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Entries in bar cookies (28)

Saturday
Dec062014

I Love H: Award-Winning H-Bars Recipe

I love love.

I also love cookies.

And furthermore, I adore a good story.

Naturally, I gravitated toward this recipe, since it combines all of the above in one tasty form. Adding to its intrigue was the fact that is was an award-winner: these bars are featured in the new book Holiday Cookies: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies and More


These so-called "H-Bars" have a mysterious story: 

Victoria Weisenberg won first place in 2012 for this recip and her tale of using them to woo "a very special man". Weisenberg created the recipe as a Hanukkah give for her former beau and said the "H" stands for the first letter of his first name, though she opted to leave that name a mystery.

This story is what intrigued me about the bars, which I might have otherwise passed over owing to the fact that they are made with a raisin filling. This t-shirt design sums up my thoughts on raisins in cookies:

Luckily (great timing!) I just received a package from the California Dried Plum Board (no, really). It didn't take me long to decide to swap the prunes for the raisins. I'm glad I did: they add a wonderful moisture and mellow flavor to the bars. 

Yes, really.

The only other thing I did differently is I baked the bars in a loaf pan rather than the size specified in the recipe. Doing such, I had to increase the bake time by about 5 minutes. I have left the instructions intact though; if you want to make them look like mine, use a loaf pan, increase the bake time, and slice into fingers instead of bars. 

Award-winning H-Bars

  • Yield: 20 bars
  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Bake time: 37 to 40 minutes per batch

Shortbread base:

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Middle layer

  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 ounces chopped dried plums (original recipe calls for ⅔ cup golden raisins)

Topping:

  • ½ cup flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted
  • butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Icing (I omitted this)

  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1½–2 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla

Procedure

  1. Grease or coat with cooking spray a 7½-by-11-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

  2. For the shortbread, combine butter, flour and granulated sugar in a medium bowl until crumbly. Pack into the prepared pan; bake, 15 minutes.

  3. For raisin layer, stir together flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. In another bowl, beat brown sugar, eggs and vanilla together until blended. Stir in dry ingredients and dried plum bits. Pour over the baked shortbread layer.

  4. For the topping, combine ingredients in a bowl until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the middle layer. Bake, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool.

  5. For the icing, combine confectioners’ sugar, 1½ tablespoons milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Add more milk, if needed, until you get a smooth, easy-to drizzle mixture. Drizzle over the top. Cut into 20 bars.

Food processor method: You do not have to wash the bowl of the processor between steps. Combine ingredients for the bottom layer with a few pulses until crumbly. Pack in pan. Bake as above. Prepare topping in the processor in the same way. Place in a bowl and set aside. Then, place brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in processor bowl and process until blended. Add dry ingredients and pulse a few times. Stir in raisins. Continue as above.

Do you like raisins in baked goods?

Tuesday
Oct142014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chocolate Chip-Espresso-Almond Bars

Espresso chocolate chip almond bars

Um, yum? I would like to enjoy one or possibly ten of these chocolate chip espresso almond bars. It's like a candy bar, coffee shop visit, and cookie, all at once! Thanks to Sharon Kershner of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania for dreaming up these sweet treats. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Chocolate Chip-Espresso-Almond Bars

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 30 Min
  • Makes: 24 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 container Pillsbury™ Gluten Free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder or granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon Watkins™ Imitation Almond Extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Watkins™ Pure Vanilla Extract

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch pan with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.
  2. In medium bowl, break up cookie dough. Add 1/4 cup of the sliced almonds, the espresso powder and almond extract. Mix with wooden spoon, or knead with hands until well blended. Press dough evenly in bottom of pan. Bake 13 to 18 minutes or until golden brown and center is set. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of the milk and the vanilla until smooth; add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired spreading consistency. Spread glaze over cooled bars; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sliced almonds. Refrigerate about 10 minutes or until glaze is set. Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows.

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

Monday
Oct062014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip-Maple-Peanut Bars

CakeSpy Note: OMG! It's getting to be that time of year again. The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far (as well as recipes from previous Bake-Off events). 

I need to tell you, these bars basically have all the building blocks of what I consider delicious.

Well, first, before any ingredients, let's start with something important. Arlene Erlbach, who created this recipe, hails from Morton Grove, Illinois. I consider Illinois firmly planted in bar country. No, not dives where you drink beer (although yes, that exists there too). I am talking about cookie bars. The midwest just does them right.

Now, back to the actual ingredients. They have maple, which is a quintessential cozy flavor; they have peanut butter, which loves sweets and makes them nice and rich and dense. They have chocolate chip cookie dough, which makes everything better. The peanuts, frosting, and toffee bits are hardly necessary after all that goodness. But no, I am certainly not going to turn them away.

Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chip-Maple-Peanut Bars

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 40 Min
  • Makes: 16 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 teaspoons maple extract
  • 1 cup vanilla creamy ready-to-spread frosting
  • 1/2 cup salted cocktail peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toffee bits

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add peanut butter and 2 teaspoons of the maple extract. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 to 2 minutes or until well blended. Press dough evenly in bottom of pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix frosting and remaining 1 teaspoon maple extract until smooth. In another small bowl, mix peanuts, toffee bits and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread frosting evenly over cooled bars. Sprinkle with peanut mixture; press in lightly. Refrigerate about 30 minutes before cutting. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store covered.
Saturday
Nov302013

Pucker Up: Lemon Walnut Bars Recipe

Lemon walnut bar

After Thanksgiving, people crave light treats that will make them feel refreshed, in contrast to the fullness they may have felt over the holiday.

These Lemon Walnut Bars are perfect, because owing to the lemon they taste refreshing, and the addition of oats gives them the slightest tone of healthfulness.

But don't worry--they're not actually healthy. With creamy sweetened condensed milk and plenty of butter, rest assured, these are definitely dessert.

Lemon walnut bar

I had a brief love affair with the lemon crumb bars sold at Tully's Coffee Shops in Seattle a few years ago--they certainly weren't fancy, they were made by a commercial bakery in the area and wouldn't be what I would consider "artisan". But there was something about the tart-sweet lemon filling paired with a streusel-like topping that had me hooked.

So when I saw a recipe for Lemon Walnut Bars in the new cookbook Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery (also the source of this fab marshmallow recipe), I knew I had to try it.

Lemon walnut bar

Seriously, this recipe is a classic. It's like the bars I so loved at Tully's, but tastier since they were baked fresh. The filling is tart with lemon but so smooth and creamy with the sweetened condensed milk, which makes it almost like a key lime pie filling, but with lemon. The sweet-salty streusel has all of these notest that work well with the lemon: brown sugar, coconut, walnuts, and oats--which make it also slightly crunchy, and a perfect texture complement to the creaminess. I promise, if you love lemon bars and you love crumb cake, you will adore these squares. You won't be able to stop eating them. 

Lemon walnut bar

Lemon Walnut Bars

adapted from Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup large flake rolled oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (dark)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, coconut, walnuts, and baking powder. Pour in the melted butter and mix until the butter is evenly distributed. Press half of the oat mixture into the prepared pan, and press it in firmly. If you wanna, line the bottom with a strip of parchment to make for easy removal later.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the consensed milk and lemon uice until thick and combined. Pour the mixture over the base. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to make sure it's an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the filling.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden on top.
  6. Remove from oven and cool completely into the pan. Run a knife along the edges of the pan. Cut into bars.

 

Tuesday
Aug272013

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Oatmeal Bars, with Love from Haydn

Haydn Bars

When it comes to cookbooks, are you attracted to the unusual ones? 

Well, you're not alone. I simply cannot pass by a rummage sale, secondhand store, or bookstore's dollar rack without checking out the unusual cookbooks they always seem to have.  I've found a few great ones this way, including my personal fave, Cooking in WetLeather (a biker recipe book). Yes, it exists. 

At a yard sale recently, I was purchasing a $10 sofa and this book caught my eye: Haydn in the Kitchen.

haydn2 haydn

Since I was already shelling out for the sofa, they gave it to me for free. Score!

As it turns out, this recipe book was put together by the Denver Symphony Guild to benefit the orchestra. Unfortunately, the recipes have little to do with famous composers, and the only way that they incorporated music was to call the chapters things like "Symphonic Variations", "Finales", and "Intermezzi". Nestled in the Intermezzi chapter was a recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars. 

I made a few changes to the recipe, one of which was using honey peanut butter, and then I added banana. Oh my, were they ever good. Sort of in the blondie family, but with a much more mellow, rounded flavor. The rich peanut butter with the golden, sunshine-y honey. haydn7 haydnbars2

The moist and gooey banana bits. The vaguely healthy tasting oats, adding a nice nuttiness. The slightly caramel-y taste from the brown sugar. All in a fairly dense bar cookie. They're very, very good. 

They certainly disappeared quickly in my house. Bet they'll disappear faster than a symphonic overture (is that a thing?) in yours, too. 

Haydn Bars

Makes 16 - printable version here.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup honey peanut butter (or, plain peanut butter with 1 teaspoon honey mixed in)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick cook oats
  • 1/2 a banana, cut into small pieces

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Cream the sugars, butter, and peanut butter until smooth (or as smooth as the chunky peanut butter will get). 
  3. Mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure that they're mixed fully.
  4. Stir in the rest of the ingredients all together, until combined.
  5. Spread in your prepared 8x8-inch pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden on top and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan, then slice into squares. These bars keep well for 3 to 4 days, well wrapped.
Thursday
Feb142013

Salted Butterscotch Cashew Shortbread Bars 4 Eva

Salted butterscotch cashew shortbread bars

Salted. Butterscotch. Cashew. Shortbread Bars. It's necessary to pause while considering the sum of these awesome parts, which heighten the experience of each to a sort of baked goods nirvana state.

It's a recipe that I came up with for the Walkers Shortbread challenge, but for the event, I honed and perfected it, and here is what I consider the absolute ideal version of the recipe. 

Salted butterscotch cashew shortbread bars

I'll tell you the truth: I didn't win the competition with these. But I think that I win at LIFE, because I have the ability to make this recipe whenever I want! Me and my Salted butterscotch cashew shortbread bars Plus, when it came to the end of the event, there were only a few left, so I think the crowd liked 'em! 

Salted butterscotch cashew shortbread bars

I should mention that it was a great event, btw. I got to meet Susan of Girl in the Little Red Kitchen, who brought a killer cheesecake (and who like me is a proud pug parent): Walkers shortbread event

Serena of Big Apple Nosh, who brought these ridiculous Hazelnut Banoffee Tartlets: Walkers shortbread event

and Emily of Nomnivorous, who brought the most beautiful boozy pie I've ever seen; I got to hang out with Alejandra Ramos and a bunch of other cool dudettes (and a couple of dudes).

Oh oh oh! Here is the recipe. I should note that you'll see that the pan I used is bigger--I doubled the recipe and it worked fine.

Oh, and--you're so very welcome.

Salted butterscotch cashew shortbread bars

Printable Recipe here!

Salted Butterscotch Cashew Shortbread Bars
Makes 1 big serving (kidding. sort of)

  • 2 boxes Pure Butter Shortbread
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 package (10 to 11 ounces) butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I suggest cashews or pecans)
  • coarse sea salt

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Combine the cookies and melted butter in a food processor or blender with a pulse mode. Press it into the pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden on the edges. Remove from the oven.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the butterscotch chips, corn syrup, butter, cream, and vanilla. Cook and stir over medium heat until smooth.
  4. Spread over crust. Sprinkle with the nuts; press down lightly. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cut into bars when totally cool. 
Friday
Aug102012

Donut Hole Blondies Recipe

Donut Hole Blondies

Photo: Domestic Rebel

Donut-Hole Blondies are purely experimental. It was kind of those moments where you walk by the donut holes and think to yourself thinking to them, you’re going into a blondie today. 

Oh, you don’t talk to food? Nevermind.

They're a popular recipe on my blog for a reason: they're sweet yet salty and are completely delicious.  Blondies are my absolute fave for their rich brown sugar-y flavor, but adding donut holes to them elevates that flavor to crazy levels of awesomeness.  Also, donuts are known as being the best food ever.  Just a fact for you. 

Donut Hole Blondies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown sugar (light preferred)
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 pkg glazed donut holes (like the pop’ems kind or from your local market/bakery), cut in half

Procedure

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease an 8×8 inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter together over medium heat until butter melts, the sugar dissolves, and the mixture is smooth, stirring constantly. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Stir in eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Stir in the flour one cup at a time, then the baking soda and baking powder. Stir in 3/4 of the chopped donut holes and pour into the prepared pan. Top with a couple more donut hole halves and sprinkle with sea salt (you may not use all the donut hole halves but uh, think of something else to use them for?)
  4. Bake for approx. 25-30 minutes or until center is set and blondies are lightly golden. Cool for about 1 hr before cutting into squares. Store airtight for 2-3 days.

About the author: Hayley is The Domestic Rebel. She believes in cake mix, overdosing on sparkles & eating that extra cookie. And she really, really loves cupcakes.

Friday
Mar232012

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chewy Peanut Butter-Caramel Bars

Peanut butter caramel cookies

CakeSpy Note: I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I have been invited as a media guest to the 45th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando, Florida! The event will take place in late March; til then, I am going to feature several of the sweets finalists here in anticipation of the big day!

What happens when Millionaire's shortbread meets peanut butter? Total deliciousness, that's what!

And these ones are not only delicious but quite easy to prepare, says Sandra Hilbert of Fort Littleton, PA, who invented this recipe for the Pillsbury Bake-Off: "Pillsbury sugar cookies jump-start these ooey-gooey bars. A few additional ingredients create an awesome flavor combo!"

Chewy Peanut Butter-Caramel Bars

36 Bars

  • 1package Pillsbury® Ready to Bake!™ refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 1/2cup LAND O LAKES® Butter
  • 1can (14 oz) Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1bag (11.5 oz) Hershey's® milk chocolate baking chips
  • 1/2cup Jif® Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/2cup finely chopped Fisher® Dry Roasted Peanuts

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch pan (dark pan not recommended) with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray or line with nonstick foil. Evenly arrange cookie rounds in pan.
  2. Bake 24 to 26 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 15 minutes on cooling rack.
  3. Meanwhile, in 2-quart heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in condensed milk, brown sugar and granulated sugar until blended. Add graham cracker crumbs; mix well (mixture will be thick). Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly, or until slightly thickened. Pour caramel mixture over warm cookie crust, spreading evenly.
  4. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips on High 1 minute to 1 minute 20 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Stir in peanut butter until blended. Spread evenly over caramel layer. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Refrigerate 1 hour or until chocolate is set. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 6 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.
Wednesday
Mar142012

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Peanut Butter Crunch Layer Bars

CakeSpy Note: I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I have been invited as a media guest to the 45th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando, Florida! The event will take place in late March; til then, I am going to feature several of the sweets finalists here in anticipation of the big day!

It's time to hit the bars. No, I don't mean to drink mai tais. I mean bar cookies, and boy are these ones good-looking: Peanut Butter Crunch Layer Bars.

They're a finalist in the upcoming Pillsbury Bake-Off, invented by Becky Pifer of Blanchard, MI, who says "Create ultimate bars in an easy way, starting with refrigerated cookie dough. Toffee, nuts, butterscotch and chocolate all rolled into layered goodness." That's a whole lot to love in just one bar.

Peanut Butter Crunch Layer Bars

Makes 36 bars 

  • 2 rolls Pillsbury® refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
  • 3/4 cup Heath® Bits 'O Brickle toffee bits
  • 1 cup Reese’s peanut butter baking chips
  • 1 3/4cups Fisher brand Nut Topping
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate baking chips
  • 1 bag (11 oz) butterscotch baking chips
  • 1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch pan (dark pan not recommended) with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. In large bowl, break up 1 1/2 rolls of cookie dough. (Refrigerate 1/2 roll cookie dough for another use.) Add toffee bits, peanut butter chips, 1/2 cup of the nut topping and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon or knead with hands until well blended. Press evenly in bottom of pan.
  2. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  3. In large microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and butterscotch chips on High 2 to 2 minutes 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth.
  4. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Spread over cooled bars. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups nut topping; press in lightly. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 6 rows. Store covered.
Monday
Nov212011

You Say Nanaimo: Chocolate Cranberry Nanaimo Bars Recipe for Serious Eats

It's a fact: Nanaimo Bars are delicious. They're a decadent no-bake treat named for the Canadian city in which they were invented, comprised of a chocolate-graham-coconut crust, a custard-buttercream middle, and a chocolate topping.

But they also dress up nicely for Thanksgiving, as proven in this chocolate-cranberry variation.

The Canadian classic takes a tart-but-sweet Thanksgiving turn by adding dried cranberries to each of the three layers. The resulting seasonal variation is bound to delight family and friends at Thanksgiving festivities and start the holiday cookie season off sweetly.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

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