Raspberry Filled White Chocolate Almond Bars

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This week I have off from classes, and for the first time in a while I don’t really have anything pressing to do.  And I do not know what to do with myself. Besides listen to this song nonstop.

My name is Karen, and I can no longer do nothing.

I used to be able to just literally sit on the couch or at the computer all day long and do nothing.  Well, not nothing.  I had a very important TV schedule I followed.  Since our study didn’t have cable my line up was based on the standard channels as follows: Arthur (yes, the aardvark…), People’s Court, Judge Mathis, Judge Hatchet, All my Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital, and Maury.

I would love to say I have become more cultured and sophisticated in the years since, but I can still get sucked in by a good Real Housewives of wherever marathon.  I know I shouldn’t complain about this slow week and that a few months from now I will be longing for some nothing-ness.  Until then I will have to try and find some fun stuff to do this week.

Luckily for the second half of this week I don’t have to worry about doing nothing since I will blowing out of this one-horse town on a Texas roadtrip! I am excited to explore some cities, spend time with a friend, eat good food, and watch some fireworks.  From a good distance since I have a healthy respect/fear of explosions.

I really am revealing a lot of neurosis today.  Can’t do nothing, have a fear of fireworks. Hello.  For the sake of full disclosure, I also have an irrational fear of butterflies.

Anyway.  These raspberry almond white chocolate bars would be an amazing treat to bring to any BBQ celebrations. This recipe comes from my mom, and I knew whenever she made these for a holiday celebration, we were in for a treat.  Raspberry, white chocolate, and almonds are a threesome I can fully get behind.

No blue, but you got the red and white covered- just sit them next to a big bowl of blueberries or something.

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RASPBERRY FILLED WHITE CHOCOLATE BARS
Adapted from My Mom

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter
12 ounces white chocolate chips, divided
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4-1 cup raspberry jam
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9 inch baking pan.

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add 6 ounces (about 1 cup) of the white chocolate chips. Do not stir and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat eggs until foamy. Slowly add sugar, beating until mixture is lemon colored. Stir in white chocolate chip and butter mixture. Add almond extract, salt, and flour. Mix until just combined. Pour approximately 1/2-3/4 of the mixture into the pan. Bake for 15-17 minutes.

In a small saucepan warm raspberry jam until easily pourable, about 2-3 minutes. Pour on top of warm crust. Spoon teaspoonfuls of remaining batter on top of jam with some jam still showing through. Sprinkle almonds on top. Bake for 25-27 minutes. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Peanut Butter Oreo Bars

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Have you been pondering how I could take those delicious Black and White Bars and make them into a treat that Lindsay Lohan would love? Did you figure it out, or did I stump you?  Can you tell I am little excited that I have my first Two-Parter post?  Tell me your guesses: what treats would Lindsay Lohan love?

No, I am not adding any illegal substances to the Black and White Bars.  Nor do the bars give you the ability to make wise decisions unfortunately.

Here it is: peanut butter and Oreos.

Does it all make sense now?

Hopefully it does, because if you haven’t seen The Parent Trap, your life up to this point cannot have been fully fulfilling.  In that movie Lindsay Lohan bonds with her twin sister/herself over a love of the combination of peanut butter and Oreos.  So what did my young childhood self do immediately after watching that movie?  Eat some peanut butter and Oreos of course.

And it was a life changing experience.  So it was only natural that as an adult when I was left with some sweetened condensed milk that I should add peanut butter to it and pour on top of Oreos.  I only wish Lindsay could make such great decisions like this.

I want to eat these bars and watch the Parent Trap as soon as possible.  With Dennis Quaid.  Mmm.

PEANUT BUTTER BARS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into 1 inch pieces
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanuts
1 cup chopped Oreos
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 baking pan with foil and grease.

In a food processor combine flour, salt, and brown sugar.  Pulse until combined.  Sprinkle cold butter cubes on top.  Pulse until pea sized crumbs form.  Press evenly into prepared baking pan.

Sprinkle white chocolate chips and peanuts on top.  Sprinkle chopped Oreos and top.  Lightly press down.  In a bowl mix together sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter.  Pour sweetened condensed mixture on top, tilting the pan to ensure the sweetened condensed milk fully covers the pan.  Bake for 19-23 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Cool completely and then cut into bars.  Store in refrigerator

Black and White Bars

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I wear a lot of black. And some gray and white. Especially when I am trying to look nice and professional (and hide my true desire to be wearing yoga pants), I always turn to neutrals.

So what do you do when you wear too much black and white? Make desserts to match your outfits obviously. For these bars I took the idea of magic bars, which is basically just pouring sweetened condensed milk on top of sweet toppings, and used my favorite black and white toppings.  And what is one of the best black and white sweets American can offer? My friends, that would be the Oreo. And what is better than just eating an Oreo?  Eating an Oreo with gooey sweet sweetened condensed milk on top.

I think I would eat my first child if they were covered in sweetened condensed milk.

But no worries about that as I am currently not a fan of children (to put it nicely), nor are children often covered in sweetened condensed milk.  Children can sleep safely in their beds tonight without fear of me turning in the the witch from Hansel and Gretel.  I will just eat this dessert instead.

I hope I did not scare anyone away with that eating children comment.  I meant it all in good fun.

Is it really not funny to joke about eating children?  Hm.

Stay tuned for the next recipe that takes these bars and makes them into a treat that Lindsay Lohan would love.  Yes, I will leave you with that gem to ponder.

BLACK AND WHITE BARS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut in 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped Oreos
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 baking pan with foil and grease.

In a food processor combine flour, salt, and brown sugar.  Pulse until combined.  Sprinkle cold butter cubes on top.  Pulse until pea sized crumbs form.  Press evenly into prepared baking pan.

Sprinkle white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips on top.  Sprinkle chopped Oreos and top.  Lightly press down.  Pour sweetened condensed milk on top, tilting the pan to ensure the sweetened condensed milk fully covers the pan.  Bake for 19-23 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Cool completely and cut into bars.  Store in refrigerator

Cranberry Bliss Bars

And the holiday baking continues.  Our family was recently united as my sister finished her first semester of college (!), and in a weird way, everything has gone back to how it used to be.  It feels normal yet different at the same time.  Soon we will be making all our holiday classics: sugar cookies, zucchini casserole, Chocolate Sprinkle Pretzel Bites, and Sausage Cups, but I am still enjoying trying new festive recipes.  These bars are a sweet combination of a blondie, white chocolate, and cranberries all topped with cream cheese frosting.  Yum.

Now, as I do not like coffee (not even the smell of it), I am not a frequenter of Starbucks.  I much prefer to get my caffeine drink fix from a can of Diet Coke.  But I always appreciate a baked good, and really homemade is often going to be better than any store bought treat.  These bars are pretty easy to make and a perfect way for a novice baker to dazzle at any holiday event.  Perhaps they would also go well with a warm cup of coffee on a cold morning, but this I cannot attest to.  I can let you know that they taste excellent with a can of Diet Coke.

With the big C-Day almost here, it’s crunch time, but take some time and enjoy whipping up a new recipe if you can!  Here are some I have tried and loved:

Candied Cinnamon Sugar Walnuts
Chocolate Sprinkle Pretzel Bites
Black and White Cranberry Pie
Individual Pecan Pie
Blueberry and Sour Cream Pie
Cookie Dough Truffles
Chocolate Fudge
English Toffee
Salted Caramel Bark
Chocolate Brigadeiros
Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Tart
New York Cheesecake
Orange Cranberry Cookies
Fruitcake Cookies
Hazelnut Macarons with Nutella Buttercream
Gingerbread
Fig and Strawberry Baklava
Cranberry Turtle Bars`

CRANBERRY BLISS BARS
Slightly Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything via RecipeGirl
INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
6 ounces white chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 ounces white chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.   Line a 9 x 11 baking pan with aluminium foil.

In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave.  Stir in light brown sugar and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Mix in vanilla extract and eggs.  Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed together.  Fold in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.   Pour dough into pan and spread out evenly.  Bake for 19-21 minutes, until edges are just golden brown.  Cool completely.

In a bowl beat cream cheese for 1 minute.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat.  Gradually add the melted white chocolate and beat until combined. Fold in orange zest. Spread frosting in even layer over bars. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top.

Chill for 30 minutes to allow frosting to set.  Using the aluminium foil, remove from pan.  Cut into small bars or triangles.  Keep refrigerated.

Lemon Bars

I have made several attempts at homemade lemon recipes.  With these attempts, came many unblogged failures of lackluster lemon bars with bland and goopey fillings.  So believe me when I say I know what bad lemon filling tastes like.  But now after making this recipe, I know what good, homemade lemon filling tastes like- success at last! Leave it to Cook’s Illustrated to know how to make a good lemon bar  A buttery, crumbly crust and a smooth, luscious, lemon filling is a lethal combination to diets across America.

The best parts of the bars were there corners and edges.  The combination of the crisp, buttery crust with the lemon filling is to die for.  I may or may not have cut around the edges and eaten those pieces.  And then seriously contemplated buying the edge-only baking pans.

LEMON BARS
Slightly Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
INGREDIENTS
For the Crust:

8 3/4 ounces all purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cup)
2 3/4 ounces powdered sugar (about 2/3 cup)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

For the Filling:
9 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (about 1 1/3 cups)
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, for topping

DIRECTIONS

For the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with foil.  Grease the foil.

In a food processor, combine flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Pulse until combined.  Chill slices of butter.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Pour mixture into baking pan.  Press into an even layer, reaching about 1/2 inch up the sides.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Bake until golden brown, 20-23 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine granulated sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Using your hand rub the zest into the sugar.  Let sit for at least 5 minutes.  Add flour and eggs.  Whisk together.  Add lemon juice, milk, and salt.

Lower oven temperature to 325°F.  Pour mixed lemon filling into warm crust.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, until filling jiggles slightly and feels firm to the touch.  Cool on a wire wrack.  Cut into squares and dust additional powdered sugar on top, if desired

Gooey Butter Cake

How do I begin to describe this cake…
Well, first off it’s not really like a cake.  It’s more of a cake combined with a brownie without the chocolate, pecan pie with the pecans, and cheesecake with the graham cracker crust.  It is sweet, crunchy, and gooey all in one bite.   Truly a unique dessert in its own right.  You just have to make this concoction to find out for yourself just how hard it is to describe.

GOOEY BUTTER CAKE

INGREDIENTS

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking power

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 eggs, room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking power, salt, melted butter, and 1 egg.  Press into the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and 2 eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated.  Pour mixture on top of cake mixture.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Be careful not to overbake, you want your cake gooey.  Cool at room temperature then refrigerate.

Cranberry Turtle Bars

I bookmarked this dessert months ago, eagerly waiting the holiday season with ample desserts and cranberry availability.  Many had doubts about this dessert- a cranberry caramel like dessert?  They were not interested, but I didn’t care.  I was making this dessert, even if no one else ate these and I had to pilfer the extras on the street.  I was also excited to work with a candy thermometer again and make a caramel like sauce for the first time.  This dessert was happening whether people ate it or not.
Well, the naysayers were proven wrong- these bars were as good as I thought they would be.  They ate both their words and these bars.  The recipe takes a little time, mostly just waiting for parts to cool and to reach certain temperatures.  But it is worth it.  The shortbread crust is sweet and delicate, and the cranberry topping is chewy and sweet with a great crunch from pecans.  The white chocolate topping (which was added after I took my picture) adds another layer of sweetness on top of it all.  These are definitely a delicious, unique dessert and perfect for this holiday season.  Don’t let any naysayers dissuade you from making these!
CRANBERRY TURTLE BARS
Slightly Adapted from The Curvy Carrot
Originally Gourmet November 2001
INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter

For Cranberry Topping:
1 cup butter
1 2/3 granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups pecans, chopped

For Topping:
Shaved or melted white chocolate (about 2 ounces)

DIRECTIONS

For the Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 10 x 15 baking pan with foil.  Grease the sides of the pan.  Do not grease the bottom.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt.  Cut the butter into 1/2 inch size pieces.  Using a pastry cutter (or food processor), cut in the butter until a dough of pea sized pieces formed.  Pour dough into baking pan.  Press dough into bottom of the pan, being careful not to overwork. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until firm to the touch.  Set aside and cool completely.

For the Cranberry Topping:
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Spread pecans over a baking sheet and spray tops with cooking spray.  Bake for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned, watching carefully.  Set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Continue to boil until the temperature reaches 245°F.  Stir in cranberries.  Be careful if the caramel seizes, just keep stirring!  Bring to a boil again and cook until the temperature reaches 245°F again.  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla extract and pecans.  Quickly spoon mixture over cooled crust.  Spread evenly.  Let cool completely.

For Topping:
Shave or melt white chocolate.  Sprinkle shavings or drizzled melted white chocolate over top.  Let cool completely.  Remove bars from baking dish and cut.  Store in refrigerator.

Black and White Cheesecake Bars

Cheesecake and brownies- two great elements on their own and a delicious combination. The cheesecake layer was smooth and creamy, and the brownie was moist and chocolate-y.  This was a great dessert (It was gone in two days if you want evidence of the fact of how good they were).

In fact, this was one of the best brownies I ever made.  It must be due to the Dutch process cocoa powder.  Which is why Dutch process cocoa powder has become my new soul mate.  And to think we almost never came together in the first place! After seeing this type of cocoa powder in several dessert recipes, I was dying to try it.  I searched everywhere, high and low for this cocoa powder.  No luck.  HEB is the only store I found it at.  Thank you, HEB, for these delicious brownie cheesecake bars.

Other grocery stores, step up your game. HEB, touche.

BLACK AND WHITE CHEESECAKE BARS
INGREDIENTS

For the Brownie Base:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cheesecake Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

For the Brownie Base:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.  Line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on both sides.  Spray parchment paper with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs and vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth.  Slowly add dry ingredients.  Mix until incorporated.

Reserve approximately 1 cup of the brownie dough.  Cover and refrigerate.  Press remaining dough into bottom of baking dish.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Bake for 25 minutes, until edges are puffed and base is set.  Cool completely on a wire wrack.

For the Cheesecake Layer:
Sift powdered sugar.  In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.  Spread over brownie base.  Add remaining brownie dough on top.  Bake 25-35 minutes until filling is set.  Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into squares.  Refrigerate.