Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Peanut Butter Toffee Cheesecake Brownies

So, I was cleaning out my bookcase a couple weeks ago and this recipe fell out of one of my books. My mom had clipped it from a newspaper for me several years ago, thinking that I would probably love to try it. Peanut butter, cream cheese, and brownies? Yeah, she knows me pretty well! Anyways, I had tucked it away and forgotten all about it but once I found it, I wasn't going to risk losing it again. I decided to make them immediately.

They were, of course, delicious, but with those ingredients, how could they not be? What makes them so great, is that you start with a simple brownie mix as your base and then just dress it up with a delicious peanut butter cream cheese topping. I could have eaten the cream cheese filling with a spoon it was so good.

Recipe Source: Unknown Newspaper article
Yield: 9x13 pan (about 20 generous brownies)

1 (19.5 oz) package fudge brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup milk chocolate baking chips
3 Tbsp. whipping cream
3-4 Skor bars (or about 1 1/2 cups of chopped chocolate covered toffee bits... you can buy them in a bag)

1. Heat oven to 350. Lightly coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir brownie mix, oil, water, and eggs about 50 strokes, until well combined. Spread batter into greased pan.

3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese on medium until nice and fluffy. Add milk and peanut butter; beat until smooth. Now do your very best to spoon the mixture over the brownie batter in the pan. I'm not gonna lie... it's not easy. I was not able to spread it evenly AT ALL. Just do your best and try to get it to cover the majority of the brownie base. It's OK that it's uneven. We cover it with chocolate later!

4. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until cheesecake layer is set and the edges are light golden brown. I inserted a toothpick all the way down to my brownie layer and had to bake it a little longer so the brownies were a bit more down. Cool for at least 30 minutes and then refrigerate it for another 30-40 minutes.

5. In a small microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and cream uncovered 40 to 60 seconds or until melted; Stir until smooth. Spread over cooled cream cheese layer. Again it won't be perfectly smooth because your peanut butter layer probably wasn't smooth. That's OK because we're still going to top it with toffee bits!

6. Roughly chop the Skor bars (Or just grab your toffee bits) and sprinkle over the melted chocolate. Cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

OK, so these may just be one of my new favorite cookies. They are delicious! I made them for my husband and he liked them so much that he asked if he could take the leftovers to work. He NEVER does that! It was the nicest and best compliment!

They're soft and chewy with the perfect texture... they remind me a lot of a sugar cookie recipe I've tried with cream cheese but these are far less work and oh so good. The cream cheese is really pretty subtle and you can eat all the cookie dough you want (without any guilt) because there's no eggs!  Plus, now that I've got the cream cheese cookie base down, I can't wait to try them again with lemon zest and lemon extract for a lemon cheesecake cookie. But these Oreo ones sure are good!

Recipe Source: Collecting the Moments
Yield: The recipe says 1 1/2 dozen, but I doubled it and got 4 1/2 dozen, so it must depend on how big you scoop them.

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used salted with no problem)
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup mini chocolate chips (I didn't have minis so I used regular sized, but I don't think they need any at all)
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (Don't skip the parchment paper of your bottoms may burn more) and set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and well-combined.

3. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix until the ingredients are well-combined. (I mixed my batter for awhile here and my dough got really nice and fluffy... that may be why I was able to get so many cookies from the recipe.)  Add the flour and mix on low until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the mini chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

4. Place the Oreo cookie crumbs in a small bowl. Scoop the cookies into about 1½ to 2″ balls (the dough will be very soft but it's not nearly as sticky as I expected and the crumbs hold everything together) and then roll in the cookie crumbs. Place the cookie balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the tops are slightly puffed.  It's very hard to tell if the edges are golden, so I looked for a "puffed" cookie that had started to "crackle."  Once there were some good cracks along the top, I knew they were done.  Don't overbake!

5. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.