Archive for the ‘Bar Cookie’ Category

Basically Blissful

December 31, 2010

Basically Blissful Cranberry Bars

A few years ago Cranberry Bliss bars were being discussed on various blogs. I was intrigued, but not enough to make a special trip to try one at my local Starbucks. Since I don’t drink coffee I rarely go to Starbucks. When I meet friends for “coffee” they usually prefer our local coffee shop and so here we are several years later and I still haven’t had one. Recently I found myself at a Starbucks and I was pleasantly surprised to find out they still make these bars and I had to have one. I can certainly understand why people wait all year long for these seasonal treats to make an appearance! I ate mine very slowly and thoughtfully hoping I’d be able to make them myself.

Mine are a little thicker than Starbucks’ but that’s okay with me. If I make them again I will put some oil or shortening in with the white chocolate chips so that when I cut the bars the white chocolate won’t shatter. We loved these bars. My husband thinks they’re “awesome”. I can’t remember the adjectives my daughter used, but she made it clear she liked them a lot.

Basically Blissful Cranberry Bars

1 1/2 cups ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
1 bag white chocolate chips (divided use)
1 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (divided use)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined.

Fold in the diced ginger, half of the white chocolate chips, and 1/2 c. dried cranberries, and turn the batter into a 9 x 13 inch pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake until the top is shiny and feels firm to the touch, for 22 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a rack and let cool completely. Frost with the frosting, sprinkle with more chopped cranberries and drizzle with melted white chocolate as indicated below.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese softened
2.5 T. butter softened
1 1/2 t. orange juice
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 c. + 2 T. powdered sugar

Beat together the first three ingredients until very smooth. Stir in the zest and powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Spread on top of the bars. Sprinkle the remaining cranberries evenly on top of the bars.

Using 50% power melt the remaining chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave at 1 minute intervals. Stir after every minute until completely melted and then drizzle over the cranberries

Cut the bars into large squares, and then cut once diagonally to make triangles.

Chewy Granola Bars

July 23, 2009

Chewy Cherry Almond Granola BarsI’ve been wanting to make my own snack bars for a very long time and only recently got around to it. I like the Kashi TLC Chewy Granola bars. My favorites are the Honey Almond Flax, and the Peanut – Peanut Butter, but the Cherry Dark Chocolate are excellent as well. The trouble is that they aren’t inexpensive. I kept thinking I should be able to come up with something similar and less expensive.

These bars are my first attempt. Both my husband and I like these bars better than the Kashi Bars even though they’re substantially different. I haven’t run the numbers but my gut feeling is that they’re not any less expensive. Still they’re an excellent snack, and they store well. I cut these up into bars and then individually wrapped them and stored them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When I need to take a snack with me I can just pop one in my purse and by them time I need to eat it, the bar has come to room temperature and is perfect for a pick me up. If you’re going to share them with a crowd, or you’re going to eat them more quickly you could skip the wrapping and refrigerating.

This is a variation on the recipe for Big Sur Power Bars from 101 Cookbooks, and the Power Bar recipe on page 47 in Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Cooking. In both of those recipes Heidi emphasizes using crisp brown rice cereal. I really like this choice, but despite her wise words I’m tempted to try some of the Kashi cereal next time  in an effort to increase the amount of protein in the bars. The following recipe is how I made them. Please refer to 101 Cookbooks, or Super Natural Cooking for original recipes by Heidi Swanson.

Chewy Cherry Almond  Granola Bars

1 T. butter

1 1/4 c. rolled oats

1 1/4 c. almonds, toasted and chopped

1/2 c. ground flax seed

1 1/2 c. unsweetened brown rice cereal

1 c. dried cherries, chopped

2/3 c. unsweetened coconut

1 c. brown rice syrup

1/4. c. sucanat

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1/4 t. almond extract

1/2 t. kosher salt

Grease a 9×13 inch pan with the 1 T. butter.

In a large bowl mix together the oats, nuts, cereal, flax seed, coconut, and cherries. Set aside.

In a small saucepan combine the rice syrup, sucanat, vanilla and almond extracts. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly. The mixture will come to a boil and thicken slightly. This takes about 4 minutes.

Pour this mixture over the cereal and nut mixture and combine until the syrup is evenly distributed.

Spread into the buttered pan and cool completely. After the bars have cooled completely turn them out onto a large cutting board and cut into bars. Wrap each bar individually in waxed paper and store either at room temperature or in the refrigerator depending on how fast you and yours will be eating them.


May 28, 2009

Blondies 007It seems like I’ve seen one version of Blondies after another lately, and after trying different recipes, one which was a total gooey, icky dud I made this version. As always I learned a few things during my search for a Blondie recipe that I like. I learned that Congo Bars are a variation on Blondies. It seems obvious now, but I hadn’t considered that prior to reading it in Baking Illustrated. Wouldn’t you know that I have a recipe for Congo Bars that people always seem to love, and I could have made those and been done with it? This revelation makes it clear that I haven’t made many Blondies in my life, nor even thought about them much.

The recipe for these Blondies is here, so I won’t retype it. The only change I made was to use 6 oz. of cut up white chocolate in place of the 1/2 c. white chocolate chips.

These tasted best to me once they were completely cool. We really liked these and I will definitely make them again.

One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

May 13, 2009
One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

My husband really likes a brownie every now and then, and who can blame him? It’s good to have a recipe that makes a small batch that will satisfy that craving.  This recipe does that and has two other things going for it. It calls for natural cocoa instead of chocolate which makes it a bit more economical, and it only requires one bowl!

My first taste of these was while they were still warm. They are fine that way, but the texture improves once they’ve cooled completely. I used up the nuts I had on hand and was a little short. You can omit them completely if you prefer. You can also sub Dutch processed cocoa for the natural cocoa. Natural cocoa is much easier to find where I live and it’s much less expensive.

The recipe originally came from here, but since I made some changes to it I’ll type it up the way I made it.

One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

10 T. butter

1 1/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. plus 2 T. natural cocoa powder

1/8 t. salt

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. (slightly rounded) espresso powder

2 cold large eggs

1/2 c. all purpose flour

2/3 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven 325 degrees. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper leaving ‘handles’ on two sides to facilitate removing the brownies from the pan.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the cocoa, sugar, and salt and reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir the mixture and let it cool slightly. Stir in the vanilla and the espresso powder.

Beat in the eggs one at a time. Thorougly mixing each one. Stir in the flour until it’s completely mixed in and then beat the mixture for 40 strokes. Stir in the nuts.

Spread the dough evenly in the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test with a toothpick. There should be a few moist battery crumbs on the toothpick. Cool the brownies completely on a wire rack. Transfer the brownies to a cutting board and cut into serving size portions.

Send off Sweets

January 19, 2009
Chocolate Caramel Bars

Chocolate Caramel Bars

We sent these bars off with our son yesterday, had enough to pack some up for his sister, and kept just a few to have here at home. These are of course another kid favorite. With a little salt from the crackers and a lot of sweet from the caramel center and chocolate tops, they have a lot to offer kids of any age.

These are known by many names. We call them Chocolate Caramel Bars, but some people call them Twix Bars. I’m sure they go by other names as well. We prefer them chilled.

This is one of those recipes that went around like wildfire during the early 90’s, so I have no idea who gets the credit for it. Enjoy!

Chocolate Caramel Bars

1 box rectangular crackers (such as Keebler Club crackers)

1/2 c. butter

1/3 c. milk

1/2 c. sugar

3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1 c. graham cracker crumbs

2/3 c. creamy peanut butter

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a 9″x13″ pan with rectangular crackers edge to edge. Set aside

In a medium saucepan combine butter, milk, white sugar, brown sugar and graham crackers. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 5 minutes. Pour this mixture over the crackers in the pan. Place another layer of crackers edge to edge over the caramel layer.

In a double boiler melt together the peanut butter and the chocolate chips.  Spread this mixture over the top layer of crackers. Chill until firm and then cut into bars.