Happy Valentines Day. Do you know where your sweet tooth is? That’s right- it’s still in the same place you left it, no-not at the dentist’s office-but right in the back of your mouth. Your mouth is calling for something red and sweet. It’s okay, you are allowed to indulge today-no need to feel guilty. Your welcome.
Red Velvet Brownies
brownie recipe: from thatskinnychickcanbake
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz. liquid red food coloring (such as McCormick)
2 tsp. vanilla, divided
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 C sugar
2 lg. eggs
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Line both sides of an 8x8x2 inch baking pan with tinfoil and spray lightly with non stick spray. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder, red food coloring and 1 tsp. of the vanilla to form a smooth paste, set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, stopping to scrape bowl. Add the remaining one tsp. of vanilla to combine. Add in the cocoa powder paste mixture and beat gently to combine. Stir in the flour and salt to combine. Smooth batter (it will be thick) into prepared pan and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let brownies cool completely before icing.
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 Cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled (I use Ghiradelli white chocolate) (do NOT use white chocolate chips)
Chop the white chocolate very fine and microwave on 50 % power to melt chocolate-stopping frequently to stir. Allow to cool. Beat the cream cheese and butter in bowl of stand mixer until smooth. Add vanilla and beat to combine. Add in the sugar a little at a time and beat until smooth. Add in the cooled white chocolate and beat until smooth. Spread the icing over the cooled brownies (decorate with heart sprinkles if desired) and chill entire pan until icing becomes firm-this makes cutting the brownies easier.
Run a thin knife or offset spatula around the perimeter of the brownies. lift the entire slab of brownies out of the pan and cut into desired shapes.
Cookie bars are probably my favorite type of cookie. They are easy, quick to whip up and once you prepare them to bake, you can “move on” and get about your day-no continuous scooping or baking of more trays. I also love this time of year because nuts are usually on sale and it’s a good time to stock up and squirrel them away in your freezer.
These- tick all the taste buds- they are crunchy, gooey, chewy, caramel like, buttery, and well- just plain divine. They are very rich though, so I cut them into small inch wide bars.
Pecan Pie Bars
(recipe adapted from “Pecan Squares” by Ina Garten)
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/4 C)
1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 large eggs (whisk the second egg and measure out and use half)
2 1/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
Beat butter and sugar until light, about 3 minutes. Add in eggs slowly and beat to combine. Add in vanilla. Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to mixture on low speed until combined. Press into an ungreased 1/4 sheet pan, (or a 9 x 13 inch pan) making sure to press the crust up the sides of the pan- if using a 9×13 pan press up the sides about one inch. If using a 9×13 inch pan you can line the pan with parchment for easier removal. Chill the crust for 30 minutes before baking. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 15 minutes until crust is set and NOT browned. Allow to cool. Prepare the filling while the crust cools.
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 Cup)
1/2 Cup good quality honey
1 1/2 Cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. orange zest
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 lb. pecans, coarsely chopped
Combine butter, honey, brown sugar and zest in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and pecans. Stir to combine. Pour over the crust, making sure to not allow the filling to seep in between the crust and the pan-this is key as the filling will bubble up and expand. Leave about 1/4 inch of space around the perimeter of the filling to edge of the crust in the pan as the filling will spread while cooking; (you might have about a 1/4 Cup of filling left over). Place the pan on a larger sheet pan while baking to ensure filling does not spill over into oven while baking. Bake at 350° F for 30-34 minutes until the filling is vigorously bubbling. Note- the filling will be very loose and not appear set. The filling will set upon cooling. Once completely cooled, cut into bars using a serrated knife.
Happy Independence Day
Raspberry Lemonade Bars
yield: (about 30-32 bars-depending on the size cut)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 Cup sugar
2 Cups flour
pinch of salt
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the flour and salt together, then add to butter/sugar and beat until combined. Prepare a 9×13 inch pan lined with parchment paper with a 2 inch overhang. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350° F and bake for 15-20 minutes until very lightly browned. Place the pan on a wire rack while you make the filling.
2 1/2 Cups sugar
zest of 3 lemons
1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup seedless raspberry puree (press fresh or thawed frozen raspberries through a fine sieve).
6 large eggs
1 Cup flour
red and/or burgundy gel paste food color (optional)
Confectioners sugar for serving
1. In a food processor pulse the sugar and lemon zest together several times; about 8-10. Add the lemon juice, raspberry puree, and eggs and combine until smooth. Add in the flour and pulse to combine. The filling is not quite the color that I liked- so I added a few drops of red and burgundy gel paste food coloring.
2. Pour the filling onto the crust and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 30 minutes until set; when you jiggle the pan the center should not look loose. Let pan cool over a wire rack. Refrigerate the pan of bars until well chilled before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar before serving.
Belly up to the bar. The cookie bar that is. I love summer because there is just a plethora of fruit to choose from and I’ve been buying fruit like crazy lately. I bought an over abundance of blueberries this week (on sale) and stashed quite a few in the freezer. The rest of the berries were used to make these little berrylicious beauties. Cookie bars are the thing to make when you want to bake but you don’t have a lot of energy for something ambitious.
Blueberry Crumb Bars
3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
zest of one lemon
1 Cup unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold
1 Lg. egg
1. Prepare a 9×13 baking pan by greasing the bottom and sides of the pan, then set aside. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed cold butter and pulse about 10 times to resemble coarse meal. Add the egg and pulse a few more times to combine. Portion out half; about 2 1/2 Cups of the crumb mixture for the base of the bars and press into the bottom of the prepared pan; reserve the rest of the crumble for the top. Make the filling as per below.
4 Cups fresh blueberries washed/drained
3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
5 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cornstarch to combine. Add the blueberries and lemon juice and gently fold with a rubber spatula to combine. Pour the filling over the base crumb, and gently spread with a spatula as needed to ensure an even filling. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture allowing both smaller and larger bits to form when sprinkling the topping over filling. Bake in a 375° F preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until crumb topping is lightly golden brown. Allow the bars to cool completely then cut into squares or rectangles as desired.
You’ve probably figured that raspberries are one of my favorite fruit; since I have many recipes on the blog using them. I had to squeak in one more recipe before summer ends. I’ve been hanging onto this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for a while now, but I tweaked the recipe slightly by using seedless jam instead as I can’t stand a ton of seeds in my filling. I also added a bit of cinnamon-I also do that when I make raspberry linzer tart as I find it adds a nice back note of warmth to the flavor. The third change I made is by using walnuts instead of pecans; so use pecans if you like. The bars are best served the day they are made as the crust and topping remain crunchy. They will soften the following day; but they are still delicious. Store in an airtight container.
Raspberry Streusel Bars
recipe: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
yield: 24 (2 inch squares) more if cutting into smaller bar shape.
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 Cup) + 2 Tbsp. unsalted softened butter, divided
1/4 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C rolled “old-fashioned” oats
1/2 C finely chopped walnuts
3/4 C seedless raspberry preserves
3/4 C fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375° F with rack in middle position. Line a 9×13 inch pan with aluminum foil; both sides allowing about 2 inches overhand on all sides. Spray foil with baking spray.
2. In stand mixer mix flour, sugar, and salt a few seconds to combine. With machine running add the 16 tablespoons of butter; one piece at a time on low speed until mixture resembles damp sand. Measure 1 1/4 Cups of the flour mixture into a medium bowl and set aside; distribute remaining flour mixture into bottom of prepared pan and press evenly into bottom of pan. Bake until edges begin to brown; about 14-16 minutes.
3. To make streusel; while crust is baking, add brown sugar, oats, and nuts to reserved flour mixture; toss to combine. Work in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter with a fork and set aside.
4. Combine preserves, raspberries, lemon juice and cinnamon in a small bowl; mash with fork until combined but some berry pieces remain.
5. Spread filling over hot crust and spread evenly using a small offset spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over topping; DO NOT press streusel into filling. Return pan to the oven and bake for about 22-23 minutes until filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown. Cool to room temp on a wire rack; about 1-2 hours.
6. Remove foil sling from pan by lifting with extensions. Use serrated knife to cut into squares or bars.
Sweet and salty is here to stay. Everyone has heard of the 7 layer or “magic bars”, right? In a way, these remind me of those bars, but they are a bit more modern for today’s taste with the use of caramel and I like them even better. Anything with caramel and I’m automatically along for the ride, and I just realized (after I made these yesterday) that today is National Caramel Day; so there you have it!
This recipe makes a lot so they are perfect for a kids function; as long as no one is allergic to peanuts. The recipe is from Better Homes & Gardens from one of their special addition publications titled “Brownies & Bars”.
Sweet & Salty Caramel Everything Bars
recipe: Better Homes & Gardens special addition: “Bars and Brownies”
yield: 36 bars
3 Cups crushed pretzels
1/3 Cup sugar
1 Cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 Cup unsalted butter
1/2 Cup whipping cream
1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1 (11 oz.) pkg. caramel baking bits OR one (14 oz.) pkg vanilla caramels, unwrapped
2 Cup salted cocktail peanuts
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 Cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 Cup peanut butter flavor chips
1 Cup almond toffee bits
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a 9x13x2 inch pan with double or heavy duty tinfoil. Spray pan with non-stick spray. Set aside. Make the crust: in a medium bowl combine the crushed pretzels, sugar and 1 cup milted butter. Press mixture into bottom of pan. In a medium bowl combine: semisweet chips, milk chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and toffee bits; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup butter, whipping cream and brown sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Stir in the caramel bits. Cook and stir until caramel is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in peanuts.
3. Quickly pour the caramel mixture over the pretzel crust and smooth out caramel to evenly distribute the peanuts. Sprinkle the chocolate chip mixture over the caramel layer and bake in preheated oven at 325° F for 25 minutes or until edges are bubbly and light brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using the edges of the foil, lift the entire slab of bars out of the pan. Cut into bars.
To store: Layer bars between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Calling all pumpkin spice fans. How many of you have already made it into Starbucks for your pumpkin spice latte? Uh huh. That’s what I thought. Quite a few of you…Can we get enough of fall time pumpkin treats. I think not. Here’s something you can whip up on your own–no coffee house trip needed. Pumpkin Cheesecake bars. After I made these, I thought they looked a little plain so I added a recipe for a cream cheese frosting to spread on top if you like. Cheers~
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
1 1/2 Cup crisp gingersnap cookie crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted melted butter
1. Line a 9×9 inch square pan with tinfoil. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Lightly grease the tinfoil. In a small bowl combine the ingredients well with a fork. Press into the bottom of the pan and bake at 350 for about 14-15 minutes until crust looks set around edges. (crust may look a bit wet–that’s okay). Let crust layer cool completely. Make the cheesecake layer while crust is cooling.
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup confectioners sugar
1/2 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 Cup pumpkin puree* (note: pumpkin puree usually comes as a 15 oz. can–which gives you exactly 1 3/4 Cups puree; you will have exactly 1 Cup leftover puree after this recipe. Freeze the remainder in a ziplock baggie for another recipe that calls for pumpkin).
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (note: if you can’t find pumpkin pie spice, use 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg)
1. With an electric mixer cream together the cheese and confectioners sugar until combined; about 3 minutes. Hint: to avoid excess air bubbles don’t go past speed 4 (or medium) on your mixer. Stop occasionally to scrape down bottom and sides of bowl. Add the brown sugar and mix (same speed) until combined. Add eggs one at a time until smooth; scraping down sides and bottom occasionally until smooth. Add in vanilla. Add the pumpkin puree and beat (same speed) until combined. Add in the flour, salt and spices and continue to beat until combined. Pour the mixture onto the cooled crust and rap the pan on the counter several times (about 20 times) until you no longer see any air bubbles rise to the surface (This helps prevent getting those nasty air bubbles you sometimes see on top of the cheesecake). TURN THE OVEN DOWN TO 300 DEGREES F TO BAKE.
2. Bake at 300°F for about 30-35 minutes or until just set. The middle portion of the pan should look JUST slightly jiggly when you gently shake the pan. Turn off the oven and prop open the door and let pan sit in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let cool completely over a wire rack.
Spread with cream cheese frosting if desired. To store: cover pan with tinfoil and chill in the fridge until firm enough to cut.
Cream Cheese Frosting (optional)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. soft butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 Cup confectioners sugar, measured then sifted
In a small bowl combine the cream cheese and butter with a rubber spatula until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir in the sugar and combine until smooth. Spread over cooled cheesecake.