Cappuccino M&M Cookie Bars

When it comes to candy, I really only still rock with chocolate. Snicker bars are the perfect candy bar. Peanut M&Ms also remain a favorite of mine.

About two years ago, I discovered a flavor of Peanut M&Ms called Coffee Nut. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that coffee and I are bound at the hip. I love to drink with it, and I’ve also loved finding ways to incorporate it into my cooking and baking.

But y’all, let me tell you: Coffee Nut M&Ms are unparalleled when it comes to coffee flavored anything, let alone coffee flavored candy. They are SOOOOO good.

And apparently I’m not the only one that feels that way, because whether I’m on the West or East coast, Coffee Nut M&Ms are always a hot commodity in grocery stores. It’s a toss up whether or not they have any in stock, and if they do, I always buy 2-3 bags just to stock up in case there aren’t any later. While they’re perfectly delicious on they’re own, the baker in me is always thinking about a way to repurpose my favorite ingredients into a recipe, and this was no exception.

Cookie bars are an easy and pretty foolproof way of baking cookies when you don’t have the time or energy to let the dough chill or roll out individual portions. They taste the same, they just have a tendency to be a bit more chewy and fudgy in texture–which I prefer with my cookies anyway.

When it came to these, I adapted a chocolate chip cookie bar recipe and made some modifications; first, I obviously swapped out the chocolate chips for the Coffee Peanut M&Ms, and then I added some instant espresso powder to the dough. After they were finished, I topped them off with a cappuccino flavored glaze.

If you’re a coffee lover, these are a must try.

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Cappuccino M&M Bars

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

For Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Cup Coffee Nut Peanut M&Ms

For Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot cappuccino
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil or parchment paper with cooking spray.

Beat the 2 sticks softened butter, 1 cup each granulated and light brown sugar and espresso powder with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy.

Add the 3 eggs, one at a time and the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low. Add 3 cups flour and 3/4 teaspoon each baking soda and salt; beat until combined. Stir in the M&Ms.

 Spread the cookie dough in the prepared pan or press in using damp or oiled fingers. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. To make the glaze, combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until it has reached desired consistency. Use a fork to drizzle over the cooled bars.  Allow glaze to set, then cut into squares.

Fiesta Friday #373, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats & Greens.

Salt & Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

I have a mild curiosity as to two things:

First, who it was who decided that salt and vinegar would be a good flavor combination to try on potatoes? Second: was the initial recipe idea for actual potatoes, or just potato chips?

It’s probably the former, but my first exposure to the recipe (probably like most of you) was through the latter. When I was a a kid, I thought that anything with vinegar was disgusting; I just couldn’t get passed the smell. As an adult, my tastebuds have done a complete 180; now Salt & Vinegar potato chips are my favorite flavor.

I don’t know, there’s just something about the contrast between the salty and the sharp sour flavors that I’ve grown to love. I’m curious as to how well the flavor combination translates into more food than just potato chips, which is probably what made me so interested to try today’s recipe in the first place.

Roasted potatoes are somewhat of a fail-proof recipe in the first place; so long as they’re properly seasoned, in my mind you really can’t go wrong. But in this case, it’s the seasoning that makes these potatoes exceptional. Apart from the combination of salt and apple cider vinegar, the addition of parsley and oregano gives them an added layer of fresh/herby flavor that really works. I wouldn’t change a thing about these.

Wear a mask. Social distance. When it’s your turn, get the vaccine. Be kind.

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Salt & Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

Recipe Adapted from RealSimple.com

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of favorite seasoning blend (I use Trader’s Joe’s 21 Seasoning Saute)
  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • ½ cup fresh curly parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place potatoes in a plastic, resealable gallon size bag.

Whisk 3 tablespoons each vinegar and oil in a large bowl until well combined. Season with kosher salt, seasoning blend, and several grinds of pepper.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes, seal the bag and toss to coat.

Arrange potatoes, cut sides down, in an even layer on a baking sheet rimmed with foil and sprayed with cooking spray

Bake until golden on bottoms and tender when pierced with a fork, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Toss potatoes with remaining 1 tablespoon each vinegar and oil on baking sheet. Fold in parsley and oregano just before serving. Top with flaky sea salt.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #372, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Banana Bread Biscuits

Are y’all starting to notice a pattern? I am.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve now reached the point where Cooking is My Sport is a biscuit-making blog; a biscuit making blog with other recipes thrown in to eat alongside biscuits.

I have no explanation for my actions. All I can say is that before I learned how to bake, biscuits were always something I wanted to learn how to do, and do well. I was in awe of people who baked biscuits from scratch. I just had so many questions.

How does the dough come together? What makes biscuits different from yeast bread? What’s the best shape; round, square, or something else? How do they rise? How do you ensure they turn out light and flakey on the inside?

Heck, maybe there are some of you out there who have the same kind of questions. I’ve gotten good at making biscuits only because of lots and lots of practice, and trial and error. I made up my mind to learn how to make them and make them well, and I didn’t stop until I did. And even, clearly, I have no intention of stopping making/experimenting with them. I’ll be a biscuit baker probably until the day I pass on to glory.

Thinking through all those questions and the various results I’ve made/posted over the years makes me think the blog may be due for a post that’s strictly about the technique of making biscuits I’ve learned through all my trial and error. I’ll think some more about it and get back to y’all later.

In the meantime, today’s newest experiment.

I was very curious going into this one. Although I’ve made banana scones once before, I’d never heard of banana flavored biscuits. Plus, I hadn’t really perfected my technique for biscuits/scones when I first made the banana flavored ones, so I was interested to see how different I would find the experience now that I’m on the other side of a lot of new learning.

I really like these, y’all. The flavor really is just like banana bread…except it’s in the texture of a biscuit. I think they’re versatile enough to work for breakfast, or for a dessert, depending on how you want to eat them. However, the sweetness is very subtle here, it’s the banana that really shines through. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Banana Bread Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Taste of the South

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1½ cups cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk, chilled
  • ½ cup mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted

Directions

In a large bowl combine the flour, spices salt, baking powder, sugar, sage and the seasoning mix. Stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork.

In a small bowl, whisk together cold buttermilk, mashed banana, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until a shaggy dough forms. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk, just until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process 4-5 more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a biscuit cutter, or a knife to cut the dough into rounds or squares about 2″ each. You can recut the leftover dough into new biscuits, just try not to handle it too much.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Place the tray into the freezer about 15 minutes.

Spray the tops with cooking spray. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, covering them with foil if they brown too quickly.

Brush finished biscuits with melted butter; serve warm.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #371, co-hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

 

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies really should be a separate ‘genre’ of baking all on their own.

I know that they’re a classic and with classics people tend to search for that One and Only Holy Grail of a recipe, but in my experience I’ve found that there are so many ways to make a perfect one.

My mom always used to tell me that in both cooking and baking, getting ‘good’ was a matter of getting comfortable with a base recipe and/or technique, then once I grew comfortable with it, experimenting with other flavors and seeing what worked and what didn’t. It’s advice that’s never steered me wrong in the kitchen.

The older I get, the more that I notice that my taste buds tend to prefer a counterbalance to the sweetness with either salt or bitter flavors. Salt and sweet is a combination that I’m growing increasingly interested in using in baking, and today’s recipe was eye-opening in showing me just how well it could work.

A chocolate chip cookie with pecans is already a winner so far as I’m concerned, but this recipe takes things a step further. First, butterscotch, butternut or butter-rum flavor is added to the dough, which I would best describe as a rich browned butter extract that pairs VERY well with chocolate. If you can’t find it in stores, it’s definitely available on Amazon. And if you can’t find it at all, that’s fine too. The cookies will still come out amazing because of the second element.

After the dough is made, chilled and portioned out into balls, it then gets rolled in a mixture of sugar and salt. As it bakes, that sugar and salt creates a sort of crackly, salty-sweet crust on the outside of the cookie.

And y’all: that crust is where the magic happens.

In the first place, it creates amazing texture to contrast with the fudgy, chewy interior of the cookie itself. And second, the flavor of the salt in that sugar crust is INSANE. Taken together with the sweetness of the sugar, the nuttiness of the pecans, and the slight bitterness of the chocolate, it literally hit every note.

I tried these on a whim and I can honestly say they’re my new favorite way to make chocolate chip cookies, and are definitely in my top three of cookies I’ve ever made. They’re well worth trying out.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups pecan halves
  • 2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup  granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons  butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor, optional
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, mixed with 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, for topping* (The amount of salt depends upon how much of a salty-sweet combination you prefer. I went for the full 1 teaspoon, and it was perfect, to ME.)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast until they’ve darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside to cool, then chop coarsely.

In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, and extracts, beating until smooth and creamy.

Beat in the egg, again beating until smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.

If you’re going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 4 to 5 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.

Mix the 1/3 cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1 1/2″ balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2″ between them on all sides; they’ll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1 1/4″ balls of dough.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes — 10 minutes for smaller cookies made from unrefrigerated dough, 12 for larger cookies whose dough has been refrigerated (and something in between for other iterations of size and refrigeration). Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan until they’ve set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #370.