Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

This decadent chocolate brownie topped with rich and creamy raspberry cheesecake is a dessert you will definitely feel guilty about… but it’ll be so worth it! Plus, there’s a super fun Berlin giveaway! Yay!

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies | JavaCupcake.com

There’s no doubt about it.  There is nothing healthy about these raspberry cheesecake brownies.  From the eggs, butter, sugar and chocolate in the brownie to the full fat cream cheese and sugar covered berries in the cheesecake topping… everything about this dessert is decadent, delicious and oh so good!

While I was in Berlin for the New Year, I knew I had to take some time out to meet and bake with Erin of Texanerin Baking.   There aren’t many American food bloggers living in Europe and I’ve been looking forward to connecting with Erin since I’ve lived here.  Her style of baking is a it different from mine because it focuses on making healthier versions of desserts, snacks and other food yet still maintaining delicious taste and quality!

JavaCupcake & Texanerin!

I met up with Erin at her apartment and was greeted so sweetly by her husband.  Erin and her husband live in Berlin while he finishes up his education.  Before we got to baking, I had brought a surprise for Erin… a 5lb bag of all-purpose flour!  See, Germans don’t use AP flour.  They have different versions of white, unbleached flour but none of them are as good as AP flour.  Erin had never seen a bag so big before… she was pretty excited to start baking with it!

We had decided to make a Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie together… but make it two ways.  Full fat, full sugar and full flavor and then a lightened up, healthier version.  We wanted to show that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for healthier choices in baking.

Starting with a the Baked brownie recipe for the base, my recipe used all-purpose flour and granulated sugar.  Erin’s version uses whole wheat flour and coconut sugar… two easy ways to lighten up the brownie.

After taste testing both brownies, neither of us could tell a difference.  Both brownies were incredibly delicious and oh so addicting.  I think Erin mentioned that between her and her husband, most of the brownies were gone the next day!  Yeah… so were mine.  They were THAT good.

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies | JavaCupcake.com

Make sure to visit Erin’s blog Texanerin Baking for her healthier version of these brownies!

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 8-12 brownies
Ingredients
Brownies
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6oz dark chocolate
  • 4oz unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp espresso powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup homemade brown sugar (Recipe Here )
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Rapsberry Cheesecake Topping
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen berries, thawed
  • 1 Tbsp homemade brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees or 180 C degrees and line a 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, make the brown sugar & set aside. (See recipe link above)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, and salt.
  4. In a heat-proof glass bowl, melt the chocolate either in your microwave or a double boiler and set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Whisk in the sugars until smooth.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time and whisk until incorporated. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  7. Pour the chocolate/sugar mixture into the flour mixture and fold together until no more flour is visible.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread out evenly.
  9. In another bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese, ⅓ cup sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.
  10. Gently spread the cream cheese evenly over the chocolate batter.
  11. In a small bowl, sprinkle the 1 Tbsp sugar over the berries and mix to combine. Break up the berries until it resembles a jam consistency.
  12. Spoon dollops of raspberry over the cream cheese mixture. Using a knife, swirl the raspberry into the cream cheese.
  13. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden and the top is firm to the touch.
  14. Allow to cool in the pan completely before cutting into square and serving.

A Berlin Giveaway!

As a fun treat for our readers, since Erin and I had such a good time together baking… we’ve put together a prize package of some fun baking related goodies that are exclusive to Berlin!   To win all these great prizes, simply fill out the Rafflecopter widget below.

Contest open to those with a USA mailing address.  Contest ends Thursday, Feb. 6th at 11:00pm PST and a winner will be chosen Friday, Feb. 7th. Winner will have 24 hours to respond to our email before a new winner will be chosen.

The Prizes:

Have you ever heard of the Ampelmann? He’s the character on all the stop lights in East Berlin.  He’s pretty famous here.  So, we’re giving you a set of Ampelmann cookie cutters!

Amplemann Cookie Cutters | JavaCupcake.com

The Brandenburg Gate and the TV Tower are two iconic landmarks in Berlin.  Everyone who visits this great city goes to see them.  And now, you can enjoy these landmarks in cookie form with the Brandenburg Gate and TV Tower cookie cutters!

Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and TV Tower Cookie Cutters | JavaCupcake.comLindt is a Swiss chocolate that I know is sold world-wide.  But, I had never seen a Lindt store until I was in Berlin.  Nothing but delicious Lindt chocolates and other confections.  And when I say other confections, I mean these grinders I scored at the store in Berlin.  One is chocolate & sugar and the other is chocolate & espresso.  Can you imagine the possibilities for these?  Recently, I used the espresso grinder on top of espresso truffles.   So good.  You’ll get one of each!

Lindt Grinders | JavaCupcake.comRitter Sport is a 100 year old chocolate company based out of Germany.  Ritter recently opened a store in Berlin where you can have a bar of chocolate handmade for you with your favorite mix-ins.  You will get two hand made bars from the Ritter store with the following mix-ins: Milk Chocolate, Biscuit Bits & Mini Marshmallows AND Dark Chocolate, Strawberry Pieces & Hazlenut.  So yum!

Handmade Ritter Sport Chocolate Bars from Berlin, Germany | JavaCupcake.com

Finally, Viba is a German company that makes nougat bars that, according to Erin, everyone she knows in the USA is always asking for her to send them!  So, You’ll get 4 Praline dark nougat Bars and a 3-pack of Classic nougat Bars!

Viba Nougat Bars | JavaCupcake.coma Rafflecopter giveaway

Chunky Apple Sugar Cookie Sheet Cake Bars

Chunks of sweet honey crisp apples surrounded by cinnamon sugar cookie dough topped with whipped cinnamon buttercream make these Chunky Apple Sugar Cookie Sheet Cake Bars a must-bake dessert for your family!

Chunky Apple Sugar Cookie Sheet Cake Bars - Chunks of apples fill this sugar cookie sheet cake that's covered in a creamy cinnamon buttercream | JavaCupcake.com

My daughter has been eating apples a lot lately… almost one everyday.  She slices them, puts them in a bowl with a spoonful of peanut butter or sometimes with a couple slices of cheese.  Emily loves apples.

Her love of this crispy fruit got me to thinking about baking with them.   How could I incorporate the crunch and sweet flavor of a Honey Crisp apple into a dessert??  Hmm… a cupcake? Naw.  I’ve done that before.  Pie?  Yup, done that too.

Cookies?  YES! Winner! I haven’t made an apple cookie yet!

But wait… how about a cookie cake?

EVEN BETTER!

This chunky apple sugar cookie sheet cake bars, have a sugar cookie flavor with a cake-like texture but are loaded with chucks of sweet and crisp apples and tons of delicious cinnamon flavor.  I’ve topped them with a thin layer of whipped cinnamon frosting.

They get their name from the way they are baked… in a sheet cake pan and from their texture.  These bars definitely have the sugar cookie texture and flavor, yet they are thicker and have a crumb like a cake.

Chunky Apple Sugar Cookie Sheet Cake Bars - Chunks of apples fill this sugar cookie sheet cake that's covered in a creamy cinnamon buttercream | JavaCupcake.com

It’s a cookie. It’s a cake.  It’s a bar.  It’s a Cookie Sheet Cake Bar!

This would make a great treat for a pot-luck or party.  It can be sliced in any size and would be delicious with a scoop of vanilla or caramel ice cream on the side!  Ooohh!  Why didn’t I think of that before I took the pictures and ate 3 pieces?   ha ha ha

Yum.  Seriously.  These sugar cookie sheet cake bars are like a slice of apple pie, but better.  You need to try them!!!

Enjoy!

Chunky Apple Sugar Cookie Sheet Cake Bars
 
Ingredients
Bars
  • 2½ cups Honey Crisp apples, peeled and diced (about 1½ large apples)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
Frosting
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
Bars
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Spray with Pillsbury Baking Spray with flour a jelly roll pan or large, tall sided cookie sheet. Line with parchment paper and spray again.
  2. Prepare the apples by peeling, coring and dicing them into ¼-1/2" chunks.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. While the butter and sugar are creaming, in another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  5. Add the eggs to the butter/sugar one at a time mixing well after each. Scrape the sides of the bowl several times to make sure all the egg has been incorporated.
  6. Mix in the vanilla.
  7. Slowly add the flour to the creamed mixture and mix on high until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure everything has been incorporated.
  8. Add the apples and mix until they have been evenly distributed through the batter. N
  9. NOTE: The batter will be thick. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  10. Bake 18-25 minutes or until the edges have browned and a toothpick comes out without any wet batter. You should see a few cookie crumbs stuck to the toothpick.
  11. Cool cookie bars in the pan on a wire rack until they are completely cool.
  12. Using the parchment paper, carefully lift the cookie out and place on a cutting board.
Frosting
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time and mix on high until incorporated.
  3. Mix in the vanilla, cinnamon and the salt.
  4. Add the heavy cream and mix on high for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
Assembly & Storage
  1. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting over the top of the cooled sheet of cookie.
  2. Cut into squares.
  3. Sprinkle each square with a dusting of ground cinnamon.
  4. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Notes
Original recipe from The Seaside Baker

Bloggers Around the World Supporting the Troops: A Deployment Care Package Program

Bloggers Around the World Supporting the Troops - A Deployment Care Package Program by JavaCupcake.com

I am incredibly excited to be able to announce a new series that I am very proud of!  Bloggers Around the World Supporting the Troops is a Deployment Care Package Program sponsored by JavaCupcake.com and is designed to inspire bloggers to use their creative expertise to put together themed care packages to send to a platoon of deployed soldiers in Afghanistan.

UPDATE: To see photos from the soldiers opening the care package – scroll to the bottom of this page! 

Not just any soldiers though… MY SOLDIER.   Each care package will go to my husband, SGT David Eves,  and his platoon of fellow soldiers.  They were recently deployed to the Kandahar Provence of Afghanistan to aid in the pulling out of the US Army as their time there comes to an end.  The picture below is of the platoon the night they deployed.  My husband is third from the left in the back row.  *swoon*

2nd Platoon, Fox Troop, 2/2 CR - Vilseck, Germany by JavaCupcake.comI’ve enlisted the help of some AMAZING friends and bloggers like Amanda from i am baker and Dorothy from Crazy for Crust (just to name a few!) to put together packages for Dave and his platoon!  Each month, I’ll be posting a link to their posts, so make sure to check back on the second Tuesday of every month!

Until then… check out the Deployment Care Package Program main page for tips & resources & info on how you can get involved! 

 

Are You Ready For Some Football?!

Bloggers Around the World Supporting the Troops - A Deployment Care Package Program by JavaCupcake.com

With football season underway, I thought a football themed care package would be perfect to get things started!  The Are You Ready For Some Football?! care package has been packed full of everything the soldiers would need to enjoy their favorite football game while they’re taking a break from missions!

Helping me put together this care package was Mrs. Suzen Merritt (middle), the wife of  Fox Troop’s 1st Sergeant, Mrs. Sarah Jacksaon (pictured with me), the wife of 2nd platoon’s PlatoonSergeant and my neighbor Chasity Burger (not pictured).

Decorating!

We decorated the inside top flaps of the box with football themes! The first thing we wanted the soldiers to see was that we really put together this box with a lot of love and wanted them to get excited for what was inside!

How to Decorate a Football Themed Care Package Box by JavaCupcake.comSupplies needed:

  • Football themed scrapbooking paper
  • Construction paper
  • White paper
  • Glue/glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • Sharpies
  • Foam tshirts (or you can just cutout shapes from paper)

DIY Instructions for Each Flap: 

  • Are You Ready For Some Football? – Cut football scrapbook paper and brown construction paper to fit the flap.  Glue in place. Cut out letters from yellow construction paper to spell out “Are You Ready For Some Football?” and glue down.

FOOTBALL

  • Go Team! - Cut Varsity Letters scrapbook paper & green construction paper to fit the flap and glue in place. Cut out “Go Team” letters from blue construction paper and a megaphone shape from yellow construction paper and glue down.  Write “VARSITY” in crayon on the megaphone.

GO-TEAM

  • Swamp Fox! – Cut Stars scrapbook paper and white paper to fit the flap and glue down. Cut helmet shape from red construction paper with silver crayon write your Troop/team name and glue them down. Write names/numbers on the foam tshirt cutouts with a Sharpie and glue down.

SWAMP-FOX

  • XOXO – Cut Green grass scrapbook paper and green construction paper to fit the flap and glue down. Cut X’s & O’x cutout from black construction paper, footballs cutout from brown construction paper and glue down. Use a pen to draw laces on footballs.

XOXO

For more decorating ideas for deployment boxes, check out my Care Packages for Soldires Pinterest Board!

 

Inside the Box!

Contents

Inside this hand-decorated box the soldiers will find:

  • Everything they need for Nachos!  5 bags of tortilla chips, 5 jars of queso, 5 jars of salsa, 5 cans of beans & 2 cans of green chilies
  • A big bag of homemade Chex Mix
  • Homemade Cocoa Krispie Treats shaped like footballs – enough for each soldier (see recipe below)
  • 2 bags of Banana Chips

Football Cocoa Krispie Treats by JavaCupcake.com

Tips for Packaging!

Since this box contained cans, jars and soft items… we needed to use several different techniques for packaging.

Supplies needed: 

  • Packing peanuts
  • Newspaper
  • Recycled plastic grocery sacks
  • Ziploc bags (snack size & gallon)

How to pack a deployment box with cans, jars and soft items by JavaCupcake.com

Packaging Tips:

  • #1: Line packing peanuts on the bottom of the box.  Distribute canned items evenly across the bottom on top of the packing peanuts.  Try not to let the cans touch each other or the sides of the box.
  • #2: Wrap each jar in 2-3 pieces of newspaper then wrap that in a recycled plastic grocery sack.  Spread more packing peanuts on top of the canned items then place the jars onto, again… trying not to let them touch each other or the sides of the box.  Place more peanuts on top and the sides of the jars making sure to get peanuts between the jars and the walls of the box.
  • #3: Pack Chex Mix and Krispie Treats in Ziploc bags then wrap each in a recycled grocery sack. Lay these softer items on top and pack the chips next to them.  Try not to place anything on top of the bags of chips.
  • #4: Fill the top of the box with packing peanuts until full.  Make sure they fill all the edges & corners next to the walls of the box.

Extra Packing & Shipping Tips:

  • Use strong packing tape to tape the box closed.
  • Use a large sharpie to write the address on the outside of the box.
  • Make sure to include your return address.
  • Completely fill out a CUSTOMS FORM.

For more tips to successful care packages… download my Shipping Guidelines for sending care packages to Iraq & Afghanistan!

 

Bloggers Around the World Supporting the Troops - A Deployment Care Package Program by JavaCupcake.com

How You Can Help!

Are you interested in supporting a Platoon of soldiers by sending your own care package?  There are A LOT of soldiers in need… not just my husband’s platoon… and I can get you connected with them!  Simply fill out this form below and I’ll get you all the details!

[contact-form to=’ betsy@javacupcake.com’ subject=’CARE PACKAGE PROGRAM’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Blog Name/URL’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Why would you like to be involved? ‘ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Football Cocoa Krispie Treats
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 12 Football Cocoa Krispie Treats
Ingredients
  • 3 cups cocoa rice cereal
  • 3 cups rice cereal
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • football shaped cookie cutter
  • white chocolate (optional)
Instructions
  1. Grease a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.
  3. Add the mini marshmallows and heat until melted, stirring occasionally.
  4. Pour in the rice cereals and mix with a wooden spoon until completely covered.
  5. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan. Using a piece of wax paper coated in cooking spray, press down the mixture evenly in the pan.
  6. Allow to cool and set for 2 hours.
  7. Cut the treats into football shapes using the football cutter.
  8. Melt white chocolate and pipe on lines for the laces. This step is optional.

UPDATE!

After about 6 weeks, 2nd platoon finally recieved their care package and were able to take a break long enough to enjoy what was inside!

[slideshow_deploy id=’11357′]

Espresso and Toffee Chip Brownies plus
Deployment Care Package #1

Naturally, my husband forgot to pack a few things when he left for Afghanistan and asked me to send those things to him ASAP.  Obviously, this care package must include something delicious and baked… so these Espresso and Toffee Chip Brownies were created!

Espresso and Toffee Chip Brownies by JavaCupcake.com

This is Dave and his Platoon literally hours before they hopped on buses in Vilseck, Germany to Ramstein Air Base in Germany then to Manas, Kyrgystan then Kandahar, Afghanistan!

2nd Platoon, Fox Troop, 2/2 CR - Vilseck, Germany by JavaCupcake.com

Since I had to come up with something on the fly, I needed to utilize what I had on hand in my kitchen… plus make something I know my husband would like.  Dave mentioned once he got to Kyrgyzstan that he really enjoyed the espresso brownies that I made for his deployment night goodie bag so I thought I’d make those again, but put a little spin on them.

The original recipe for the brownies from from the book “The Secret Lives of Baked Goods” by my friend, Jessie Oleson of CakeSpy. (Link to buy the book is below!) In the brownies for the deployment goodie bags I added espresso powder,  butterscotch chips and white chocolate chips.  They were thick, rich, full of espresso flavor and the white/butterscotch chips added some extra crunch and sweetness.  YUM!

Espresso and Toffee Chip Brownies by JavaCupcake.com

These Espresso and Toffee Chip Brownies have even more espresso in them and then are topped with a toffee & chocolate chip combo that makes these brownies OUT OF THIS WORLD!  They are rich, chewy, fudgey and full of espresso flavor… the toffee bits give them a yummy little crunch too! YUM!

This care package will also be the first of MANY that I’ll be sending down range.  I’ll be documenting each care package through the process too as well as post some care packages from some of my favorite Food Blogger friends!  Sweet!

Check out what’s inside and some tips for packaging these brownies at the end of this post!

Enjoy!

Espresso & Toffee Chip Brownies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 16-24 brownies - depending on size
Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (I used Hershey's - link below)
  • ¼ cup espresso powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1½ cups toffee & chocolate chips (I used a bag of Hershey's - link below)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a 9x13in baking pan, line with parchment paper and grease the paper.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, melt the cubed butter.
  4. While the butter is melting, combine the sugars in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the sugars on low until there aren't any lumps.
  5. Pour in the melted butter and mix with the sugars until completely combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs.
  7. In three parts, add the eggs the sugar and butter and mix well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix in the vanilla.
  8. Slowly, add in the flour and cocoa with the mixer on low speed. Mix until just combined and there is no more dry flour visible.
  9. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  10. Sprinkle toffee & chocolate bits evenly over the top of the batter. Press a knife gently into the batter and swirl it back and forth to gently distribute the bits into the top layer of the batter. NOTE: You don't want to completely cover the bits, just get them into the batter with about half of them still showing.
  11. Bake for about 45 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and cool in a pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
  13. Flip brownies out on to a cutting board and cool completely before cutting into square.
Notes
Original brownie recipe from "The Secret Lives of Baked Goods" by Jessie Oleson of CakeSpy.com

Deployment Care Package #1 by JavaCupcake.com

Deployment Care Package #1 by JavaCupcake.com

Inside this care package:

  • Vibram 5 Fingers (hubby forgot them!)
  • Sling that holds all his pouches that he wears over his body armor – this is called his “kit”.  (forgot this too!)
  • Haribo Ginger and Lemon & Colorado gummies – his favorite!
  • Photos from home – I printed some of my favorite pictures of Dave and the family from the weeks before he left
  • Card from his kids

TIPS for packaging Brownies:

  • Use a disposable Ziploc-type storage box to package the brownies.
  • Place wax paper between the layers of brownies and on top.
  • Place a half a piece of regular white bread in the box with the brownies – this will help them from drying out.
  • Use packaging tape around the edges to make sure the lid stays closed during transit.
  • Inside the box, try to place items around the box of brownies to protect it from bouncing around.  I placed the Haribo on the bottom and wrapped his kit around the edges with the 5 Fingers on top.

 

Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Sweet and chewy, these cherry chocolate chip granola bars make the perfect snack for any deploying soldier!

Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars by JavaCupcake.com

This weekend is going to be pretty hard for me.  There are a lot of things happening that are out of my control… things I do not want to do, but have to.  Things that will change my life forever.  It’s hard for me to handle… not being in control of the things in my life.

See… my husband is leaving for Afghanistan this weekend.  His third deployment.  His third time putting his life on the line for a country he loves.  For me… it’s my third time having to watch the love of my life walk away… possibly forever… shattering my heart into a million pieces.

I was trying to explain to someone the other day what it felt like this week leading up to his deployment and said this…  My heart is breaking into a million pieces and it’s happening slow motion. I can see everything playing out in front of me… my husband packing, getting ready, my love preparing to leave me…  but there is nothing I can do to stop it.

So, I do what I can.  I do the things I can control.  And in my world, that’s baking.

I’m putting together two dozen care packages for my husband and his soldiers to bring with them on the plane ride to Afghanistan.  I can control that.   Right?

Pre-Deployment Goodie Bags by JavaCupcake.com

In the care packages I’m including a bottle of water,  my Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, Espresso Brownies (a recipe I adapted from CakeSpy’s book The Secret Lives of Baked Goods), Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and these Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars!

The recipe I used for the granola bars  is originally from the Fearless Homemaker… but I mixed it up a bit and added dark chocolate cherry muesli and chopped dried cherries to the mix! YUM.

The outside of each bag had the soldier’s name on it and an inspirational tag I made with a small note from my family to each soldier.  The quote I used on the tags came from General Normal Schwarzkopf…

True courage is being afraid and going ahead and doing your job anyhow.  That’s what courage is.

I wanted to let them know that it was okay to be afraid, but that they are strong enough to push through the fear, do their job and come home safely to their friends and family.

Pre-Deployment Goodie Bag Tags by JavaCupcake.comFREE PRINTABLE:  Click HERE to download a blank copy of the name tags I used.  Click HERE to download a generic version of the “You Will Be Missed” tags I used.

These bags were super easy to put together.  I used brown paper lunch sacks, red and white curling ribbon, red and blue card stock, a hole punch, scissors and glue sticks.

Assembly was super easy too…

  1. Print enough tags for each soldier.   Use Photoshop to add names to each tag or hand write them on.
  2. Glue the tags to card stock and cut out along the edges.
  3. Fill each bag with goodies.
  4. Fold over the tops of each bag and punch two holes in the top.   Punch a hole on the end of each tag.
  5. Push a red and white ribbon through the holes and tie in a knot.  String the tags onto one of the ends of the ribbon and tie securely.
  6. Curl the ends of the ribbon.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars by JavaCupcake.com

So… this will be my husband’s 3rd deployment.  One might think it’s easier each time to say goodbye.

It’s not.

It’s harder.

A lot harder.

Maybe I should apply that quote to my life as well.  *sigh*

So… I bake.  I create.  I put my love into making care packages for these soldiers.  Because that’s the one thing… the only thing… I have control over in this process.

To my husband… I love you.  Please, come home to me.

Deployment 2013-69

Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 15-24 bars - depending on the size you cut them
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup dark chocolate cherry muesli (I used a German brand, but any kind will work)
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 80g dried cherries, chopped
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips, for garnish
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Spray a deep cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a very large bowl, mix together the quick oats, muelsi, crispy rice cereal, chopped cherries and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  3. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
  4. Add the honey and brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Bring to a slow bubble for about 2 minutes or until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let stand for 1-2 minutes to cool slightly.
  5. Slowly pour the warm mixture over the oat mixture in four parts. Fold/stir with a wooden spoon or spatula after each addition until none of the mixture is dry. Do this part slowly to ensure that all the oats are completely covered.
  6. Press the mixture into your prepared cookie sheet. Using a large piece of wax paper, press the mixture firmly into the pan, making sure it reaches the edges and corner. Use a lot of pressure to make sure you really push it into the pan. NOTE: If you don't push hard enough, your bars will crumble when you cut them. So, don't be afraid to use a lot of pressure!
  7. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly across the top and press into the bars.
  8. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars.
  9. Store in zip lock bags or a container with a lid at room temperature.

Apple Pie Bars

Oh yeah.  It’s definitely Fall here in Germany.   Leave leaves are changing colors, the weather has turned brisk and cold and the apples are calling my name!

This past weekend I picked up a big bag of mini Granny Smith Apples for my family to take in their lunches at school & work, but… hehehe… they didn’t make it to their lunches.  Today I decided to bake something with them.  Not just anything… something that screams FALL and DELICIOUS and that would make my house smell like HEAVEN.

I succeeded.  Let me introduce you to my friend the Apple Pie Bar.  This bar has a super yummy crust topped with caramelized apples and a crumble topping that’s so gooood. I’m not sure if my family will have more than just one to sample when they get home today… they might all end up in my belly!

So if you have some apples in your fridge and an hour to spare… make these bars for your family (or yourself).  They’re gonna love you for it!

Recipe inspired by Annie’s Eats and My Baking Addiction

Apple Pie Bars
 
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1⅓ cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
Filling
  • 6 small Granny Smith apples - sliced, peeled and cored
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar, not packed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp corn starch
Topping
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, not packed
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cold & cubed
  • 1 cup quick oats
Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Line 8x8 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the dry ingredients. Add the butter.
  3. Pulse 6-7 times or until a crumbly dough forms and most of the butter has been broken up and incorporated.
  4. Press into baking dish.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
Filling
  1. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
  2. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the apples, sugars and spices and mix until combined.
  4. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the apples just begin to become tender.
  5. Add the corn starch and stir GENTLY 2-3 minutes or until it becomes thick.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool until crust is ready.
Topping
  1. In the food processor, pulse together 4-5 times everything except the quick oats. DO NOT OVER PULSE. You want the butter to be in chunks, but not completely combined.
  2. Fold in the oats.
Assembly
  1. After the crust has cooked to golden edges, pour over the apple filling.
  2. Sprinkle the topping over the apples and spread to the edges. NOTE: I only used about ⅔ of the topping, but feel free to use all or as much of it as you like.
  3. Bake at 375 F degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown in color.
  4. Cool completely before removing from pan and cutting. You may want to cool them in the refrigerator to help set them up before cutting.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 9 bars

White Chocolate Chip and M&M Cookie Bars

If you haven’t already noticed, I have a bit of an obsession with cookie bars.  See, I LOOOOOVE cookies but I HAAAAATE rolling and dropping them and baking 2-3 sheets of cookies per batch of dough.  I’d much rather throw it all into one pan and bake it once, cut them when they’re cool and BAM! Cookies!

So yeah, I make them a lot.  I make them with all kinds of different candies and chocolates in them and I usually end up eating most of them.  Okay, well… not most of them… I always share, but not many.  tee hee

Today’s cookies come from a recipe by I found on How Sweet It Is. Now, she turned this recipe into actual cookies and used different candies and chocolate in it… but the idea is still the same.   It all equals YUM.

White Chocolate Chip and M&M Cookie Bars
 
Prep time
Cook time
 
Serves: About 18 cookie bars
Ingredients
  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 medium eggs + 1 medium egg yolk, at room temperature (If you have large eggs, just omit one full egg)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup M&Ms
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line bottom of 9x13 pan with parchment paper and grease/butter sides and bottom of the pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars breaking up any large clumps. Add the melted butter and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.
  5. Add the flour and mix together using a spatula. Scrape the sides of the bowl often to make sure all the flour is incorporated.
  6. Fold in the M&Ms and white chocolate chips.
  7. Pour dough into prepared pan and spread evenly into the sides and corners. Sprinkle a few extra M&Ms on top and gently press down. (These are so they're pretty when you cut them!)
  8. Place in freezer for 10 minutes to set. (Or if you have longer and aren't impatient like I am, put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.)
  9. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until edges are brown and the center has begin to set and is no longer runny/gooey. Do not over bake.
  10. Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack almost completely before cutting.
  11. To cut, flip pan over onto a cutting board and cut into squares.

Peanut M&M Brownies

I’m always in the mood to bake.  Especially when I don’t have to dirty up my stand mixer.  Especially when it’s cloudy and rainy outside.  Especially when I have no plans for the day.  Especially when I already have pie and cupcakes in my kitchen.  Especially when I am craving chocolate.  Especially when… oh, uhm…  well… I guess whenever really!

Remember those peanut M&M in German colors I found a few weeks ago at the Edeka here in Germany?  Well, I haven’t gotten around to using them yet… until today.  But hmm… what should I put them in?  While browsing Pinterest, I came across a pretty simple recipe for brownies from Buns in My Oven which I used as my inspiration for these brownies. Fudgey brownies are my weakness, so I was sure I’d love this recipe!

Just a little note on these brownies, they are super sweet and call for a lot of sugar.  If you want them less sweet, I’d cut the sugar by at least 1/2 a cup… maybe more.  Also, they are really super fudgey, so if you want more cake like brownies, use only 2 eggs.

PS… These would be really good minus the M&Ms and add a cup of peanuts.  The crunch and saltyness of the peanuts go really well in these brownies… I found myself wanting more peanut in each bite!

5 from 1 reviews
Peanut M&M Brownies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 12 brownies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup *2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup chocolate chunk
  • 1-2 cups Peanut M&Ms, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking pan. I also lined the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter on low-med heat. Whisk in the sugars and cook 1-2 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved, whisking constantly.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, cocoa powder and espresso powder and whisk until dissolved, about 2 minutes.
  5. Fold the butter/chocolate mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.
  6. Add the eggs and whisk until combined.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chunks & 1 cup of the M&Ms. Use your spatula to scrape the sides and fold a few times to ensure everything is combined.
  8. Spread batter into prepared baking pan.
  9. Use the remaining M&Ms to place on top of the batter. It's always best when you have a few M&Ms showing on top!
  10. Baking 27-33 minutes or until the edges are firm and the center is still a bit soft. Allow to cool in pan before removing to cut and serve.