TWO PEAS & THEIR POD celebrates a family, friends, and community-oriented lifestyle that has huge and growing appeal. Maria the genuine, fun, relaxed mom next door who's got the secret sauce: that special knack for effortlessly creating tantalizing and wholesome (and budget-friendly) meals with ease. From a Loaded Nacho Bar bash for 200 guests to quick-and-easy healthy weeknight dinners like never-fail favorites like One-Skillet Sausage Pasta or Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps (always followed by a fab dessert!), Maria shares her best lifestyle tips and home cook smarts.
An essential resource for parents looking to update their healthy, inexpensive, time-saving, kid friendly meal roster; aspiring home cooks who want to eat-in delicious food more than they eat out; as well as anyone looking to share their love of food and the giving spirit with their neighbors, TWO PEAS & THEIR POD will help readers bring home that (achievable!) slice of Americana, where families come together to enjoy fresh and nutritious meals and there's always a batch of still-warm cookies waiting on the counter.
PEANUT BUTTER CARAMELITAS
prep: 15 MINUTES | bake: ABOUT 40 MINUTES | total: 55 MINUTES, PLUS 3 HOURS COOLING | serves 12 TO 18
My friend Rachel, my sweet-tooth sister, helped me dream up these decadent bars. She loves the classic caramelita—an oatmeal cookie stuffed with gooey caramel and melty chocolate—but decided she wanted to take it to the next level of insane deliciousness. So we invited peanut butter to the party! After testing them three times in one week (we had to be sure we’d gotten the recipe right…), we considered our work complete. One secret was using my salted caramel sauce, though you could cheat and use store-bought instead. We also debated over what kind of chocolate chips to use, and while I’m normally a semisweet gal all the way, milk chocolate was the clear winner. That said, you can’t go wrong with either, so I just suggest using your favorite.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1⁄2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup (1⁄2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄2 cups (9 ounces) chocolate chips (semisweet or milk—go with your favorite)
- 1 cup Salted Caramel Sauce (page 70) or store-bought caramel sauce
NOTE: These are great to make ahead because the caramel needs at least 3 hours to cool and set before you can slice the bars.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9 × 13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together both sugars with the butter and peanut butter until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Press half of the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the cookie crust, then drizzle the caramel sauce evenly over the chocolate chips. Top with the remaining dough, gently pressing it into an even layer on top of the chocolate and caramel. (It helps to lightly spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray.)
6. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 24 to 30 minutes, until the bars are golden brown. Let the bars cool for at least 3 hours before cutting, so the caramel has time to set up. Slice the caramelitas into squares and serve. You could also cover the pan with plastic wrap or store the squares in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.