Friday, 23 November 2012

7 Layer Bars

Remember I told you about our upcoming trip across the border, well it happened and it was amazing! I stocked up on tons of yummy ingredients and baking equipment...the week we got home I baked four things in one day for a little party we were having at our house, so I think it's safe to say my baking mojo has returned!

The first time I made magic bars was last Christmas and I was a convert straight away! Since we arrived in Canada I have made them 3 different times and they've disappeared so quick they've never made it to the photography stage!

What's not to love about a graham cracker crust with a soft moist layer of sweetened condensed milk on top, and layers of toasted coconut, milk choc chips, white choc chips, peanut butter chips and salted peanuts on top! Last time around I made them they weren't 'authentic' 7 layer bars as I had fewer than 7 ingredients so this time I made the real deal!

They are so easy to throw together and I loved the addition of peanuts this time around, it added a fun salty balance against all the sweet! 

These are the pefect bake to whip up for your friends and family with the holidays approaching, as they really don't take very much time and as long as you have a tin of condensed milk in your cupboard you can pretty much go crazy with whatever toppings take your fancy!

7 Layer Bars:
Makes 16
Adapted from Eagle Brand

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 (14 oz. can) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup peanuts
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.
Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.

Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter, mix well.  Press crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.  Layer evenly with remaining chocolate chips and peanuts.  Sprinkle the shredded coconut over everything.  Press down firmly with fork.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
Leave to cool in pans.
Then cut into bars and transfer to cool completely on a wire rack.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Pumpkin & Choc Chip Banana Bread

So I made these delicious little loaves back for Canadian Thanksgiving which was October 8th! It's taken me a while to get around to blogging about them because these pictures are not great! How I miss my collection of beautiful cake stands that are all packed away back in England in my parents attic! Instead I had to make do with a chopping board and our fall table runner from Wal Mart! Sad times! 

I was planning to be totally traditional and make a pumpkin pie but it's not my husbands favourite, when I gave him the choice of pie or me revamping one of his absolute faves - choc chip banana bread, it was no contest for him! 

Plus there doesn't seem to be enough banana bread variations on my blog just yet ;)

I also decided to bake mini versions because everything is more fun in mini form! The flavours worked really well together, it was super moist from the pureed pumpkin and the mashed banana, with just the right amount of spice coming through and when it was warmed up you had melting pools of chocolate too - delish! 

For all my American followers out there who are currently planning their Thanksgiving menu's, why not give this a try!

Pumpkin & Choc Chip Banana Bread:
Makes 4 mini loaves or 1 regular sized loaf
From Yummly

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (firmly packed)
3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
3 beaten large eggs
1 cup pumpkin (cooked or canned)
2 mashed bananas (ripe)
3 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet/dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine brown sugar, butter and eggs.  Mix until mixture is light and fluffy, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.  Add pumpkin and bananas, mix well, for another 2 minutes.  

Add remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips, mix until just moistened for another minute.  Stir in chocolate chips with a spoon.

Pour into four greased mini loaf pans, or one regular sized loaf pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  

Cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Serve warm with lashings of butter! It's the best way!

Speaking of pumpkin, I also made these cute little peanut butter filled pretzel pumpkins for a Halloween party we went too.  They won the prize for the best dessert of the night! but I forgot to take proper photos of them as I was in rush to get them finished and paint my nails with maple leaves for being a Canadian Hockey Fan! so you'll have to make do with this instagram pic! 

If you want to make some, you can follow Erica's recipe.  Instead of using chocolate chips to make my jack-o-lantern faces I just used an edible food marker.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

United Bakes of America Round 6...and Reese's Peanut Butter Rocky Road!

Apparently Vancouver has somehow sucked away all my baking enthusiasm! I think it's because I had to leave my beloved baking cupboard contents back in England (my sister was the grateful recipient of all of that!) and so I no longer have an awesome baking cupboard brimming with ingredients and that makes me sad.  I'm also mourning the loss of my KitchenAid...again that was my sister's gain! and I'm mourning the fact that ingredients are SO expensive here! 

Hopefully though things are about to change around here...because tomorrow we're taking our first trip across the border to that favourite place of mine, the good old United States of America! and I could not be more excited! Firstly, because Canada doesn't get any of the speciality candy/baking ingredients I was expecting them to have and Secondly because KitchenAid hand blenders are waaay cheaper in the States and so I'm hoping one of them will work its way into my possession!  and hopefully a day spent in my favourite place stocking up on goodies will bring back my baking mojo! 

So until then I was way too lazy and sad this month to make anything that required more than a bowl and a fridge, but I did manage to spice up regular Rocky Road with not one peanut butter ingredient but four different peanut butter ingredients! (because we all know I can't do anything by half!)

Introducing...Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Reese's Mini Sticks, Micro Mini Peanut Butter Cups and Reese's Peanut Butter Chips!

I was worried that it could just be a bit of a peanut butter overload! but as we all know North Americans love their peanut butter and I was actually making them for some firemen who we were going to visit with my local church group so I thought if anyone can handle a peanut butter overload it would be some big burly firefighters!

and actually we managed to sample a few at the end of the night and the marshmallows and rice krispies interacted with all that peanut butter-y goodness perfectly!

Reese's Peanut Butter Rocky Road:
Makes 12
Adapted from Cupcake Crazy Gem

450g milk chocolate for eating (so use your favourite brand)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup rice krispies
150g chopped in half marshmallows
125g chopped up Reese's Mini Sticks
125g chopped up Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
40g micro mini Peanut Butter Cups
1/2 cup Reese's peanut butter chips

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl, set above a pan of boiling water.  
Stir in the vegetable oil.
Chop the marshmallows, Reese's mini sticks and Reese's peanut butter cups into bite size pieces.
Once the chocolate has cooled, add those into the bowl along with the rice krispies and micro mini Peanut Butter Cups.  (I reserved back a handful of each ingredient to press into the surface of the Rocky Road to make it look pretty). 
Pour the mixture into your prepared tin.  If you want press extra ingredients into the surface of the chocolate.
Melt the Reese's peanut butter chips in the microwave, spoon them into a piping bag and drizzle diagonally both ways across the Rocky Road.
Put in the fridge for an hour until firm.  
Eat and enjoy! 

Now it's time for my favourite part, let's see what you have all been baking this month with American inspired ingredients!

Stuart from Cakey Boi kicked us off with this awesome Halloween Bark!  Not only is bark super American but to his melted chocolate he added pretzels, Oreos and Candy Corn! I'm not sure it gets more Yanky than that! I would have loved to have tried some myself, and I was won over by the super cute packaging too which was inspired by another American great - Martha herself!

Next up was Ros from the More than Occasional Baker who continued down the Halloween path with these delicious sounding Pumpkin Choc Chip Bars.  Not only did she use pumpkin puree, but her puree was actually brought over from the States in her suitcase from a previous trip there - dents and all, now that's dedication! She said that her kitchen smelt amazing whilst she baked it too, I'm not surprised - so if anyone wants a little more of that 'fall' feeling in their house maybe they should whip up a batch too! 

Laura of How To Cook Good Food must have been picking up on those same pumpkin themed vibes as Ros and she baked up this Spiced Pumpkin, Rum & Choc Chip Loaf, due to a squash explosion at her allotment! now that sounds like the kind of explosion I'd like to be a part of! 

Breaking away from the pumpkin theme, Kim of Cakes from Kim baked up these beasts using one of my all time favourite flavour combos - chocolate and mint! and not only that but she threw in some super special Mint M&M's (which I also happen to love) to create these Mint Chocolate Whoopie Pies. Speciality M&M's, Marshmallow Fluff, Whoopies - this bake couldn't be more American if it tried! Kim - you're lucky I'm no longer living in North Wales, I'm pretty sure I would have hunted down your house to try some of these! 

Finally, Caroline from Caroline Makes baked up these Nanaimo Bars, which are very dear to my heart right now being a pretty famous Canadian bake!  I have yet to try one here in the city because I'm saving myself for when I get to visit Vancouver Island to check out the town of Nanaimo itself and I plan to do the Nanaimo Bar trail! Until then I am left looking longingly at Caroline's delicious bars! and don't worry my geography skills haven't eluded me...although this is a Canadian treat Caroline made it using graham cracker crumbs which she bought at Wal Mart all the way over in Colorado! Man these jet setting Stateside blogging friends of mine are so lucky!

and not content with just whipping up one American bake, Caroline squeezed in this Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake too just before the deadline...and I decided why not allow multiple entries? As far as I'm concerned the more American inspired goodies the better! I love the swirly patterns and can just imagine how amazing it must have tasted! I have developed a huge love for all things pumpkin since crossing over the pond!

I cannot wait to see what everyone gets around to making next month! and am especially getting excited that we can now start counting down to festive fun and festive bakes!

Until next month, Happy Baking!


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