Don’t you hate when you can’t remember where you got something that you really like? I have a recipe that I emailed to myself nearly two years ago, and it’s driving me crazy that there’s no indication of origin. Did I copy it from a magazine? Website? Did a friend give it to me? No idea. Argh. Just an email, with the title ‘Apple Brownies’. And you know what? That name’s no help, either. Based on the name, I thought they would be a bit dense and chewy, kind of like blondies, with apples added in. Wouldn’t you agree? Read the rest of this entry ?
Archive for the ‘Brownies and Bars’ Category
Back in December I made cream cheese brownies for a coworker’s birthday, which everyone seemed to enjoy. Some people liked them even more than others. The Pregnant Girl ate more than one (I’m not allowed to say exactly how many), and has been hinting that she’d like some more ever since. When she found out that the February theme was brownies and bars, you can just guess what she asked for. I knew I wanted to make them again, but I kept putting it off, until suddenly it was the end of the month, and I only had one workday left. So Thursday night, I went to pull out the recipe that I had used previously………and came up totally empty. No idea where it went. Disappeared into thin air. And of course the fact that I’m amazingly disorganized had absolutely nothing to do with it!
So back to the drawing board. I needed a good, reliable recipe, since I wouldn’t have time to make a trial version first. Aha! Cook’s Illustrated (home of the magazine by the same name, and the America’s Test Kitchen TV show) does all the work for you! They’ll pick a recipe, research the heck out of it, make a zillion versions while tracking the differences in each, and then come up with one final recipe that is the end-all and be-all for that particular item. That said, because of this sometimes their recipes can be a bit labor intensive, or take forever, and you just want to make something fast and easy. But I’ve found time and again that if you’ve got a little bit of extra time, it’s totally worth it. So I pulled out my Baking Illustrated, turned to page 488, and got to work.
The brownies, they were HEAVENLY. Rich and fudgy and oh-my-lord-SO-chocolatey. Slight crackle on the top. The cream cheese swirl was substantial without being overwhelming, and it tasted like little bites of cheesecake melting in your mouth. With other marbled desserts, I’ve often found that the swirl will separate from the main item, causing unsightly ravines. Not so with this brownie – other than one or two isolated spots, the two textures melded perfectly together. Just amazing. This is now officially my go-to recipe for cream cheese brownies. No need to look any further, I’m more than happy to take the extra steps (which are easier and faster than reading the recipe may lead you to believe, and totally worth it.). And The Pregnant Girl? Well, after she got over being mad at us (because we were as mature as schoolchildren, and hid them from her before she got to taste one – don’t ever do that to a pregnant person, trust me), she loved them too. And she ate more than one. Read the rest of this entry ?
Snickerdoodles have always been one of my favorite cookies, so when I was pondering ideas for brownies and bars, these naturally came to mind. They’ve got all the deliciousness of the original, but you don’t have to roll all of the little balls of dough in the cinnamon sugar mixture. So hard, I know.
I’ve actually made these twice this month. The first time was at the beginning of the month, for a shelter dinner. I forgot, however, to take pictures before I handed them over, so knew I was destined to make them again. Yesterday while running errands, I realized that I was getting into a rut of baking mostly on Sundays, so the same people (two sets of coworkers) were always getting the results on Mondays. Basically, the midweek and weekend crews were getting shafted.
By the time we got home (from the restaurant supply store, woohoo!!), I had less than two hours to figure out what to make before I’d be leaving the house again. Snickerdoodle bars! Seriously, they are so easy it’s almost embarrassing. So I whipped up a batch, let them cool briefly before cutting, and then ran out the door. The Saturday tasters were delighted to be remembered, and all enjoyed the bars. They actually taste best when you let them sit for a day or two, so the flavors can really meld together, but they rarely last long enough for people to discover that. Read the rest of this entry ?
I know that traditionally Wednesday night is Prince spaghetti night, but this week in our house, it was Cranky Night. Yes, the capitalization is needed. It was that bad. We were arguing over absolutely nothing at all, and it was getting old fast (Yes moms, everything is fine. The Olympics have thrown off our sleep schedule, is all). I decided to see if I brownies would help. If it worked, excellent. If not, well then we’d still be Cranky, but we’d also have chocolate. Win-win!
It was actually a challenge to find a recipe that I had all the ingredients for. I was running low on lots of things, and there was no way I was leaving the house. As usual, King Arthur Flour came through for me, with their recipe for Fudge Brownies. They looked delicious and fairly easy, and are rated 4.5 stars.
Don’t be intimidated by the stove top portion of the recipe – the whole thing was actually quite simple and fast. The hardest part is at the end, waiting for them to cool before cutting and devouring. I didn’t have quite enough semisweet chips, so I used some dark chocolate chips, as well. I also noticed that I needed an additional seven minute of cooking time before i was at the ‘moist crumb’ stage in the center. Other than these two things, I made the recipe exactly as written.
How were they, you ask? I have discovered my go-to recipe for basic chocolate brownies. Somewhere between cakey and fudgy, with a shiny crackled top and a deep chocolate flavor, these hit the spot. We each had a generous sample, reverted back to normal human beings, and then the remainder were devoured by my coworkers the next morning.
The minute I mentioned that February would be all about brownies and bars, requests were coming out of the woodwork for lemon bars. I must admit that up until now I’ve had maybe two in my life. And maybe those weren’t the best in show, but I’ve just never been really impressed. Not a major lemon bar groupie.
It seems that I’m unusual in that respect. For most other people, at least within my peer group, lemon bars trigger shortness of breath, accelerated heart rate, and a quantity of drool that would make Pavlov jealous. So I figured what the heck, I’ll see what I can do.
As I frequently do, I found a recipe to use as a jumping off point, and then I tweaked the living bejeebus out of it. For this particular treat, I completely discarded the suggested base layer, and replaced it with a variation on mrslovey’s favorite sugar cookie recipe. Then I added some coconut for texture (which was surprisingly awesome), and nearly tripled the amount of lemon called for in the original. How did they come out? Pretty freaking delicious. While I’ll probably try to up the lemon factor even more next time, for now these should keep the junkies at bay. Read the rest of this entry ?
Tomorrow at work we’ve got a charity bake/candy/craft sale. Anyone who wants to can bring in items to donate, and then the entire floor can buy whatever piques their interest. All proceeds go to the American Heart Association. Yeah, I know, a little odd to promote cookies and candy to support healthy hearts, but I just viewed it as another opportunity to bake.
I pulled out my newest friend, Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookies & Bars, and began to browse. Almost immediately (pg. 14, to be exact), I found exactly what I was looking for – Salted Peanut Chews. Not too complicated, and hopefully a little different from the brownies and cookies that are bound to be there. These were easy to make, although it was a little messy spreading the peanut mixture on top of the hot marshmallows. When it all cooled, however, it looked perfect.
As part of my *ahem* ‘quality control program’ when making a recipe for the first time, I totally nabbed a piece to try. WOW. Completely amazing, don’t change a thing. It had some crispy crunchy, and some ooey gooey, some sweet and some salty. If a Payday bar and a Fluffernutter sandwich had an illegitimate love child, it would taste exactly like this. Yum.
Super Bowl Sunday in loveyland turned into a baking marathon. It started out with a loaf of bread, and all of a sudden it was six recipes and seven hours later. Almost as long as the game! I kid, I kid. I’ll be doling these out one at a time, like the tasty treats are. Each one deserves to be savored.
First up, a taste of citrus. Maybe it was a mid-winter craving for sunshine, or a latent ancestral scurvy-avoiding instinct, but we needed some serious tartness. Happily, earlier in the week I discovered a cookbook devoted to cookies and bars that I had completely forgotten about. Browsing through led me to a promising recipe for lime bars, but I was not at all pleased at the suggestion to use refrigerated cookie dough for the base.
“Not I!” said the little red hen! So I made my own base recipe, and then tweaked the heck out of the filling. By the time I was done, the original recipe was more of a suggestion than anything, and we were smacking our lips over some majorly tart lime delights. The white chocolate, pistachios, and coconut help to balance out the sourness without being overly distracting. Sunshine accomplished! Read the rest of this entry ?