This week, I needed a quick and easy dessert idea that also happened to be scrumptious and (as-always) fairly inexpensive. (Dang! Some desserts can really break the bank… have you noticed that??)
Now, normally I prefer to cook with healthier, more natural ingredients… but sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy for something like that! Sometimes, you just need to toss a few quick ingredients into a bowl and end up with something delicious. (Plus, I already had a yellow cake mix on hand.) This recipe fit the bill perfectly! Who can resist the combo of peanut butter and chocolate? Not this girl!
There was one small hiccup in my plan, though. This quick, convenient little recipe I was so pumped to make called for one ingredient I didn’t have on hand. Sweetened Condensed Milk. And you all know about my aversion to going back to the grocery store in the middle of the week for single ingredients. I don’t do it! Period. I’m a budgeting mama and that is one rabbit hole I know not to fall into! Once I break down and start making mid-week grocery trips… it’s a slippery slope. So I don’t do it. It’s a rule I made for myself back when we started budgeting and I like following my rules. (I can hear you Type B people laughing out loud at me right now. Yes, I know I’m a tightwad.)
So what did I do? I completely negated my simple, quick, “no-energy-required” dessert plan by making my own sweetened condensed milk! (Ha!)
Good news though: It couldn’t have been easier. It really was NO trouble! Sweetened Condensed Milk does take a little time to make… but you can leave it on the stove over low heat and go about your business in the meantime. Not a high-maintenance process in the slightest!
I’ve had a few readers request more videos/tutorials here on the blog, and since I was trying a new adventure making my own SCM, I thought I’d record the process for you! I’d hardly call this process tutorial-worthy, but I still think it’ll help anyone who might be apprehensive about making their own SCM… plus you’ll get a good laugh out of my 18-month old’s antics in the video. (It is a highly professional recording. Not!)
Enjoy the tutorial and let me know if you’ve had similar success making your own ingredients in a pinch! I’d love to hear about it.
Oh, and the recipe for the fabulous Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Bars is below… just scroll on down. Also, one tip I want to pass along is that these bars are significantly better the second day. I think it gives the layers a chance to firm up. So I highly recommend making them one day before serving!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Bars!
These rich dessert bars are best served the day after baking, when the layers have had a chance to firm up a bit. Enjoy with a glass of milk!
Author: Christy Denney | recipe featured on prettyhungryblog.com
Recipe Type:: Dessert
- 1 package plain yellow cake mix
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (*See below for homemade recipe)
- 2 Tablespoons butter (omit if using homemade SCM)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla (Omit if using homemade SCM)
- *For homemade sweetened condensed milk:
- 1½ C. milk
- ½ C. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Blend cake mix, melted butter, peanut butter, and eggs in a large bowl. Press roughly ⅔ the mixture into a 9X13 pan reserving about 1½ C. to crumble on top.
- In a glass measuring cup, heat sweetened condensed milk to simmering (about 1 min.), then pour over chocolate chips. Allow to sit about 30 seconds, then whisk the chocolate into the milk until melted and smooth. Add vanilla and butter (if using) to the chocolate mixture.
- Pour/spread the chocolate mixture over the cake mixture pressed in the pan and then crumble the 1½ cups of reserved cake mixture on top evenly.
- Bake for 20-26 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
- *For homemade sweetened condensed milk:
- Combine milk and sugar in a small saucepan and heat to a very low simmer on the stove top. Stir occasionally and keep over low heat (uncovered) until milk has reduced by about half. Then remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Use interchangeably with canned sweetened condensed milk. This recipe yields roughly 1¼ C. SCM, the equivalent of one can.
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