Friday, August 26, 2016

Cinnamon Sugar Blondies

Last week after it was so hot in Seattle, the weather dropped overnight by 20 degrees. While the change in the weather was refreshing, it was downright chilly that next day! It made me think of fall and how excited I am for the weather to turn cooler. The first thing I could think of was how much I wanted to bake. I looked up some recipes and settled on these cinnamon sugar blondies, because little says fall more than cinnamon.

This is an extremely simple recipe, yet I thought I had messed it up. The dough/batter is very liquidy, which just didn’t seem right. They have no leavening, too, so I knew they wouldn’t rise. I baked them for the 22 minutes that the original recipe called for and they were nowhere near done. I baked for 5 more minutes, the 4 more, and I hoped they would be done. I was worried the edges would be dried out, and I figured they would probably set while cooling.

When I cut them into bars, they were decidedly gooey and at first I thought they were a loss. But when fully cooled, they were just a nice, chewy cookie. I think they were best the morning after I baked them, but they do tend to dry out fairly quickly. This is not usually something that I have to worry about, but I didn’t take them to work so the last few at home did get a little dry. They are a little different, and I am curious how it would work if you used softened rather than melted butter. They sure smelled divine while baking, as anything with cinnamon typically does!

Cinnamon Sugar Blondies
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8” square baking dish with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium. Add the beaten egg and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the flour and salt and stir on low until the mixture comes together. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the dough in the pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a thin knife inserted in the center of the bars comes out almost clean.

Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack. When cool, lift the bars from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into squares.

Recipe from Buns in My Oven

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rum Nanaimo Bars

Now that we are nearing the end of August, it’s finally gotten warm in the Seattle area. After last summer’s record heat, I can’t say that I’m too sad that this summer has been much more normal, even a bit chilly at times. This week we have had temperatures in the 80s and the 90s are predicted. Most places don’t think that’s a big deal, but it is here where so few homes have air conditioning. It’s not so fun to bake when it is 85 degrees in the house.

I typically try to find a couple of no-bake recipes to have on hand, when it is so hot. One of my favorites is Nanaimo Bars. I visited Nanaimo last summer and we had a great time. It’s a sleepy little town on Vancouver Island, BC. They had Nanaimo everything there: fudge, martinis, cake, cheesecake, anything you can think of. I like a traditional Nanaimo bar, but the filling lends itself to lots of variations.

I find that many Nanaimo bar recipes aren’t really Nanaimo bars. They have to have custard powder in the filling. Not pudding mix. They need to have three layers: a base, a custard powder filling of some sort, and a chocolate top. The base varies a little, and this one was different in that you do bake it for a few minutes. This filling started out as an eggnog filling, but that doesn’t work for August, so I just kept the rum! Scoring the bars just before the chocolate set was brilliant and the bars cut so much easier. These have a good rum flavor and the only downfall is that the chocolate melts a bit on your hands since the weather’s so warm.

Rum Nanaimo Bars
1⁄2 cup butter
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup cocoa powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
1⁄2 cup coconut
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1⁄2 cup butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons custard powder
2 cups powdered sugar
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons rum
2 tablespoons milk
1 tsp vanilla
3⁄4 cup chocolate chips
4 teaspoons coconut oil or shortening

Make the base: Line a 9” square pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.
Make the base: Preheat oven to 325. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Stir in the egg, coconut, and graham cracker crumbs. Spread the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the base is set. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
Make the filling: in a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, custard powder, and salt until light. Add the rum, milk, and vanilla and stir until the mixture is smooth. If the filling is too runny, add up to an additional ½ cup of powdered sugar. Spread the mixture over the base and refrigerate for one hour.
Make the chocolate topping: in a small microwaveable bowl, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until the mixture is smooth. Spread the chocolate evenly over the refrigerated bars.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then score the bars into sections. Scoring the bars just before the chocolate is fully set will make cutting easier. Refrigerate for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the chocolate is fully set.
Lift the bars from the pan and peel away the foil. Using the scored lines, cut into bars. Refrigerate leftovers.
Recipe from House & Home

Friday, August 12, 2016

Brownie Thumbprint Cookies

It seems like I am forever on the quest to find something new, something different, something that will catch my fancy this week. My husband loves chocolate chip cookies, so when I find a recipe that is chocolate chip themed, it usually ends up at the top of the list! I saw these cookies and knew they would be really interesting.

They use a chocolate brownie mix for the filling, which I suppose you could figure out how to make your own, but I just went with the mix. My mixture was a little dry, like it needed a little more butter, so it was tricky to shape into balls. I had way more filling than I needed, despite doubling the chocolate chip cookie recipe. The original recipe said that doubling the recipe would make it about even for cookie/filling, but that wasn’t the case for me. That’s ok!

These are a little tedious to make. The cookie dough is on the sticky side, and then my brownie filling was a little crumbly, but I got them together. This recipe made 4 dozen cookies, with lots of extra filling as I mentioned previously. I wasn’t sure how long to bake them, as they don’t really brown, and I didn’t want the brownie filling to be dry. 10 minutes worked the best, although once batch the cookies were slightly larger and needed a little more time. I suppose the chocolate drizzle isn’t necessary, but it fancies up the cookies. These have a good brownie flavor, and it’s good with the chocolate chip cookie.

Brownie Thumbprint Cookies
18.4 ounce chocolate brownie mix
3/4 cup butter, melted

¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the brownie mix and melted better and beat on medium until combined. Wrap the brownie filling in plastic wrap and set aside. Wipe out the bowl with a towel.

In the same bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium until light. Add the cream cheese and sugar and beat again on medium until combined. Stir in the vanilla. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the baking soda, flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Shape the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls and bake an indentation in each cookie with your thumb (or the end of a wooden spoon). Shape a small amount of the brownie filling into a ball and press into the indentation, pressing until the brownie filling is even with the cookie.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until the cookies are set. They won’t brown much, but will look set. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cookies are cool, make the drizzle. In a small bowl combine the chocolate chips and shortening. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring frequently, until smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate to a plastic bag and snip off the corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the cooled cookies. Allow the chocolate to set before serving.