No-Bake Nutella, Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Squares

Remember the ‘rent is too damn high’ guy from a couple years ago? I was a little like the ‘heat is too damn high’ guy today, even though it was a cool 96 degrees compared to the 100 or so of the past couple bake days. So, I just didn’t want to turn on the oven. And, I didn’t. I found a ‘no bake’ recipe that let me keep my house cool in this Central Valley climate. Score!


I’ve been looking for something to do with Nutella for a little while and I thought my first crack at it was going to be chocolate cupcakes with Nutella frosting, but I changed my mind and got a little lazy. And though my usual M.O. is to not leave the house on these hot days especially for one ingredient I made an exception this one time. And the results are the absolute greatest thing to come out of my kitchen ever. Maybe because I consider a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (full size, not King Size, not Miniature) to be one of Mankind’s crowning achievements, God’s gift to Mankind, the nectar of the God’s in a solid disc form. In other words, I love me some peanut butter cup and this recipe is essentially one gigantic peanut butter cup with a little something extra and it is delightful. So without any further nonsensical ramblings, I present to you a recipe for Hazelnut Spread, Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Squares, or Nutella, Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Squares if you want to stick with brand names, despite me not even using Nutella, more on that later.

Here’s what I adapted from a titled Nutella and Peanut Butter Bar Recipe. First of all, while I stayed true to the spirit of the ingredients of said recipe I varied where I thought it might make a difference, so you feel free to go either way with this one. Here’s what I did:

Hazelnut Spread, Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Squares

  • 12 whole low fat graham crackers obliterated in a food processor
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup natural chunky peanut butter for a little texture, feel free to use creamy
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup JIF Mocha Cappuccino flavored Hazelnut spread (Nutella alternative) divided into 1/4 cup and 3/4 cups.


1. Pulverize your graham crackers in your food processor.


2. Mix butter, graham cracker crumbs, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and peanut butter until smoothed out.

This was the peanut butter I chose, a natural chunky style for a little bit of texture.


3. Place parchment paper into 9” square pan (for easy clean up) and spread peanut butter-graham cracker mixture inside pan.


4. Place in your refrigerator for about an hour until firm.

I have Nutella in the cupboard, but I chose this because I thought it might add a little more flavor. Apparently this is a new product, based on the indication on the label, so you may or may not be able to find this in a store near you.


5. (One hour later) Use a metal bowl or small pot over hot water to melt your chocolate and 1/4 hazelnut spread.


6. Spread over peanut butter graham cracker mixture. Refrigerate for another hour.


7. (One hour later) Distribute remaining 3/4 cups of hazelnut spread over now cooled and hardened chocolate, refrigerate one last time. Cut into squares when nice and firm and enjoy with a nice glass of cold milk, non-fat of course.


I think this is a fairly straight forward recipe, it’s hard to wreck it if you follow directions. I tried to give it a different kind of flavor by using a flavored Nutella alternative and dark chocolate. I also used low fat graham crackers because my feeling is that if you can cut just a few calories off a super sweet dessert, go ahead and do that.


One thing I liked about this recipe is that it features a lot of downtime when you place the bars/squares into the refrigerator, time that I used to play a game of Battleship with my son and play a couple of songs in Just Dance 3. You can use it to prepare dinner or watch a TV show, might I suggest Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, or even Dexter.

Anyway, this is usually the spot where I talk about what I learned, but this is so straight forward that there’s not much to learn with a recipe like this. I’ll give it a a go, though.

What I learned:

  • I used my square cake pan for this, but I think one of those disposable deals from a place like the local dollar store would have been perfectly fine, especially when you’ve got a plan to transport it somewhere.
  • Even if you’re not using Nutella just put it in the title so that search engines will find it because people probably aren’t going to their search engine and inputting ‘hazelnut spread chocolate peanut butter squares’
  • This thing is a pain to remove from the pan, as you can see from the photo above, even with parchment paper.

As always, thanks for reading. Share both the recipe and the squares with friends they’ll be amazed at your ability to make something this delicious and you can laugh yourself silly because it’s so simple. Enjoy!


Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies


OK, this is sort of a lengthy story that I will try to condense into something a lot shorter and neat. I think it was a year ago that the family went to lunch in Santa Cruz, CA. As we were leaving town and making our way home the other folks we were with decided they wanted some coffee and something sweet. We stopped at a little café and my better half (I always refer to her this way because she’s just better human being than I) got this cookie that was sort of an orange color, she didn’t like it, so she passed it over to me and I thought it was delicious. Some time later I thought to myself, ‘I could probably make something like that’, so I scoured the web for a recipe and sort of struggled to find anything. At that point I figured I’d take the next logical step, which would be to just make a chocolate chip/chunk cookie and replace the chocolate with Mexican chocolate. I did and they were a hit with a particular little visitor, who happened to be coming over this past weekend.

On Saturday ‘mi media naranja’  (that means my half orange…it’s a saying in Spanish akin to better half or other half) got a text from a cousin that was coming over stating they hadn’t left yet and that her son was wondering if I would be making the cookies I made last time. I was going to make cupcakes, but when you get requests they’re hard to ignore, right? So, her son wanted these cookies and I was willing to oblige. Luckily, I had just about everything on hand, well everything except for Mexican Chocolate that hadn’t gone beyond the best by date. If these were for myself I’d take a look at the chocolate and ‘risk’ something only two months beyond said date, but I would never do that to others. The chocolate is only $3-4, so it’s not a terribly expensive endeavor and after you have these cookies you’ll feel they’re well worth the effort of seeking out.

If you’re not familiar with Mexican chocolate it comes in an octagonal shaped brick/puck and is usually found somewhere either with the baking stuff or near the hot chocolate stuff since that’s traditionally what it’s used for. It essentially consists of three ingredients, chocolate, sugar and cinnamon, so if you can’t find it anywhere you could probably just add cinnamon to regular chocolate and get similar results, though how much is out of my scope of knowledge. These are the two brands generally found at the market’s nearest us:


As you can see one is made by Nestle and features an old lady who resembles Mrs. Doubtfire on the box, the other doesn’t. I used the chocolate on the right for these cookies.

This is what the chocolate looks like, you can see the sugar crystals sticking out and that it’s divided into wedges for portioning out when turning into a drink:


So, now that we know a little more about the chocolate and my family life let’s go ahead and move on to the recipe, yes?

I set off to look for a nice chocolate chip cookie recipe and found this one, by Dora on, with over 4000 reviews and a 4.5 star rating I figured this would be a good one. This is my adaptation of said recipe:

Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Mexican chocolate (4 pucks broken up)

    First I took a hammer, yes, hammer to the chocolate to break it up into chunks. In the past I would take a can of corn or soup to it, then finish it off with a hand operated food chopper, (Slap Chop, anyone? Yeah, me neither) but that’s not all that efficient, so this time I took a hammer to it and it was much easier. Just be careful please. You might be able to do this with a knife, but that’s a little too dangerous for me because it’s such a thick piece of chocolate. Anyway, I threw four on the floor and pounded them until they were broken up pretty good. [Note: The Ibarra’s chocolate was handy for this because it comes in sealed plastic packaging, the Abuelita’s comes wrapped in a wax paper type package, so bag it up before breaking to avoid a mess.] I then threw it into a measuring cup since I didn’t know how these would measure out. I then threw the chocolate into a Ziploc back and pounded out the chunks that I felt were too big, be careful not to rip the bag. Four pucks were a perfect two cups:


    By the way, don’t reach your hand into my picture, please. By the way, I use by the way a lot.

    Hammer and chocolate. That should be my logo…or not.

    What you’ll notice when you hammer out the chocolate is that the cinnamon and sugar will start to come out. If you cared about how the cookie looks you could probably take out all the powdery stuff and just drop in the chocolate. I throw it all into the mix.

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Go ahead and cream your butter and sugars together. When that’s done add in your first egg let it mix well and then add the second and keep mixing. Add vanilla and keep mixing.


    This next step I’d never done prior to this recipe, not sure if this is some trade secret or not, but dissolve your baking soda into hot water and stir into mix. Add your salt. Mix in your flour, I always do so in portions, so as not to make a huge mess. That much I’ve learned from experience. Add chocolate. Note that because the chocolate is in fairly big chunks if using a stand mixer it will struggle trying to mix this, it may sort of kick and buck a little. You could also mix it in by hand if you’re not comfortable with subjecting your mixer to this ‘torture’. Drop your cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for ten minutes.


    I took my cookies out at exactly 10 minutes because I like them chewy. Leave them in a touch longer if you like them crispy. I just got the OXO medium size cookie scoop from to make uniform cookies and it was my first time using it and it works just as well as advertised.


    I only noticed this yesterday, but the chunks weren’t as prevalent as I would have liked, but it was pointed out to me that it may have been because I ate it when it was still warm. They don’t stick out much, but they’re there.IMG_0079

    Those look pretty uniform if you ask me.


    I ate mine warm with a  small scoop of vanilla ice cream. IMG_0086

    When I made these cookies last year I served them with homemade horchata ice cream, but that’s a recipe for another day.

    The cookies went fast and I got lots of compliments from everyone. Let me know what you think.

    About the Name: Steal the Baking

    A friend asked me about the name last night and where it came from, I figured it would raise a question here and there, but probably more so with a younger crowd. Gather ’round children while I regale you with tales of yesteryear (the early 1980’s), back when kids played outside, the Internet didn’t exist yet to 99% of people, people wrote on paper, and not every single person had a ‘blog or microblog or Facebook or Twitter. No one knew what the crap an ‘avatar’ was and Pac-Man was about as good as it got. 

    There was a game we played at school along with dodgeball, nation, four-square, and kickball called ‘Steal the Bacon’. The teacher would drop a chalkboard eraser in the middle of a volleyball court with two kids lined up on the outer baseline, they would say go and the two had to race towards the eraser, pick it up and bring it back to the baseline without dropping it. Pretty straightforward game, it kept the kids busy for half an hour and we got our heart rates up for a bit. So, when trying to think of a name for this thing I originally came up with Senor Baker, but as you can see it’s a pain in the bum for a Windows user to put the tilde over the n. So, after just making the ‘About’ page, I scrapped it and sat in front of my laptop trying to think of a name, then I thought of one, then it turned out a young lady had picked it just a few days prior. My luck. So, I went back to thinking, mind you it was already somewhere in the neighborhood of midnight or possibly later. Every name I came up with had already been used until I thought of a couple pseudo-naughty names that I thought (and still do) were hilarious, but then realized ‘I may have to explain this to my kids’, so I passed on those and somehow I think I read or saw something about bacon and steal the bacon came to mind or maybe it was just me thinking…’something something baking…c’mon brain’ and then ‘Steal the Baking’ popped into my reptilian man-brain. It’s perfect because I don’t really have any of my own recipes, nor have my parents passed down any family recipes, so I’ll have to steal from anyone and everyone else. 

    So, that’s that. Now you know the origin story. Consider yourself a little more knowledgeable about the site.


    Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

    The heat and work had me a little spent this past Monday, so I wasn’t terribly in the mood to make something, but I decided to press on anyway, for you.

    As an aside, I found it to be a huge win when I didn’t have to turn on the air conditioning because it didn’t enter the triple digits. I’m not a fan of heat, I prefer a more moderate climate. Anyway, after searching for some time for a simple recipe, I finally found one that I could make with relative ease, then I decided to try and flip it and twist it.

    This cake goes by a couple different names from what I could gather: Magic Tunnel cake or Tunnel of Fudge cake, either way it’s sort of like a lava cake made in a bundt pan. You get cake and tucked in the middle of the slice is a little bit of underbaked gooey goodness. Apparently the history goes far back to a Pillsbury baking competition way back before time was even measured, or maybe it was the 1960’s. Either or. Feel free to look that up, but that’s a brief history of it made even briefer.

    I wouldn’t call this a resounding success, but it wasn’t a miserable failure, either. It was good, could’ve used a minute or two less in the oven because the outer edges burned just a touch, but I followed the recipe, so I’ll blame it on any of a number of factors, which I’ll get to at the end. First, I’m going to need to apologize because the site I got this recipe from has entirely disappeared from my computer. Checked the history like five times already, everything from Monday is there and everything after Monday is there, save for this site. I’ve been searching for about two hours now. It’s been fruitless. If I ever find it, I’ll definitely link to it, but until then I’ll go with what I remember. I altered the recipe and did make a little note to myself with the changes and what I would do the next time. Here we go, all apologies to the original creator:

    Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

    For Dark Chocolate Portion:

    • 1 cup of butter
    • 1 cup of sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 cup of flour
    • 6 ounces dark chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 teaspoon salt

    For White Chocolate Portion:

    • 3-4 ounces white chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli white chocolate)
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    (If you want to make a single flavor cake, just add up the ingredients and pick a chocolate. In other words 1.5 cups butter, 1.25 cups sugar, 1.25 cups flour, roughly 8 ounces chocolate, etc.)

    For the remainder

    • Cocoa powder to dust bundt cake pan
    • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting cake afterwards (optional)
    • Pecans or walnuts (optional)

    Dark Chocolate portion:

    So, here’s what to do for the dark chocolate portion, beat the eggs and sugar until the sugar is no longer visible and crystalized. Meanwhile you can butter the pan and dust it with some cocoa powder. Melt your chocolate in a double boiler if you have one, I used a saucepan inside a larger pot of heated water. Melt and stir until smooth, though, I reckon a little lumpy wouldn’t be horrible for texture, that is. Let your chocolate cool a bit then add slowly to the egg mixture, so as not to make chocolate scrambled eggs. Once that is mixed, sift a cup of flour and add to chocolate mixture. Mix it up, if you want to add nuts this is probably the time to do so. Pour the mixture into your bundt cake pan. It may look something like this:


    White Chocolate portion:

    You’re essentially repeating the same steps for the white chocolate that you did above, but it’ll be on a smaller scale. I’m not sure if the proportions shake out, but it’s all cake and it’s all going down the same face hole, so that’s just how I figured it out.

    Beat egg and sugar until you’ve knocked the crystal out. Melt butter and white chocolate. (Not having the foresight of making this visually appealing for the blog I didn’t even bother to clean the saucepan, so my white chocolate isn’t white, it’s just lighter brown. I guess it didn’t matter to me since it was all cake, but it should have because the contrast would’ve made this look a lot prettier. Don’t make my mistake if you’re going for something aesthetically pleasant. I also didn’t clean out my mixing bowl, so the same thing happened twice. Still, there’s contrast with the two chocolate mixtures as you can see in the picture below.

    Let your white chocolate cool some. Add your flour to the egg and sugar mixture. Add your vanilla and slowly add in cooled down white chocolate. Now add to bundt pan. I laid it on top, trying to keep it in the center of the mixture (see photo below), hoping that would make it look cool once baked, which it sort of did as you’ll see further down the line.


    The original recipe called for baking at 425 degrees for exactly 20 minutes. Now, my cake came out a tad burnt and I’m not sure if that’s because I can’t trust my oven temperature because I didn’t do what I normally do, which is set my timer for a minute or two short of what is recommended then hover over it in order to prevent mishaps such as this, or if it’s because this was the first time using the pan. Then again it’s also possible that the temperature was too high all together because most other recipes I’ve seen have it bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Maybe I’ll try again another day down the road. Either way this is what it looked like coming out of the oven. You can see the burned edges in the lower left corner. Oh, and the toothpick/cake tester thing won’t work as the cake should be gooey, you’re just going to have to monitor your time carefully.


    Flipped it over onto a plate and you can see that it’s just a touch overdone on top, but that didn’t seem to affect the taste of it too badly. Also, of note I don’t have nice plates like other people do. I’m sorry. I guess that’s something I’ll have to work on in the future for the sake of food photography (phoodtography? foodtography?)

    At this point you can go ahead and dust it with confectioner’s sugar if you like. If you’re not counting calories maybe a chocolate glaze on top would be awesome? I ran out of powdered sugar, so I just sprinkled some of my left over cinnamon sugar from my last cupcake recipe on top. IMG_0058

    Cut yourself a little slice of cake and you may see something like this: IMG_0059

    That’s a nice firm cake ‘crust’, undercooked cake in the center, and what’s that at the bottom of the slice? Gooey white chocolate (I know, it’s brown, whatever, I already admitted my shortcomings) and that’s all good. Serve it with some vanilla ice cream or whatever floats your raft. Enjoy. Oh, and if it’s cooled off, throw it in the micro for about ten seconds and enjoy it warm.

    What I learned this time around:

    • Bookmark a site when you find a recipe you like, so that it doesn’t disappear into the either forevermore, so that you can give credit where credit is due. (I’m really truly sorry to the original creator)
    • Clean out your bowl and/or pot when making something like this that you’re going to use for photographic evidence. It’ll make it look a whole lot better, since that is what you’re going for. *facepalm*
    • Always set your timer to the minimum time required or even sooner just in case something like this happens.
    • Consider getting an oven thermometer to ensure your ovens accuracy.

    If you give this a shot, let me know how it goes. Share a picture, I’d like to see what my cake should have looked like. Smile Until next time. Thanks for looking, liking, sharing, doing what you do. I appreciate it immensely.

    Watermelon Ice Cubes

    Let’s take a break from baking for a second and make something cold to beat the summer heat. This is adapted from this recipe mostly because I know my kids aren’t into mint and partly because I didn’t have mint on hand. I went down to the basics for this one.


    Pineapple shaped watermelon ice cubes? Yes.

    My variation:

    1 1/2 – 2 cups of watermelon cut into cubes

    1/2 cup sugar

    1/2 cup water

    Roughly 1/2 of a lemon (The family likes sour stuff)

    Throw it all into a blender and blend until smooth, pour into ice mold and freeze. Drop into your favorite drink and enjoy!


    Snickerdoodle Cupcakes With Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

    I’m now only a week behind. If I actually cranked this out, I’m not used to the wordpress feel of things, I could get up to speed in a little bit, since I am familiar with that layout. (Breaks away from this post to set up Windows Live Writer…) That’s beside the point, though. This time out I decided to try something that someone had given me not that long ago: A Snickerdoodle cupcake. I thought that thing was rather delicious, so I did my best to try and copy it. I returned to the Just A Pinch website where I found this recipe with a cinnamon buttercream frosting. I also decided that this time I would try and pipe the frosting on top. This was the best result:


    The rest were nowhere near this good looking, if you can even call this good looking. By the way, this is a camera shot, not my phone and I figured out how to do the macro (I think it’s macro) shot after taking about a dozen of blurry shots that got deleted.

    Anyway, you can see some dry ingredients getting mixed up below. Flour cinnamon, salt, baking powder. The only variation I made from the original recipe was by necessity because it called for 1.5 cups of cake flour and 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour. It just so happened that I only had 1 cup of cake flour, so I just went 1 cup of that and 2 cups of all-purpose. My cupcakes were no worse for wear.IMG_0028

    Creaming the butter:


    Adding the eggs one at a time. I read that the best way to do this is to actually add them in separately, as in white then yolk, repeat until done, but I don’t typically have time for that, though I tried this time to try and make these as great as possible.IMG_0030

    Add the flour and dry ingredient mixture, it’s starting to come together.IMG_0031

    Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have ourselves some cupcakes. I’m down to some leftover Valentine’s themed cupcake liners, so that’s what I used. Get over it.IMG_0032

    Close up weird angle.


    The recipe says this would make 24 cupcakes, but I think I could’ve made somewhere closer to 28, but rather than make four more I decided to make some supersized cupcakes in these ramekins that I bought a while back, but never got around to using. Essentially, they’re personal cakes, but whatever you call them they came out tasting better than I ever would have hoped. By this time, you really should be noticing some sort of theme in my kitchen-ware. Red mixer, red mixing bowls, red silicone cupcake mold, red ramekins. Yup.


    The ramekins came out of the oven and were perfectly cooked, the top outer edge was a little bit crusty, the center perfectly cooked, with the buttercream frosting on top these thing were delightful.


    I baked them at the same temperature and I just kept a close eye on them not knowing how long they would take to bake. I used a toothpick to check for doneness and took them out to cool maybe a minute early thinking that the residual heat would finish baking them. I ate it straight out of the ramekin with a fork. It was a hit at home and at work and I will return to these. The lady was not interested when I told her what I was making, but after smelling them she was intrigued and she ended up loving them.

    My son had his without the frosting and said that they taste like the cinnamon streusel cakes that Hostess makes in the small 100 calorie packs. He was right, but make no mistake this was far from 100 calories.

    What I learned from this:

    • Piping is hard, getting these cupcakes to look as good as the one in the photo was a real challenge. The ones not included in photos just look like they fell on the floor and got smothered and ruined the original piping. First time, though, so I think I did ok enough considering.
    • They say butter should be at room temperature, but when it’s super hot outside even with the A/C on inside butter melts pretty fast, so as a friend recommended, put it in the microwave for 10 seconds and work it from there. I think my butter was a little too far gone to fix the buttercream, so I ended up working some butter flavored shortening in to add some stability. Maybe in reality I should have done half and half. I’ll try that the next time.

    Hey, thanks for looking at this. I’ve got a bundt cake for you next time, nothing too fancy, but I bought a bundt pan and wanted to use it and this recipe fit the bill. Thanks and catch you on the flip side.

    Coffee Cake with Coffee Glaze

    Snaked this recipe from The Kitchn. It’s a coffee flavored cake, not to be confused with a coffee cake, with a coffee glaze on top and putting a coffee fluff in between the layers. This was my first attempt at a three layer cake. However, because I only have two round pans it took me extra long to make it. I guess I’ll need to make a trip to HomeGoods where I pick up quite a bit of my stuff on the cheap. That’s where I picked up both of my cake pans (round and square) and some Circulon cooking sheets which were half off what Amazon charges, along with several other things. Anyway, this cake had a lot of stuff going on because of the coffee and the gelatin coffee fluff used as the filling. This one is very time consuming, not the kind of cake you bake on a whim.

    First you have to get to working on the fluff because of the gelatin and the fact that it needs time to set. Then proceed to making the cake.

    Mixing up the batter:

    After mixing up the batter you fold in the egg whites. Somewhere along the line I made some mistake because I felt the cake was lacking something, not sure if this is where my mistake came in or in any one of the various steps that come up next.

    After folding the egg whites in the cakes were pretty much ready to bake. While those were going I worked on the fluff. Once the cake and the fluff were ready, I used a spoontula to work it on. This is what mine looked like (again, sorry it’s not completely in focus), this may be the biggest problem I had with the cake. It mostly looks like chunky goo.

    Oh, well gotta keep going, so I put the glaze over the top. This was the best tasting part of the cake, in my opinion.

    The glaze would go nicely over a chocolate cake. It would probably go nicely over this cake if I had made it correctly. My bad. Anyway, I had to break me off some of this cake and while it was edible it certainly wasn’t on par (I felt) with the stuff I’d made the last few times out. Still, my better half actually enjoyed it. She said the reason she liked it was because it wasn’t sweet, I didn’t think it was sweet enough.

    By the way, I felt the cake was a little dense and somewhat dry. Again, probably my fault. Don’t blame the recipe maker. I’d like to try this again, but replace the ‘fluff’ with a mocha buttercream or something similar. Just a thought.

    What I learned from making this cake:

    • When making a three layer cake have three pans. It’ll cut down on a lot of time.
    • Don’t start late or you’ll end up finishing your cakes at 2am like me and then you’re eating a hunk way later than you probably should be. Time management is key.

    Until next time when I show you some snickerdoodle cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream icing. Yay!