Browsing Tag


Coconut Caramel Blondies

February 15, 2012

Happy ‘Day After Valentine’s Day,’ everyone! How did you spend yesterday? Joe and I aren’t much for fighting the crowds of people on February 14th. Instead, we opted to take Nutmeg on a walk when we got home, make dinner together (salmon, asparagus, garlic rye toast) and watch The Biggest Loser. Pretty great night if you ask me!

Now moving on to matters related to blondies…

Working for a publishing company, magazines, bookazines and cookbooks are never in short supply. All the new publications land on our administrative assistant’s desk, which I frequently scan. A couple weeks ago, I found a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication called ‘Our Best Desserts’. If you can get your hands on a copy, I highly suggest doing so.

And as usual, the recipe I made first was dependent on the ingredients I had on hand. But since I was short on pecans, I swapped them for slivered almonds. And since ice cream was lurking in our freezer, it got tossed into the mix, too. I’ve yet to find a dessert that doesn’t taste better with ice cream.

I served these blondies when Joe’s parents were visiting a couple weeks ago, and they were a huge hit. Although you can’t see from the photos, there are marshmallows stirred into the batter for extra chew, and the coconut, butter, brown sugar, and almond mixture you press into the pan before the batter makes for a caramelized, chewy crust underneath the actual blondies.

Oh, and did I mention that these bars actually taste better as the days go by? Well, they do. I was able to slip a bar into Joe’s lunch for about a week without feeling like the flavor or texture suffered. Which is a major win in my book.

Coconut Caramel Blondies
Adapted from Our Best Desserts bookazine

*1/3 cup butter, softened
*1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
*3/4 cup slivered almonds
*2/3 cup packed brown sugar
*1/2 cup butter, softened
*1 cup packed brown sugar
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*3 large eggs
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1/2 cup tiny marshmallows
*Vanilla ice cream (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the 1/3 cup butter over medium high heat until melted. Stir in the coconut, almonds and 2/3 cup brown sugar. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, beat the 1/2 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined. Beat in flour until combined. Stir in the marshmallows until they are completely coated with the batter. Carefully spread mixture over the coconut layer.
*Bake about 25 to 28 minutes or until top is evenly brown. Center may jiggle slightly when gently shaken. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. If desired, serve with ice cream.

Happy Baking!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

September 22, 2011

We might as well christen this pumpkin week over in the Espresso and Cream kitchen. In addition to eating it non-stop in Healthy Pumpkin Butter form, I’ve also been baking with canned pumpkin.

Joey grew up with a mom who frequently had a pan of bars in some shape and form sitting around the house for hungry boys to eat. And every now and again, I like to recreate this in our home, too. Last month it was Banana Sheet Cake and this month’s version is Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Of course, anything with cream cheese frosting is a hit in my book, but these bars are especially tasty and moist thanks to the canned pumpkin. As the days went by, the bars actually started to taste better, similar to the banana bread phenomenon. I would say that if you’re thinking of making them to bring somewhere, a day or two ahead of time would yield fantastic results.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted slightly from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Cake Batter
*4 eggs
*1 2/3 cups sugar
*1 cup vegetable oil
*1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
*1 cup all-purpose flour
*1 cup whole wheat flour
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon baking soda

*8 ounce cream cheese, softened
*1/2 cup butter, softened
*2 cups sifted powdered sugar
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
*In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin puree. Beat on medium heat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
*In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients for the cake batter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until just combined. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely.
*Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Beat until smooth. Spread atop the bars and cut into squares.

Happy Baking!


Fluffer-Nutter Bars

March 10, 2011

It has come to my knowledge that there is something called a fluffernutter sandwich. I had heard of such a sandwich before, but was never quite sure if it really existed or if it was just an urban myth. Most certainly no such sandwich was part of my childhood, but then again, I didn’t eat my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich until I was in 7th grade. I was a strange kid.

So to satisfy my curiosity, I got to digging around on the internet. And, of course, Wikipedia came to the rescue with this answer:

“A fluffernutter sandwich is a sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow creme. It’s name comes from the popular Marshmallow Fluff brand of marshmallow creme. It is particularly popular in the Northeastern United States and has been proposed as the state sandwich of Massachusetts.”

Who knew? Personally, marshmallow creme was a phenomenon I knew very little about first-hand. And although I love peanut butter, this sandwich sounded a lot more like a dessert to me than a viable lunch or dinner option.

Fluffernutter sandwiches may have zero appeal to me, but rolling all that sweet goodness into one gooey, caramel bar sounded like a very good idea. I based the bars off a recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars from the most recent issue of Bon Appétit. The base is very similar to a blondie. A blondie that is filled with a marshmallow center, which is surprisingly delicious. I might go so far to say that these are one of the best desserts on the entire site. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Fluffer-Nutter Bars
Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2011, Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

*1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
*3/4 cup packed brown sugar
*1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
*2 large eggs
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*1 cup mini marshmallows
*1/4 cup chopped walnuts

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
*In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Set aside. In a second bowl, beat together the peanut butter, brown sugar and butter until well-combined. Whisk in the eggs, one by one, followed by the kosher salt.
*Reserve 1/2 cup of the dough. Transfer the remaining dough to the lined baking pan and press into the bottom of the pan and 1-inch up the sides. Sprinkle the marshmallows atop the dough in pan, spreading in an even layer.
*With reserved 1/2 cup of dough, stir in the walnuts. With your fingers, drop the dough mixture atop the marshmallow layer in grape-sized pieces. (This doesn’t have to be a completely even layer. You should still be able to see some of the marshmallows.)
*Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown and marshmallows are puffed. The bars may not seem done because of the marshmallow layer, but that is no cause to worry.
*Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into bars. Makes 9 Bars

Happy Baking!


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