Butterscotch Meringue Bars

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You know those people who can take a few bites of a dessert and then have to stop because it was too sweet? I am not one of those people. I am the type of person who can eat for dessert for lunch and dinner and be perfectly fine (I speak from experience here). I can handle my dessert but not my liquor.

And I am perfectly fine with that. I feel sad for those people who can’t eat more than a few bites. They would be missing out, especially when it comes to these butterscotch meringue bars. These bars are a buttery blondie base studded with your filling of choice (Snickers was my chosen poison here), and then they are topped with a sweetened meringue. They are then baked, cooled, cut into bars and become little bites of heaven. It’s gooey-ness like you can’t believe. Yum. These are wonderfully sweet but not overly so. Some people may be satisfied with just one bar, but I always want at least three.

BUTTERSCOTCH MERINGUE BARS Slightly Adapted from Cooks Illustrated via The Church Cook

INGREDIENTS

For the Butterscotch Base: 2 cups all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 cups butter, softened 1 cup light brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 egg yolks 1 tablespoon water 2 cups chopped Snickers* For the Meringue Topping: 2 egg whites 1 cup light brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

For the Butterscotch Base: Preheat the oven to 350°F.. Line a 9 inch by 13 inch pan with aluminium foil. Grease with butter. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until creamy. Beat in vanilla extract, egg yolk, and water. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Press butterscotch base into pan. Press chopped snickers on top. For the Meringue Topping: In a large bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Pour in light brown sugar and beat until uniform in color and glossy. Spread on top of butterscotch base. Bake for 32-40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool 2-3 hours before removing from pan. Cut into bars. *The original recipe used chocolate chips. Use any mix in you feel like!

Cupcake Pie Bars: Improv Challenge

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Oh my gahhh…

This dessert takes the cake- and the pie, and the bars.  Given that I have combined 3 types of desserts (bars, pie filling custard, and cupcakes), scientifically this dessert must be 3 time superior than all other normal desserts.

For this month’s Improv Challenge, we were given the task to make a dish with cake a frosting.  While I am perfectly happy with any cake or cupcake combo, I decided to try something a little bit different with these triple threat dessert.

First you have a graham cracker pie crust packed into bar form.  Good  Then you have a chess-pie butter filling.  Wonderful.  Then you pour the pie filling over cupcakes on top of your crust.  Magical.

All together, these three factors combine together to form a wonderful, sweet dessert.  All aboard the cupcake pie bar train.  First stop: sugar coma.

A fair warning: these babies are sweet.  I have a pretty high sweet tolerance, and my sugar craving was fully satisfied after one small bar (versus my typical 3-5).  The first time I made these, I (stupidly) forgot to add the eggs, which made them ultra sweet, but I have adapted the recipe a little bit to take out some of the sugar toothache-factor.

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CUPCAKE PIE BARS
Adapted from The Domestic Rebel

INGREDIENTS

For the Brown Sugar Crust:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into pieces

For the Cupcake Filling
18 mini cupcakes, sliced in half
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles, optional

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.  Place sliced cupcakes in single layer on top.

In a large bowl combine butter, eggs, sugar, vinegar, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Pour over top of cupcakes.  Top with sprinkles, if desired.  Bake for 30-37 minutes.  Cool completely and cut into bars.  Store in refrigerator.

Thanks to Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for hosting the challenge!  Make sure the check out what everyone else made!

No Bake Nutella Fruit & Nut Bars

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Are you ready for a snack, or are you ready for a snack?

Today we are going to get real serious about our snacking choices.  And by getting serious, I mean we are going to be using some Nutella. Nutella is amazing, and it is partially responsible for why I went all the way up to French IV in high school.  French culture day always meant eating lots of Nutella.  For educational purposes, of course.

I am currently working on my thesis (masters degree, I see you!), looking at issues with depression & alcohol, but what I would really like to write it on is the power of Nutella.  I am pretty sure just eating Nutella will be associated with lower levels of sadness.  New therapy treatment: instead of actually having to show up to work, I will just leave an open jar of Nutella and a spoon on my chair. Chocolate hazelnut therapy.

But if you really need some happiness, I suggest taking some Nutella and using it to make some no-bake bars.  I love lots and lots of stuff in my bars, so I packed these bars to the brim.  Filled with lots of chewy, sweet fruit and crunchy nuts, these bars make a great snack.  I used dried cherries and cashews, but the sky is the limit here.  I upped the Nutella & honey in this too, so they get nice a gooey. Mmmm.

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NO BAKE NUTELLA FRUIT AND NUT BARS
Adapted from White on Rice Couple

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup Nutella
Large pinch of salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cups dried fruit
1 1/2 cups nuts
1 cup chocolate chips, optional

DIRECTIONS

Line an 8 inch by 8 inch pan with foil and grease.

In a saucepan combine butter, honey, Nutella, salt, and brown sugar.  Whisk together over medium heat until combined.  Remove from heat.  Stir in dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips.  Spread mixture into pan.  Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I hope you all had a great Memorial Day Weekend.  We celebrated with beer, home-smoked turkey and ribs, corn spoonbread, fried squash blossoms, and some s’mores cookie bars.  My dad woke up early and put a turkey in his new smoker, and the turkey spent the rest of the day in its own personal sweat lodge, smoking away.  Later in the afternoon we added some ribs

But let’s get to those s’mores chocolate chip cookie bars.

When my sister and I were younger, the best part about grilling at our beach house was s’mores.  Since we used a charcoal grill down there, it always meant that after burgers, we would all head down for some marshmallow roasting with real charcoal.  No need to have marshmallows explode in the microwave or burn them on our gas stove, we had the real deal down there. We always went to bed with gooey fingers and full bellies.

This past week I have been oh so tortured by those s’mores areas of the grocery store that have been packed with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate.  We only have a gas grill here, so real s’more weren’t very doable.  When I saw this recipe incorporating my family’s favorite dessert of chocolate chip cookies with s’more that was all made in the oven, I was set.  These turned out gooey and delicious. These are a great sweet treat to end any barbeque in the upcoming summer months. I would recommend eating them warm and adding lots of marshmallows.  And don’t forget to lick your fingers clean.

Also I have seen the s’more supplies at our store now include Reeses cups.  Best idea ever or best idea ever?

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S’MORES CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Barely Adapted from A Kitchen Addiction

INGREDIENTS

5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 package graham crackers, broken in half
1/2-3/4 cup mini marshmallows

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Line a 9 inch by 13 inch pan with foil.

Mix together butter, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar until creamy and golden.  Whisk in egg and vanilla extract until just combined.  Stir in salt, baking powder, and flour until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Place graham crackers in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Place a tablespoon of dough on top of each graham cracker.  Press down to flatten.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle marshmallows on top.  Garnish with extra chocolate chips if desired.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until marshmallows are golden brown.  Eat warm.

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.