Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Bars

These babies are just as tasty as they sound & are much easier to make than chocolate chip cookies.  You gotta love a recipe that doesn't call for any planning like taking out the butter to soften.

Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Bars, slightly adapted from King Arthur's Flour

2/3 cup unsalted butter

2 cups + 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
3 large eggs, room temp
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla butter & nut flavor
3 cups of any type of "chips" and/or nuts (I used butterscotch & semi-sweet)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan. 

Melt the butter in a large bowl & stir in the brown sugar. Add the vanilla & flavoring, stirring until well combined. Allow the mixture to cool slightly (so that the eggs do not cook once added).  While the butter mixture cools whisk together flour, baking powder, espresso powder, & salt in a medium bowl.  Once the butter mixture is cooled add the eggs one at a time.  Beat well after each addition & scrape down the sides as needed. Next add in the flour mixture stirring until just combined.  Stir in the chips or other additions of your choice. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, spreading it to the edges with a wet spatula (or your wet fingers) & smoothing out the top.

Bake the bars for 30 to 32 minutes, until they've risen, and their top is shiny and golden. Bake for the shorter amount of time in a darker pan; the longer time in a light/shiny pan. A cake tester inserted into the center won't come out clean; in fact, the center of the very middle of the pan may look quite molten when you dig into it. So long as no wet batter is showing farther out towards the edges the bars are done. (Do not over bake!) As the bars cool the center will solidify. 
Remove the bars from the oven, and use a heatproof spatula to press down the risen edges; this will make bars with flat, rather than humped tops. Let the bars cool completely before cutting; overnight is best. Once bars are cool, wrap airtight. Store wrapped bars @ room temperature for a couple of days.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Banana Caramel Crescents

For those of you that know me, know that my family and I have a serious love of bananas so we usually have some ripening on the counter.  While I went with bananas this quick and easy dessert doesn't require them or even caramel.  Just some crescent roll dough and whatever you fancy.  My one suggestion is to keep the ingredients cold.  It makes everything easier to handle.  You don't have to but giving the stuffed and rolled dough a quick stint in the freezer to firm up will give you neater and prettier crescents.  I topped some with the last of the caramel, others with powdered sugars, and one plain.  You could also whip up a glaze of powdered sugar and heavy cream.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 25, 2013

White Texas Sheet Cake

Have you visited the blog Mel's Kitchen Cafe?  If you haven't I highly suggest that you do.  Mel has a TON of delicious looking recipes, both savory and sweet.  I've yet to make a recipe of hers that wasn't a winner.  This White Texas Sheet Cake is her recipe as well and it's a keeper.  Because I trusted Mel's recipe I changed things up just the tiniest bit.  I like orange and almond together so I added some orange zest to brighten things up.  Turns out that wasn't a bad idea as we loved the cake.  There is one little change I'll make the next time I bake this and that's to cut back on the frosting.  I thought it overwhelmed the cake.  Shocking I know!  I'm also thinking I'd like to try adding a thin layer of raspberry (maybe strawberry?) jam between the cake and frosting.  Mel made a coconut one that she claims was equally delish so I'm thinking this recipe is pretty forgiving when it comes to changing up the flavor.  Give it try and let me know what you think!

Monday, October 14, 2013

No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls; Recipe Rewind

The first time I made this recipe was back in 2009.  At that time I was getting over my fear of working with yeast and rolling out dough.  Looking back I can see I've come a long way, with my photography (still a long way from where I want to be, but improved nonetheless) and especially in the kitchen.  I no longer pass over recipes for any other reason than I don't have the time to put into them.  And when time permits new ones are approached with a "can do" attitude.  It feels good.  

I've made the "normal" yeast cinnamon rolls, these no yeast ones, and a "biscuit" version.  This recipe really is a winner, especially if pressed for time. Cinnamon rolls in under an hour using a recipe that doesn't sacrifice taste or texture?  Yes, please!

Looking for the recipe?  Click here and while you're grabbing the recipe check out my photography progress. Better, right?  I hope you give these a try and if you do let me know what you think, good or bad!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Blackberry and Ricotta Parfaits

These may sound a little weird but they're actually quite good. I don't think ricotta cheese instantly comes to mind as a dessert ingredient for most people.  But it does for me.  I first feel in love with it way back as a cannoli loving teen.  I loved it so much I checked out an Italian dessert cookbook from the local library just to learn how to make the cannoli filling.

Unfortunately, I don't have a recipe for you. It's more of a "method" as these were born out of my children's complete love of sweetened ricotta cheese and the need to use up some blackberries that were on their last leg.  (See Monica we love other things besides bananas! :-)

Here's what I did.... I took ricotta cheese, drained it, and then whisked in some sugar.  I've also used honey and powdered sugar.  Depending what I'm layering with the cream I've also added lemon and orange zest, Fiori di Sicilia, vanilla, and almond extracts.  Use whatever works for you.  My children will eat the ricotta cream just sweetened with nothing else, but they love it best with berries.  In this case I had some blackberries that had seen better days.  I tossed most of the blackberries into a small pot and cooked them down with a little bit of sugar.  Once they had released their juices and the berries were sufficiently softened I took them off the stove and I stirred in the few berries I had reserved.  (I did this to add more texture.)  While the berries were cooking I crushed up some Maria cookies for a third layer.  Because I wanted the contradiction of hot and cold, I had the cream chilling in the freezer during the few minutes it took to cook the berries.  Layer up the cookies, cream, and berries and your done!  Easy and delicious!  

BTW, if you haven't ben able to tell I am having serious issues with formatting! ughhh

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cake Batter Popcorn

Here's a fun treat for you, cake batter popcorn.

Based on my children's eager consumption I'd say it get's their seal of approval.  I've actually made this twice.  The first time said children weren't waiting for photos.  This time I made it while they were out and shot away.

With the first batch of cake batter popcorn I followed the recipe exactly as written.  This time I went with what I had in my pantry. You gotta love those kinds of "recipes".  Here's the link to it.  Take a look and make it your own.  (Keep in mind.... cake mix + white chocolate + sprinkles = very sweet)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Swedish Visiting Cake

This is one of those don't judge a book by its cover moments.  Swedish Visiting Cake doesn't look like much but it has lots of almond flavor, a tender moist crumb, and a yummy bit of crunch from sliced almonds and turbinado sugar.  An added bonus, it's a cinch to make.  The toughest thing is zesting the lemon, but you can do that while your melted butter is cooling.  I intended to warm some raspberry jam to drizzle on the wedges but sadly I didn't have any.  It really is a lovely cake.  I hope you give it a try and if you do please let me know what you think.  FYI... Jalen one of my twin boys loved it so much he hid the last two pieces AND immediately requested it again! 

Swedish Visiting Cake (slightly adapted from In the Kitchen & On the Road with Dorie)
Serves 8 to 10

1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
About 1/4 cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)
1 tablespoon turbinado {or any coarse} sugar for sprinkling on top

jam of your choice, warmed to drizzle on individual wedges

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet or other heavy ovenproof skillet, a 9-inch cake pan or even a pie pan. (I used two skillets.  One 6 inch & one for 4 inch, which is why my slices look a little thin. They were from the smaller skillet.)

Pour the sugar into a medium bowl.  Add the zest and blend the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic.  Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well blended.  Whisk in the salt and the extracts.  Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour.  Finally, fold in the melted butter.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle with a little sugar (I used turbinado sugar for a little added crunch).  If you're using a cake or pie pan, place the pan on a baking sheet.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist.  Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around the sides and bottom of the cake to loosen it.  You can serve the cake warm or cooled, directly from the skillet or turned out onto a serving plate. (Drizzle warmed jam on wedges.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


If you're new here what I say next may change the way you look at me....I don't like chocolate.  Not when I'm emotionally distraught and not even when it's "that" time.  Chocolate just doesn't do it for me. Before blogging I thought I didn't like caramel either. In the years that I've been blogging I have learned a few things about myself.  I don't like milk chocolate, a piece of good dark chocolate isn't so bad, and that Smucker's caramel is NOT the same thing as homemade caramel! Who knew?! Well I know now and let me just tell you I love me some homemade caramel. 

I've drooled over photos of carmelitas for years but never made them because the recipes all called for caramel squares.  I still wouldn't have made them if I had not found a bag of caramels in the pantry this weekend.  Luckily I did as these bars are insanely good.  Not just good, insanely good and the only thing I would change, and remember this is coming from me, a non chocolate lover, is to cut back on the chocolate chips.  Other than that these are pure caramel perfection. Don't be like me and wait to find an expired bag of caramels.  Buy a bag and make them now! 

32 caramel squares, unwrapped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda (I added)
1/2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, sea salt and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8x8" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

*A stint in the fridge will help them cool off if you're pinched for time. They shouldn't be served cold, but all of that molten caramel takes a long time to cool down. They should be stored and served at room temperature.
**If you want to use homemade or store-bought caramel sauce in place of the caramel/cream mixture, use 1 1/4 cups of sauce. (I'm gonna give homemade a try & will update the recipe.)
***To make a 9x13" version, simply double the amounts.