Brown Butter Toffee Bars

Sometimes, only chocolate isn’t enough.Brown Butter Toffee Bars

These golden blondies include chopped toffee and browned butter which makes for a sweet and very butterscotchy bar. Browning the butter is a technique that tips these bars to sublime. It’s easy to brown butter: Simply melt and simmer the butter until it turns a deep amber color and has a toasty, nutty aroma. This step takes minutes, so it’s important to keep an eye on the butter while it browns, as it can change quickly from light to dark. It’s a step worth doing, and a wonderful addition to your favorite cookies and bars. You’re welcome.

Brown Butter Toffee Bars

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Makes about 25 (1 1/2-inch) bars

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melt and brown, cool
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toffee bars, about 5 ounces
1/2 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, about 2 ounces
Sea salt for sprinkling, optional

1. Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bodied saucepan over medium heat, whisking frequently. Continue to heat the melted butter until it begins to foam and then subsides, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue to cook until the butter has a deep amber color with a nutty, toasted aroma. (Keep a careful eye on the butter, since it can quickly go from brown to burnt.) When the butter has browned, remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a heat-resistant bowl to stop the cooking process. Cool completely. (At this point, you can use the butter as-is, or strain the butter through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer to remove the brown bits. I like to keep the brown bits for extra flavor.)

2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking ban and line with parchment.

3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl

4. Whisk the sugars, egg, and yolk in a large bowl until light, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the cooled butter and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour and stir to combine. Stir in the toffee and chocolate.

5. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with sea salt, if using. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted comes clean, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on a rack. Cut into squares.

Raspberry Almond Streusel Bars

raspberry almond bars tastefood

Almond flour, almonds, and oats confer in a dense and spiced streusel, sandwiching an intense raspberry filling, while debatably nudging these bars into the kind-of-sort-of healthy department…oh, who am I kidding. Whether you call these raspberry bars indulgent or healthy(ish), they should be a must-have on your holiday cookie to-do list.

Raspberry Almond Streusel Bars

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Makes 16 (2-inch) square bars.

Crust and Topping:
1 cup almond flour (meal)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, coarsely chopped

Filling:
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 opposite sides. Butter the parchment.

2. Combine the almond meal, flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine, 1 to 2 times. Add the butter and extracts. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 12 times. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a bowl, add the almonds and set aside for the topping. Press the remaining mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes.

3. Place the preserves, raspberries, and liqueur, if using, in a bowl. Mix with a fork to combine, lightly mashing the whole raspberries but leaving some pieces intact. Spread the raspberries over the crust. Sprinkle the topping over the filling.

4. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cut in 2-inch squares. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

 

Raspberry Almond Streusel Bars

raspberry bars tastefood
Raspberry Almond Streusel Bars

 

Raspberry Almond Bars

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Makes 16 (2-inch) square bars.

Crust and Topping:
1 cup almond flour (meal)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, coarsely chopped

Filling:
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 opposite sides. Butter the parchment.

2. Combine the almond meal, flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine, 1 to 2 times. Add the butter and extracts. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 12 times. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a bowl, add the almonds and set aside for the topping. Press the remaining mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes.

3. Place the preserves, raspberries, and liqueur, if using, in a bowl. Mix with a fork to combine, lightly mashing the whole raspberries but leaving some pieces intact. Spread the raspberries over the crust. Sprinkle the topping over the filling

4. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cut in 2-inch squares. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

 

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

~ very lemony lemon bars ~

‘Tis the season for lemons. Actually, late winter is the season for lemons, but happily the season spills into spring, offering up bushels of citrus which beget light and lovely desserts, such as these Lemon Bars. Lemon Bars are a family favorite, a quintessential childhood treat that pleases adults and kids alike. The key to a good lemon bar, in my book, is that the filling must be intensely lemony packing a wallop of tart, with just enough sugar, but not so sweet that it’s cloying. The final touch is a pinch of sea salt, which keeps the sweetness in check and allows the lemon to shine through.

Lemon Bars

This recipe is adapted from and inspired by many sources, including Ina Garten and, most recently, Lucas’ Lemon Bars from Food52, as well as my personal weakness for sea salt. Makes 32 two-inch square bars.

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool, cut into cubes

Filling:
6 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan. Line with parchment and butter the parchment. Combine the pastry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until the dough resembles coarse lumps and just begins to come together. Dump the dough into the prepared pan and, with your fingers, evenly press the dough to cover the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until it just begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
Whisk the filling ingredients together in a large bowl until blended. Evenly pour over the crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set but not coloring, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack. Cut into bars. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and lightly sprinkle with sea salt flakes.

Banana Chip Bars

Banana Chip Bars

Banana Chips, Coconut, Dark Chocolate

This time I blame the banana chips. Due to a last minute panic-induced purchase for a school event, I had a bucket of them sitting in my refrigerator. You might understand the situation which led to this:  Worried that (heaven forbid) not enough dessert would be provided for a tropical-based menu for a lunch at my daughter’s school,  I threw a few, er, many packages of banana chips into my shopping basket on the way to the lunch – just in case the mob inhaled all 47 other dishes represented in the school-wide buffet and were up in arms about not enough sugar to complete their smorgasbord. (As if banana chips would be sufficient to stave off an angry sugar-deprived crowd – what was I thinking?)  As it turned out, any testy unrest was avoided, since we (naturally) had too much food in the first place.  And so the banana chips came home with me and have been patiently waiting in my refrigerator to be put to use – until today.

It was a baking kind of day today, and I decided to throw together a simple bar cookie. Normally I include coconut and chocolate chips in my bars, and figured the banana chips would make a nice addition. I chopped a bunch up in my food processor (you may want ear plugs for this) and folded the chips into the batter. They added a wonderful chewy texture with a mild buttery flavor to the bars, without an overpowering banana flavor or excess sweetness. Toothsome and chewy, they almost made the bars feel…healthy? Ok, that may be pushing it.


Banana Chip Bars
Makes 24 – 2 inch bars

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut, plus extra for the topping
1 cup coarsely chopped banana chips
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Whisk sugars and butter together in a large bowl. Add egg and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Combine flour, wheat germ, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Add to the sugar and butter and mix well. Stir in coconut, banana chips and chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with additional coconut. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Blueberry Crumble Bars

Blueberry Crumble Bars

Simple, sweet and oozing with fruit, Blueberry Crumble Bars are dessert’s answer to comfort food. I was in the mood for something just like this – an unfussy, child-friendly dessert that would please all ages. Prompted by a bag of blueberries in my freezer – a lingering souvenir from last summer – I thought of a blueberry cookie bar. After a quick scan of the web for inspiration, I spied a recipe at Smitten Kitchen, by way of allrecipes. This was exactly the kind of dessert I wanted to  make: A recipe passed from kitchen to kitchen, tweaked with each rendition and then handed off to the next home cook. So, now I pass this recipe on to you – with just a few more tweaks. There is nothing complicated about this recipe, except the challenge of not eating too many in one go.

Blueberry Crumble Bars
Makes 16 – 20 bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Butter an 8 inch square baking pan. Line with parchment and butter parchment.
Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of food processor. Pulse to blend. Add butter and egg. Pulse until dough resembles coarse crumbs. Pulse in lemon zest.
Whisk 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add blueberries and stir to combine.
Evenly spread half of the dough in the prepared pan. Spread blueberries evenly over the dough. Top with remaining dough. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 45 minutes. Remove and cool to allow the flavors to develop and the bars to firm up.

Lemon Bars

Citrus is winter’s gift, so why not put this gift to use and make lemon bars? Bright and zingy, Lemon Bars will bring a ray of sunshine into your kitchen. Whether you are knee deep in snow or lucky enough to live where lemons grow on trees, this is one pick-me-up everyone will enjoy at this time of year. Cool creamy custard bursting with zest rests on a firm bed of shortbread. Each bite is a balance of sweet and tart. The recipe is simple and quick to make – the only caveat is that the results are dangerously addictive. Be forewarned: One will never be enough.

Lemon Bars with Sea Salt

This recipe is adapted from and inspired by many sources, including Ina Garten, Food52,  and my personal weakness for sea salt. Makes 32 (2-inch) square bars.

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool, cut into cubes

Filling:
6 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan, then line the pan with parchment and butter the parchment.
2. Combine the shortbread ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until the dough resembles coarse lumps and just begins to come together. Dump the dough into the prepared pan and, with your fingers, evenly press the dough to cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Bake the crust until it just begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, but do not turn off the oven heat.
4. Whisk the filling ingredients together in a large bowl until blended, then evenly pour over the crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set but not coloring, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack.
5. Cut into bars. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and lightly sprinkle with sea salt flakes before serving.

Easy Weekend Baking: Coconut Blondies

Coco blondies tf

Coconut Blondies are the perfect antidote for a rainy weekend day. They are simple to make, kid-friendly and sinfully delicious. Filled with chocolate chips and flecked with coconut, these buttery rich squares will make you want to stay inside and bake. Make a batch on your own or with the kids, curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and enjoy the sound of the rain outdoors. Bliss.

Coconut Blondies

Makes 16 (2-inch) bars

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, divided
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and whisk together; set aside. Whisk the sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl. Add the butter and vanilla and whisk to blend. Stir in the flour until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut and the chocolate chips. Spread the batter in the pan and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup coconut over the top. Bake until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on a rack and cut into small squares.

Easy Weekend Baking: Chocolate Coconut Cookie Bars

Easy Weekend Baking: Chocolate Coconut Cookie Bars

It’s a foggy day today. The weather is gray, and everyone in our house is moving slowly. Perhaps it’s because we just finished the first week back at school and work following the holidays, but by the time we made it to Friday, we were all ready for another vacation.

So, today has been lazy and a perfect baking day.  This recipe is sweet and easy, something you can easily make with children.  The only taxing requirement is waiting until the bars have cooled before eating – and trying not to eat too many at once.

Coconut Chocolate Bar Cookies


Chocolate Coconut Cookie Bars

These are rich and sweet, so cut in small squares. Makes 30.

1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)
Butter an 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Line with parchment.  Butter parchment.
Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour, salt and butter in a bowl.  Mix well to combine. Press batter into pan, smoothing to even out.  Bake in oven 10 minutes.

Combine remaining sugar and flour, 1 1/4 cups coconut, chocolate chips, eggs, vanilla and salt in bowl. Mix well to combine. Pour evenly over the baked cookie base.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut. Bake in oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Remove and cool completely in pan on rack. Cut in squares and serve.