Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oatmeal Carmelitas

I've had a bag of Kraft caramel bits in my pantry forever and this recipe seemed like a perfect way to use them up.  I tend to impulse buy baking supplies so I end up with all kinds of products for which I had no intended purpose.  After scouring the internet and my cookbook collection for recipes with caramel, I settled on these bars.  I had to tweak the original recipe quite a bit, but I am officially declaring my version a success.  One of my co-workers proclaimed that he wanted "to bathe in them."  If that's not a ringing endorsement than I don't know what is!  These bars are easy to put together, and the combination of crunchy oats with creamy caramel and chocolate is sure to please.


1 bag (11 ounces) Kraft caramel bits
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8" x 8" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

4. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

On a recent Sunday morning my husband requested some lemon poppy seed muffins for breakfast.  He rarely asks for any baked goods (shocking, I know!), so I was happy to fulfill the request.  These muffins come together quickly so you won't have to wait too long to enjoy the fruits of your early morning breakfast labor.  I prefer to bake them in muffin tins without liners so I can enjoy the crisp texture that is lost when the muffin liners are used.  The glaze is optional, but my husband and I agreed that it added and enhanced the flavor of these little delights.
Adapted slightly from Brown Eyed Baker

2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough - a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffins cups.

3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

4. While the muffins are still warm, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to make the glaze.  Drizzle a small amount of the glaze over each muffin.  Let the glaze set before serving.  Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.