Coconut Walnut Dreambars

Dreambar Finished 1This recipe is for those that claim to dislike coconut. It’s also for anyone that really loves coconut. Basically…

This recipe is for everyone.

These bars are rich, gooey, buttery… dreamy. And, they’re easy to make, done in under an hour.

Dreambar Crust

Cookie Layer
8 TBS Butter (one stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 TEA salt

Topping
2 cups brown sugar
1 TBS flour
1/4 TEA baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded coconut (toasted or untoasted, your choice)
1 cup walnuts

Dreambar Mix InsBake the bottom layer:

Preheat oven to 300°.
Lightly grease 9 x 13 inch pan.
Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy, stir in flour and salt. Mixture will be crumbly.
Pat into bottom of prepared pan.
Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven to add top layer.

Increase temp to 325°.

Dreambar PreBakedWhile bottom layer is baking, prep the top layer:

Combine brown sugar, flour and baking powder.
Mix in eggs till smooth.
Add coconut and walnuts.
Dollop coconut mixture on top of pre-baked cookie layer, spread evenly.
Bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Cool. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

I like to cut these in 2-inch squares, because they’re rich, and also because it’s easier to two or three 🙂

Enjoy!

Dreambar Finished 1 (2)

 

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What Should A Baker Buy?

Quick post:

My friends and family know I love to bake, of course. So it’s not uncommon for me to get gift cards to various cooking/baking stores – but I have a hard time spending the money.

Seems silly, I know, since it’s a gift and I should be excited to spend them… but I spend too much time looking for a really great deal on something that I will, for sure, use over and over again.

If only there were gift cards for someone that uploads and edits my food pics… I’d post far more often!

With that said, here’s what I’m thinking.

But what I’m really looking for is a knife that doesn’t scratch pans… something needed when I recently made a batch of Coconut Walnut Dreambars… (to be posted soon!), or a basic pan of brownies, for instance. Any suggestions?

 

(Little Drunken Cookie’s) Oatmeal Cream Pies

Oatmeal Cream Pies (2)I’m sure you’re all familiar with Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. They were a favorite of mine growing up, so I thought I’d try my best to make a homemade version.

I have tried to make them in the past with just a standard oatmeal cookie recipe, but found it wasn’t quite the same.Then I read through the ingredients list on the genuine Creme Pie, and found molasses. Hmmm.

Maybe molasses is the “key” to making them a little more authentic…

I tweaked several recipes to come up with this one. It’s a Drunken Cookie Original. The creme, however, is from my tried and true binder of internet recipes. Look for Holland Cream on the Allrecipes website. Note: You only need half of the recipe to make the cream pies.

Ingredients

Oatmeal Cream Pies (7)Makes about 60 (2.5 inch) cookies, or 30 Little Drunken Cookie Oatmeal Cream Pies. Total time: about  15 minutes to prep, 3 hours total including cooling and assembly.

  • 2 ½ cups oats (traditional, not quick)
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup butter (one stick)
  • ½ cup margarine (one stick)
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Combine oats, flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set a side.
  2. Beat the butter, margarine and sugars on medium/medium high speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add molasses and mix well.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla, mixing thoroughly (medium speed) after each addition. Batter should be smooth and the color of peanut butter.
  4. Add the oat mixture, one cup at a time, on low speed until incorporated.
  5. Bake teaspoon-sized scoops of dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 12-13 minutes, or until just browned on the edges. Don’t overbake. Leave the cookies to sit on the cookie sheet about a minute before removing. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Make the Holland Cream while the cookies are baking. Once the cream is ready and the cookies are cool, fill a piping bag with the cream filling. There’s no need to rush, the cream won’t go “flat”. Use the largest round tip you have, or no tip at all, to place a dollop of creme in the middle of the cookie. Hold the piping bag straight and just above the cookie, and steadily squeeze the filling until it’s about a ¼ inch from the sides of the cookie. If you overfill, it’ll ooze out the sides; if you under fill simply add more, to your liking. (You can use a plastic sandwich bag with the corner cut if you don’t have piping bags and tips!)

Hints/Special Tools

  • I recommend parchment paper to line the cookie sheet, a small cookie scoop to distribute the batter (to make sure your cookies are round and even-sized), and carefully removing them from the sheet with a thin spatula.
  • Cookies will be soft when you remove them from the sheet, but they set well. Scrape off any gooey cookie crumbs from your spatula after removing a cookie or two, and they will lift more easily.
  • If you have a cookie that isn’t as round as you like once they’re baked, gently take the edge of your spatula and push the errant edge of the cookie toward the center. No one will know your cookies were misshapen. 🙂
  • Match up cookies of even size and shape before you start to add the filling, so you have even little sandwiches in the end.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. I have to give them away or I’ll eat the whole batch!

 

 

 

MMM Maple Cornbread

20160131_192714Warning, this is “Yankee” cornbread, which means there’s a bit of sweetness in it. It’s not too much – it will depend on the grade of your maple syrup – but just enough to give it that extra somethin’ to go with your bowl of chili.

I happen to know a native southerner that gave this cornbread his last-bite-of-the-meal privilege.

You didn’t think Drunken Cookie lives on sugared baked goods alone, did you?

This recipe is from the King Arthur Baker’s Companion. It makes a perfect 8 x 8 inch pan, but will also give you about 12 -14 muffins. If making muffins, check for doneness around the 18-minute mark.

Bonus: It’s simple enough to memorize. Impress your friends.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1%, but any will do)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup [real] maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted & slightly cooled
  1. Heat oven to 425º. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan.
  2. Whisk the first four ingredients in a medium bowl until combined.
  3. In a second bowl, combine the butter, syrup, milk, and eggs. Whisk until well blended.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined. Don’t over-mix.

Pour into baking pan and bake 20 -25 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

That’s it! You’ve made delicious cornbread, faster than Bo and Luke Duke.

Tips: I’ve used Grade A Golden (formerly Fancy) maple syrup, which was very delicate and subtle, and Grade A Amber Color and Rich Flavor (formerly Grade A Medium) which gave this cornbread more of a maple flavor. If you’re confused, basically the darker the syrup, the stronger the maple flavor. For the muffins, paper liners were not necessary – just grease the muffin cups beforehand.

Quick and Easy Cinnamon “Rolls”

Cinnamon Rolls FinishedI love cinnamon rolls, especially as a breakfast treat. I confess I will buy a Cinnabon or a can of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, but I always feel guilty. What’s in those? (Don’t look at the label!)

This recipe saved me at least a little bit of the guilt that comes along with eating sugar, butter, and flour for breakfast. I think mostly because they’re homemade. They do not require yeast and are baked in a muffin pan, which make these a little bit muffin, and a little bit roll.

Ahhhh, warming a cold Saturday morning with the sweet smell of baking cinnamon.

I found this recipe on Allrecipes. Thanks to Carol, the original submitter of these delicious little muffin/roll hybrid. Her profile doesn’t seem to be on the site, but I thought this was worth a shout out 🙂

Tips

  • I didn’t use raisins or currants… I’m not a fan of raisins in cinnamon rolls, but feel free to add them if you are!
  • I made a cream cheese icing, your basic cream cheese/butter/confectioners sugar/vanilla/milk icing. I’m sure these are equally yummy with the glaze that’s included in the recipe.
  • I thought I may have originally under-baked these, but they set up well, and the middle had the gooey-chewy feel that I like in a cinnamon roll. I feel that over-baking these slightly would dry out the edges too much for my liking, so keep an eye on them.

Here’s a photo collage of the process. Enjoy!

 

The Amazingness of Chocolate Raspberry Tassies

Finished Tassie‘What’s a tassie?’ you may ask. Well, let me save you the googling. It means “small cup”. These are small cups of gooey raspberry chocolate shortbread buttercream amazingness. Yes, I made up a word for these. Amazingness.

You know what they say, the best things come in small packages!

Since I love to bake as a gift, these are perfect for the person that loves raspberry and chocolate (Who doesn’t?) – they’ve been a hit on several occasions. The best part (ok, for me) is that this recipe is available on the Better Homes and Gardens website. I don’t modify it, though the instructions are a bit (unnecessarily) complicated. Here are my tips:

  • Read the entire recipe through – it’s one of those that have you start with a prepared item, then work from there. In this case, the prepared recipes include the “chocolate pastry”, which is the shortbread-like chocolate cookie that forms the “cup”, and the chocolate buttercream, which goes on top.
  • You will need a food processor and a mini muffin pan to make this recipe.
  • The recipe calls for an ungreased mini muffin pan. I (out of habit) greased mine, then caught the mistake in time.
  • Make sure they’re not overdone… but they must be firm enough to come out of the muffin pan without losing shape. I popped a batch back in the oven when I realized they were not done enough to keep shape.
  • Try not to get the raspberry filling on the sides of the muffin cup; this will help keep them from sticking. Expect to run a thin knife around the edge of each muffin cup to release the tassie and cool on a wire rack before adding the buttercream.

I mentioned that I did not tweak this recipe… but I will be specific on which ingredients I do use. I use quality chocolate… think of a dark chocolate bar that you would eat on its own, and buy a couple of them, as the large bars are usually 3 to 4 ounces each. I top my tassies with mini chocolate chips. They look finished, and I think it adds an element of texture that complements the rest of the tassie. I also use Chambord raspberry liqueur; there’s only a tablespoon in the entire recipe, but you want to make it really pop. Yes, Chambord is a little pricey, but it comes in handy baking as well as mixing with any leftover bottles of champagne remaining from New Years (ha ha, right?).

These take about… 45 minutes to an hour to make, plus you’ll need cooling time before decorating. You will dirty up a few bowls in the process. You will have bits of chocolate pastry under your fingernails. But they are delicious as they are labor intensive, I promise.

Oh, and I must not forget the most important piece of advice, from my husband: “You should tell them that you’re supposed to take more than one bite when eating them“. Yes, he ate a whole tassie in one bite, then said it tasted “like a brownie”. But, it’s one of the few desserts I make that he saves for himself!

The Real “Pumpkin Spice” Cheesecake

Slice of Pumpkin Spice
Slice of Pumpkin Spice

Who says you can’t enjoy pumpkin after thanksgiving?

If it’s cold outside, I’m enjoying pumpkin spice.

I’m sure you’ve heard about Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte not containing actual pumpkin, at least until this year when they decided to add it… well, I’m here to assure you there are plenty of holiday recipes made with real pumpkin and spice.

The beauty of real pumpkin spice recipes is you can adjust the “spice” to your liking. Cloves have a real punch, so many opt to leave it out altogether… I used the full amount in this recipe, only 1/4 teaspoon, and found it plenty adequate. Cinnamon comes in many varieties, so you can alter the flavor of your favorite recipes simply by purchasing a different type of cinnamon. My favorite spice shops are Penzeys and The Spice House, both of which have a variety of fall spices.

This Pumpkin Cheesecake is baked in a water bath, but I’m sure you’re a pro at that by now, if you’ve followed my blog thus far! A few tips:

  • Plan ahead, as this should refrigerate overnight. Still tasty after three days, if kept refrigerated and covered.
  • You’ll need a 10-inch springform pan, which is an inch larger than the seemingly “standard” 9-inch. I have both sizes, but if you only have a 9-inch pan, you’ll need to increase the baking time.

For the Crust

  • Crust Ingredients
    Sweet + Cinnamon
    Crust Crumbs
    Crumbly Perfection

    9 whole graham crackers (about one sleeve in a box, 4 oz)

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Prepare the springform pan by wrapping heavy-duty aluminum foil around the bottom, to keep the water bath from seeping through.

Blend graham crackers, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely ground. Slowly add melted butter, pulsing until crumbs start to clump. If you don’t have a food processor, place graham crackers in a ziplock bag, crush with a rolling pin (or soup can, or whatever you have… hey, I’ve been there), then mix the remaining ingredients thoroughly until the mixture will clump when pinched with your fingers. Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, and allow to cool.

For the Filling

  • Half of the Finished Cheesecake... It Goes Fast!
    Half of the Finished Cheesecake… It Goes Fast!

    4 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened/room temp

  • 1 1/2 cups  sugar
  • 1 fifteen (15) ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves

(note, spices are in ground form)

  1. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, beating in one at a time.
  2. Add pumpkin, cream, vanilla and spices; beat until incorporated.
  3. Pour filling into prepared crust. Place filled springform pan into large roasting pan (see water bath post for hints!). Fill with enough water to come halfway up the side of the springform pan.
  4. Bake until slightly puffed, golden and softly set, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath and set on rack to cool.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. To serve, run a thin plastic knife around the sides of the springform pan, then release the latch to open the pan. Serve as-is or with whipped cream.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake

What better way to make a comeback with a recipe that will wow your friends. Flourless Chocolate Cake is wickedly delicious. Bonus: it gives a fabulous “I worked really hard on this” impression.

Chocolate + Butter+ Eggs + Coffee = Bliss

There’s two keys to this recipe. Preparation and patience. Here’s what you need:

  • 8 eggs
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee

But before you think this recipe is TOO easy, let me warn you: this cake is baked in a water bath. If you’re really nervous, take a look at this webpage by A Family Feast to learn more.

Prep all these items before you start to make the cake:

  1. Dig out a turkey roasting pan, a large stock pot or tea kettle, and a 8 or 9 inch springform pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Line the bottom of the springform pan with parchment paper and wrap the entire outside of the pan with foil. Spray the sides with nonstick spray or grease with butter.
  4. Brew a strong cup of coffee.
  5. Fill the stock pot or tea kettle with water and start to bring to a boil.
  6. Coarsely chop the chocolate into pieces smaller than the size of a quarter (to help with melting).
  7. Cut the butter into tablespoons (to help with melting).
  8. Take out your mixer (stand mixer, if you have it).

Assess the situation. Are you ready to bake? Really? Ok. The rest is as easy as melting chocolate.

  1. Combine the chopped chocolate, butter, and coffee into a microwavable bowl. Cook at 50% power for 2 minutes, stir, and repeat. Continue heating at 50% power one minute at a time until the mixture is completely smooth.
  2. Beat the eggs on medium speed for 5 minutes, using a wire whisk attachment if you have it, until they are foamy and has significantly more volume.
  3. Carefully fold 1/3 of the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture (use a larger bowl if needed), then continue in thirds until the mixture entirely combined and uniform in color. Pour into the prepped springform pan and smooth top if needed.
  4. By now the water should be boiling. Set your filled cake pan into the large roasting pan; the pan should be large enough that water should be able to surround the springform pan and come halfway up the sides.
  5. Carefully pour (if using a tea kettle) or ladle the boiling water into the roasting pan, using care to not splash into the cake batter. (I chose to ladle instead of pour hot water from pan to pan because I’m confident I would either burn myself or ruin the cake). Once the hot water has surrounded the cake pan and measures halfway up the sides of that pan, it can go in the oven.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the cake has risen slightly, the sides of the cake start to set and “pull away” from the side of pan slightly. The middle of the cake will look “jiggly”, but there should be a slight sheen to the top of the cake to help indicate it’s done. Bake time will be longer for an 8 inch pan versus a 9 inch pan.

This cake, from my experience, it best judged done by how it looks, so use the time as a guide.

Finished Cake in Water Bath
Finished Cake in Water Bath

After the cake is done, remove from the water bath and set on a cooling rack. After a few minutes, carefully pull back the foil, knowing there’s likely water in the foil, so be prepared for it! Once the cake is room temperature, cover and refrigerate. This is where patience comes in. You must chill the cake for it to set properly. If you cut it too soon, you’ll have a pudding-like middle. Don’t you wonder how I know that? Ha!

I topped my cake with a bit of dark chocolate ganache, but it’s great on its own or with some fresh whipped cream.