S’mores Cookie Bars

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There is nothing quite like S’mores, they are a warm, gooey, scrumptious bite of heaven. They are without a doubt one of my most favorite desserts and they are always a crowd pleaser as well. I love this particular recipe because it makes it easy to serve them up to a bunch of people without having to make them one by one. In fact, they are so easy to make that even your kids will be able to whip these up, it’s the perfect recipe for those little budding chefs to try their hand at!

These amazing S’mores Cookie Bars comes from one of my favorite baking sites, Sally’s Baking Addiction , you can click right here to link to the original recipe. These are absolutely perfect as written, the only minor change that I made was to use bittersweet chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet because I really love dark chocolate.

Take note, when the bars are done baking, it is very important that you allow them to cool completely otherwise they will be a warm, gooey mess and very difficult to cut. However, if you don’t care about appearances, attack that pan and go crazy! I always love a nice warm S’mores so even if they have cooled and been cut, you can give them a quick zap in the microwave to warm back up. Any leftover bars will keep for about a week in a tightly covered container. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (115g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (100g) graham cracker crumbs (about 9-10 graham crackers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 and 1/4 cup (225g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping cup marshmallow creme

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the bars when they have cooled. Set aside.

In a large bowl using handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium-high speed. Beat for about 2 minutes until smooth and combined, then add the vanilla extract and egg, beating until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl down as needed. Set aside.

Toss the flour, graham cracker crumbs, and baking powder together until combined. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix until combined.

Press 2/3 of the graham cookie dough into prepared pan. Spread the marshmallow creme on top. Sprinkle the marshmallow creme with chocolate chips. Mold the remaining cookie dough into flat pieces and layer on top of the chocolate chips. (There will not be enough dough to make one single layer so some chocolate chips will be exposed.)

Bake the bars for 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely with the pan set on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Bars stay fresh covered tightly at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Chef Emerson’s Almond Vanilla Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

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If there is one thing my daughter loves to do it is bake and now that she’s getting older, she is almost 10 now, she really loves to work independently on her kitchen creations. I try to give her as much space as she needs during her time in the kitchen assisting only as needed with measuring and baking tips. Don’t be afraid to hand over the reins to your little baker, the only way for them to learn and grow in the kitchen is for them to do the work on their own.

This recipe was adapted from one of my daughter’s favorite cookbooks, The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook: Sweet Treats for the Geek in All of Us by Rosanna Pansino who also happens to have a really great YouTube® baking channel. It’s a simple to follow recipe so it is great for kids to try on their own. The original recipe is for a lightly lemon flavored pound cake however, my daughter Emerson isn’t fond of lemon so she decided to change-up the flavor profile. She eliminated the lemon zest and instead used a little less vanilla extract while adding in some almond extract. Then she decided to incorporate some mini chocolate chips as well because in her world, everything is better with chocolate! If you wish to make the original recipe simply use 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of finely grated lemon zest instead of the chocolate chips and extracts combination.

One small tip to ensure that you chocolate chips are evenly dispersed throughout the cake, lightly dust them in flour before adding them to the batter. Chocolate chips have a tendency to sink to the bottom of batter however, a light dusting of flour will help to suspend them nicely throughout the finished cake. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease a bundt ban with cooking spray and lightly dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Place the mini chocolate chips in a small bowl and very lightly dust them with flour. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until softened. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.

On low-speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the mini chocolate chips and mix until just incorporated.

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Pour the batter evenly into prepared bundt pan. Tap the bottom of the pan on the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. If needed, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a small butter knife. Carefully turn the cake out of the pan into a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Lightly dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

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**Tip – To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, gently place them into a bowl of hot tap water and allow them to sit for a few minutes.**

Almond Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache

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I’ve struggled for years to find a pound cake recipe that results in a cake that has the right texture and level of moistness. Then I stumbled across this recipe in one my old cookbooks from Williams-Sonoma and I instantly fell in love. (“Williams-Sonoma Holiday Entertaining” – page 206 – “Almond Pound Cake with Cherry Glaze”) Because the cookbook is quite old you can’t find it new anymore however, if you’d like a copy for yourself you can click the image below to find some used copies available through various sellers on Amazon.

The original recipe calls for the pound cake to be served with a cherry glaze (see recipe below) which is absolutely delicious but this time around I decided to take the cake into a different direction. Instead of the cherry glaze I covered the pound cake in a chocolate ganache so that it took on a similar flavor to one of my favorites, rainbow cookies! Because I was bringing this cake to a late holiday get-together I used Christmas colored sprinkles to decorate but of course, feel free to use any color sprinkles that you have on hand.

What I like most about this cake is that there are various ways to make and serve it, all of which are equally yummy. If you want a lighter cake, try dusting it with some powdered sugar instead of the ganache or cherry glaze. If you prefer a more traditional pound cake flavor, you can easily replace the almond extract with pure vanilla extract. Also, don’t be afraid to try other flavored extracts as well, there are so many awesome ones to choose from such as brandy, hazelnut, and coconut! This is truly a great “base cake” that lends itself to so many other flavor options and presentations! Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (235 grams) sifted cake flour (sift the flour FIRST, then measure)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (315 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (500 grams) granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz.) buttermilk*
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract

*If you do not have buttermilk, make your own.  Measure out 1 cup of milk and add to it 2 tbs of vinegar or lemon juice.  Let stand 5-10 minutes and then it will be ready to use.  It will not be as thick as store bought buttermilk but it will work just the same in recipes.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a bundt pan and dust lightly with flour, shake out the excess.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat until creamy and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, one-third at a time, alternating with one-third of the buttermilk. Combine thoroughly after each addition. Lastly, beat in the almond extract.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan then gently tap the pan to release any air bubbles. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes depending on the size/shape of bundt pan.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes. Then, slip a knife between the cake and the pan to loosen any stuck edges and turn the cake out onto a wire rack. Cool completely. Drizzle with the chocolate ganache and cover in sprinkles.

To store, cover loosely and place in a cool, dry place. This cake can be made a day ahead of serving as well.

Cherry Glaze

  • 1 cup (125 grams) dried cherries
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz.) port wine
  • 2 tbs granulate sugar
  • 1 jar (8 oz.) cherry preserves

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the dried cherries, port wine and sugar and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the preserves, reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 6-7 minutes. Let cool slightly. Drizzle the cooled cake with the cherry glaze or serve on each individual slice. If making the glaze ahead of time, allow to cool completely, cover, and keep in the fridge. Reheat with 1-2 tbs of water.