Treat Day – Week 2 (Peanut Butter Balls & Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars)

Ok, we’ve got the first home opener game at Soldier Field coming up on Monday night & I can’t wait to go to Jamie’s tailgate!  Jamie has been a friend of the family for years, is a season ticket holder and throws THE BEST tailgate parties up on the Waldron Deck.  I will walk over to his tailgate after work and will bring some of the same treats that I made for the Bears this week: Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars & Peanut Butter Balls.  These treats are not new to the Bears, but are a couple of their favorites. And are perfect for parties!

First, for the Peanut Butter Balls.  This is a pretty standard and basic recipe that calls for just a few ingredients, no baking, just set aside some prep time.  It’s great because you can make them into medium sized balls (which is just right, because they are rich) and you will get 80 or so balls from one batch. I use a small cookie scoop for all my balls. This is a handwritten recipe, and I am not quite sure where I found it, so can’t give credit to the originator… but, oh well… we can all still enjoy it!

Start with:

2 cups creamy peanut butter – (I use JIF – I grew up on Skippy, but find JIF to be creamier, just my preference)

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter – room temp.

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 cups Rice Krispies cereal

2 cups chocolate chips (*the recipe says dark chocolate, however, I use 1 cup semi-sweet & 1 cup milk chocolate mixed together so they are a little on the sweeter side)

2 Tablespoons of vegetable shortening

Instructions: Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper. Cream the butter and peanut butter on medium. Add the sugar 1 cup at a time on low. Fold in Rice Krispies. Scoop into balls and refrigerate (if the dough is sticky) for about 10 minutes. Melt the chocolate w/shortening in a microwave safe bowl and then start dipping the balls. I just use a fork for dipping, roll the ball in the melted chocolate until covered and then scoop it carefully with your fork, and kind of tap fork on side of your bowl, shaking off the excess chocolate before placing on the wax paper. I store mine in a big Rubbermaid bin lined with wax paper and you can freeze them if you’d like.  Just be sure to take them out and thaw them in the refrigerator a good 4 hours or so before you plan to serve.  If you don’t freeze them at all, store them in fridge.

Now for the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars.  These are delicious… EVERYONE that tries them raves about them.  They are one of the Bears favorite treats.  The recipe is a little odd where it calls for 2 cups plus 1/8 cup of flour.  1/8th?  Really?  This is where that “baking is a science” gets a little annoying.  But I am particular so I went out and found a 1/8 cup measuring cup just so I could be precise.  But I am sure if you don’t have one you could just do 2 cups plus a “dash” or estimate…it’s not going to make or break this recipe.  One thing that will or can affect the recipe though is your caramel.  I am brand specific on this ingredient and always use KRAFT caramel squares… just because I think they have a really nice smooth texture, they melt well, and then firm well after baking.  The annoying part here is just unwrapping each one… but, it will be worth your time once you taste the bars!  And don’t skimp on the sprinkling of your salt.  I found that Mariano’s now carries a nice “Fleur de sel”  for just a few dollars… (salt can get pricey), so don’t worry about going crazy finding fancy salt… Sea Salt will do — just don’t be afraid to sprinkle it on there because it’s a really great compliment to the chocolate and caramel.  Here is the recipe link from one of my favorite bloggers “The Brown Eyed Baker” Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars – The Brown Eyed Baker

Oh, and I use a light colored metal pan for these, because the light pans seem to bake evenly, vs. darker metal pans which seem to brown faster and not as evenly.

I hope you enjoy these as much as myself, friends and the Bears do… and please feel  free to send me any comments or questions!

Hope you all have a great weekend and GO BEARS!!!

 

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Published by

Sarah

2018 will mark my 7th Season making treats and baking for the Chicago Bears. You might be thinking, how does one land that gig? Well, let me tell you. It’s riveting… My younger brother, Danny, works full-time for the Bears. Our entire family have been life-long Bears fans, btw. Back in the summer of 2012, he came to me and said, “Hey, we need someone to make treats for the team. Do you think you can do it? Because my boss said, Dan, you’ve got all those sisters, can’t one of them bake? So, I volunteered you.” My first response was, “YES, but I don’t know how to bake”. I mean, up until that point, the only things I remember ever baking were 1) S’mores Bars back in the 80’s off a recipe on the back of the Golden Grahams cereal box. Come to think of it now, I don’t even think those things went into the oven – so technically that wasn’t baking. And 2) Good old Nestle Toll House cookies – which NEVER turned out the same each time I baked them and it drove me nuts and got me to HATE baking for that very reason. I was always in love with cooking, though. I was the gal who threw dinner parties often and provided an obnoxious array of hors d’oeuvres and wine – that’s more my thing. Side note: I learned the hard way that baking and wine don’t mix. Ha! However, I was honored and excited to have been asked to step up to the plate for this little baking / treat-making gig, for THE CHICAGO BEARS, no less. So my answer was an enthusiastic, YES! I figured I still had a month before the first regular season game, which is when the “treat days” begin – every Thursday during the regular season (not preseason). So, I hit the streets in search of good recipes and then got to work test-baking in the kitchen for the rest of that summer. As I became more internet savvy, I started following lots of baking bloggers and watching video tutorials. I would go to parties and if I tasted something that I thought was exceptional, I would never hesitate to ask for the recipe. Baking for the Bears is always in the back of my mind when eating desserts. I now have an arsenal of treat recipes worthy of offering at a bake shop, if I do say so myself;) . I started getting requests for my pound cake, outside of Baking for the Bears, and my Double Chocolate Chip Sea Salt cookies have been quoted as “The best cookies in the world” by a well-known player, as well as friends, family and neighbors. One of the first things I did was perfect a cookie of my own that comes out pretty consistently crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. I no longer rely on the old Toll-House recipe. It’s the one thing I never get tired of baking. The guys get them every week. With that said, this season, I plan to blog my recipes each week, and share with you whatever it is I am making for the Bears. I’ll also give you tried & true feedback on what worked, what didn’t, and any fun comments that the players, staff, friends & co-workers might have regarding the treat of the week. My office colleagues love it when football season rolls around, because I typically find new recipes and test-bake on Sundays to bring in on Mondays for critical reviews. From there, I decide if they are Bear-worthy for Thursday Treat Days at Halas Hall. I hope you will check in periodically and enjoy my blog. I’m super excited for the 2018 Bears football season both on the field and in the kitchen! GO BEARS! This is gonna be a good season… I can feel it!

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