Archive for the ‘Cookies/Bars’ Category

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Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind: Snickery Squares

October 25, 2011

The Tuesdays with Dorie bakers made Snickery Squares before I  joined the group. I’m not sure where I first saw them – on someone’s blog or in the book, but I’d been wanting to make them for a long time. So when my husband needed a treat to bring to work, I knew this recipe would be the one. Buttery crust, a layer of dulce de leche with a sprinkling of caramelized peanuts, topped by a layer of chocolate and more caramelized peanuts. Sweet, creamy, salty, and crunchy, all in one bite!


What I did:

  • I made the full recipe with no changes.
  • I baked the crust and caramelized the peanuts one day, and then assembled the bars the next day.
  • I let them chill overnight and cut them into squares the next morning. After sitting out on the counter for a while, the chocolate was still pretty hard to cut, but the dulce de leche was pretty soft, so these were messy to cut and to eat.
  • Since they were messy and I don’t like messy, I put each square into a muffin liner, and then put them all into a plastic container to be transported.
  • I’m not sure how many squares I ended up with, but I cut them much smaller than what Dorie recommends.


How it went:  I was nervous about making caramelized peanuts, but it went great! The couple of times I’ve made caramel following Dorie’s directions, it has worked out well. There are a few components to this recipe, and with cooling time, it does take a little while, so I was glad that I split the tasks across two days.

How it tasted: It’s a miracle that I didn’t eat all of the caramelized peanuts before putting the squares together! They were SO good. But the assembled squares were delicious, and much better than a candy bar. They didn’t last long at my husband’s office!

You can find the recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours, or you can find it here on Dinner and Dessert.

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Dulce de Leche Brownies and Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

September 3, 2011

Today’s post is two-for-one: two recipes that I had been wanting to make for a long time, and I made them both the same day! I needed to bring something to work, and have some kind of affliction where I cannot bring just one thing. What if that one thing is something that someone doesn’t like? Better to have some variety, I say. I made both of these a day in advance and chilled them overnight to make cutting into pieces (my least-favorite task) easier.

Chocolate is popular with most people, so I decided to make David Lebovitz’s Dulce de Leche Brownies. I first saw the recipe in The Sweet Life, but he also has it here on his blog. I am quite smitten with Mr. Lebovitz as of late. Not only because his recipes are delicious, but because he provides measurements in grams. Grams! It’s so much easier to weigh than to measure, and I feel extra-precise when I set the scale to grams.

Use good chocolate in these. They’re dense and fudgy, with pockets of soft dulce de leche throughout.

Recipe notes:

  • I used Jacques Torres 60% chocolate.
  • I was going to make my own dulce de leche, but the grocery store had cans of it for the same price as sweetened condensed milk, so I bought that instead. The store-bought was really thick and difficult to swirl into the batter. Next time, I’d warm it just a tiny bit so it’s softer and easier to swirl.
  • These are sticky, but in a good way! I should have served them in muffin cups to make them easier to pick up.

Next up are the Barefoot Contessa’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars. I saw her make these on her show ages ago and never forgot about them. Now that I’ve eaten them, I’m definitely never going to forget about them!

These are oh-so-tender and they melt in your mouth; better than the standard cookie bar or peanut butter blondie-type thing that I was expecting. Don’t skip the chopped peanuts on top. If I’ve learned anything from Top Chef Just Desserts, it’s that you better have textural contrast to impress the judges. These are soft and tender, and the peanuts on top add a nice crunch and little kick of salt.

I don’t have a cross-section photo, but people thought it was neat that the bars look like a sandwich, with a layer of jelly in the middle. Someone said “I’d eat this instead of a peanut butter sandwich.” That would be pretty decadent, but tasty. You can get the recipe here on the Food Network site.

Recipe notes:

  • I used seedless raspberry jam.
  • As with the brownies, I should have served them in muffin cups for easier, neater serving.
  • This makes a big pan of bars; perfect for a crowd.
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Tuesdays with Dorie: Cocoa-Almond Meringues

August 2, 2011

This week, Tuesdays with Dorie bakers made Cocoa-Almond Meringues, selected by Mike of Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude (that name always makes me laugh!). Thanks Mike for this great cookie selection!


What I did: I made the full recipe, which barely fit on my two cookie sheets (my cookie sheets are pretty small). I got over 40 cookies, and could have squeezed a few more out if I’d had the room. I piped them onto the parchment with a large star tip.

How it went: These were pretty easy to make, aside from my usual stress over whether I’ve over- or under-whipped the egg whites. I baked mine 10 minutes longer than the recipe calls for, because I saw some comments from other bakers about the meringues being chewy. I’m not big on chewy meringue, so I decided to let them go a bit longer.

How it tasted: These were sweet, crunchy, and double-chocolatey. I think I’d be OK if they didn’t have the almonds – they were fine, but I wouldn’t miss them. I would miss the chopped chocolate though; that was a fantastic addition! My husband gave them the thumbs-up. I’ve made Martha Stewart’s chocolate meringue cookies a couple of times, and these may have the upper hand, because I liked the chopped chocolate so much.

Mike will have the recipe posted today. Or just open your copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours to page 155 and make some meringues!

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Biscotti

June 14, 2011

This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers made Chocolate Biscotti, selected by this week’s hostess Jacque.

What I did: I made half the recipe, which gave me 13 biscotti.

How it went: Easy! That’s what I like about biscotti: they’re easy to make and last for a while (if they don’t get gobbled up!). That’s why I made a bunch recently to bring to a party. And, the best part is that people are impressed that you made biscotti, because it seems like it would be complicated. But it’s not!

How it tasted: These are crisp, full of chocolate flavor and accented with a crunch of almonds. My husband ate one and declared it good (there was a “mmmmm” in there too). I had been thinking of taking Dorie’s suggesting and adding some melted white chocolate, but after eating one plain, I decided that they were great plain and I didn’t need to embellish them.

Are you ready to impress your friends, family, or coworkers with your biscotti-baking talents? Open your copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours to page 144, or click over to Daisy Lane Cakes to get the recipe from Jacque.

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Baking For a Crowd

June 10, 2011

A few months ago, my boss shocked me, along with everyone else who worked for her, by announcing that she was retiring at the end of May. Since we couldn’t talk her out of leaving, we decided that we would send her off in style. And what better way (at least in my opinion) than with a dessert buffet. A dessert buffet that I offered to make!

One challenge was that we didn’t know how many people would come to the party. Leftovers are fine; running out of food is not, so I baked a lot. There were leftovers, and they vanished the next day.

What I made

I decided what to make based on my favorite recipes, things that I thought would please a crowd, and things that I could easily transport to work. I didn’t get a photo of everything. I was busy baking! Links to recipes are at the end of the post.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Topped with a mini peanut butter cup.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Topped with chocolate sprinkles.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Topped with toasted coconut. Cupcakes for the non-chocolate crowd.


Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

I have a hard time picking favorites, but I will now declare that this is my favorite recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. I put each bar in a cupcake paper to make them easier to serve.

Lenox Almond Biscotti

Another Dorie Greenspan recipe. We served coffee and milk, so I thought that biscotti would be a nice addition to the lineup.

Chocolate-Cashew Biscotti

This is Martha Stewart’s Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti recipe with cashews instead of pistachios. Why? Because I had a bag of unsalted cashews in my freezer. It’s excellent with either nut.

Ranger Cookies

My signature cookie, which I’ve brought to work many times.

And…

One of my coworkers brought two pans of yummy bars, which I now have the recipe for, so when I make them, I’ll post them here. She also dipped pretzel rods in white and semi-sweet chocolate and decorated them with colorful sprinkles. These were great additions to our dessert buffet.

Transportation

I stored, transported, and served the cookies, biscotti, and bars in large plastic containers. I had too many cupcakes to fit in my cupcake carrier, so I was thrilled to find these large foil pans. They are deep, very sturdy, and cost $2.44 each at Target. I can’t say enough about these pans! I washed them and they’re ready to use again.

I covered the pans with Glad Press ‘n Seal, which worked great. The freezer wrap, which is on the two pans toward the back, is thicker and easier to work with than the regular Press ‘n Seal.

Planning

A little planning goes a long way. I tallied up the amount of each ingredient I would need. I compared that to what I already had and then made a grocery list and purchased everything a few days ahead. When I was done, I patted myself on the back for not needing any last-minute grocery store runs!  I also made a schedule of what to bake each day for the three days leading up to the party and did some prep work four days before the party, such as chopping peanuts and weighing and sifting dry ingredients for the chocolate cupcakes. I appreciated the prep work when I was in the thick of baking.

The buffet

Here are a couple of photos of everything set out at the party. I made signs with a brief description of each item. No forks needed, and no one had to cut and serve a cake, which was really nice.

Recipe Links

A note about frosting: How far a batch of frosting will go depends on how much you put on each cupcake. You should always have extra ingredients on hand in case you need to make more.

Final thoughts

This was a lot of fun! It was a little stressful, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I would do this again, and I think I could step it up a notch to make things a little fancier. There are only a couple of things I’d do differently next time. I would use larger piping tips for the frosting. I haven’t decorated a lot of cupcakes and thought I was using a large enough tip, but I think a larger one would have been easier and looked nicer. Also…next time I’d try to eat less of what I baked! When I’m just baking one thing and making a small amount, I can limit myself. It was a lot harder with such a large selection of tasty treats!

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Tuesdays w/Dorie: Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

April 26, 2011

This week’s recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers is Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies, selected by Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. I love a buttery cookie, and shortbread is the ultimate buttery cookie! This one has a lemon zest, almond extract (or vanilla, if you prefer), and a little bit of cornmeal. I would call the cornmeal the secret ingredient, but it’s not so secret when it’s in the title of the recipe!

What I did: I made half the recipe. This is the kind of dough that needs a good chill, so I mixed it one evening and baked it the next day.

How it went: I used Dorie’s trick for hard-to-handle dough and rolled it out in a large plastic zippered bag. The next evening, I cut open the bag and then used a 1.5 inch square biscuit cutter to cut out the cookies.

How it tasted: My husband said “It tastes like you’d expect. It’s good.” He then went on to to say that it’s like “You got chocolate in my peanut butter” but instead it’s “You got cornmeal in my shortbread.” I liked the almond and lemon flavors and the crispness. The cornmeal got stuck in my teeth, but I knew that was coming.

Ready to try this twist on shortbread for yourself? Open your copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours to page 130, or click here to get the recipe from Valerie.

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Pecan Powder Puffs

March 29, 2011

This week’s recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers is Pecan Powder Puffs. Dorie explains that these cookies are sometimes called Pecan Balls or Mexican Wedding Cakes. I’ve heard them called both, have eaten them a million times, but have never made them. Can you believe it? I can’t! Thank you Tia of Buttercream Barbie for this great selection!

What I did: I made a full batch, which yields 32 small cookies. I did not add the optional cinnamon. I was a little short on pecans, so I topped off the cup with a few walnuts.

How it went: If you have a food processor, these are a breeze to make. Although…I thought I’d whip these up quickly and then realized the dough needed to chill for at least two hours. Rather than breaking off small pieces with a spoon, I shaped the dough into a rectangle and then cut it into 32 pieces by cutting it into fourths and then cutting each fourth into eight pieces. That should have made 32 equally-sized cookies, but I guess I don’t cut that evenly, because they weren’t the same size! Oh well.

How it tasted: Good! A simple cookie is one of my favorite things to eat, and these buttery, nutty, melt-in-your mouth cookies fit the bill. My husband, who’s not a nuts-in-baked goods kind of guy liked them a lot too. I brought most of them to work and got a lot of thumbs-up from people.

Crack open your copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours to page 156, or Tia will have the recipe published today.

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Mr. Vallone’s Italian Cookies from the Pastry Queen

March 24, 2011

I’ve been intrigued by cookies with pine nuts for a while, but hadn’t done more than bookmark a couple of recipes to try someday. So when I saw this recipe in the copy of the The Pastry Queen Christmas, I asked Michele if she’d like to make them with me. These are a unique cookie: chewy, sweet, and gluten-free.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from these. After making them, I’m not sure what to think of them. They are really sweet and chewy, and they pack an almond punch. The pine nuts make them look really cute, but really, with all the almond flavor in the cookie, I think almonds on top would taste better than the pine nuts. Oh the irony of wanting to make a pine nut cookie and then wanting to replace the pine nuts! Be sure to click over to Michele’s blog to see what she thought of these.

Shopping tip: If you live near a World Market store, you may be able to find this Marzipan for Baking. I paid $3.99 for one 4.9 oz package. A smaller package of a different brand from my grocery store was well over $5.00.

Recipe notes:

  • You could drop the dough using a teaspoon, but I used a cookie scoop and the cookies were perfectly round after baking.
  • It is labor-intensive to press the nuts onto the cookie dough. After making these, I wondered if I could have put the nuts in a shallow dish and rolled the top and sides of the dough balls in the nuts.
  • The original recipe says to spray the parchment with nonstick spray; I didn’t do that and didn’t have any trouble removing the cookies from the parchment.
  • I didn’t use all of the pine nuts. I guess you’re supposed to wedge more on each cookie!

Mr. Vallone’s Italian Cookies

from The Pastry Queen Christmas

2 cans (8oz each) almond paste (my almond paste didn’t come in a can, but I used the same amount of ounces)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup pine nuts (pignoli)

Preheat oven to 350º. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the almond paste, sugar, and salt on medium speed until crumbly (about 1 minute). Add the egg whites and honey and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.

Using a 1-inch scoop, drop mounds of dough 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheets. Press the pine nuts into the tops and sides of the cookies. Bake 12-15 minutes, until cookies are a deep golden brown around the edges. Let cool completely before removing the cookies from the baking sheets.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or wrap and freeze up to 1 month. Makes about 48 cookies.

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Oatmeal Drops

February 15, 2011

This week’s recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers is Chocolate Oatmeal Drops, selected by Caroline and Claire of Bake With Us. What is a Chocolate Oatmeal Drop? They’re a chewy, super-chocolatey, brownie-ish cookie with oatmeal mixed in, which adds more chewy texture (and a little fiber!).

What I did: I made half the recipe and omitted the cinnamon. I ate a lot of the dough before baking; I’m a dough lover and this was an especially delicious cookie dough.

How it went: I didn’t even need to pull out the mixer or for these. I didn’t need to pull butter out of the fridge ahead of time either – hooray! The method to make these is similar to many brownie recipes: the butter, brown sugar, and chocolate are melted, the eggs are whisked in, and then the dry ingredients are added. The dough is really soft, but I was still able to scoop it using a cookie scoop.

How it tasted: The dough was delicious! The baked cookies were delicious! They’re thin and chewy and I love how you can see the pieces of oatmeal inside the cookie (there’s no hiding the fact that these contain oatmeal). My husband liked these a lot; he thought they were very tasty and appreciated the “hints of healthiness” from the oatmeal. I thought I’d give some to the neighbor, but they disappeared quickly enough that I didn’t need to give any away. Success!

Ready to give these a spin? Look on page 75 of Baking: From My Home to Yours, or here on Bake With Us.

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Midnight Crackles

January 4, 2011

Happy Anniversary Tuesdays with Dorie!

And happy new year! To celebrate Tuesdays with Dorie’s third anniversary, and to ring in the new year in style, Laurie and Jules selected Midnight Crackles for this week’s recipe. With bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder, plus cinnamon, these are dark and spicy little cookies.

What I did: I made half the recipe and omitted the cloves. The dough needs to be chilled, so I made it one day and baked it the next.

How it went: The recipe says that if the chilled dough is solid, let it sit for 30 minutes before forming it into balls for baking. My dough was extremely solid and I let it sit out for almost two hours before I could handle it. I wasn’t sure how much to flatten the balls before baking; the ones that I flattened more looked a little nicer in the end. They didn’t look crackly like I expected them to. The one pictured above has one large crack, but I wouldn’t call it crackled.

How it tasted: I tried one and thought hmmm. It was fine, but lacking any oomph. My husband tried one and said it seemed like it was missing something. I did skip the cloves because we don’t care for them, so I don’t know if that was the oomph they needed, or if I actually did forget an ingredient, or if these just aren’t our thing. You might want to check out some of the other TWD bakers’ blogs to see what they thought; I bet others had better luck with these than I did.

You can find the recipe on page 74 of Baking: From My Home to Yours. Or look here on the TWD site.

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