Friday, May 14, 2021

Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake Bars

Do you make cheesecake often? I think that cheesecake can be very challenging, and I have yet to make a cheesecake that didn’t have some sort of crack in the top. Some folks say that is completely normal, but I don’t see cracks in professionally made cheesecakes. I’ve tried so many things, water baths, etc. and nothing seems to help. I know many who make cheesecakes and that’s their thing. That isn’t the case for me.

The closest that I can successfully create is a cheesecake bar cookie, but I hadn’t made that in a while. There are less errors with a bar cookie, but the flavors are about the same. I came across this recipe and thought that lemon cheesecake combined with a berry topping would be great. The original recipe called for raspberry pie filling, but I had blackberry jam that my friend had made, so I chose to use that. I think any sort of berry topping, or even anything that works with lemon would be a good choice.

These bars take a little longer to bake than some cookies, but they are not nearly as involved as a cheesecake. They bake in two stages, but you can prepare the filling while the crust bakes. The swirl on top can be as simple as you want. I find that if you swirl in the jam/pie filling too much it becomes too uniform, and you don’t want that. The bars still jiggle in the middle when they come out of the oven, but the firm up as they cool. These bars are quite thick, and you could likely make them in a 9” pan for a slightly thinner bar. These are sweet, but have the tanginess of cheesecake mixed in, which is very nice.

Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake Bars
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup berry jam/pie filling

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8” square baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake for 8 minutes. Make the filling while the crust is baking.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese, lemon zest, sugar, sour cream, flour, and vanilla on medium until smooth. Add the eggs and beat again to combine. Spread the mixture over the partially baked crust.

Spoon the berry jam/pie filling over the cheesecake layer in small dollops, and then swirl with a knife to make a decorative pattern.

Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool before refrigerating. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting into bars.

Recipe from My Incredible Recipes

Friday, May 7, 2021

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

In choosing recipes, especially around this time of the year when the weather starts to get better, I sometimes find variations that have a lot of similarities. I had planned on making these cookies this week, and the only ingredient I needed was the zest of an orange. I picked that up one evening so I would be prepared. Later on, I realized that I had the ingredients for another cookie as well, a bar cookie that also used orange zest. What to do? I texted my husband and asked if he wanted cookies or bars. Obviously, cookies won the day.

Now, I don’t bake a lot with orange as my friend at work doesn’t care for the flavor. She even gives me her orange Dots, we are quite the pair! But I am still working remotely from home so I take this opportunity to bake items that might not be loved by everyone. I have no idea when we will again be working in person, but I sure do miss folks.

These cookies, while in actuality are a variation of a chocolate chip cookie, taste completely different. I love orange creamsicles, and I also loved the orange/vanilla ice cream cups you got as a kid, with the horrible wooden spoons! Do they still have those? This recipe uses white chocolate chips and a hearty helping of orange zest to mimic the orange creamsicle flavors, and they are fantastic! These are so good and I’m glad I made a half batch because I think my husband and I would eat them all!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2½ cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 cups white chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, baking soda, and salt. When the dough has almost come together, stir in the orange zest and white chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough by tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 8-11 minutes, until barely golden around the edges. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff

Friday, April 30, 2021

Peanut Butter, Honey, and Toffee Cookies

Peanut Butter, Honey, and Toffee Cookies

This week, I challenged by husband to find cookies for me to make this week. He accepted the challenge and found a couple of different recipes that sounded good. He, like me, tends to drift towards more hearty flavors. We had recently purchased some mead, and one of the recipes uses mead. I am looking forward to that recipe, but I didn’t want to make it this week since it is also a ginger/molasses cookie. Not really springy at all!

These cookies sounded like a combination I love- peanut butter and honey. I have used honey in cookie recipes before, and you do need to be careful to ensure that your cookies don’t burn. This recipe caught my interest as it suggested adding chocolate chips, or toffee, or other mix-ins to the cookies. Since I had toffee chips, I thought those would be nice. I have toffee chips that aren’t covered with chocolate, but the chocolate covered ones would work as well.

This recipe is quick and makes two dozen cookies. The cookies are sticky, and I was worried that they would spread as I typically refrigerate peanut butter cookies before baking. Thankfully, that wasn’t an issue with these cookies. When flattening the cookies, make sure you use plenty of flour or you will end up with a sticky mess! I did worry that adding toffee bits (which are sugar) to a cookie with honey might be too sweet, but the peanut butter balances the flavor. The toffee chips are not distinct but add a subtle crunch to these tasty cookies.

Peanut Butter, Honey, and Toffee Cookies

¼ cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup honey
1 egg
¾ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup toffee chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicon baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and honey on medium until light. Add the egg, peanut butter, and vanilla and mix on medium to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, salt, and baking soda. Once the dough comes together, fold in the toffee chips.

Drop the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten the cookies with a fork dipped in flour.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Chinook Honey Company

Friday, April 23, 2021

Rhubarb Cookies

Rhubarb Cookies

If there is any vegetable that is a harbinger of spring, it is rhubarb. It is tart and around here, I only see it in the stores for a short time. Some people love it, and others don’t, and I have started enjoying it more and more. I read a lot of British cooking magazines, and rhubarb is very popular in those publications. You do most often find it paired with strawberries, as their sweetness balances the tartness of rhubarb. I do like that pairing, but I do think that rhubarb can stand on its own.

This recipe uses only rhubarb, but you roast the rhubarb with sugar, which does mellow it considerably. You may think that it takes too much time, but it is what makes these cookies. My house smelled fantastic while the rhubarb was roasting, but then you do need to wait for it too cool before making the cookies. Depending on how thick you cut the rhubarb, the roasted rhubarb will be more or less chunky. I mashed mine a bit, as I didn’t want large pieces of rhubarb in these cookies.

Once you have roasted the rhubarb, the cookies come together quickly. These cookies have the benefit of using vegetable shortening rather than butter. These are dairy-free, as long as you don’t add milk to the icing. I baked the first batch a touch too long, so I reduced the time. They don’t change much while baking, so you may want to flatten the cookies slightly. The icing was super thick, which was why I ended up adding some milk to thin it. Any sort of non-dairy milk would also work. These cookies are lovely- soft, with just a bit of sweetness. I love the icing especially; it sets off the entire cookie!

Rhubarb Cookies

1 pound rhubarb
½ cup sugar

3/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup roasted rhubarb
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon rhubarb juice
Additional milk

Make the roasted rhubarb: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the rhubarb and place it into a 9”x 13” pan. Add ½ cup sugar and stir to combine. Cover the pan with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and mash the rhubarb slightly. Allow to cool. Separate the roasted rhubarb and the rhubarb juice, retaining both.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, mix the shortening and sugar on medium until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the roasted rhubarb and still on low to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir on low until the dough comes together.

Scoop the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten the cookies slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies are golden. Cool completely before icing.

Make the icing: in a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar and rhubarb juice. Add milk as needed, until the icing is the proper drizzling consistency. Drizzle the icing over the cooled cookies.

Recipe from Tikkido.com

Friday, April 16, 2021

Pistachio Shortbread Bars

Photo of Pistachio Bars with Blueberry Jam

I came across these bar cookies a little while ago, and they have been in my folder waiting for just the right time. The recipe talks about the red of the jam and the green of the pistachios is a perfect combination for Christmas. When I look at these cookies, all I can think of is spring! I wanted to save these for when the weather wasn’t so gloomy, and the time is right.

This is a recipe that can be varied in any way that you would like. If you don’t like pistachios, you could certainly use something different. I think that these would be especially good with almonds. For the jam they suggested raspberry or strawberry jam. At first, I was going to use blackberry jam, but I didn’t have enough so I ended up using blueberry jam. Yes, the taste is a little different, but it’s still very tasty. Just think of these as shortbread bars with jam and nuts.

I did change to blueberry jam, but otherwise I didn’t change anything. I love pistachios and I have to say how happy I am that I can buy them already shelled! The nuts that I used were already salted, so I did not add additional salt. These bars aren’t too sweet, which perhaps varies depending on the jam you use. I realized too late in the game that I was supposed to add the pistachios to the second half of the dough, but obviously I didn’t. They were still tasty, but the nuts weren’t as crunchy as they could have been. Maybe I will try mixing the nuts into the dough using a different combination of jam and nuts!

Pistachio Shortbread Bars
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt (if using unsalted nuts)
½ cup jam (raspberry, blueberry, etc.)
2/3 cup chopped pistachios

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9” square pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and egg on medium until combined. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour and salt (if using). Divide the dough into halves.

Press half of the dough into a thin layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the bars from the oven. Spread the jam in a thin layer on top of the partially baked bars, within ½” of the edges. Top with the chopped pistachios. Carefully shape the remaining dough into a layer on top of the jam, covering as much as possible.

Bake for an additional 35 minutes, until golden. Allow the bars to cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into bars.  

Recipe from Eazy Peazy Mealz

Friday, April 9, 2021

Almond Poppy Seed Cookies

Almond Poppy Seed Cookies

This time of year, it becomes a challenge to figure out what cookies to make. It’s starting to get nice, but it can be terribly cool in the evening. I guess that isn’t as bad as an Instagram video I saw this week from the UK where it was snowing! Yikes! I have nothing to complain about, I guess! I want to make items more fitting for spring, but then I am pulled in the other direction of baking with apples, pecans, and spices, since I love those flavors. It doesn’t help that we have some candied pecans that I can’t wait to put in a cookie.

Ok, so I searched through my recipes and they all lean heavily to peanut butter, oats, chocolate- not exactly perfect for spring. I suppose more people bake in the fall and during the winter holidays. I do have a couple recipes pinned that fit the bill, including these almond poppy seed cookies. I haven’t baked much with poppy seeds of late, so that’s a nice change. I love poppy seed muffins, so this is a way to get that flavor in a cookie.

These cookies don’t require much that is specialized. You top the cookies with sliced almonds, but you don’t need very many. I had part of a small bag left from another recipe and it was sufficient. Be careful with poppy seeds, as they tend to go rancid if they remain in your cupboard too long. I tell myself that I should store them in the refrigerator, but I never remember to do that. Several comments on the original recipe said that the cookies baked longer than the recipe stated, and that was my experience as well. Just keep checking if you are unsure if your oven is hot! It may be a challenge to wait until these cookies set to eat them, since they perfectly capture the lightness of spring, but I am sure that you’ll do your best.

Almond Poppy Seed Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons poppy seeds
2¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
    
1½ cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Sliced almonds

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

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until smooth. Add the egg and stir to combine. Stir in the almond extract, vanilla, and poppy seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cookies are cool, make the glaze: in a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract, vanilla, and milk. Glaze the tops of the cooled cookies and top with sliced almonds.

Recipe from Chef in Training

Friday, April 2, 2021

Ginger Cookie Cups

Ginger Cup Filled Cookie Cups

It seems like the weather is starting to get a little better here in the Seattle area, but I shouldn’t jinx it as we have some sunny days but just a few days ago it was very rainy and windy. I guess I will take whatever I get! It’s spring break and it does seem like the weather is cooperating. I doubt anyone has grand plans, but it is certainly nice to be hopeful for the future.

I came across this cookie cup recipe and if you follow this blog at all, you know that I love cookie cups! The original recipe is for lemon bar cookie cups, which does sound great as I am a big fan of lemon bars. I did want to mix it up a little bit, and I figured that I could use something other than lemon curd as the filling. There were some interesting options online, but in the end, I went to our local British shop and found ginger curd. I knew that would be perfect. Of course, lemon curd would also work and it’s a lot easier to find!

This recipe makes a big batch of small cookies. I halved the recipe and it still made two dozen cookies. I liked the ease of these cookies, where you par-bake them and then make and indentation and fill them. It was very easy to make an indentation when the cookies were warm! The ginger curd I used had bit of fresh ginger in it, so some of the cookie cups were very gingery. They are so perfect with the crisp buttery cookie and then soft ginger filling. They’re small and you can just pop one in your mouth. Perhaps I should have made more than 24 cookies?!

Ginger Cookie Cups
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup ginger curd
Powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray four 1 dozen mini muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar; set aside. In a larger mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and powdered sugar on medium until combined. Add the oil, egg, and vanilla and mix again to incorporate. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Place 1 tablespoon of dough into each prepared mini muffin cup.

Bake for 8 minutes.

Remove the cookie cups from the oven and with the end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie cup. Fill the indentations with a small amount of ginger curd.

Bake for 4-6 more minutes, until the edges of the cookie cups are lightly browned. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove the cookie cups from the pan and place on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Recipe from Barbara Bakes