Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint Gooey Cake Bars

Girl scout cookie thin mint gooey cake bars. Now that's a mouthful to say, isn't it? Well, let me just tell you, it's a delicious mouthful. I am not sure how many of you have girl scout cookies still laying around (I know, who am I fooling?), but if you are like me and still have a box or two in the back of your pantry, then this recipe is just for you. Simple. Easy. Delicious. Addicting.

When girl scout cookies first became available this season, I was a strong girl and did not buy a single box. I felt so bad saying no to everyone at work who asked me to order some, but I knew if I did, I would eat them all. Let's be real - who can just eat one girl scout cookie? I know I can't. I know most people can't. There must be something in the small cookies! I waited and waited and waited and then I finally decided I wanted to make thin mint ice cream. Not sure why that popped into my head, but I was determined to make it. When I finally decided to hunt them down, I couldn't find a single box! By the time I actually found a box (thank you little girl scouts selling in front of my local CVS!), I had come across this recipe and completely forgot about the ice cream. Plus, it's a little too cold for ice cream right now and who doesn't love a gooey cake bar?

Now, I am going to tell you a little secret, but promise me you won't tell anyone- pinky promise? Okay. Get ready. Here is comes. This recipe starts off with a boxed cake mix. I know you are shocked, but just go with me on this one, okay? You know I rarely used boxed cake mixes, but sometimes, they are just so handy and you honestly would never know the difference. Especially with all the yummy ingredients you put in the recipe. So, don't run away just yet and trust me on this one. You won't regret it. I promise you. So, to get these ooey gooey cake bars started, you take a yellow boxed cake mix and add it one egg and a stick of softened butter. Mix it really well with your hands (your hands are the best kitchen tool!) and place in the bottom of a large pan to create a "crust". Then sprinkle (more like pour!) a cup of chocolate chips over the top, then chopped andes candies. Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, top the chips and candies with a can of condensed sweetened milk. Then, to finish is all off, top everything with broken up thin mint cookies. I didn't  say these were good for you, but I did say that they were super ooberly delicious. Just be warned that you may not be able to just eat one. There is just something in those girl scout cookies!

look at those cookies
 
one stick of butter - how bad can these bars really be?
 
lining the pan with foil makes the bars easier to get out
 
chocolate chips are way too addiciting
 
just when you thought it couldn't get better - top the chocolate chips with andes candies
 
 I could eat sweetened condensed milk with a spoon
 
not to forget the cookies!
 
baked all gooey and delicious!

Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint Gooey Cake Bars (Picky Palate)

1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 stick softened butter
1 large egg
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup Andes Mint pieces
1 small can Sweetened Condensed Milk
20 Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies, broken into pieces
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 inch baking dish with non stick cooking spray or line with foil.
 
Place cake mix, butter and egg into a large bowl, mix until dough forms. Using hands is easiest to mix together. Press dough into bottom of prepared baking dish. Top evenly with chocolate chips and Andes mints. Drizzle sweet milk over top and top with broken pieces of Thin Mint Cookies. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until baked through. Immediately after removing from oven, take a plastic knife around edges to loosen. Let cool completely. Cut into squares and serve. Enjoy!
 
 
If you don't have thin mints, you can make these bars with any of your favorite girl scout cookies!
 


Friday, March 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Thighs

This is one of the hands down, best crock pot recipes I have ever tried. No joke. My mom told me how much she loved it and if she loved it, I knew I would too. There isn't to much that she likes that I don't like. Well, besides cucumbers and watermelon. Those are the worst. The smell. The taste. Oh man, don't get me started.

Let's keep this short and simple - this crock pot recipe couldn't be easier to throw together. Just a few dry seasonings, chicken thighs, garlic and the all important balsamic vinegar. I know you are probably thinking - vinegar in the crock pot for hours? I thought the same thing too and was completely worried that either the vinegar would burn or reduce down so much that it would be way too sticky. And trust me, no one wants burnt vinegar. That's gross. Not to fear though, the vinegar did burn or get sticky! In fact, the vinegar, along with the chicken juices and condensation from the lid created this slightly tangy and sweet sauce that was out of this world delicious. That punch of flavor you usually get with any kind of vinegar was completely softened down and just perfect with the spices and the chicken. With some rice and veggies, you have the perfect complete meal. This is a must make!

All ready to go and slow cook!
 
look at all that rich sauce!
 
dinner is served

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Thighs (Sugar Free Mom)

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
 
Combine the first five dry spices in a small bowl and spread over chicken on both sides. Set aside. Pour olive oil and garlic on the bottom of the crock pot. Place chicken on top and pour balsamic vinegar over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for six hours, or until done. Serve and enjoy!
 
 
So easy. So delicious. So simple.
 
 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

As much as love making big layer cakes and other overly complicated desserts, I love one that is simple and easy. In comes this one bowl chocolate cake. No mixer. No excessive cleaning. Just one bowl, one spoon and one round cake pan. People continue to tell me that simpler is better and maybe they are right. Maybe you don't need all those layers and all that frosting to make a yummy and delicious cake. Let me just say, this cake changed my mind. Simpler is better and just as delicious! I can't believe I am about to say this, but maybe you don't always need frosting (and this girl loves her frosting - just ask the captain).

One of my all-time favorite food bloggers posted a picture of this cake on her Instagram and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it. Like, drop everything I was doing and make. That serious. With school keeping me beyond busy, I didn't have much time to do something extra fancy for Valentines day (yes, I know that was over a month ago, but give a girl a break), but knew that the captain needed to have something a little sweet and a little bit chocolaty. Okay, a lot chocolaty. Plus, a cake that can be whipped up in just a few minutes - now we are talking! To make this cake you only need a few simple ingredients. Most of which I am willing to bet you have in your pantry already. Butter, sugar, flour, chocolate chips, baking powder, salt and egg and the secret ingredient that makes this cake so moist and delicious - raspberry jam! Yes, jam! I thought it sounded strange at first too, but let me tell you, it adds a little something something to the cake. And a who doesn't love raspberries and chocolate together. That's a flavor combination almost as good as peanut butter and chocolate. Almost.

In all honesty, I've never had a cake be so quick and easy to make and be so delicious! Plus, it's a show stopper. Seriously. Once you pull it out of the oven and let it cool, dust it with a bit of powered sugar and top with a handful of fresh raspberries and you have a cake that looks like you bought it from a bakery. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could even drizzle over some ganache, but you don't need to go there with this cake. It's that good! Even better, you don't have to use this for just special occasions. If you are craving chocolate, make this cake. If you need a quick dessert for unannounced guests, make this cake. If you don't want to leave the house and run to the store for dessert, make this cake. Should I keep going?

 
just a few simple ingredients
 
melted butter + chocolate chips
 
smooth and creamy
 
gently fold in the jam and flour
 
ready for the oven!

dusted and ready to enjoy!


One Bowl Chocolate Cake (Dessert for Two)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup seedless raspberry (or other berry) jam
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
 
Preheat the oven to 350˚.
 
In a medium bowl (large enough to hold all of the batter), melt the butter in the microwave in short pulses. Meanwhile, butter and lightly flour a 8” round cake pan. Once the butter is melted, stir in the chocolate chips. Stir the chocolate constantly until it melts completely into the butter. Next, add the jam and sugar and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. It’s ok if some of the jam doesn’t melt into the batter. Add the egg and stir in very well. Finally, sprinkle the flour, baking powder and salt over the batter and stir just until well-combined.
 
Pour the batter into the pan and bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with only moist crumbs clinging to it. Let cool completely before attempting to cut. Dust with powered sugar and serve with fresh raspberries. Enjoy!
 
 
One bowl. One spoon. One delicious cake!
 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Crock Pot Broccoli Beef


I am always looking for new ways to use my crock pot and what better what than with making take out at home! I have been eying several Chinese recipes over the past several weeks and finally had to try one of them out. I have my go-to recipes that I make all the time, but it was time to spice things up a bit and try something new. The great thing about the crock pot is that you can just throw everything in and let it go for hours and hours without any worry, but some recipes do have a specific time limit - say, 4-5 hours. Since I am at work for 10 hours, I would more than likely come home to a burnt or over cooked dinner, so I leave the weekend to experiment with shorter cooking times in my crock pot. Thus, this weekend was the weekend to experiment and test out crock pot broccoli beef!
 
Although the captain and I enjoy Chinese food, it's not something we get all the time. For one, it's not that good for you and two, it can be expensive - especially if you are feeding more than two people. In fact, even for two people it's expensive. You order a couple of dishes and the next thing you know, your bill is over $50! Plus, you know how I am always trying to make things at home and lighten them up so they taste just as good as the real deal, but healthier and lighter. You know that if you go to your local Chinese restaurant that they are frying the meat or adding all kinds of oil that you don't really need. Let me just say, I know I don't need that added to my booty and I am sure you don't want it on yours either! Making dishes just as tasty as the restaurant, but healthier and I can make it at home while still in my pajamas? That a win-win if you ask me. Don't you think? 

To make this incredibly yummy and super easy broccoli beef, you first start off with beef. You can use sirloin steak or flank steak. Whatever you can find. I couldn't find sirloin for some strange reason, so I used the next best thing -flank steak. No matter what you use, it will still be just as delicious. Just make sure to cut it with the grain of the meat and thinly. Once the meat is all cut up, throw it in the crockpot and then pour over the sauce - a little brown sugar, beef broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, a few cloves of garlic and a bit of sesame oil (you don't need a lot of the latter - it's strong, so don't go adding much more). Let the meat and super yummy sauce get all warm and bubbly for about four hours. Don't let it go over five or the soy and oyster sauces may start to burn and condense down. No one wants overly salty or burnt sauce! Once the meat is cooked through, you'll want to thicken the sauce a bit with some cornstarch (it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to thicken up!) and then throw in steamed broccoli. Toss everything to coat and you have an amazing dinner on your hands. With the veggies already in the dish, all you need to do is serve it over a bit of brown rice and you are good to go. Super delicious and super easy. Bet you didn't know it would be this easy to make take out at home.


not pictured - beef
 
slice the beef thin and place in the crock pot
 
mix up the sauce
 
our the sauce over the meat and cook for 4-5 hours
 
once the beef is cooked, thicken the sauce up with a bit of cornstarch
 
throw in a couple of big handfuls of steamed broccoli
 
mix everything together to coat and serve!


Crock Pot Broccoli Beef (slightly adapted from Mother Thyme)

1 1/2-2 pounds sirloin steak or flank steak, thinly sliced on the grain
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
12 ounces broccoli florets, cooked per package directions or steamed
Brown rice for serving
 
In a small bowl whisk broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic. Pour over beef and let marinate for about 15 minutes at room temperature. Place mixture in slow cooker and cook on low for about 4-5 hours.
 
In a small bowl stir water and cornstarch until cornstarch is dissolved. Stir into slow cooker and cook for about another 10-15 minutes until sauce thickens (turn your crockpot to high to thicken!). Before serving stir in steamed broccoli mix to coat beef broccoli and serve over rice. Enjoy!
 
 
Take out at home - it doesn't get better than this!
 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bean & Beef Burritos

Every Saturday morning my TiVo is set to record one of my favorite shows on the Food Network - Pioneer Woman. She is a city girl turned country woman and her cooking is an amazing combination of delicious, cowboy friendly and her recipes are something everyone can make. I am not just saying that. Plus, every one of her recipes I have tried has been amazing and not overly complicated to make. Seriously. Don't believe me? Well then you will need to try to make her bean and beef burritos.

I know that beef and bean burritos don't sounds very special or very complicated to make, but just because they are simple and easy to make does not mean they aren't delicious. The last episode of Pioneer Woman featured her famous 16 minute meals - everything she made could be whipped up and served in just about 16 minutes. Now that's what I am talking about. With my busy work and school schedule, 16 minutes is about all I have to make dinner. So, when I saw these, I knew I had to make them for the captain and I. Plus, the best thing about this recipe, is that I had most things on hand - ground beef, refried beans, cheddar cheese and tortillas. I bet you do too. Cooked ground beef is always on stock in my freezer and vegetarian refried beans are always in my pantry for quick go to meals.

Although the original recipe for these burritos sounded amazing, I knew I wanted to lighten them up and make them healthier and more waist friendly. To cut down the calories and fat, I used extra lean ground beef in place of just regular ground beef, vegetarian refried beans instead of beans that may or may not be made with lard, I cut the amount of cheddar cheese in half and also substituted a huge regular burrito size tortilla for one that was just as large, but only 100 calories each and loaded with fiber (trust me, you'd never know the difference- it tastes just the same and you can find them next to all the other tortillas in the grocery store). Of course you don't have to make the changes I did, but if you are looking lighten things up, I definitely recommend it!

To whip up these fabulous burritos, the first thing you'll need to do is brown the beef with a little bit of onion. Once the beef is nice and cooked up, there won't be much fat, but make sure you drain the beef on a paper towel to make sure you get rid of all that extra stuff. When the meat is nice and drained, place the beef back in the pan and add a bit of Mexican tomato sauce (you can find it next to the enchilada sauce at your local grocery store!) to give it some more flavor and some sauciness. You could even add chili powder, garlic powder or any additional spices you like, if you wanted. You just want to make sure you don't add too much sauce that the mixture too soupy. If it's too soupy, your burritos will be too soggy and a soggy burrito is not a good burrito. When the meat is all good and spicy, you take a bit of the mixture of refried beans and cheddar cheese (which you heated up together while you were cooking the beef), spread it on the tortilla, place a bit of the meat mixture on the beans and then roll up the burrito. When all the burritos have been made, top them with a bit more of the Mexican tomato sauce, a little bit of cheese and some green onions for color. From here, you can freeze half for another time (which you know I did) and cook the other half by warming them up and melting the cheese in the oven. So simple. So easy. So delicious. Who doesn't love all of that in under 16 minutes. Even better, this recipe got two thumbs up from the captain. That's when you know you have a winner!


cheese + beans
 
ground beef and onions
 
this is the brand of Mexican tomato sauce I used - if you can't find it, enchilada sauce will do just fine
 
all rolled up and ready to go - one for us and one for the freezer!

Bean & Beef Burritos (slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman)

2 pounds Ground Beef
1/2 whole Medium Onion
1 can (7 Ounce) Mexican Tomato Sauce Or Enchilada Sauce
Salt And Pepper
1 can (28 Ounce) Refried Beans
3/4 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
12 whole Burrito-sized Flour Tortillas
Extra Grated Cheese, For Sprinkling
Extra Sauce, For Drizzling

Brown ground beef with onion and season to taste. Pour in sauce and simmer over low heat. Add water if mixture gets too dry.

Heat refried beans in a saucepan. Add cheese and stir in till melted. Keep warm.  Heat tortillas in microwave for one minute.

Spread a small amount of beans on each tortilla. Add meat. Fold over ends, then roll up. Place burritos in a baking dish sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray. Drizzle red sauce over the top and sprinkle with more grated cheddar. Place pan in a 375 degree oven until cheese is melted and burritos are very hot. Serve immediately and enjoy!

 
Mexican food made easy and healthy - a double win!
 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Quick & Easy Mini Baked Meatballs

First and foremost, you have probably been wondering where the heck I have been, right? Let me tell you, the last time I posted, I was right at the end of my first semester of grad school and right about to take final exams. For those who know me, you know how I get during finals. It's not pretty. I shut out most of the world and just lock myself in a room and study as much as I can. Or stress as much as I can. Ya, I am a worry wart. Just ask the captain. He's seen me in all my wonderful shades. It's a good thing I haven't scared him away yet! After finals were over and I could finally sleep again, I took a couple weeks off from work and just enjoyed time with my family during the holidays. The captain and I even took a week getaway to Oregon to get out of town and breathe the fresh mountain air. It was just what I needed to recharge my battery. Between then and now, school has started again and I am back into the rut of bring at work from 7am-4:30pm and then heading right to school until 9pm. Those nights are long. Too long, but it will be all worth it in the end. That I know. So, if I have gone MIA from the blogging scene for awhile, you now know why. Don't worry though, I will be back eventually. In fact, I have decided that I will try to blog at least once a week. That seems doable, right? I think so. My phone is overloaded with fabulous photos and recipes for you to try! Now, for a new recipe. Are you ready?

When I am having one of those weeks where it seems like it will never end and I am just stuck in my school books, the last thing I want to do is be in the kitchen for an hour making dinner. As bad as that sounds, it really is true. Although cooking is a stress relief for me, sometimes I am just too tired to cook. I don't like those days, so I am always looking for quick and easy (and yummy!) recipes that that captain and I will both love. The other thing I am all for these days is making a big batch of whatever it may be and freezing half for another time. It's seriously the best when my brain isn't working for menu planning or so we can just pull something out and have a fabulous dinner in no time. I just think we need a bigger freezer now. Ours is pretty much stuffed to the brim. Who's coming over for dinner next week?

A couple weeks ago, one of my fellow bloggers(and a favorite!), Christina, from Desserts for Two, posted an amazing photo on instagram of a dish with these cute little meatballs. I asked her if she made her own and she told me I had to try the recipe she uses. As a Sicilian girl, you'd think I'd have this meatball thing down, but I am slowly learning the best way to make a meatball. Someday I will get it right and I think I am getting closer with these baked mini meatballs! Not only are they mini (hello portion control!), but they are such a breeze to make and are ready to enjoy in under 30 minutes - that's from start to finish. Pretty great, right? I think so. The meatballs are super simple and are just a mixture of lean ground beef, panko, eggs, parmi, an egg, garlic and a little olive oil. See, basic ingredients. Nothing funky here. Mix all that fabulousness together, roll into small meatballs (this recipe should make about 30ish or so mini meatballs) and then place into a baking dish with a couple of cups of your favorite tomato sauce. You can use homemade (which I always keep in my freezer!) or store bought. If I must give you a recommendation, pretty pretty please go and buy the three cheese tomato sauce from Trader Joes. It's killer good and the sauce I used when I made these meatballs. It's so good, it's something I will be keeping in my pantry as a staple. I could just eat it with bread. Straight from the jar. Did I just say that? Don't tell anyone.

Once the meatballs are all ready to go and in the sauce, it's as simple as popping the pan in the oven and letting them bake for about ten minutes. If you made your meatballs bigger, they may take a bit longer to cook. Just keep an eye on them until they are done. When they are ready to go, you can enjoy them on their own, over pasta, or even in a sandwich. No matter which way you enjoy them, I will promise you will love them.  And just in case you were wondering, the leftovers freeze great. Just saying.


see, told you I used the Trader Joes sauce

don't mix the meat too much or you will have tough meatballs

roll the balls in about the size of a tablespoon

before you bake, don't forget to top the meatballs with a little more panko and parmi


look how good they look!
 

Quick & East Mini Baked Meatballs (slightly adapted from How Sweet Eats)

makes about 30 mini meatballs

1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl, add ground beef, egg, oil, cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, basil and parsley. Mix to combine, gently tossing a few times with your hands. Don’t overmix – it will result in tough meatballs! Spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray and add 2 cups of pasta sauce. Roll beef into mini meatballs (about a tablespoon of beef) and set in sauce. Once all meatballs have been added, sprinkle additional cheese and breadcrumbs over top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Serve with additional sauce if desired.


Just when you thought the meatballs were good, I will show you soon how I use the ones I froze and turned them into meatball pizza made on garlic nann! Yes, I said it - garlic nann meatball pizza. Totally delicious. Totally fabulous and couldn't be easier to make. Stay tuned!




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Billionaire Bars

I can't believe that this time of the year is here again - food blogger cookie swap cookie time! This is the third year I have participated in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and it's a great way to not only get cookies, but to find out about new food bloggers and of course, new cookie recipes! Now who wouldn't love that? For those who don't know, here is how it works - I send out one dozen cookies to three food bloggers and then I get one dozen cookies from three different food bloggers. Totally amazing, right? I think so. I get my cookies delivered to work so not only can I share all the fabulous cookies with my coworkers, but that also means I won't eat them all. Because I totally would and who can just eat one cookie. Let's be real. Cookies are addicting!

The first year I participated in this cookie swap I made red velvet shortbread cookies dipped in white chocolate. The second year I made salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars. This year, I knew I had to step it up. Like way up. To be honest, I had a recipe all ready to go and tested weeks before my cookies were due to ship out. I had spent a Saturday afternoon testing out pecan pie filled thumbprint cookies with a caramel drizzle. Sounds good, right? They were totally delicious and everyone at work gobbled them up fast, but they just didn't scream food blogger cookie swap cookie. I am not sure why, but they just didn't. So, I was on a mission - find a cookie that would be bigger and better than last year. I searched and searched and searched some more through my cookbooks, but again, nothing jumped out at me. I just couldn't do a plain 'ol chocolate chip cookie (as good as they are). I grabbed a couple more cookbooks and then I saw the recipe that would be the cookie of the year - chocolate chip cookie dough billionaire bars! 

These cookie bars are the best combination of everything they say they are. These cookies start with a shortbread crust, then covered with a layer of ooey gooey caramel, then topped with a thick layer of eggless cookie dough and all covered with chocolate. These bars are the perfect amount of sweet without being too sweet. Does that make sense? If not, just trust me. There is something about this combination that when you take a bite, you taste every layer separately and then everything all together. I am not quite sure how that works, but it just does. As the captain said when he first tried these, "they are do die for!". I am not even kidding. Those were the exact words out of his mouth! Whether you are a cookie dough lover or a cookie bar lover, this recipe is for you. Just be careful, they are totally addicting and even more so when they are warmed up just a bit. Don't say I didn't warn you!


yes, I buy brown sugar in 25 pound bags

crumbly shortbread

press firmly into pan and don't forget to poke the crust so it doesn't puff up!

why the shortbread is baking, melt the caramel and heavy cream

ahhh, so nice and brown

get that caramel to harden!

whipping up that cookie dough!

mmm

melting the chocolate

billionaire bars as far as the eye can see!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Billionaire Bars (The Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook)


For the Shortbread:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour


For the Caramel:
7 ounces soft caramel candies, unwrapped
2 tablespoons heavy cream


For the Cookie Dough:
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips


For the Chocolate Glaze:
4 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides.

Make the Shortbread: In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Add flour and mix until incorporated (note: dough may appear slightly crumbly). Firmly press into prepared pan. Poke shallow holes into the surface of the dough with a fork. Bake the shortbread for18 to 22 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden. Let cool on a cooling rack while you prepare the caramel layer.

Make the Caramel Layer: Place the caramel candies in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the heavy cream and stir until completely melted (about 5-10 minutes). Pour hot caramel mixture over shortbread crust and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate until firm and set - about an hour (this may take longer, just make sure the caramel is firm before topping with the cookie dough).

Make the Cookie Dough: Combine the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread the cookie dough on top of the caramel layer, using a spatula to smooth the dough into an even layer. Refrigerate the pan while you prepare the chocolate glaze.

Make the Chocolate Glaze: In a small bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth. Spread the glaze over the cookie dough layer and chill until set, about 30 minutes.

To remove the bars from the pan, grasp the edges of the parchment paper or nonstick foil and lift out the entire block. Place on a cutting board and use a large sharp knife to cut into 2-inch squares. Enjoy!

 This recipe can easily be doubled to serve a large crowd. Just double all the ingredients and just a 9 by 13 pan. As soon as you make these for others, they will love you more than they already do. They are that good.