Friday, September 23, 2016

Maple Blondies with Chocolate and Butterscotch Chips

Sorry that I missed last week! School has started and it’s been very busy. I had a summery treat planned as the weather was nice, but I think I am going to go full fall now. I love fall baking and I have quite a few recipes ready to go. This week, I was in a bit of a time crunch due to some other activities planned, so I picked these quick but wonderful maple blondies. 

I had the butterscotch and chocolate chunks already. I normally have maple syrup on hand, but in December when our refrigerator stopped working, I had to throw out a lot of things. This recipe originally called for grade B maple syrup, which is darker and richer, but I can’t find that very easily. I used grade A syrup, which is pretty easy to find. Whatever you do, don’t use fake maple/pancake syrup!

What struck me the most about these bars was that they came out of the oven perfectly even. Usually bar cookies are a bumpy and lumpy, but these were perfect. The maple flavor combined with the butterscotch is a wonderful homey flavor. I like these blondies with dark chocolate chunks because you really need something to balance the sweetness of the other elements. This are really lovely and the perfect cookie for fall.

Maple Blondies with Chocolate and Butterscotch Chips   
2⅓ cups flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup dark chocolate chunks
¾ cup butterscotch chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9” x 13” pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium until light. Add the maple syrup and beat again on medium until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for one minute after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

With the mixer running on low, add the flour mixture in thirds, mixing just until the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate and butterscotch chips with a spatula. Spread the dough evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden and a thin knife inserted in the bars comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Sweet Recipeas

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hazelnut Cream Cheese Brownies

I work in a library, but an academic library so while we offer lots of books to read, we don’t really have too many cookbooks. I read a lot, and I’ve discovered that e-books are great as I don’t have to carry around a lot of books. When I was browsing the public library’s site recently, I came across a couple of baking books that sounded interesting. I checked them out and I was able to save a couple of recipes.

This particular cookbook from Fat Witch Brownies has recipes, all for a 9” square pan. That usually isn’t quite enough for me to take to work, but we’re still on break and there aren’t too many people working in the library. It was the perfect opportunity to give these a try. These call for hazelnuts, which I love, but if you don’t have those you could use almonds or some other nuts. Make sure your hazelnuts are fresh, they can go stale or even get a little rancid.

This recipe has quite a few steps, so it makes a few extra dishes to clean. I swear I used like 4 spatulas. The original recipe called for finely chopped nuts in the filling and coarsely chopped nut in the brownie. My mini food chopper just does one thing, so I just used “chopped” nuts. When spreading the top layer of brownie batter on the bars, it doesn’t need to be neat and tidy. The batter is quite thick, but since you just swirl everything together, it works out fine in the end. These brownies are really fabulous, but I love hazelnuts so how could you go wrong?

Hazelnut Cream Cheese Brownies
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup chopped hazelnuts

½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
5 tablespoons butter
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9” square pan.

Make the filling: in a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium until smooth. Add the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix again on medium to combine. Stir in the hazelnuts. Refrigerate the mixture while you make the brownie batter.

Make the brownie batter: in a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. In a large mixer bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix on medium until combined. Add the cooled chocolate/butter mixture and mix on medium until incorporated. Add the flour and salt and stir on low just until combined. Stir in the hazelnuts.

Spread half of the brownie batter in the prepared pan. It will barely cover the bottom of the pan. Spread the chilled cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Carefully spread the remaining brownie batter on top of the cream cheese mixture. With a butter knife, swirl the layers together, creating a marbled effect.

Bake for 32-34 minutes, until a thin knife inserted into the brownies comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding

Friday, September 2, 2016

Magic Bar Cookies

I usually take my cookies to work on Friday, thus the name of this blog. This is the first week this summer that I decided I would not go in to work, just so I could have a bit of a break before classes start again in the fall. I decided that I would make some cookies for my husband to take to his group. We work at the same campus, in different departments, and they know I bring cookies all the time. I don’t want them to feel left out, so this was their week to have cookies.

I figured I would go with a nice, hearty cookie. These cookies are based on the magic seven layer bar cookies. I’m sure I’ve made those at some point, but it’s been ages. I love the mix of flavors in those bars: graham cracker, chocolate, butterscotch, coconut. My problem with the bar cookies, and any cookie really that uses sweetened condensed milk, is that they are SO sweet. I like sweet, and if they are too sweet for me, they are really, really sweet. These don’t use sweetened condensed milk, so while they are sweet, they aren’t too sweet.

I had everything ready for these cookies, the oven ready, and then read the “refrigerate for 2 hours” part of the recipe. I really need to do better about reading recipes all the way through. Thankfully, we replaced our refrigerator in the past year and my refrigerator actually has room for baking sheets! This recipe made 3 dozen, so I did 2 dozen cookie on the baking sheets and then shaped the remaining dozen and put them on a dinner plate. I suppose you could just chill the dough and then shape it, but I think this worked very well and it was convenient to just stick the trays in the oven once the cookies were sufficiently chilled. I loved the flavors in these, and I got a lot of thanks from my husband’s work group. They really appreciated getting cookies!

Magic Bar Cookies
¾ cup shredded coconut
¾ cup butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped graham crackers
1 cup chocolate chips
¾ cup butterscotch chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until lightly brown. Set aside. Turn off the oven.
In a large mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light. Add the egg and vanilla and stir on medium to combine. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, add half of the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated into the dough. Add the other half of the flour mixture, again mixing on low just until the flour is incorporated into the dough. Stir in the chopped graham crackers, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and toasted coconut with a spatula.

Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Scoop the dough onto the baking sheets, using about 1-1/4 tablespoons per cookie. Refrigerate the cookies for 2 hours, or freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes, until lightly browned along the edges. The cookies may look slightly under baked, but they will set as they cool. Cool on the baking sheets for 6-8 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Yellow Bliss Road