Archive for the ‘Cookies/Bars’ Category

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Two cookies from Martha Stewart: Rum Raisin Shortbread and Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

December 29, 2011

I didn’t get too far with Christmas baking this year, but I did try a couple of new cookie recipes, thanks to Michele, who suggested that we pick some cookies to bake together (in a virtual sense, since we live many miles apart).

I love rum raisin anything, so the recipe for Rum Raisin Shortbread jumped out at me as I was paging through my copy of Martha Stewart’s Cookies. I must admit that it bugs me that the recipe has raisins in the title but calls for currants, but I can see that Rum Currant Shortbread doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. And the tiny currants were perfect in these petite cookies.

Along with rum-soaked currants, these cookies have coconut and orange zest (which I wish there would have been more of – the rum overpowered the orange). They’re moister than the usual shortbread and have a nice chew from the coconut. I liked them and thought the dried fruit and rum made them seem holiday-ish, yet they’d be good year-round. Mine didn’t hold their shape when baked; Michele mentioned that she added more flour, and I think she was on to something. I also goofed and used sweetened coconut instead of unsweetened, but I didn’t think they seemed overly sweet.

Twisted into a pretzel shape and sprinkled with big pieces of sugar, the Chocolate Pretzel Cookies have a cute factor of 10!

Although they have cocoa and espresso powder, they didn’t pack much of a chocolate punch. I think they’d be better dipped in white or dark chocolate, but that would take away from the “pretzel with salt” cuteness.

Thank you Michele for prodding me to try some new recipes (and for letting me select them)! Be sure to check out how her cookies turned  out.

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Tuesdays with Dorie Finale: Kids’ Thumbprints

December 27, 2011

It’s the end of an era: the last Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, selected by Dorie herself. Peanut butter cookie dough, rolled in chopped nuts, and filled with chocolate chips (as I did) or jam. I made mine tablespoon size rather than teaspoon, but there were no complaints that they were too big.

I wish I could remember where I heard about TWD. I remember being in my hotel room during my week at Pastry Boot Camp, debating whether I should join the group. Then I saw that the group was going to be closing to new members, so in November 2008, I went for it. I baked Rugelach and I wrote a post about it. I haven’t baked every week, and haven’t come close to baking every recipe in the book, but I’ve stuck with it for over two years. I’ve baked a lot, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve had fun, and I’ve made some friends along the way.

My top five list? That’s too hard. But I’ll tell you this: if my copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours was on fire and I only had time to tear out one recipe, it would be Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars. If you haven’t made these, make them!

When one book closes, another book opens. A new group is forming to bake through another Dorie Greenspan book: Baking with Julia. Keep your eye on the Tuesdays with Dorie site for more information on joining the new group. I hope a lot of you TWD bakers are joining the new group, and I look forward to meeting new bakers!

Please take a moment to read Dorie’s lovely post about TWD. She’s got the cookie recipe posted too!

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Homemade Kit Kat Bars

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! I signed up to bring dessert (of course) to an office potluck lunch, but wasn’t sure what to make. Then I saw a TV commercial with trick-or-treaters and Kit Kat bars and the light bulb went off in my head: homemade Kit Kat bars! These aren’t a fancy-shmancy individually dipped in chocolate homemade candy bar; they’re a pan of bars that you cut and serve. Easy to make and really good.

They don’t taste exactly like a Kit Kat, but they taste pretty fantastic, with sweet brown sugar and butter filling between layers of crisp, salty crackers, topped off with a soft blanket of chocolate, butterscotch, and peanut butter.

I’ve made these quite a few times, but it’s been years since the last time. Right after I put them in the refrigerator to chill and sat down to type this blog post, I got an email from one of my good friends, who happens to be the person I got the recipe from. She said she got the recipe from a co-worker’s wife many years ago, and that she remembered eating them and thinking I would like them. She was right! At the top of the recipe, she wrote “A recipe for those of you who appreciate a good treat.” So true.

Recipe Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for Waverly crackers. I couldn’t find those, so I used Club Crackers instead. The Waverly people, whoever they are, may not agree, but I think the Club Crackers are pretty much the same thing.
  • I used unsalted butter, but I bet you’d do fine with salted too.
  • Thanks to the peanut butter in the topping, they are easy to cut. None of that rock-hard chocolate that cracks when you cut it.

Kit Kat Bars

Club Crackers: I used 90 crackers, which is about 3/4 of a box
1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Spray a 9 x 13″ pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line with whole Club Crackers. Put butter, sugar, brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and milk in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat; bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour half of the mixture over the crackers. Spread to create an even layer. Add another layer of crackers and top with the remaining sauce mixture. Add a final layer of crackers for a total of three layers of crackers.

In a small bowl, melt chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and peanut butter. Mix until smooth and pour over the top layer of crackers. Spread to create an even layer. Refrigerate until firm. Cut and eat!

I used Club Crackers

First layer of crackers

Adding the second layer of crackers

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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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