Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookie

I LOVE LEVAIN BAKERY BAKED GOODS!

So far from what I’ve seen, I really love the cookies that people purchase from Levain Bakery in NYC (you can check it out by searching: #levainbakery or #levaincookies).  Last year, I even remade their chocolate chip walnut cookie into a gluten free version.  It was good, but not 100% my favorite – I think that it was the walnuts because I love a good chocolate chip cookie!!!

I always knew that I wanted to convert Levain’s chocolate peanut butter chip cookie into a gluten free version because chocolate and peanut butter are part of my favorite flavor profiles!!! Recently one of my favorite bloggers, Cake by Courtney, came out with a copy cat recipe for this exact cookie – with gluten of course.  I also love Courtney’s cookies because she uses brown sugar.  Brown sugar is the *BOMB*!

The next logical step was to take her recipe and convert it into a gluten version since it had everything I loved and needed in my life at that moment. READ: Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Brown Sugar!!!

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NOT PRETTY BUT THEY ARE YUMMY

These cookies do not photograph well and they are just a tad better looking in person but lord almighty – they taste out of this world!

If you eat one 10 minutes out of the oven, it is ooey and gooey – so delicious! If you have leftovers, just warm this up in 15 second intervals in your microwave until you reach your desired gooey-ness!!  Honestly, they were just as good warmed up then they were fresh out of the oven.  I found myself turning to these more than any other cookie I’ve ever made.  This may be a problem. LOL!

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SOME TIPS BEFORE WE START

The recipe calls for regular flour and cake flour.  I use Cup4Cup gluten free flour for this recipe because A. it has more starch than regular gluten free flours so it’s already  more like a cake flour and B. it has the xanthan gum already in it.

Another great tip from Courtney is to use Reese’s Peanut Butter chips and no other.  She has tried them all and these were the best.  I didn’t mess around, I went straight for the Reese’s chips right away.

Lastly, you do not have to have softened butter for this recipe so REJOICE!  You can start mixing these babies up with everything right from the fridge because they work out way better with everything cold! YAY!!!

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THE RECIPE

Adapted from the copy cat recipe on the blog, Cake by Courtney

Ingredients:

  • 300g Cup4Cup gluten free flour (I cannot vouch for others here.)
  • 3/4 C dark cocoa flour (I used Hershey’s Special Dark.)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (10oz) plus 1/3 cup of Reese’s Peanut Butter baking chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line at least 2 baking sheets with non-bleached natural parchment paper.
  2. Measure and combine all dry ingredients: Flour, dark cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment add the cold butter and the sugars.  Mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the two eggs to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Next add the dry ingredients in three different parts.  If you add it all at once, you’ll decorate your kitchen in cocoa powder!
  6. After the dry ingredients are all mixed in, remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir the peanut butter chips in by hand.
  7. Use a large ice cream scoop to measure out 8-10 large balls of cookie dough.
  8. You can dunk the top of your cookie dough ball in additional peanut butter chips if you want extra on the outside.
  9. Put 4 cookie dough balls per cookie sheet and slightly press down (not very much – the girth of the cookies is what you’re after here!).
  10. Bake 10-11 minutes and allow to cool for 10 minutes before eating or trying to attempt to move them off the cookie sheet to a cooling rack.
  11. You can store these on the counter top, fridge, or freezer these cookies and then warm them up in the microwave at 15 second intervals to enjoy a ooey gooey cookie!

ENJOY!

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Gluten Free Caramel Churro Cupcakes

SHARING AMAZING-NESS

A few weekends ago it was my neighbor’s 40th birthday – which is a huge milestone!!! I wanted to celebrate her in all of her special goodness and when I asked her, “Chocolate, Vanilla, or Both?” She chose “vanilla, all the way!”.

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NOT A VANILLA GIRL

I am not a vanilla girl really.  What I am is a yellow cake with chocolate frosting girl. Now that I can get behind completely.  But vanilla cake with vanilla frosting? Um, not my fav.

So that is when the wheels started churning.

Recently I tried the Smashmallow Cinnamon Churro gourmet marshmallows They are absolutely divine and a treat you’ll want to keep on having. A bonus is that they are naturally gluten free and the ingredients are pretty wholesome too.

How could I make a treat around this fabulous marshmallow?

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INSERT A FAVORITE BLOG

This is where one of my very favorite blogs, Cake by Courtney, comes into play.  She has the most beautiful churro cake recipe that is drool worthy.  Since her version was not gluten free, how could I spin this into something that was gluten free.

Basically what I decided to do is use the cinnamon frosting from Courtney’s overall churro cake recipe and do something a bit different with the cake part.  She also uses the Smashmallow Cinnamon Churro marshmallows on her design.  So now I had two components of my creation!

When I went to make the frosting though? I realized I didn’t have cinnamon. Seriously – I had the butter and the powdered sugar in the bowl when this went down.  So I asked my husband who was running to the store anyway, to pick up some cinnamon.  Well folks, he came home with cinnamon sugar – which is cinnamon and granulated sugar mixed.  I had to use it… there was no turning back….and it was AWESOME!!!!

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THE CAKE PART

So now, I had to figure out the cake. I could make my own homemade cake… but I wasn’t feeling it and that’s ok.  So I used the King Arthur gluten free yellow cake mix – HOWEVER, I do not follow their directions.

The first time I used their cake mix, I followed the directions.  The cake was good but it was more of like a pound cake.  The directions were also pretty tedious.  I’m not tedious.

So I just throw all the ingredients into the mixer bowl at once and you get a less dense cake and it is delicious!!!

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THE RECIPE

Adapted from Cake by Courtney for the frosting.

The Cupcake:

  • One box of yellow cake mix that makes 24 cupcakes.
  • I used King Arthur’s Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix.
  • If you use this mix – throw all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix until fully blended – this gives the best result in my opinion.
  • Divide into 12 jumbo cupcake liners in the jumbo cupcake tin (like this one).
  • Bake as directed and cool completely.

The Frosting:

  • 1 cup of softened salted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon sugar (this is cinnamon mixed with granulated sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • Mix all ingredients until blended and then turn on the mixer (with the paddle attachment) and let it go for 2-4 minutes – I don’t usually time it.  I just make sure there are no lumps and everything soft and fluffy.
  • Use a jumbo cake decorating tip (like this one) in a large piping bag.
  • Put the frosting in the piping bag and pipe desired design on the cupcakes.

The Caramel Sauce:

  • You can make your own but I did not – I used Smucker’s Simple Delight Salted Caramel Topping.
  • I just warmed it up a bit using 30 second intervals in the microwave until I got the drippy consistency I was looking for.
  • I then just drizzled it over the top of each cupcake starting at the top of the butter cream.

The Topper:

  • After the cupcake is all assembled to this point, I just topped each one with one cinnamon churro smashmallow!!
  • Which by the way, I just found them at my Super Target!! WIN!!!

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Gluten Free Slutty Brownies

WHAT A NAME!

Yes. The name is a doozy! However I cannot take credit for it.  It’s all over the internet and Pinterest.  I heard a rumor that it was named this on a very popular cooking show, but that I cannot confirm.

Frankly, I don’t care what they are called…. I just want more of these in my life. Period.

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WHAT IS IT?

Basically, this is a bar that includes cookies and brownies.  The bottom layer is chocolate chip cookie dough, the middle layer is pre-made chocolate sandwich cookies, and the top layer is brownie batter.

For the chocolate chip cookie layer – I used the gluten free soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe I recently posted. In fact, I converted that recipe just so I could make this one!  The original recipe came from the Cake by Courtney blog.

The chocolate sandwich cookie layer had to be gluten free (Sorry Oreos!) and there are many options out there and I’m sure many of them will work beautifully.  My favorites are the gluten free Jo-Jo’s from Trader Joe’s.  They taste exactly like their gluten filled brothers.

For the brownie layer, I had some King Arthur Gluten Free Brownie Mix, so I decided to use that.  It’s ok to use pre-made boxed items sometimes.  I was already dealing with a recipe conversion for the chocolate chip cookie dough so I wanted to keep this part easy and breezy.

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THE RESULTS

The results were AMAZING!!!!  They were ooey and gooey and sooooo delicious! I will be making this for events and gatherings for sure.  There is no way that people will ever believe that these are gluten free.

For some reason, people think that if food or baked goods are gluten free that they must be terrible.  I am not on the bandwagon.  I will not eat subpar food regardless if I’m gluten free or not – so why would I promote a recipe that is anything other then fabulous?

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THE RECIPE

Adapted from several pictures on Pinterest. I did not use any one specific slutty brownie recipe to create this one.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to the temperature on the brownie mix instructions.
  2. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper and spray it with gluten free cooking spray.
  3. Mix up the gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough.
  4. Divide the cookie dough, so that you have the amount of 12 cookies (My recipe makes 24 cookies so you just take half of the dough for this step). Take the dough and press it evenly into the bottom of the pan.
  5. Place the chocolate sandwich cookies as a single/flat layer on top of the cookie dough.  Use as many cookies as you can to make sure the area is covered. Do not overlap cookies.
  6. Mix up the gluten free brownie mix according to package.
  7. Evenly spread the brownie batter on top of the chocolate cookie layer.
  8. Bake in the oven for the amount of time your brownie batter requires.  I did this and my brownie layer was a tad gooey in the middle – which I was completely fine with!!!  If you are not, I would cover the brownies if they are still not done with foil and continue to bake until the brownie layer is how you prefer.
  9. Once baked, let them cool completely.  This is critical so you can get them out of the pan in once piece without breaking.  I put mine in the fridge and they were easy to pull out with the parchment paper once they were chilled.
  10. Cut into squares and enjoy!!!

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Soft & Chewy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

A MEANS TO AN END

So, there is a recipe that I’ll post soon that required chocolate chip cookie dough for the bottom crust. I could have used all sorts of readily available gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough recipes out there but I decided against it for some strange reason.  I decided that I wanted to convert a recipe that I saw on the Cake by Courtney Instagram feed because that girl knows her sweets and they always look delicious!

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WHAT WAS CONVERTED

So I used Courtney’s “Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie” recipe as my starting point. One of the reasons I decided to convert that recipe to gluten free is because it had copious amounts of brown sugar and I absolutely love brown sugar in baked goods.  It pretty much makes anything soft and moist!

So basically, all I converted in this recipe was the flour.  Everything else is naturally gluten free.

I also, put my dough in the fridge/freezer I call my garage in a MN winter (so probably like 20-30 degrees) for a bit before baking.  I was watching the food network recently and Duff Goldman said that cookie dough should really be held overnight for the best flavor profile.  I had not idea AND I could not wait that long sooooo…. I think they were out there for about 30 minutes or so.

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THE RESULT 

I absolutely loved the result!  These cookies – even though they used melted butter held their shape and lived up to their promise of being soft and chewy.  In fact, we had some shortly after they came out of the oven and my daughter was like, “these are soooo gooey.”  In which I replied, “RIGHT ON SISTER!!!”

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THE RECIPE

Soft & Chewy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 24 cookies)

Adapted from this recipe on the Cake by Courtney blog

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened (I always will use salted butter in my recipes!)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 490g of gluten free flour with xanthan gum (I used cup4cup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Put butter, sugars, and vanilla in a stand mixer bowl and whip with the paddle attachment.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. In a separate bowl, weigh your gluten free flour and add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Mix together.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix well.  The dough will be rather stiff.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the chocolate chips. Mix well by hand.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, make 2 pans of 12 cookies each.  Put them in the fridge/freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Bake each sheet of cookies for 12-14 minutes.  It’s ok if they look a little soft and undone but mine looked pretty decently baked.
  9. Cool 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and transfer to a wired baking rack to cool completely.

*You can totally have one of these hot out of the oven – in fact you should – it was pretty awesome warm!!

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Wrapping Up 2017

WHAT HAPPENED TO 2017????

Yes. I promised another baking post at the end of 2017. That didn’t happen.  For some odd reason that I cannot pinpoint or name, I just didn’t feel like baking all that much.

Usually I bake all these treats and then distribute them to family and friends before the holidays, so they can feast all during break. I had no urge to do that.  I made some preliminary plans and lists of things I could do that might be a little bit more low key.  I was going to do some easy spiced/sugared nuts and some candies instead of all the other stuff.  This actually led me to my December post on the peanut butter balls. Other than those little babies, very little became a reality though.

The kids always make cut outs for Santa, so we did those.  Another tradition we have is our baby Jesus cake that we have on Christmas Day (a nod to my Aunt Margaret that you met in my last post), so I definitely made that.

The only other thing I was compelled to make during our long holiday break was some gluten free chocolate ginger cookies. That my friends, was it. Period.

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HOW DO YOU NOT BAKE FOR THE HOLIDAYS?

I know, right? I’ve been contemplating this question for just about a month now.  I mean, I did bake some sugar cookies and cupcakes for the holiday band bake sale and some sugar cookies for a cheer competition at the beginning of the month….. but other than those things – it honestly didn’t feel right to do.

I am as shocked as you are right now.

I will tell you though. That I felt less stressed out. I enjoyed spending time with my family and just hanging out.  I work a full time corporate job and have a full family life with my two kiddos, dog, and husband. I think it’s ok to take a year off ….

I’m not sure if this is going to be an every year thing but it felt right for me this year so I went with it.  I will share with you though everything else I did make in December 2017, so if you want, you can make those things now, or maybe wait until next year, or maybe never — and you know what? that’s totally cool and ok. You do what you need to and do it with zest!

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EARLY DECEMBER BAKING

As I stated above, I made the very best gluten free sugar cookie ever.  This is also the cookie dough and frosting that we make for our cut outs for Santa.

The recipe comes from Gluten Free On A Shoestring and it’s called, “Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies” and the rest should be “that make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven”!!

Here is the link and very poor pictures of one cookie I did and a tray that my eldest child decorated:

LINK TO: Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Mama’s lonely single cookie – I like to do round cutouts with frosting on top that are completely dunked in sprinkles… makes me happy and they are super easy!

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My daughter’s beautiful cookie artwork – she has really improved this year!!!  The kids did these right before Christmas so they were fresh for Santa!!

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MID DECEMBER BAKING

For my daughter’s band concert bake sale, I made the same sugar cookies as I did above plus some cupcakes!

I used store bought cake mixes for these cupcakes from our local Cub Food Store called Essential Everyday.  They had both gluten free chocolate and vanilla cake mixes.  I had never tried them before but was willing to give it a whirl.  I was not disappointed as these cupcakes were quite good!

I again just used my go to buttercream (use whipping cream and not milk!) and chocolate buttercream recipes for the frostings.

The toppers are gluten free candies from a local company, Abdallah Candies.

 

HOLIDAY BAKING!

The only true holiday baking I did this year was the “Happy birthday, Baby Jesus” cake that I make every year for our Christmas dinner dessert.

This year I made devils food chocolate cake from the recipe found on Gluten Free on a Shoestring with better batter flour. I ordered some better batter especially for the holidays and even though I made absolutely nothing – I still went through 10lbs of flour!

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The frosting again is my tried and true buttercream recipe and the middle of the layers was the chocolate buttercream recipe I always use.

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Since I’ve been baking my own gluten free cakes, I’ve become very interested in cake decorating.  I want my kids to have the same birthday experience as others even if it has to be gluten free.

This year on Instagram, I found Cake by Courtney.  This woman knows how to decorate some fabulous cakes.  I have not converted one of her cake recipes to gluten free yet but that is definitely on my list for 2018.

I just love Courtney’s style and I’m working up to one of her drip cakes.  She does a beautiful job and her videos make it all look to effortless. Truly beautiful.

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LATE DECEMBER BAKING

The week after the holiday, I had enough gumption to make some chewy chocolate ginger molasses cookies that I found on the Gluten Free on a Shoestring blog.

I think that I may have baked mine a tad too long because mine became more crunchy than chewy but they are ideal with a cup of morning joe I tell ya!

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And that my friends, was it! I hope all had a great ending to your 2017 and that 2018 has started with a healthy *BANG*!

DECEMBER 2017: Naturally GF Peanut Butter Balls

DECEMBER TAKE 1

This is my first recipe for the month of December because I decided to take the “baking stress” out of the holidays and not do too much before the big celebration days!!! There will be more next week when I have time and can do it if I want to not because I have to! Yay me!

I whipped up these little guys earlier this week and then kept them in my walk in freezer (aka the garage in December) in an air tight container until I was ready for them.

We dipped them today so we could take them to our holiday gatherings.  It literally took us just a few minutes to dip & sprinkle these little guys to their full holiday glory.

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MANY GREAT THINGS ABOUT THIS RECIPE

ONE: It’s naturally gluten free!

TWO: It’s super easy and fast! You literally can make these TODAY and wow everyone over the next two days.

THREE: You can break the recipe into parts and do the two steps when you have time! (Make PB balls first and freeze – then dip later!)

FOUR: You probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry already!

FIVE: It’s delicious!

YAY, YAY, YAY!!!!

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THE STORY OF THE PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

Now normally, I don’t make peanut butter balls for the holidays. They are just not a part of my repertoire.  But this year, I was feeling a tad nostalgic for my Aunt Margaret. She made these every year without fail.  I loved to watch her make these and I definitely ate my share of these babies over the years.

What I’ve come to realize is that me and my Aunt Margaret are a lot like and even though she passed away years and years ago, I still miss her.  She was a great role model for me, her kids, and as I’ve seen on Facebook, to countless others as well.  She was like a second mother to me.  She was basically the greatest Aunt ever.

I am like her in that we both love to bake and take care of others.  It’s in our nature.  There are many ways that I strive to be like her.  She seemed to have endless energy and welcomed everyone into her home at any time.  She was a great entertainer and had countless gatherings, brunches, and parties that I went to and enjoyed.

We used to have long chats about all sorts of things well into the night as we scrapbooked or made hand stamped cards.  Yep, we were crafting buddies.  I loved hanging out with her even if it was a Friday night and I was in my 20’s.  Those nights were the BEST!!!

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SO THIS YEAR…..

I decided to make peanut butter balls in honor of my Aunt Margaret.  I talked about her with my kids as we made and ate these.  She’ll always be in my heart and I hope through me, my kids will get to know a little bit about her too!

THIS is what Christmas is about for me. Cherishing those that we love that are with us now and those that are gone.

And here she is folks – my Aunt Margaret!!!

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PEANUT BUTTER BALL RECIPE

The original recipe can be found by clicking this super long run on sentence. There is no reason to remake a classic that is already naturally gluten free.

This blogger calls them “buckeyes” which I think is an Ohio thing but up here in Minnesota, we call them peanut butter balls.

Also, please make sure you are using gluten free powdered sugar. Normally this isn’t a problem, but just double check, find a brand you like, and keep getting it!

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS & MERRY EVERYTHING!!!!

2017 BONUS: Gluten Free Take5 Bars

BONUS * BONUS * BONUS 

As promised in my November post, here is my 2017 bonus recipe since someone may have missed a month here or there….

This recipe originates from one of my favorite blogs, Gluten Free on a Shoestring.  Nicole, who is the mastermind behind that blog recently posted a recipe for gluten free 7 layer bars. I made these bars for my family and they were knock you down delicious!  You can catch a picture of the 7 layer bars I made on my Instagram page (jksasse).

Nicole mentions in her post that this recipe is infinitely customizable.  Now this got my wheels turning…. what have I been missing, what could take a bar form like this????

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but before going gluten free I loved Take5 candy bars.  They are salty and sweet while being crunchy and gooey.  Everything you love in a candy bar but the base of it is a GLUTEN FILLED pretzel.  <Insert crying here.>

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THE GAME PLAN

So, I thought if I could take the base premise of a 7 layer bar and convert it into a Take5 candy bar, I’d be in heaven! I just had to sit down and determine all of the components of a Take5 and then of course google it and compare it to the ingredients that I found online on the actual Hershey site.

Basically, it’s a pretzel base with peanut butter, peanuts, caramel and chocolate.  I needed to have all of those components in the bar I was making in order to get the same flavor profile.

I have to say that the bar I ended up making turned out super well! It definitely was sweet & salty while being crunchy & gooey (at room temp after you cut them). It ended up very tall but as you can tell by the pictures, the layers are very pronounced which I really liked!

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WHAT STAYED THE SAME

So basically, I kept the graham cracker crust the same because, hello!!! it’s graham cracker crust and that stuff is soooooo good!  Though I have to say if I make these bars again, I may try out a pretzel type of bottom crust instead.

I also kept the chocolate the same, though I added more of it on the top.  I wanted that feeling of it being encased in chocolate like the original Take5 bar.

I also kept the sweetened condensed milk because this acts as the glue to keep the entire bar together.  I was thinking though that I potentially could add some caramel sauce or dulce de leche to the sweetened condensed milk or maybe replace it?  These are good ideas for next time!

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WHAT CHANGED

I actually ended up changing a lot.  I replaced the white chocolate chips with peanut butter chips, added more chocolate chips on the top, and added caramel chips.

I completely replaced the coconut with semi-crushed pretzels.  This was a great filler for the middle.

Lastly, I added chopped peanuts to my recipe instead of the original pecans that the 7  layer bars called for since they hit the Take5 flavor profile.

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THE RECIPE

Adapted from the 7 layer bar recipe on Glutenfreeonashoestring.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed gluten free graham crackers
  • 8 Tablespoons salted butter, melted (I always use salted butter!)
  • 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces of Hershey’s peanut butter chips
  • 100 grams of semi-crushed pretzels
  • 2 ounces of salted caramel chips
  • 100 grams of chopped peanuts
  • Extra chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (eye ball it)
  • 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 square baking dish with parchment paper, making sure that some of it hangs over the 2 sides.
  2. Mix graham crackers crumbs and melted butter together until everything is well mixed.
  3. Press cracker/butter mixture into the bottom of the pan really well. I usually use clean hands to really press it in there.
  4. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips and the peanut butter chips so they are evenly distributed.
  5. Then layer on the pretzels and caramel chips.
  6. Finally layer on the chopped peanuts and top with as many chocolate chips as you wish (eye ball it!).
  7. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the entire pan making sure to get some over the entire top. Some would say that this shouldn’t be the last step but I disagree – more glue for everything to stay together!
  8. Place pan in oven for 25-30 minutes.  The top should be brownish and bubbly.
  9. This next part is CRUCIAL.  Let it cool at room temp and then either put it in the fridge or outside in your garage (but only if you live in MN during the winter time otherwise this won’t work).  It has to be completely cooled and firm in order to take it out.
  10. Lift up the sides of the parchment paper and lift the bars out when chilled.  This will make it super easy to cut clean pieces and the bars will hold together!!

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ENJOY!