Nature’s Eats: Butterscotch and Almond Cheesecake Bars #NaturesEats #Tryazon

 

 

Lets Begin………….

Butterscotch and Almond Cheesecake Bars

  • Dry Ingredients:
    1 cup of Oats (Instant/Quick cooked)
    1 cup of White Whole Wheat Flour
    1 cup of Blanched Almond Flour by Nature’s Eats
    1/2 cup of All Purpose Flour
    1/4 tsp of Salt
    1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
    1/2 tsp of Baking Powder

 

  • Wet Ingredients:
    7 ounces melted Unsalted Butter (melted)
    1 1/4 cup of Butterscotch Chips
    3/4 cup of Brown Sugar
    1 Large Egg

 

  • Filling:
    16 ounces of Cream Cheese (softened)
    1/8 tsp of Almond Extract
    1/2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
    1/4 cup of White Sugar
    1/8 cup of All Purpose Flour
    1 Large Egg

Drizzle (optional): 1/4 cup of Extra Dark Chocolate melted. Takes about 15 seconds and I use the stove top and I add heat, take the pan off to stir, add pan back and then again stir until just melted. It is my way to avoid burning the chocolate.

You begin by using 3 bowls to mix the above ingredients. You start with the first bowl and incorporate all the flours, baking powder and soda, plus the salt. Set aside. The second bowl, you mix the melted butter, butterscotch chips and the brown sugar. You have the option to melt everything together over a stove top or you can easily microwave the ingredients by using 20 second intervals and mixing in between. The chips may not completely melt (1/4 left intact) and that is perfectly fine. Wait for the wet ingredients to cool off a bit before incorporating the egg. Set aside. The third bowl is for the filling. You incorporate the softened cream cheese with the rest of the ingredients and make sure to whisk until smooth.

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  • Assembly-

Start the oven and I baked the bars at 350 degrees in convection mode. I sprayed a glass pan with nonstick spray and I used a rectangular dish that measures 11 x 7 inches and you can easily use a larger dish for less thicker bars.

You add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is well incorporated. 3/4 of the mixed bar batter goes on the bottom to create an even layer. I use a spatula to smooth it out and press it down a touch. Next comes the filling. You simply spread out the filling to create an even layer. The top layer is the 1/4 amount of the bar batter that remains. I crumble that on top because I do not want to smash or disrupt the middle cream cheese layer. By now the oven usually has reached temperature and in go the bars until baked. This takes between 28 to 35 minutes. Worried the top is over browning? Just add foil on top until the bars are fully baked and I use a toothpick to make sure the bar batter would not stick. You may get a smear of cream cheese but realize you don’t want to over bake the bars. Allow the bars to cool and then you can put them in the fridge. I gave them 4 hours to fully cool and you can even leave them in overnight. Drizzle time!! I cut the bars and find they cut flawlessly when cooled all the way. I tend to cut the bars in different sizes so guests can pick the size they desire. I then melt chocolate and I melted about 1/4 of a cup of Extra Dark Chocolate (Bittersweet). I like the more stronger notes against the sweeter ones the butterscotch tends to give. You can drizzle whatever you want from caramel, white chocolate or semi-sweet. Drizzling on cold cut bars allows the chocolate to harden quick too. I returned the bars to the fridge (uncovered) and within 20 minutes it was set. I then covered the bars in plastic and put them back in the fridge until serving.

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Options: You can add to the filling anything from nuts to dry cranberries, apricots, blueberries to fit any season/occasion. A fruit medley can even be added to give it that full autumn feel. Even though pumpkin everything is hitting the store shelves, we are set for a heat wave in Southern California. This was a pre-Fall treat that is not fully embracing the season because the weather has not gotten the memo! Let’s say I am easing into Autumn and hopefully the weather will too.

Enjoy!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Nature’s Eats and Tryazon. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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Pretzel Bread Recipe

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Everybody loves pretzel bread. Everybody. We see the commercials from drive-thru joints to restaurants, and I was purchasing the 4 bun bag at Trader Joe’s until they discontinued it. So I started purchasing it at Costco then and after two purchases, they suddenly stop making it. I have heard they consider it a “seasonal item”, but whatever the reason, I wanted Pretzel Bread and was tired of hunting. Yes, I even tried Fresh & Easy’s Pretzel buns and they just taste like salty white bread, so I think they just paint their burger buns brown and call it Pretzel bread!

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Pretzel Bread                                                                                                                                                                 Brauts with Pretzel Buns

So after experimenting, I finally found a way to have Pretzel buns, rolls, loaves….you name it and you can even freeze them to have them keep longer. I use plastic wrap and then foil to freeze each roll. I then take them out, remove the plastic and re-wrap the bread in the same foil I used to freeze it in. Set the oven at 375 degrees and 10 to 15 minutes later, I have warm freshly baked Pretzel bread! YUM.

Let’s get started……

For the Dough-

1 cup of whole Milk
3 tablespoons of Butter
2 tablespoons of Brown Sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons of Active Dry yeast (1 packet if using the envelopes)
1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups of All-Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon of Unsalted Butter to use in the bowl your dough will rise in

For the Wash-

12 cups of Water
3/4 cup of Baking Soda

1 Egg and a teaspoon of Water to brush the bread before baking

I use a microwave and warm the milk until it reaches 115 degrees. I add the butter, brown sugar and then the yeast. I use a spoon and make sure to wet the yeast enough and let it sit for about 5 minutes. While the yeast blooms, I begin to combine the salt and flour separately in a large bowl. When 5 minutes have passed, i pour the yeast mixture into the mixer’s bowl with the dough hook attached. Make sure to use a spatula and get any remaining yeast into the bowl since it does not always pour out smoothly. I then begin to incorporate the flour and salt mixture slowly until I get a soft dough and this ranges between 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups. Not sure if the dough is smooth? Error on the side of caution and stick with 3 cups because a moist dough is better that a too dry dough in this application. Continue to knead the dough with the mixer for about 8 to 10 minutes. You want a smooth and elastic finish. I then take the greased bowl that will fit the dough but also allow room for it to proof (double in size). I dump the dough and create a loose ball, cover loosely with plastic and allow for it to rise. Takes about an hour and I use my oven as it has a “proof setting” that I set at 105 degrees.

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Before Rise                                                                                                                                                        After 1 hour Rise

After the dough doubles in size, I begin by weighing it. This allows me to think about what I want to do so for example if I am making two large loaves, I just divide the weight in half. Making large buns, I usually divide the weight by 8. Sometimes I also make sandwich rolls or even a hot dog buns, and again divide the dough by what I desire to make. My dough weighed 785 grams so I felt a bun weighing about 95 to 100 grams, would make a good size individual loaf. I made round rolls and sandwich long buns with this batch. You make what fits best with your meals 🙂

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To make a sandwich long bun, I just make a snake with the dough and then fold each end in. My snake is about 12 inches long so when both ends come together, the roll is almost 6 inches. Buns I just make balls with a flat bottom.

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I then allow the buns to rise between 25 to 30 minutes. I put a towel over the pans and again return the dough to my oven on the proof setting at 105 degrees.

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While my buns rise, I begin to mix the water and baking soda. Bring your wash to a boil and then have a steady simmer going. I take out my spider spoon, because this helps me picking up the buns without a mess of water coming with them.

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I also crack the egg and add the water for the wash. Also a good time to set your oven to 400 degrees. I use the convection setting for bread.

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Buns have risen so now it’s time to “pretzel-ize” them. Just like you would do with bagels, you put one or two buns in and allow them to remain in the baking soda solution for 3 minutes on each side and I use the assistance of a timer because I can get distracted easily. After 6 minutes are up, I remove the buns and place them on parchment and the pan I will be using to bake them on. I have found my pizza pan (with holes) works better when it comes to texture but a cookie sheet works fine if that is all you have at hand.

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Give your bread(s) a brushing with the egg wash and then using a sharp knife, cut an “X” cross on top or slits, whichever you like. I do crosses on the round buns and slits on the longer ones to distinguish their use.  You may also sprinkle Poppy seeds if you wish to have some at this point.

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Pop them in the oven at the 400 degrees setting for about 10 minutes and then reduce to 375 degrees and bake until done. Okay, because buns, loaves, rolls, ect., vary on size, this is why I leave this part open regarding time. Mine took between 5 to 8 minutes on the 375 degrees setting and I take them out when they look as dark as you see pictured. Once you remove the bread, cool on a rack and try not to munch but I always give in to the smell and figure I test out the rolls to make sure they are good. Cool for about an hour or two and then you can freeze them like I described above.

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These guys are good as-is, for sandwiches and you can even make your own pretzel crisps, which I have used for even accompanying hummus and spreads. To make the crisps, you just slice a cool loaf and then toast them and allow them to cool. Best dipping bread EVER!!!!  Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Maple Pecan Muffins with a Cream Cheese filling & Crumble Topping

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Fall is nearing even though the weather says, “No”, but the trees say, “Yes”. I wanted a recipe that is not too committed to the Fall flavors but I can adjust as the season changes. I find such adjustment can be made with the spice so I go a little lighter on the Pumpkin Pie spice when the weather is warmer. I hope you enjoy this simple recipe that is my way to start getting in that Autumn mood.

Batter:
15 ounce can of Pumpkin Puree (not the pie mix)
1/2 cup of Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 tablespoon of Unsalted Butter (melted)
2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
1/4 of Maple Syrup
1/2 tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice (go with how you desire the spice to be)
1 teaspoon of Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda
1/3 cup of Milk (you can also use Almond Milk, Yogurt, Coconut Milk or a mix like I did. I used whole Milk and Almond milk to make 1/3 of a cup)
1/2 cup toasted Pecan pieces or halves
3/4 cup of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I used a mix of mini and
normal size)
1 3/4 cup of All-Purpose Flour

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounce package of Cream Cheese (softened)
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon of All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Sugar

Crumble top:
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 of Old-Fashioned Oats
4 Tablespoons of Salted Butter (melted)

1 Muffin pan that yields 12 muffins/cupcakes

Optional:
12 Pecan Halves (not toasted)
1 tablespoon of Maple Syrup

I preheat my oven to 400 degrees and spray my muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. I use the Pam with Flour to yield the best results.

I start by mixing all my wet ingredients in a bowl. I then drop the ingredients in my mixer’s bowl and incorporate for 20 to 30 seconds.

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I then add the toasted Pecans and Chocolate chips.

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In another bowl, I mix the flour and baking soda and baking powder. On low, I begin to incorporate the dry ingredients with the wet mixture until everything is just mixed.

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I take my muffin pan and fill the cups but leaving enough room so I can add the cream cheese filling and topping.

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To make the filling, just take all ingredients and mix until incorporated. If the cream cheese is not soft enough, a 10 to 15 second intervals in the microwave will fix that right up.

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Add the filling to your muffin batter. You can choose to have a center of cream cheese to your muffin or even a cream cheese top, or get creative and make a marbling. I was in a hurry so I plopped and went with a “at home” look, so the cream cheese stayed where it landed! 🙂

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I then add more of the pumpkin batter to cover the cream cheese.

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To make the crumble top, it is as easy as the filling. Incorporate all the dry ingredients and then mix in the butter until you have crumbles. Add the crumble to your muffins.

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I added a Pecan half to each muffin to give them that Autumn look. This is optional.

I put the muffin pan in the oven and let it bake at 400 for 15 minutes and then cover with foil and let it bake between 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until a toothpick comes clean. If you notice that 2 muffins come clean when tested but one is not playing nice, sometimes the cream cheese can be deceiving so I always go with the majority rule and pull them out than over bake them. You notice the Pecan may over brown or burn, cover with foil sooner as I know ovens vary.

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Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 8 to 10 minutes and I remove them by using a chop stick or toothpick to assist in pulling the muffin out without destroying or knocking off the topping. I then place the muffins on a rack to finish cooling. Have family that is impatient when you bake? You can eat these semi-warm so after 10 to 15 minutes, they can go at them!

Now, you will notice my pecan is shiny and that is because when I remove the muffins from the pan and onto a rack, I then take my finger and softly touch the pecan with maple syrup. Gives the nut flavor and it cools looking pretty.

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Options: You can add dried cranberries, raisins, or even substitute the nut for one more to your liking. You don’t have to toast the nuts if you are short on time, I just do it because it gives the pecans a better flavor. You could also add butterscotch chips……make it your own as I have no rules!

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You will notice you may have 2 to 3 muffin worth of pumpkin batter left and some cream cheese. I believe in not wasting so I take a couple ramekins and created a swirl by using both the batter and filling. Once cooled, you can cover with ganache and again this is even something you can do to make the muffins 🙂 Have fun!

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