Ecstasy Bars (aka, magic bars on crack or salted caramel magic bars)

It’s 3:00 a.m. and I’m exhausted.  The caffeine is starting to wear off.  Do you ever feel nauseous when you are lacking in the sleep department?  Well, I just reached that point.  One more hour and I will have been awake for 24 hours.  I worked 13 hours today.  Thirteen!  It wasn’t really by choice either.  It was mandatory over time.  You may (or may) not be wondering why I am still up at this ridiculous hour of the morning.

I’m still up because I’m forcing myself to stay awake so that I can sleep soon.  I am working the graveyard shift the next two nights.  And guess what?  I have NEVER worked a graveyard shift before.  So my brilliant plan is to stay up as late as I can so that I can sleep until about 4:00 p.m., have dinner, and head off to work for my 12 hour shift that starts at 7:00 p.m.  I have another brilliant plan to take pseudoephedrine (i.e., the derivative to methamphetamine) and coffee to keep me awake through the wee hours of the night while I work tomorrow and the day after.  In fact, that used to be a favorite cocktail combination of mine while I was in pharmacy school trying to stay up for midterms and finals.  However, do as I say and not as I do, in that I do not advise anyone to take this drug combination.  It can really get your heart racing and blood pressure rising, which can be a no-no especially for those with a pre-existing (or even unknown) heart condition.  Therefore, avoid this.   Actually, just pretend you didn’t even read the last half of this paragraph.  Anyhow, I digress, as usual.

I was so anxious about not being able to stay up tonight that I bought a new movie and a new Nintendo Wii game to keep myself entertained/awake until I can go to sleep.  Well, instead of watching TV or playing video games (which I had every intention of doing), I entertained myself by concocting yummy things in the kitchen.  I’m making my version of magic bars (aka, seven layer bars), except that my magic bars are on crack.  They have been finished with a generous drizzle of my salted caramel sauce.  So they’re not just any magic bars… they’re magic bars on crack.  Actually, they’re even better than that.  They are ecstasy bars.

And as I sit here while blogging this post and listening to the snores of my sleeping dog, my brain is slowly shutting down and my eyes barely open.  I think it may be bedtime soon…

Ecstasy Bars

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup dark chocolate morsels
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat muffin tin with cooking spray.

Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottoms of muffin tin.  Layer evenly with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips, followed by the shredded coconut.

Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from muffin tin.  Drizzle with salted caramel sauce.  Store covered at room temperature.

[If you don't want to go through the hassle of using a mini muffin pan, use a 13x9 inch baking pan.  Line the pan with foil, coat with nonstick spray, and layer as directed above.  Allow to cool, and then simply lift up the foil up and out to remove from baking pan.  You're left with perfect magic bars.  Cut into squares and devour.]

Makes 36 servings (small, as these are very rich)

Reconstructed Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake

I just so happened to glance up from my computer and caught a glimpse of what Paula Deen and her son was making.  I just had to make these today.  But I wasn’t that motivated to get off the couch.  You see, I declared today a lazy day when I got off of work last night.  It was one of those days in the emergency department where I left work feeling a little demolished.  So all I wanted to do today was to cuddle with my two little boys, catch up on recorded DVR shows, and rest.  And of course, it was just my lucky day because I had all the ingredients the recipe called for, so my lazy behind didn’t need to get off the couch to make a special trip to the grocery store.  Although I had all the ingredients for the recipe, I wanted to do more to it.  Give it a little more pizazz.  Make it a little bit more healthy.  And it just clicked… vegan strawberry cheesecake with graham crackers.

These are amazing and delicious little morsels of yumminess.  Wow.  These would be EVEN better with real cream cheese.  I think these might make the perfect dish to bring to a potluck or dinner party.  In fact, these are what we will be bringing to the next potluck we are invited to.  They were really simple to make.  It probably took us less than 15 minutes to put together.

You’ll love these.

Trust me.

Yum.

Reconstructed Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake (adapted from The Deen Brothers)

20 whole large strawberries, hulled
8 ounces Tofutti cream cheese, softened
1/4 plus 2 tablespoons cup confectioners’ powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2/3 cup graham crackers, roughly chopped

Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand upright. Place berries, cut side down, on a serving platter. Carefully cut the berries into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, the bottoms with a criss-cross cut. Fan wedges just slightly, taking care not to break them. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the Tofutti cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla until combined but still stiff. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag with decorative tip, fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, place chopped graham crackers on top of the stuffed strawberries.

Makes 20 stuffed berries.

Vegan Graham Cracker Crust… Trust Me, It’s Good!

Graham Cracker Crust (adapted from Happy Herbivore)

2.5 cups whole wheat graham crackers
7 tablespoons applesauce
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease an 8-inch springform pan or a comparable shallow pie dish and set aside.

Place graham crackers and slivered almonds into a food processor and pulse until they resemble bread crumbs or a heavy sand-like consistency. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and whisk in cinnamon. Add applesauce and stir until large chunks of graham crackers form. Add more applesauce if necessary, but make sure the mixture does not become too wet or soggy (this happened to me very quickly the first time I made this crust). Continue to stir until everything is evenly wet.

Press mixture into the pan or pie dish to form a crust along the base and edges. Bake for 10 minutes, until just crisp and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before using.

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