Baked Goodies


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Magic cookie bars are a childhood favorite I’ve never outgrown. Today, I’m sharing them with a fall twist–fresh bits of apple and tart, chewy Craisins.

KATTY’S MAGIC COOKIE BARS

¼ cup butter, melted
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped dark chocolate (I used Valrhona Guanaja 70%)
¼ cup chopped Valrhona Dulceys (32% blond chocolate)
about ¾ cup flaked coconut—enough to make a generous coconut “snow” layer over the graham crumbs and butter
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup Craisins
1 small apple, diced (about 3/4 cup)–I couldn’t find my usual Macouns so I used a Smitten™ and really liked it
a bit more than ½  of a 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (SCM)
1 tablespoon bourbon to mix into the SCM (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract to mix into the SCM
sprinkle of cinnamon for the top of the pan (optional)

Butter an 8 x 8″ baking dish. Melt butter, combine with graham cracker crumbs and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cover this layer completely with coconut, then nuts, chocolate(s), Craisins and apples. Sprinkle a bit more cinnamon over the top of the apples if you like. Stir 1 tablespoon of bourbon and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract into SCM, then pour evenly over the pan.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees F . Run a knife around the outside of the pan while still warm. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Happy fall and happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your time with the ones you love and the ones who love you most.

Hope and Balashi

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I saw a recipe for oatmeal cookies with peanut butter and pretzels and had to give it a try my own way. Based on Nanny’s recipe, as hers is my tried and true favorite, here’s this kat’s peanut buttery and crunchy spin on oatmeal cookies.

PEANUT BUTTER PRETZEL OATMEAL COOKIES WITH CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup peanut butter (I like Skippy creamy)
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups quick oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped (Valrhona in my house)
1/2 cup broken pretzel pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream peanut butter and butter till light and fluffy. Add sugars, egg, water and vanilla and beat together until creamy.

Sift together flour, salt and soda. Add to creamed mixture, blend well. Add oats and mix. Then add pretzels and chocolate and mix.

Original recipe calls for dropping by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. I used my trusty Zeroll Universal EZ Disher scoop (#60, pink). I love and highly recommend this scoop for perfect portioning!

Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees F. In my house, 13.5 minutes is the magic number, but could be anywhere from 12-15 minutes at yours. Letting the cookies rest on the baking sheet a few minutes makes it easier to move them from sheet to rack.

Nanny, as always, I wish you were here to bake with me. And I hope, in some way, it makes you smile out there in the universe to know your traditions live on–not just through me, but through every new person who tries your recipes. Love you always.

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Nanny, Poppy and baby Jane (c. 1936)

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In a wondrous act of both Yankee thrift and ingenuity, I managed to get three pumpkin recipes from a single 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree:
last week’s pumpkin apple bread
last night’s pumpkin spice caramel budino
and now, these delightful pumpkin harvest CCCs.

Using my usual CCC recipe, I added fall spices and the last bit (1/3 cup) of puree. Oh, and pecans, because they taste like fall. Of course, I threw Maker’s Mark in there, too. It seemed wrong not to.

These cookies are soft and pillowy with the addition of pumpkin–and the spices lend a tasty twist to the classic, all-American cookie. Hope you love them. We did!

PUMPKIN HARVEST CCCs

1 stick butter (salted), softened
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon Maker’s Mark
½ cup dark chocolate Valrhona feves
½ cup pecans, chopped

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg, pumpkin puree, bourbon and vanilla; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda, salt and spices into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients in three passes. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chunks and pecans.

Chill dough for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. I used an ice cream scoop to make big beauties. Space them 2 inches apart.

Bake for 11-14 minutes (14 in my oven, so that’s 7 minutes up and 7 minutes down). Turn the sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through.

Remove the sheets from the oven to cool a few minutes before moving the cookies to a cooling rack. Makes 22 cookies, but who’s counting?

cookie monster cookies

I hate to speak for the Cookie Monster, but since we share a birthday … I think he’d say these pumpkin harvest CCCs are AHM NOM NOM NOM!!!

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Rainy Sundays are perfect for baking and yesterday was no exception. I’m hopping on the pumpkin spice train–ALL ABOARD FOR DELICIOUSNESS, WOO-WOOOO! What could be better than the fabulous fall flavors of pumpkin, apple and pecans baked into tasty little mini-loaves?

PUMPKIN APPLE BREAD WITH PECAN STREUSEL TOPPING

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick), softened
1/4 cup oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup apples, diced (I’m a Macoun girl, they’re perfect in baked goods and as a snack!)
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pecan streusel topping
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter
¼ cup chopped pecans
Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl; cut in butter with a knife–or fork together. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease four mini-loaf pans.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Beat oil, butter and sugar.

Add eggs and pumpkin. Beat well. Add sour cream, vanilla and bourbon. Beat some more. 🙂 Gradually add dry ingredients in three or four additions. Combine well. Fold in apples.

Spoon batter into mini-loaf pans. Top with streusel. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes (in my oven, anyway) or till toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy the taste of fall–share it with a friend!

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The beauty of a tried and true recipe is how easily you can change it up. If you love the buttery, chewy deliciousness of a blondie and you’re a peanut butter fan, you’ve gotta try these. You could easily add chocolate chips if you like, but I thought I’d make these a little different and add my favorite chocolate lovers’ frosting.

PEANUT BUTTER BOURBON BROWNIES with CHOCOLATE LOVERS’ FROSTING
adapted from Mark Bittman’s original recipe for blondies

1 stick salted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup peanut butter (I like Skippy creamy)
1 large egg
2 tablespooons bourbon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup + 1 1/2 teaspoons flour (the extra amount is to compensate for the Maker’s Mark)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 8″ baking dish. Combine melted butter with brown sugar till smooth. Beat in peanut butter, then egg, bourbon and vanilla.

Combine salt, soda, baking powder and flour. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir in chopped chocolate.

Pour into baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely, then frost with chocolate lovers’ frosting.

CHOCOLATE LOVERS’ FROSTING (half batch for 8×8″ treats)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) salted butter, softened
2  tablespoons milk (or sour cream, if you have it handy)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (by now, you know my heart belongs to Valrhona)

Beat together butter, milk (or sour cream) and vanilla, then gradually add cocoa and sugar. Frost blondies and enjoy the two great tastes that taste great together!

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A dough you simply spread in a skillet rather than scoop as individual cookies sounds like the right recipe for right now. You see, I’m getting around on one foot for the next month as I recover from surgery. Not to worry–soon, I’ll be back in action without the pain of plantar fasciitis to slow me down.

In the meantime, it’s amazing how much you can accomplish at your kitchen table–measuring, whisking, chopping–with some brief hops into the kitchen to gather ingredients. Oh, and your mom to run the mixer and put the skillet in the oven. Thanks, Ma!

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The dough is spatula-licking good. My shared birthday buddy, Cookie Monster, concurs!

Cookie Monster licking spoon

So let’s get on with the recipe already!

CINNAMON-CHOCOLATE CHUNK SKILLET COOKIE
adapted from Epicurious

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup dark chocolate in chunks (my weapon of choice is Valrhona Guanaja 70% feves)

The original recipe calls for a 12″ cast iron skillet. We have a 10″ skillet, so it’s just an adjustment in baking time I’ll share when it’s time to put this in the oven.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter skillet and set aside.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda and Kosher salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together two large eggs and vanilla extract.

In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg/vanilla mixture and beat, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, till mixture is pale and fluffy–again, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add dry ingredients. Beat just till combined. Fold in chocolate chunks with a spatula.

Spread dough evenly in skillet. This is a handy job for an offset spatula. Bake till cookie is golden brown around the edges and center is still soft.

For a 12-inch skillet, bake for about 20-25 minutes.
For a 10-inch skillet, it’s more like 25-30 minutes. Take a peek at the 25 minute mark, but it may take even a couple more minutes than 30, depending on your oven.
It’s OK that the center remains soft–when the cookie cools, it will be perfect.

Let cookie cool completely before slicing into wedges and serving. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

carrot cake cookies

As a carrot cake lover, I was intrigued when I started seeing carrot cake cookies. Not a fan? It might help to think of these cookies as a convenient delivery system for my very best and favorite frosting: bourbon salted caramel. I halved a recipe from Land o’Lakes and adapted ever so slightly, adding coconut and my own frosting. I’d rather bake, share and enjoy a small batch than drown in cookies. Though, if I had a choice, drowning in these cookies wouldn’t be so bad. At all.

CARROT CAKE COOKIES WITH BOURBON SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING

1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup coconut
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup carrots, shredded (you’ll need about 2 medium carrots to shred 1 cup)
½ cup pecans, finely chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In your mixing bowl, combine butter and sugars. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat till well incorporated. Sift (or whisk) together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well combined. Stir in carrots, coconut and pecans.

I used my Zeroll #60 (pink) scoop to portion the dough. Barring a scoop, drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. I baked mine 6 minutes on the upper rack of the oven, then swapped front to back and top to bottom for another 6 minutes, for a total of 12. I found the cookies easiest to move to the cookie rack after letting them sit a minute or so after taking them out of the oven. As the cookies cool, let’s make the frosting.

BOURBON SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING

First, make the salted caramel. In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, whisk together:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
good pinch of salt

Continue to whisk till sugar dissolves, then cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, get the rest of the frosting together.

3 oz. cream cheese (I got away with Neufchâtel, so can you), softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Cream together butter, cream cheese, bourbon and vanilla. Gradually blend in powdered sugar. Then blend in salted caramel. This makes plenty of frosting, so you can frost generously and should still have some extra frosting to enjoy on a spoon or your fingers!

Enjoy with a cuppa tea, a glass of milk and/or a good friend.

carrot cake cookies and a cuppa

 

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