Friday, July 3, 2015

No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

It continues to be extraordinarily hot in the Pacific Northwest, which makes baking a big challenge. It’s not so much trouble turning the oven on; it’s that I get too warm when I do anything. I have made a couple of different no-bake cookies. These are kind of pushing it to call them cookies, as they are more like a fudge or truffle or something. At any rate, they sounded good so I gave them a try.

I made the dough one day, and then they chilled in the refrigerator until the next day. I then topped them the next morning with the chocolate and let them refrigerate for a couple of hours. I don’t think I would have needed to chill them quite so much if the house temperature were closer to normal. 

I used a little less than 2 cups of chocolate chips for the topping, as I didn’t want the chocolate layer to be too thick. These bars are quite thick (the dough part) and I think that makes them a little hard to eat. They are quite rich so I cut them into fairly small squares; I could have gone even smaller I think. These are very tasty, and a nice treat with such hot weather.

No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips

Line a 8” or 9” square pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium until lights. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. With the mixer running on low, add the flour alternatively with the sweetened condensed milk. Add the mini chocolate chips and stir on low to combine.

Transfer the dough to the pan and spread it evenly. Use an offset spatula or your hands to ensure that the dough is even in the pan. Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours (or overnight).

To make the topping, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler. If microwaving, microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Spread the melted chocolate over the dough and smooth the chocolate with the back of a spoon. Return the pan to the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to set, at least 30 minutes.

Life the bars from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut the bars into small squares. Store the bars in the refrigerator.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Berry Bakewell Squares

The theme for this month’s What’s Baking challenge is baking with fruit. I actually had lots of ideas for this month, as baking with fruit is something that I do fairly often. The main challenge for me is baking when the house is so warm, but I was able to make this one morning before the house got too warm. 

This is a British recipe that I found in an advertisement for Lakeland, which is a cooking store in the UK. I really like Bakewell Tarts, which is a tart that has a layer of jam covered by an almond filling. I was hopeful that these would be bar cookie-like, but this is certainly more like a coffee cake. You can use whatever berries you have on hand. I had blueberries and cherries in the freezer and I used those. I didn’t even thaw the berries! You can use whatever fruit you happen to like, and it seems to work whether the fruit is fresh or frozen.

As this is a British recipe, this cake isn’t as sweet as most American cake recipes. I found the fruit to be fairly tart, too. I don’t think this resembled a Bakewell Tart, but it was still a nice coffee cake. It is a great way to use of different bits of fruit that you may have on hand. I had a lot of fun deciding which recipe to bake for this theme, and I’m looking forward to the next challenge.

Berry Bakewell Squares
250 grams/9 ounces butter
200 grams/7 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
200 grams/7 ounces self-rising flour*
50 grams/2 ounces ground almonds
½ teaspoon salt
275 grams/10 ounces berries of your choice
½ sliced almonds
Powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 355 degrees. Line a 9” square pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large saucepan, over medium low heat, melt the butter. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, and eggs and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Add the flour, ground almonds, and salt and stir until the batter comes together. The batter may be slightly lumpy. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 40 minutes, then cover the baking pan with foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. A thin knife inserted into the center comes out nearly clean.
Allow to cool in the baking pan for 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares to serve.
Recipe from Lakeland
*I make my own self-rising flour by combining 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt

Friday, June 26, 2015

Margarita Cookies

It’s really full bore summer here in the Seattle area. A lot of people think we are weather wimps because we complain about the heat, but we’re just so unaccustomed to very much heat. We’re supposed to have a multi-day streak of above 90 degree temperatures, which makes me not so much in the mood to bake. I tried to plan ahead and do some baking before the weather got too warm. I got a couple of things baked but one short of my plan. Oh well, I will figure it out.

I have had these cookies pinned for some time now, and I don’t know why I hadn’t made them before. It seems like when I read the recipe before it seemed complex, and it isn’t at all. This is a refrigerator cookie, just rolled in sanding (coarse) sugar, and glazed. Not too bad at all. I found they were convenient to make when the kitchen was warm as I could make the dough and then let it refrigerate, and then cut and baked them up. It seemed like I was in the kitchen for short spurts. I did wait to glaze them, and well, since it is 86 degrees in my house right now, I had to put them in the refrigerator to set.

These cookies are good without the glaze. If you want to skip the alcohol you can leave the glaze off, or leave the tequila out of the glaze and use milk or water. I would refrigerate the dough longer than an hour. I thought that the dough was too soft to cut after an hour. I cut mine and then had to reshape the cookies as cutting them made them a funny shape. With the glaze they do kind of taste like a margarita, which is one of my favorite drinks. Either with the glaze or without, these cookies are great for summer.

Margarita Cookies
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4-5 drops green food color
1 egg
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup sanding sugar

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon tequila 

In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium until light. Add the food color, egg, lime zest and orange extract and beat again on medium until combined. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Beat just until the flour is incorporated. 

Divide the dough into two halves. Shape the dough into a log, 9 inches long. Roll the log in sanding sugar. Wrap in waxed paper, securing the ends tightly. Repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

Cut the dough into ¼” slices and place on the baking sheets. 

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges and bottom of the cookies. Allow the cookies to set on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before glazing.

Make the glaze: in a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, water, and tequila. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. 

Recipe from Love From the Oven