Category Archives: Bars and Brownies

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

First, I would like to offer a warm hello to all of our new readers.  We were “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress the other day and got a lot of traffic.  We hope that everyone sticks around!  We love to read all of the comments, ideas, and suggestions about the blog that others have.

The cast of characters

The cast of characters

And now, it is time for more cookies!  I really love cookie season because I love any excuse to bake (and eat) butter and sugar-laden treats.  Last night I got the urge for something chocolate.  Since it was already late I knew I needed something relatively quick (no long rests in the refrigerator) and easy.  These cookies fit the bill.

Melted chocolate goodness

Melted chocolate goodness

These are rich and chocolatey cookies with an unusual chewy/crispy texture.  The recipe describes them as the top layer of a brownie and that is exactly what they are like.  If you could skim the very top crackly layer off of a pan of brownies, you would have these cookies.  They deliver all the chocolate punch of brownies but they are lighter and less of a commitment.  The addition of a little bit of mint extract makes them very festive.  Of course, if you wanted pure chocolate, you could omit the mint and use chopped nuts instead of peppermint candies on top.

Spreading the dough

Spreading the dough

A couple of notes to make baking these easier.  First, the thinner you spread the dough, the thinner and crispier the cookies will be.  This makes the cookies great for eating, but challenging to get off the pan.  I found that using a very thin, flexible spatula (like an offset spatula that you would use to frost a cake) helps to get the cookies off the sheet in one piece.  Also, the original recipe says to bake the cookies for 7 minutes.  My oven probably runs a bit cool but I found I needed to go to 10-11 minutes in order to get cookies to the appropriate state of crisp.

Cookies ready for baking

Cookies ready for baking

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

6 tbls butter, cut into pieces

2 ounces good quality dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao), chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

3 tbls plus 1 tsp all purpose flour

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp mint extract

pinch of coarse salt

Crushed peppermint candies, for garnish

To Make:

Position your oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease two baking sheets and set aside.

Place the chocolate and butter in a medium, microwave safe bowl.  Microwave the chocolate and butter using medium power until almost melted (about 1.5 minutes).  Remove from the microwave and whisk until completely melted.  Add the sugar and egg and whisk until smooth (about 1 minute).  Add the flour, extracts, and salt and stir until just combined.  Set the batter aside and let it stand for 10 minutes.

Scoop teaspoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheets, spacing them so you get about 12 per sheet.   Using the back of a large spoon, spread the dough into thin circles, about 2 inches in diameter.  Top with the crushed candy.  Bake in the oven, one sheet at a time, until the edges are darkened and the centers are nearly set, 7-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 4 minutes.  Using a thin spatula, remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

Serve with milk.  Makes 2 dozen.

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S’mores Cookie Bars

S'mores Cookie Bars

S'mores Cookie Bars

We are in the throes of the lazy, hazy days of summer around these parts.  With all the sun, my basil and hot peppers are loving life, though we have been wilting a little under 90+ degree days.  However, this weekend is glorious.  Sunny and warm days with cool nights, it is perfect weather for sitting by the campfire under the stars and toasting marshmallows.

Beating the dough

Beating the dough

Unfortunately, with all the birthday parties and visitors this weekend, there is no time to go camping.  Luckily, we found this recipe for s’mores that you can make in your oven.  While it might be blasphemous, I dare say these s’more cookie bars are even better than the original.   Layers of chocolate bars and marshmallow sandwiched between two graham-cracker flavored dough sheets, all baked until melty and golden… well, it’s pretty darn close to campfire heaven.

The layers

The layers

So if you can’t get to the campground this weekend, don’t despair.  Eat these cookies while sitting in your backyard, looking at the stars, and you will feel like you are truly roughing it… and you don’t have to sleep on the ground. 

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

S’mores Cookie Bars

Adapted from Hershey’s

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 squares)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4-5 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Bars

1 cup marshmallow creme

To Make:

Heat your oven to 350°F and grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.  In a small bowl, stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.  Add to butter mixture and beat until blended.  Divide the dough in half and press half of it into the prepared pan.

Next, arrange the chocolate bars in a single layer over dough, breaking as needed to fit.  Spread the marshmallow creme evenly over the top of the chocolate.   Break off pieces of the remaining dough and gently press them over the marshmallow creme to form a solid layer.  If you feel like being a perfectionist, you can roll out the dough and place it carefully over the top of the marshmallow.  Either way, it tastes delicious.

Bake the bars until lightly browned, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

To Serve:

Cut into 16 bars.  Enjoy outside with a glass of milk, campfire optional.

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Citrus-Almond Bars

Citrus-Almond Bars

 

In my opinion, one of the best things about winter is the availability of fresh, US-grown citrus.  We try to eat locally as much as possible but in the middle of winter, I really start to miss fresh fruit.  Come January, my definition of local expands to include Florida so we can load up on oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. 

Filling ingredients

 

 In addition to providing lots of nutrients, all this citrus brings a much needed dose of sunshine into otherwise dreary days.  We eat oranges plain, juice lemons to add to sauces, and use all kinds of citrus to make desserts.  These citrus-almond bars are one of our favorites.  This recipe offers a little twist on the traditional lemon bar by using chopped almonds in the crust and a mix of lemon and orange juice and zest in the filling.  There are more almonds studding the top of the filling with a little extra crunch.  Dust the whole thing with powdered sugar once it has cooled and your wintery day suddenly seems a little bit brighter. 

Baked bars, dotted with almonds

 

Citrus Bars 

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Smoke Cooking 

Ingredients:

Crust

1/3 cup butter 

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 tbls finely chopped almonds 

Filling

2 eggs 

3/4 cup granulated sugar 

2 tbls almond meal (you can substitute all-purpose flour) 

The zest of one medium orange 

2 tbls freshly squeezed orange juice 

The zest of one lemon 

1 tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1/2 tsp baking powder 

3 tbls finely chopped almonds 

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional) 

To Make: 

 For crust, in a medium bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.  Add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  Beat until thoroughly combined.  Beat in the 1 cup flour and 3 tbls nuts until the mixture is crumbly.  Press the mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 8x8x2-inch baking pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Meanwhile, for the filling, in a small bowl stir together the eggs, the 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the almond meal, the orange and lemon zest, the orange and lemon juices, and baking powder.  Beat on medium speed about 2 minutes or until combined.  Pour over hot baked layer and sprinkle with 2 tbls of chopped nuts. 

Bake (350 degrees) for about 20 minutes more or until the edges are lightly browned and the center is set.  Cool pan on a wire rack. 

To Serve: 

Sift powdered sugar over the top if desired.  Cut into bars.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator.  Makes about 20 small bars.

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