Friday, June 21, 2019

Almond Teacakes with Blueberry Filling

It’s the last regular week of the school year. Graduation is this week and soon many folks will either be gone for the summer or will be in the library working our limited summer schedule. It’s been a strange academic year, and I am looking forward to when things are a little more normal. I work in the summer, but not quite as much. I think summer will be great, as long as it isn’t too hot.

I pinned these cookies not that long ago, and I was really excited to make them. I wasn’t sure if blueberry jam would be easy to find or not, but the store had a few different varieties. I bought Bonne Maman, which is a French brand that I like a lot. I figured that we would have no issue eating any extra jam. The only other unusual ingredient is the almond flour. I looked at the store and it was really expensive, so I got some almond meal at Trader Joe’s. They must use whole almonds, as their meal isn’t as blanched. I figured it would work the same anyway.

These teacakes look fancy, but they are quite easy to make. The recipe has you shape the dough into balls, but you really don’t even need to do that. I placed them in the pan and made sure the cup was full and then pushed the dough down so it was set and then make the hole in the cookie. They baked up great, with a little dot of blueberry right in the center. My cookies look a little most rustic because of the almond meal I used, but they are still very good. The cookies are a little crumbly, but that is standard for this type of cookie.

Almond Teacakes with Blueberry Filling
2 cups flour
1 cup almond flour/meal
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

About ½ cup blueberry jam, room temperature, stirred
Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 24 mini muffin tin with baking cups.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder and salt until blended. Add the butter, vanilla and almond extract. Pulse until the mixture forms a soft dough. Shape the dough into balls, and then make an indentation in each ball with your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon. Place in the baking cup with the indentation facing up. Fill each cookie with a small amount of blueberry jam.

Bake for about 15, until the edges are lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar when cool.

Friday, June 14, 2019

No-bake Date Almond Bars

Our weather quickly got warm in the Seattle area. I don’t know when we typically bring out the air conditioner, but we had to put it into action this week. Hopefully we will only have a couple of days that are so hot, as I really prefer the fresh air that the fan brings in. It’s been so warm, so there was no other choice. We’re trying to get our kitties to understand that our bedroom is cooler, but I don’t think they are all convinced.

This is a no-bake bar, which they call a slice. Calling the recipe a slice immediately tells me that this is not an American recipe. I did some more research and this recipe is from an Australian blogger. That makes sense, as a have a “Biscuits and Slices” cookbook that is also from Australia. Occasionally international recipes have ingredients that are too hard to find, but that isn’t the case. Sweetened condensed milk is easy to find, you just don’t use the entire can. I used Digestive biscuits (which Americans would call cookies) as they are classic. You can use any plain sweet cookie that you can find. I suppose shortbread would even work, but that would make these bars very rich.

I have the ingredients here in metric weights, which is honestly what I use most frequently. It boils down to about 1 cup of almonds and ¾ cup of chopped dates. My husband seemed to be pleased that there was some of the biscuits left. The original recipe says that these take about 10 minutes to make, but don’t believe that! It takes some time to chop the almonds and the dates are so sticky. They are quick though, if you don’t count the time for refrigeration. I made mine a day in advance and then just cut them when I needed them. These bars are excellent, and surprisingly have a very strong chocolate flavor. Although these are a no-bake, I can’t recommend them enough.

No-bake Date Almond Bars
130 grams roasted almonds
100 grams pitted dates
250 grams plain sweet cookies/biscuits
220 grams sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup/honey
125 grams butter

250 grams chopped dark chocolate
2 tablespoons shortening

Line a 9” square pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Roughly chop the almonds and dates and add to a large mixer bowl. Finely crush the cookies and add to the mixer bowl. In a medium bowl combine the sweetened condensed milk, golden syrup, and the butter. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring frequently, until the mixture is smooth. Pour the sweetened condensed milk mixture into the large mixer bowl.
Mix on low until combined. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Refrigerate for one hour.
After an hour, make the topping: in a medium bowl combine the dark chocolate and shortening. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring frequently, until the mixture is smooth. Top the cooled bars with the chocolate and smooth the top. Allow the chocolate to set before cutting into bars.
Recipe from Bake, Play, Smile

Friday, June 7, 2019

Lemon Strawberry Blondies

It's been hard getting back into the swing of things, but I had been planning to make these bars for a long time. The original recipe calls for butter, but I used vegan butter (margarine) so that my friend who is dairy free could enjoy them also. You do have to be careful with strawberries as you don’t want them to be too ripe. I bought the strawberries just before I wanted to make the bars.

This recipe is a little smaller than I typically make, as it uses a 9” square pan rather than a 9” x 13” pan. I could have adjusted the recipe but I figured the 9” square would be sufficient. It’s nearing the end of the year and it’s pretty quiet at work. These bars are very cake like, so that’s just something that you must work with. The bars are soft, like a cake, and the strawberries add a little zing. I never know how big to cut the strawberries, and I think they could have been slightly smaller. I stored the bars in the refrigerator as they are so soft and the strawberries are wet. These bars have a great strawberry flavor and the lemon is subtle but noticeable.

Lemon Strawberry Blondies
1 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced fresh strawberries

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon strawberry puree
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” square baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until smooth. Add the egg and beat again on medium. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine. The mixture may look curdled, but it will smooth out.
Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix on low to combine. Add the diced strawberries and stir with a spatula until combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the bars are set along the edges. Allow the cookies to cool completely before icing.

Make the icing: puree the strawberries in a food processor and the strain to get the juice/puree. In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, strawberry puree and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spread the smooth glaze over the cooled bars. Allow the glaze to set before cutting into bars.