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Monday, November 7, 2011

M&M Cookie Bars

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Confession: Despite the fact that plain M&Ms are not my favorite M&M variety, I'm a sucker for the holiday-themed M&Ms. I often find myself picking up a bag when I stop in at Target to pick up laundry detergent or trash bags. What is it about Target and their ability to coerce you into buying at least $20 worth of things you don't need?! Recently I left Target with a bag of autumn-colored M&Ms in my cart along with 2 bags of candy corn. I had no problem figuring out what to do with the candy corn; the package to hand to mouth to stomach path suits me just fine! The M&Ms, on the other hand, sat untouched. 

I knew if I didn't make something soon, the Christmas M&Ms would be out, I'd buy a bag of those, and I'd find myself with an M&M overload! To avoid this, I decided to make some blondies and send them to my brother...no college boy ever turns down baked goods in the mail! 

Recently, I was sent a few packages of Melt Buttery Spread, to try out in my baking and cooking. I substituted the butter in this recipe for Melt which, according to their website, is a perfect blend of the healthiest fats and oils that is soy-free, 95+% organic, trans fat free, and gluten free. Although I have no qualms about using butter in my baking, it's nice to know this alternative is available--I know some of my readers prefer to use organic ingredients or need gluten-free options. (check out their site for more information about healthy cooking oils and using Melt as a butter substitute!)

I did think the Melt slightly affected the texture of the bars--they turned out a bit drier than I think they would have with butter. Even so, they were a good substitute. I've since used the spread in additional (non-baking) recipe and I've been satisfied. Next I'd like to try it in some granola bars! Thanks Melt for giving me the chance to check out your product!

Tell me readers, how else should I use my autumn-themed M&Ms (aside from just eating them plain :))? I still have half a bag left!

One Year Ago: Butternut Squash and Kale Minestrone (one of my favorite soup recipes from last fall!)

M&M Cookie Bars
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
*I halved the below and made it in an 8-inch pan. Full recipe is listed though!

-2 cups brown sugar
-2/3 cup butter
-2 eggs
-2 tsp vanilla
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1 1/2 cups M&Ms

1. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan (easiest to line with foil and grease!) and set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Heat butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
3. Cool slightly before mixing in eggs and vanilla, stirring to combine. Stir in flour, baking powder, and baking soda. 
4. Mix in 1 1/4 cups M&Ms. Reserve 1/4 cup to press into the top of the bars. Pour batter into prepared pan and use a spatula to spread evenly (note--batter is thick and is somewhat difficult to spread--use your fingers if necessary!). Press reserved M&Ms into the top of the batter.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and bars are golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting into bars.