3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheerio Bars

Hello! It me. I bring to you another dessert recipe from Wisconsin since my flight to NYC was canceled this morning due to the wind! Blah. I suppose this means even more time to experiment with dessert recipes since I will no longer have the opportunity to stuff myself with Van Leeuwen vegan ice cream this weekend (my absolute fav).easy-vegan-3-ingredient-peanut-butter-chocolate-cheerio-bars

Now I will preface this recipe by acknowledging that I’m aware I did not break any culinary boundaries in creating these. And that’s fine. But these bars are beauties because they’re super duper easy and super duper delicious. They’re also vegan and gluten-free, if you’re into that kinda thing.

They’re also highly addictive. My mom ate like 3/4th of the tray in one sitting. We are definitely related. Chocolate is a food group, according to us. vegan-3-ingredient-peanut-butter-chocolate-cheerio-bars

So a lil history on these bars: they came about because as a constantly-on-a-budget TJs fanatic, I am always looking up ways to create cheap after-dinner sweet snacks. In grad school I starting buying bags of chocolate chips for $1.99 (yup, TJ’s chocolate chips are vegan) and boxes of TJ’s Joe’s O’s (which are the Trader Joe’s equivalent of Cheerios) also for $1.99. I would mix chocolate chips and Joe’s Os in a wee little bowl and nibble on the mixture while studying.

The mix is a bit sweet, a bit carby, chocolatey, and crunchy. It’s highly satisfying, easy-to-prepare, and cheap as can be! It really stretches out a bag of chocolate chips, and has the added bonus that Joe’s O’s are decently not-too-shabby-for-you, making it a snack that’s easy to eat every night without feeling icky.

Then one day last month, I  was making puppy chow for my sister when she was in town, and I ventured to the grocery store to get a box of Chex. And then I got home and saw my Cheerios and I was like…I wonder if….!

And so this month, I tried it. I basically used the puppy chow idea (melted chocolate + pb) with Cheerios in place of Chex, but pressed them into a pan instead of coating them with powdered sugar.vegan-gluten-free-3-ingredient-peanut-butter-chocolate-cheerio-bars

The result is a crunchy, easy peasy snack that satisfies any crunchy chocolate peanut butter craving. They’re just damn good and damn delicious.

Anyways, without further audieu, I present to you…

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Vegan Salted Coconut Milk Caramel

Caramel! Do you say it “CARA-uh-mel” or “CAR-uh-muhl” or “KAR-mul?” I say it “delicious,” and something I enjoy swirled into my ice cream or as a dipping sauce for a hot doughy pastry (hello, mini churros).yummy-vegan-coconut-milk-caramel

So once upon a time I found and fell a bit infatuated with these vegan caramels made from coconut milk. Me being me, I instantly starting working on how I could recreate something similar.

I typically make my vegan caramel from dates, which is delicious, but this was a fun new challenge and I can’t wait to bake with this stuff and incorporate it into other fun desserts and treats.coconut-milk

What are you up to right now? As I’m typing up this post, I’m watching Vanderpump Rules. It’s the best worst show ever.

Life is still a bit of a doosey for me lately. I’m experiencing multiple transitions and am exploring new platforms for freelance, and in the meantime I find I have a lot of create energy and am unsure where to place it. It feels like I’m going to pop creative juice all over the carpet. So when this happens I end up baking breakfast cookies and making homemade vegan caramel. I need a life. Or a friend who will eat my food that isn’t my dog.vegan-coconut-milk-caramel

In other news, I am experiencing a really adorable adult acne breakout. This acne does not help me in the she-looks-like-a-teenager-don’t-take-her-seriously-department. Which is starting to get a wee bit frustrating. But that’s okay. I recently read a tweet from a vlogger I follow about letting people who doubt you and try to take advantage of you be your motivation to succeed. So I’m going to try to go this route. Which I guess means caramel, among other things.

Enough of my talking. On to the caramel:delicious-vegan-coconut-milk-caramel

It’s easy, delicious, and has a lovely coconul undertone. It’s wonderful swirled into yogurt, on top of ice cream, AND in the recipe I am going to post next (stay tuned ~ I’m really excited about this one).

Oh, and if you’d like the mini vegan churros recipe here it is: 1) Go to Trader Joe’s. 2) Buy frozen mini churros. 3) Eat.

Prep Time:  2 mins
Cook Time: 35-40 mins
Total Time: ~40 minutes
Servings: ~1/2 cup caramel sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk and sugar.
  2. Heat mixture to a boil over medium heat. Maintain slow boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, roughly 35-40 minutes. Stir in coconut oil and vanilla and remove from heat.
  3. Transfer caramel sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

Walnut Butter Brownies with Cherries

The other day I took a first attempt at the brownies that #broketheinternet: The Black Bean Brownie. I made mine Almond Joy-ish. They were good, but I still prefer my brownies bean-less. That said, they were still nommy, I scratched something off my enormous baking bucket list, and now I’m on a brownie kick. Giddy up.

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So less than a week since then, I have another biggg yummy batch of brownies at my disposal. This batch was inspired by two things: 1) The December Recipe Redux Challenge. 2) My favorite brownie combo of all times (chocolate + cherry + walnuts).

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This month The Recipe Redux turns 42 months old. Congrats ! So their challenge was to “Grab a book and Cook,” meaning grab the closest cookbook, open to page 42 or 142 and redux the recipe. Pretty fun, huh?! Well, while searching for ornaments from the depths of my basement, I came across some of my grandma’s ancient cookbooks. I was also lucky enough to uncover some of her notebooks full of her own recipes, which are so invaluable I could cry. She was a brilliant innovator, cook, and creator, with ideas and food hunches far beyond her time. More on this in another post. Anyways, I picked up and was immediately amused by her yellowing, original Betty Crocker Cookbook. Oh my gosh, it has all the classic, unhealthy butter old-school desserts you could ever want as well as some comments that would probably offend most working women of this generation. When I hit page page 42, a recipe for “Cocoa Brownies with Walnuts” stared me back in the face.

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I have to admit I was thrilled to have an excuse to make another batch of brownies. Making them the other day really reminded me how much I love them. The brownies in the Betty Crocker Recipe were full of butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and refined white flour. Mine are a bit revamped and given a modern, semi-sophisticated twist by using walnut butter as a fat, which I made by pureeing walnuts into a nut butter in my food processor to avoid spending $14 on a jar of walnut butter. #win #DIY.

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The walnut butter provides healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats, as well as all the Omega’s you could ever want or need from a brownie. You know how much I love those #MUFAs and #PUFAs baby. I also reduced all the eggs/excess sugar/refined flour in the original recipe, replacing white flour with oat flour, and lowering the sugar without loosing flavor. Melting Baker’s chocolate is the KEY to delicious brownies, and adds a ton of flavor and a delicious fudginess that simply can’t be beat, so I added that to the original recipe, kept the cocoa powder (because as I discuss here, it’s practically a superfood), and added chocolate chips for more chocolate goodness and texture, and more walnuts and dried cherries, for flavor, texture, and simply because chocolate + cherry = one of my all-time favorite combinations.

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The end result was a fudgy, delicious, gluten-free and vegan brownie that could satisfy any chocolate craving in a single square, but won’t leave you feeling icky or gross. I really ended up loving the walnut butter as the fat, as it gave it a nice, nutty flavor that made the brownies intriguing to the palate, and feel super grown-up and fancy without tasting like it was trying too hard.

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These wonderful chocolate nuggets are perfect for the holidays, or really anyday. Because Katy Perry says you should make it like your birthday *~*everyday*~* and I have to say I totally agree with her. My mantra as of late has been “be as nice to yourself as you would to your friend.” So #treatyoself with yummy, healthy food every day, and do things that make you happy. Today for me this means, brownies, hot chocolate, my pups, and watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay on YouTube. Hope your day is as awesome as mine. Happy holidays and happy eating!

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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Bake Time: 30 minutes

Level: Easy

makes on 9″ square pan of brownies, roughly 12 servings 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup walnuts, divided into 1 1/4 cup to make butter and additional 1/4 cup to mix in
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4-6 ounces Baker’s chocolate (depending on desired chocolate-y-ness)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 1 cup oat flour or other flour (I make oat flour by processing one cup rolled oats in a food processor until a powder forms)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 1 1/4 cup walnuts and a tablespoon of water in a food processor or blender and puree until a thick nut butter forms. When it looks like peanut butter, it’s done. Transfer to a large bowl and add brown sugar. Mix well.

2. Cut Baker’s chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave by heating in 30 second increments, mixing between each increment, roughly 1-2 minutes total, until smooth and melted. Set aside and allow to cool to cool slightly.

3. Place almond milk and chia seeds or flax in a cup and allow to thicken, at least 10 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, combine oat flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Whisk together well.

5. Once chocolate has cooled slightly (lukewarm is fine), pour into the walnut butter and brown sugar mix and mix well until chocolate is well combine. Add flour/cocoa mixture to the bowl and slowly add the almond milk mixture. Mix gently until well combine into a batter.

6. Add chocolate chips, dried cherries, and additional 1/4 cup walnuts. Pour into a lightly oiled or parchment lined 9″ baking pan.  Top with even more walnuts if you’re as walnut crazy as I am.

7. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted and removed in the center of the pan. EAT.

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For more Page 42 challenge posts from fellow members of The Recipe Redux, click around below !

Almond Joy Black Bean Brownies [vegan + gluten free]

Black bean brownies have been going viral on the blogosphere for quite a while. It seems like every time I turn around I see them re-pinned or re-blogged or re-attempted or talked about by a foodie friends. And for the last year or so, I have been curious. Skeptical, but curious nonetheless.

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Last night my curiosity finally got the better of me and I finally set out to give them a whirl. Here are my thoughts: you really can’t taste the black beans. Like at all. I was very skeptical that they’d have a strong bean-y flavor. They don’t.

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Texture wise they’re my ideal brownie: FUDGY. I’m team-fudgy when it comes to brownie. Not team cake-y. This is a personal preference. Taste wise they’re pretty darn chocolately I must say. The coconut oil adds a nice mild coconut undertone to the chocolate, but you can use vegetable oil if you’d like.

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I added almonds and coconut and decided they were Almond Joy themed but truly this was a result of what was on hand in the house (per usual).Also I adore nuts and chocolate and coconut together, but you can twist and turn these babies with whatever mix-ins you desire. Dried fruit would be lovely too. I also added dark chocolate chips. Don’t skip this. They’re basically essential. #texture #morechocolate

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The secret, in my humble opinion, to black bean brownies, is patience. I KNOW. The worst. Especially when you’re me and you’re hungry and/or things smell good and they’re chocolate-related. But trust me. Wait until these are fully chilled to enjoy. In fact, they taste best frozen. And they taste best if let sit overnight. This gives the chocolate flavor a chance to develop and really sink in and take over. The longer they #chill the chocolatelier they are. So I’d highly recommend cooling or even freezing these babies for maximum enjoyment.

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So here is my first attempt at/experience with black bean brownies. They’re better than I expected, for sure. But personally I do tend to enjoy black bean-less brownies over black bean brownies, but I’m happy I tried to make these, as they certainly are delicious, healthy, full of fiber, and were fun and super easy and fast to make, and most importantly they’ve put me on a brownie kick, and I’m now fully amped to share a bunch of my favorite brownie recipes ever on kbaked.com. Stay tuned, stay full of gas, and stay chocolatey. 😉

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Stay tuned, stay full of gas, and stay chocolatey. 😉 xoxo, kbakes.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 25-30 minutes

Level: Easy

Yield: one 9″ square pan of brownies, about 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-ounce can black beans (approx 1 1/2 cups), drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce or 1/2 mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds, plus more for top (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1/4 cup coconut shreds (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients besides chocolate chips, almonds, and coconut shreds. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in chocolate chips, almonds, and coconut shreds.

3. Grease or line a 9″ square baking tray with parchment paper. Pour batter into the baking tray and smooth it around with a spatula. Pop into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center of the brownies comes out clean upon removal.

4. Allow to cool completely before you even attempt to slice them (I know, I know, it’s basically torture). I recommend letting them cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and slicing them and storing them in the freezer and enjoy :-). #fudgy

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