter: in order to make these brownie-like, I mixed all the ingredients by hand.  These most definitely kicked the craving!!  They were so easy to make, too, with items I had in my cupboards.  One of my American Sign Language classmates had a birthday yesterday, so I threw together a batch just an hour before I had to leave.  I got to serve them up soft and warm, which took the edge off the misty, chilly evening.

Next up: a personal culinary challenge that I had been meaning to tackle for months:
Oh yes, folks.  They're Nanaimo bars
I really enjoy Nanaimo bars.  I couldn't tell you the first time I ever tried one; I'm pretty sure they've been a favourite since youth.  Up until now, though, I'd never tried making them myself.  Mostly, it was the filling part of the bar that scared me.  What IS that stuff, anyway?  Mostly sugar, sure, but there's got to be more to it.  So once again, I put my trust in Ms. Olson and gave it my best shot with her recipe.  My only modifications?  I replaced the nuts with more chocolate crumbs (not a huge walnut fan), left out the coffee powder, and added some pink food colouring to the filling (since I was making these for a baby girl shower at work).  Pretty delish!

These photos highlight two of the (relatively minor) issues I had with the recipe.  When I was cutting these puppies, the chocolate layer cracked a bit.  Due to the pressure of the knife on the firm chocolate layer, the filling then smushed out the sides.  I tidied them up for serving, but lesson learned: cut these in the pan to avoid squishing as much as possible!
Despite the slicing issues, these were pretty simple overall... after I found custard powder.  Safeway wanted something like $4 for a large can when I only needed a few tablespoons... Bulk Barn to the rescue!  I love that store!  I constantly find fantastic stuff for cake baking and decorating... but more on that another day.

Wondering what bars she'll bake in the coming weeks to stave off wedding jitters,

1 comment:

  1. My favourite kind of Nanaimo bars are frozen at Christmas. I have such memories of sneaking them out of the freezer with my younger sister!

    I often score the chocolate in the pan when it is semi-firm so that the chocolate doesn't crack.

    Looks tasty! :)