Twix Bars with a Twist + 5 DIY Sweet Treat Links

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Halloween night I will walk our leaf covered sidewalks [crunch, shuffle, crunch…God I love that sound] with a warrior, Robin Hood and a jovial [fingers crossed, two is tough] ghost. Cold little hands resting in my hand, momentarily, before breaking free in a frantic scamper for more candy.  A warrior, headstrong and fierce will lead the way, while brave Robin Hood and a charming ghost shuffle along.

Robin Hood’s Epi-pens stored in one coat-pocket while a bag of “trade” candy sits in the other pocket…waiting.  Please no ER trips, not tonight.

Charleston Chews, Tootsie Rolls, Swedish Fish, Twizzlers, filling their orange plastic pumpkin buckets, while I hand off Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers to Bubba quickly, efficiently, much like a bomb squad taking care of a situation before someone gets hurt.

Our boy, our prince of thieves, safe for now. 

House after house, we will trek along, until the air is just too chilly, our feet weary, the sugar high becoming a low.  When we reach our front door, the candy basket we left out will be nearly empty.  Robin Hood will steal the remaining safe candy, as he should.  With a tired ghost resting against him, snuggled in his neck, sticky cheeks touching coarse stubble, Bubba will open the front door.  The heat from the house will escape out the front door, warming our cold faces, reminding us we are home.  Safe.  Happy.

Happy Halloween.

Twix Bars with a Twist

A shortbread cookie topped with caramel, Sunbutter and a dark chocolate glaze

adapted from Not Without Salt’s Homemade Twix Bars

Makes 12 large bars or 24 small bars

Ingredients for shortbread:

1 stick + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 sugar

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Spray 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang.  (This will make it easier to remove the bars later.)

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Slowly add the flour and salt.  Mix until the dough comes together.  The dough will be crumbly but should hold together when pressed in between your fingers.

Press the dough evenly into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Rotate pan and bake for another 12 minutes or until the shortbread is golden brown.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Next prepare the Sunbutter layer.

Ingredients for the Sunbutter layer:

1 cup, all natural, no sugar added Sunbutter

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

4 + 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Directions: 

Place Sunbutter, sugar and butter in a medium size bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.  Set aside.

Now prepare the caramel.

Ingredients for caramel:

2 cups sugar

3/4 light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Sea Salt for sprinkling

Directions:

Combine sugar, corn syrup, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan.  Using your hand or a pastry brush, wipe down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan with water.  Over medium-high heat bring the mixture to a boil.  Again wipe down any stray sugar crystals.  Do not stir the caramel from this point on.  The mixture will bubble vigorously.  When the syrup begins to turn golden brown, insert a candy thermometer.  When it reaches 300F, remove the pan from the heat.  Allow to rest for 1 minute.  Add heavy cream and stir until smooth, then whisk in the condensed milk.  Next, add the salt.  Whisk until smooth.

Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly until the caramel reaches 240F.  Remove from heat and pour over cooled shortbread.  Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt.  Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for 2 hours.  While the caramel layer sets prepare the chocolate glaze.

Ingredients for chocolate glaze:

6 ounces of dark chocolate- chocolate chips are fine

3 tablespoons of butter

Directions:

Slowly, melt the butter and the chocolate in the microwave.  (I checked it every 20 seconds.)  Stir well until completely melted and smooth.

Spread Sunbutter mixture evenly over caramel  layer.  Pour the melted chocolate over the Sunbutter layer.  Smooth with an offset spatula.  Decorate with holiday sprinkles, if desired.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.  They are easiest to cut when cold.  Cut into squares, big or small and serve.  Enjoy!

**If taking to a party, cut into squares when cold.  Store in an air-tight container in between layers of parchment paper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.**

5 DIY Sweet Treat Links

If you love chocolate turtles check out Creme de la Crumb’s 3 ingredient caramel cashew clusters.  My mouth is watering!

One of my favorite sweet treats is chocolate covered almonds.  Sally’s Baking Addiction has a recipe for sea salt dark chocolate almond clusters that is now on my  must make soon list.

Love truffles?  Make your own!  Head to Alexandra’s Kitchen for her boozy Grand Marnier chocolate truffles recipe.

Screw moderation.  Make  I Am Baker’s Halloween saltine toffee candy and eat every last bite.  You deserve it!

Dealing with nut-allergies?  We are too.  I feel your anxiety especially around Halloween. Head to The Kitchn  and check out 5 nut-free Halloween treats that are sure to make your kids smile.

Sunbutter Chocolate Chip Blondies + 5 Peanut-Free Treats Every Kid Will Love!

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Memories, good and bad, often flash inside my mind when I bake.  They come on strong, and leave me laughing or tear me apart; throwing off my baking zen either way.

“Mama my eye hurts.” G. “What happened? Lets have a look.” Me.

I didn’t realize what was happening. I didn’t know this was just the beginning of a very long day.

I give my Dad and his wife a hug good-bye, and buckle G into his car seat. Bubba starts the car.  N sleeps peacefully in his car seat and C happily sucks on a lollipop. “I can’t believe the Easter bunny is coming tomorrow!”

We head home.

He starts to cry. I turn around. Hives cover his arms, legs and chest.  His eye lid is now the size of a golf ball.

“He is reacting.” (To what? I checked all the candy.  I always check.)

Bubba pulls over; I give G a teaspoon of Benadryl.  He won’t calm down.  This should work, I tell myself.  We get back on the highway.

He is hysterical.  “My throat!” G.

“Mama, Daddy!” C.

Breathe. This is happening.  He is having an anaphylactic reaction.  The doctors mentioned this could happen. Remember?  You know what to do.  You played this scenario over and over, in your head, while your body ran; ran miles and miles in the rain, the sun, the bitter cold. Ran.

For a moment, amid the chaos I realize I’ve made the decision. I pull the dreaded epi-pen from my bag, unbuckle my seat belt and jam the auto-injector into my son’s thigh. He screams. C cries. “Mommy, no!” N is still somehow asleep.  Bubba drives fast and remains calm.  We are many miles from an emergency room.

Within minutes G is calm. The hives are still visible, bloodied from his constant scratching.  His eye remains swollen.  “I feel better now.” The epi-pen worked. 

We arrive at the ER and a nurse evaluates him immediately.  She detects wheezing.  G is so sleepy. Poor boy. We are escorted to a room where we spend the next 6 hours watching our son sleep peacefully on a hospital bed, the ER physician checking in every hour to see how we are doing.  Bubba kisses G on the forehead, he looks tired, and worried; tears ready to pour down his cheeks, if only he would let them.  He takes C and N home, where my sister-in-law waits for them. I wait and watch our boy.

He wakes up and asks for something to eat, as if nothing happened.  We just aged 10 years in 6 hours.  He won’t understand that kind of worry until he has kids someday. He happily eats a turkey sandwich.

It is 10 pm and we are home again. G climbs up to his sleeping sister’s bunk and says “C____ I’m back.” She hugs him.  He wants to play.  “Time to go to bed G. The Easter bunny is coming tonight!”

Bubba and I spend the next two hours hiding Easter eggs and putting together their baskets.  We climb into bed, exhausted.  We snuggle up to each other, holding on tight, tighter than usual.

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Slightly sweet with a hint of salt, Sunbutter is a tasty peanut-free alternative. The original recipe called for peanut butter and peanut butter cups, which I replaced with Sunbutter and chocolate chips.  The result is a perfectly sweet and moist brownie with just enough chocolate chips.  I love blondies because the possibilities are endless. Get creative!

Sunbutter Chocolate Chip Blondies

makes 12 bars

recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup Sunbutter (I used natural.)

1/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 tbsp. milk ( I used 1 percent.)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Cooking spray

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9 inch square metal baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, combine Sunbutter, melted butter, milk and eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl until the wet ingredients are well incorporated.  Add the Sunbutter mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spread the batter into prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until a cake pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool in pan on a wire rack for about an hour. Cut into squares and serve. The bars will last at room temperature, in an air-tight container for about 2 days. Enjoy!

5 Peanut-Free Treats Every Kid Will Love!

If  you love Butterfingers, head over to Jelly Toast for Emily’s peanut-free butterfingers recipe!

Looking for a nut-free Nutella? Momables has a recipe for sunflower Nutella and it sounds delicious. Check it out!

Last year I made chocolate and sunbutter pretzel bars. Bubba and the kids went nuts for them. Head over to my blog for the recipe.

Instead of making peanut butter granola bars for the kids, how about trying sunflower seed granola bars with chocolate drizzle? Averie Cooks has the recipe for you.

Divvies allergen friendly chocolate cupcake recipe is a staple in our house for birthday parties.