Archive for Bars

Samoa Bars

In my reader, I have amassed quite a collection of blog posts and recipes that I’m dying to try. Unfortunately, that collection grows by the day and I can’t quite keep up. Also, when a stroke of inspiration strikes, there’s no guarantee that an appropriate recipe is already sitting in my files so I go off hunting the internet and alas the list of recipes never gets shorter.

This week, however, I was determined.

After much hemming and hawing, I finally settled on this recipe. Browned butter, chocolate, coconut, and the namesake of the hands-down best Girl Scouts cookie out there. What could go wrong? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. These bars are an exercise in moderation they’re so delicious. They can single-handedly bring a diet crashing down with the first bite of wonderful. The only thing I would change would be to do some kind of caramel drizzle over them to really get the quintessential samoa experience.

I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Samoa Bars
adapted from honey & jam

Makes one 8×8″ pan.

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/4 c sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 c bittersweet chocolate chips

Ingredients
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil.

Brown the butter in a pan over high heat. To do this, stand very close by and wait until it begins to change color and smell nutty. Take off the flame and allow the butter to cool for a few minutes until just warm. Combine with the brown and granulated sugars in a large bowl. Add in the egg, vanilla, and salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Slowly add in the flour, coconut, and chocolate chips until the flour just disappears. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top over. Bake 25-30 minutes. The center will still be soft but avoid overbaking. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Clearly I was too eager to wait for these babies to cool.

Have you taken childhood favorites and changed them up?

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S’mores Bars

I apologize for the lack of posting this week but I’ve been doing a lot of carpe diem lately. This past week I went to the NY Wine Expo (and became a hot mess), watched the Knicks v. Heat game on Sunday while eating wings (yum), shopped for snowgear (but didn’t buy anything), and ate out a grand total of five times. Also I saw the King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and Tangled. All of which were fabulous. (If you want my opinion, while I thought King’s Speech was good, I didn’t think it should have won Best Picture but that’s the Academy for you!)

And all this time I’ve been working.

So there hasn’t been much time for baking or blogging (my Reader is out of control at the moment). But there has been time for these bars because they took all of 10 minutes to throw together! They were delicious to boot. Who can resist the classic s’mores combination? I have to say the chocolate was a little bit too sweet for my taste though. Next time I may try bittersweet chocolate or even unsweetened (the condensed milk adds a lot of sugar). These were easy, quick, and perfect for any sort of gathering. (Except I ate all of them on my own but shhhhhhh don’t tell!)

This Week I Ate..

  • Smitten Kitchen’s Sour Cream Pancakes. These were wonderful! Tangy and fluffy, perfect for dousing in maple syrup with a side of strawberries. A solid breakfast is always best way to start my day.
  • Curry Creamed Chicken with Couscous Salad. I used to make this all the time when I first started living on my own but my need for variety and the staggering amount of good recipes I have yet to try have prevented me from making it the past few years. I revisited my old favorite and can only say that I usually double the cream sauce because it’s so delicious. This dish comes together in under 20 minutes and it’s great for a weeknight meal (and fairly healthy too besides the cream).
  • Annie’s Eats Chicken Ranch Pizza. There was a sale on fresh pizza dough at my local supermarket this week so I stocked up and made a bunch of pizza. This is one of my favorite pizzas ever! I’ve made it at least half a dozen times now and Boy can’t get enough.
  • Chicken BBQ pizza. With my extra pizza dough I just threw on about 1/4 c barbecue sauce (hickory smoked), 3/4 c shredded mozzarella, caramelized red onion, and cooked chicken, and called it a day. Simple but delicious just the same.

S’mores Bars
adapted from Williams Sonoma, seen on Annie’s Eats

Makes 16 or 1 8×8″ square pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c graham cracker crumbs (approximately 6-7 graham crackers)
  • 3/4 c sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/3 c semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c mini marshmallows
  • 2 whole graham crackers
  • extra butter to grease the pan

Instructions
Line an 8×8″ baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease with extra butter. (I found it easier to grease the foil first and then place in the pan.

Using a fork, mix melted butter with graham cracker crumbs until evenly moistened. Pour into the bottom of the pan and press into an even layer. (I used the bottom of a glass.)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the condensed milk and chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Quickly pour the mixture over the graham cracker base and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle marshmallows over the chocolate and gently press them in so they are anchored. Break up the whole graham crackers and insert between the marshmallows.

Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm. Cut into bars and serve cool.

When was the last time you carpe diem’d?

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

As promised, I’m back with a delicious (and quick) recipe that’s perfect for back-to-school, fall, end-of-summer, and all days that end in “y.”

I’m still on my rotation that’s slowly sucking the life out of me but there’s only a week left so I think I can do it.

Given the time constraints, I haven’t been in the kitchen much (also, living next door to Whole Foods is pretty gosh darn convenient) but I have made these treats.

Simple and amazingly delicious, these took ten minutes to put together.

Deb’s awesome.

Also, thanks everyone for your cake suggestions! I’m still deliberating but I’ve narrowed it down to a select few and will be very excited to show you what I end up with!

And now.. naptime.

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
adapted from smitten kitchen

I got 25 little snacks out of this.

Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter
10 oz bag marshmallows
heaping 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
6 c Rice Krispies cereal

Instructions
Grease an 8-inch square cake pan with butter or non-stick spray.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat and brown until it smells nutty. The brown bits are welcome so don’t be alarmed when they appear. Do NOT take your eyes off the butter because it can burn really quickly. As soon as the butter browns, turn off the heat and add in the marshmallows. The heat of the butter should melt them but if not, you can turn the heat back on for a bit. Once melted, take off the stove and stir in the salt and cereal.

Spread quickly into the pan and let cool! It’s that easy!

Make these!

Lemon Bars

I’m all about the citrus.

This year I’ve been baking oodles and oodles of lemony (x2)/limey/orangey (will have to post something orange soon!) things and I’m loving it. The refreshing flavor kinda makes you forget about all the buttery sugary filled goodness, you know? I love sugar cookies but sugar cookies with lime? Even better. Also, for some reason, citrus things make me think of breakfast which ultimately means I could SHOULD each such things at breakfast time (which can be as early as 5am.. sometimes 4am if I’m extra lucky). And they’re filled with all that vitaminy good stuff.

Yes, I have just created no less than 6 new adjectives by adding “y” to the end of words. Don’t judge me.

There was once a time I wouldn’t eat citrus.

I know. I was a silly child. At least I always loved coconut. No oranges but coconut = Sharlene had no friends.

Anyway, I had asthma as a child and it was pretty bad. My best friend in grade school who only lived a few blocks away told me once that whenever she heard the ambulance sirens she thought it was me. She was usually right. I was in and out of the hospital and my parents were fairly strict with medications and doctor’s appointments. In an attempt to try anything, my mom took me to some holistic guy who said to stop eating citrus. I don’t remember why but he said it and it stuck. I didn’t really like oranges anyway so what was the big deal? Silly stuff right there. I was missing out.

I convinced myself I couldn’t, and therefore wouldn’t, eat oranges. I also didn’t like lemon flavored things, including lemonade (which I still don’t usually like — too sour — but sometimes when it’s not too sour I rather enjoy it). Lime wasn’t much in vogue back then so not an issue.

I hope that last statement doesn’t make me the girl with no friends again.

Just in case, I have these bars to help. They’re not lemonade but they’re just as good if not better (depending on how much you like lemonade). They’re the perfect balance of sweet and sour, crumbly and silky. They’re also great because you can almost be satisfied with a teeny tiny bite because they’re so tart. But in case you eat half the pan, don’t blame me. They’re good. It’s the Pioneer Woman! What did you expect?

Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Lemon Bars
adapted from Ree (with love, of course)

Ingredients

1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 c brown sugar, lightly packed
1 c old-fashioned oats
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c lemon juice, freshly squeezed
zest of 1 lemon (~1 tsp or so)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together. Add flour mixture and oats. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 11 pan (or something similar).

Mix the condensed milk, lemon juice, and zest together in a bowl. Spread onto the crumb layer in the pan. Top of with the other half of the crumb mixture. Don’t press!

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool on the counter for ~ 30 minutes before cutting into squares and refrigerating until cool. (They’re much better cold. Trust me!)


Love it. You will too.

– Sharlene


Raspberry Meringue Bars

What’s my favorite fruit?

Funny you should ask because I have two. Peaches for fresh or stand-alone fruit. Raspberries for baked goods or to pair with chocolate.

The peach story is actually a nice one. I studied abroad for a summer in college once. Madrid, Spain. I lived with a host familia who were awesome. The mom was stay-at-home and made the best Tortilla de Espana (how do I get the tilda over the n?) I will ever eat. If you’re not sure aforementioned dish is, read on! It’s a potato omelet which sounds plain but somehow it’s this buttery melt-in-your-mouth bite and you’d swear there was cheese or some other form of fatty goodness but no such thing. One of these days I’ll work up the nerve to try and make one but for now, even years later, I’d rather cherish the memories of that Tortilla. (I’ve had others in restaurants and tapas bars both stateside and in Spain — Not the same. Not by a longshot.) Anyway, she was awesome also because every day I’d come home from school at 2 or 3 in the afternoon and she’d say (in Spanish obviously), “Will you be taking a nap? When do you want me to wake you?” BLESS YOU, WOMAN! Yes! I think I will take a nap! Thank you for asking! She also did my laundry and didn’t bat an eye if I told her I was going out to dinner. Can you tell I adored her?

Moving on.. The dad was a musician and had a little music studio in the apartment with all this electric stuff, knobs, dials, and sliding things included. The two daughters were grown and one had moved out. The other was studying to become an English teacher (go figure) but she wasn’t around much either.

Back to the peach thing. Every morning I was left to my own devices on what to do about breakfast and lunch. The fridge was always stocked with cheeses, meats, and breads for lunch so I just made myself a little sandwich while I made breakfast: toast and peach jam. Every day. Toast and peach jam. I was in love! Why hadn’t I ever had peach jam before? And for a long time after returning from Spain I couldn’t stand the idea of any other kind of jam besides peach on my toast. This led to a lot of toast-less meals at the diner. I’ve since moved on but still buy peach jam every once in awhile and I’m taken back to that little apartment off the Estrecho metro stop on the yellow line in Madrid.

Unfortunately, this story isn’t really relevant since this recipe called for raspberries. (Wasn’t it a nice story though?) But really, raspberries are my favorite fruit to bake with because they always lend a bit of tartness that perfectly complements the sweetness of chocolate. I instantly knew I needed to bake these the moment I laid eyes on them. They’re actually called “White Chocolate Brownies” but the white chocolate flavor is barely, if at all, noticeable and they’re not brown in the least so I’ve renamed them appropriately. Despite the lack of a pronounced white chocolate flavor, however, these bars are delicious. Scrumptious. Finger-lickin’ good.

Boy agreed.

Dorie’s Raspberry Meringue Bars
adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan


Ingredients
For the brownies:
2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
4 oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c sugar
2 tsp grated orange zest
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c fresh raspberries

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar

Instructions

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325F.

Butter a 9×13-inch pan and line the bottom with parchment or foil. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, almond flour, and salt.

Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, stirring frequently until the ingredients are just melted. Be very careful as white chocolate quickly separates when it gets too hot! Remove the bowl from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the eggs and beat with a hand or stand mixer on medium-high for about 3 minutes or until pale and foamy. Add vanilla. On low, mix in the dry ingredients just until they disappear. Pour into pan and add a layer of raspberries (they’ll likely sink). Set aside to make the meringue.

In a clean mixer bowl with clean whisk attachments for a hand or stand mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium until foamy and just opaque. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream. Whip the whites until firm but glossy peaks. Spread over top of the batter.

Bake 30-35 minutes according to Dorie but this took much longer for me to set, more like 45-50 minutes in my opinion. The meringue should be browned and crackly. Cool to room temperature in the pan.

For serving, Dorie suggests you cover a cooling rack with a piece of parchment or wax paper, dust with confectioners’ sugar and gently turn the pan out. Take care not to squish the meringue! Peel away the lining and invert onto a cutting board. She suggests 32 bars.

Love it!

– Sharlene