Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Bars

Raw cookie dough: one of life’s little forbidden pleasures.  Boy I sure do remember waiting in anticipation every time my grandmother made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Just praying that she would leave a little extra in the bowl for me and then licking those beaters clean.  Of course that was back in the day before the powers that be declared raw eggs were not safe.  Instant buzz kill.  Thankfully food manufacturers found ways to make safe-to-eat cookie dough and created tempting treats like cookie dough ice cream.  Nice to get your cookie dough fix and not have to worry about a trip to the ER!

And then, there is this recipe.  I almost don’t know where to begin with this one.

These bars are like everything you love in life all rolled into one little square of heaven.  A dense, fudge-like brownie base topped with raw but eggless chocolate chip cookie dough, and topped with a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate glaze.  I have had friends refer to these as wicked..sinful…decadent.  Another friend called me “evil” for posting a photo of these  on his Facebook wall.

So apologies if I corrupt you with this sweet treat but as my beloved Julia Child said:

Everything in moderation….including moderation

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Bars

FOR BROWNIES:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon dark or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces (1 bar) dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR COOKIE DOUGH:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

FOR CHOCOLATE GLAZE:

  • 3 1/2 ounces (1 bar) dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang on two sides. To make the brownies, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler or a bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir until smooth, then remove from heat. Add brown sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture has cooled slightly. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Using a large rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into chocolate mixture until just incorporated. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the cookie dough, in a large mixing bowl beat together butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in milk and vanilla. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Gently spread dough onto cooled brownies, smoothing the top into an even layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the glaze.
For the glaze, gently melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir until smooth. Pour over cookie dough, carefully spreading into a thin, even layer. Return pan to refrigerator and chill until set, at least one hour or overnight.
To remove brownies from pan, grasp the edges of the parchment paper and lift out the entire block. Place on a cutting board and use a large sharp knife to cut into 1-inch squares. Refrigerated in an airtight container, brownies will keep for up to 3 days.
Yields: Approximately 32 little bites

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

In the words of Flip Wilson’s alter ego Geraldine: ” The devil made me do it!”

Honestly, I do not know what came over me yesterday.  It started at lunchtime when an innocent outing to grab a grilled chicken sandwich somehow turned into meal consisting of a hot dog and french fries.  What on earth was I thinking?  I eat hot dogs maybe twice a year at the most and ONLY at ball games.

But the hot dogs and fries were only the beginning of my high caloric odyssey.  Later in the afternoon while creating a short shopping list with my daughter (aka: my partner in crime), out of nowhere came the words “let’s make cupcakes today!”   Oh yes, and not any plain old ordinary cupcake mind you.   The next thing I knew my fingers were typing “BROWN EYED BAKER” on the keyboard.  And when the image of these cupcakes came up, I was doomed.  You’ll note when you visit her blog, the words “sweet*savory*sinful” under her title.  I know what category these fall under.

By the way, my partner in crime made the frosting and piped it on all on her own.  Excellent job my dear!

Today I’m throwing myself back on the healthy eating wagon and trying to forget that I still have some cupcakes left over in the fridge downstairs.  Because the recipe is perfect as is, I will direct you to Ms. Brown Eyed Baker’s site with the warning that if you start browsing her blog, you are likely to get sucked in like me.  Into the sinful sweet world.

Perhaps the phrase should be “The Brown Eyed Baker made me do it!”

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

S’Mores Cookie Bars

 

For some reason, I’m in a list-making mood today.  So here it goes…the top ten remarks about these S’mores Cookie Bars:

  1. Yes, I have been baking again and no, I haven’t lost my mind (yet). 
  2. I would like to thank my theatre friend, Karen Arnold for asking for a S’Mores cookie bar recipe on Facebook.  Her post prompted me to do a bit of online exploration, which eventually led me to this recipe on the Hershey® website.
  3. These are beyond easy to make and even better to eat!  See the one in the photo?  That was the lone survivor, and it disappeared moments after this photo was taken.
  4. Speaking of the photo, it’s a little different, isn’t it?  It also shows off my awesome King Arthur 8″ baking pan.
  5. Speaking of the baking pan, this one is fabulous!  I’ve learned the hard way over the years, that good-quality bakeware makes all the difference in the world.  This particular one is available on King Arthur Flour’s website for $16.95.  Buy it!
  6. Something else that makes all the difference: fresh ingredients, especially baking powder!  If you bake infrequently, like I do, it pays to always check the expiration date of your baking powder.  Again, a lesson learned the hard way.
  7. While we’re discussing ingredients, I need to confess that there is marshmallow fluff in this recipe.  I’m not exactly sure what is in marshmallow fluff other than corn syrup and a lot of air.  As my daughter would say “A substance not found in nature.”  Typically I don’t use ingredients like this, so if you could just keep this between the two of us, I would greatly appreciate it.
  8. You’re tired of reading this list, I can tell.  You want to bake and eat these NOW! Well, ok.  I get it.  I’ll stop short of ten points, so that we can get down to business here.  Happy baking!

S’mores Cookie Bars

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Bars
  • 1 cup marshmallow fluff
Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Press half of dough into prepared pan.

3. Arrange chocolate bars over dough, breaking as needed to fit. Spread with marshmallow fluff. Scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallow; carefully press to form a layer.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 16 bars.

Emmy’s Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

Before I begin to gush about this sinfully delicious dessert, I must first pay tribute to my dearly departed Cuisinart food processor, whose last heroic deed was to process the pie filling before it’s 30+ year old motor finally gave out.

The machine was passed down to me in the late 1980’s by by late mother-in-law, Jean.   Judging by the “Made in France” label on the bottom,  I am guessing the unit dates back to the mid-1970’s, making it one of the earliest models available.  As a friend of mine commented on Facebook “It looks like something the Brady’s had.” (reference to The Brady Bunch).  Indeed, it’s very likely they did!

Anyway, my Cuisinart was a true workhorse in the kitchen, processing countless batches of pesto and hummus, pureeing soups and kneading dough.  I rarely used it for slicing and dicing, though.  Still prefer to do that the old-fashioned way with my hands and my chef knife.   A few years ago, the plastic bowl developed a hairline crack, which meant it’s liquid processing days were over.  I was tempted at the time to replace it, but by then it was like an old friend. I was not ready to put it out to pasture quite yet.

Then yesterday, my daughter decided she wanted to make a peanut butter pie.  I brought up “Old Faithful” from the basement and we began to process the ingredients, but from the very beginning, the motor seem to labor and slow…and eventually, it just went out on us.  Sad indeed.

Our mourning period, however,  was rather short-lived.  After we tasted the pie, we were soon doing happy dances around the kitchen.   This recipe is going right to the top of  my “Awesome Desserts to Make” pile.  We used a store-bought Oreo® pie crust, but if you’re so inclined, feel free to make your own.  Garnishes can be fun and varied as well.  We opted for chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

Today’s task is to search for a replacement for Old Faithful

…and also resist the temptation to eat a slice of the pie for breakfast!

Emmy’s Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 1 purchased 6-ounce chocolate cookie pie crust
  • Optional garnishes: chocolate syrup, whipped cream, chopped peanuts

Blend powdered sugar, peanut butter, cream cheese and vanilla in processor until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of work bowl. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Beat cream in medium bowl to soft peaks. Fold cream into peanut butter mixture in 2 additions. Spoon peanut butter filling into crust and smooth top. Freeze pie until filling is firm, at least 3 hours. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and keep frozen. Let stand room temperature 20 minutes before serving.)

Old Faithful R.I.P

Heavenly Toffee Chocolate Bars

Heavenly Chocolate Toffee Bars
Wishing you a very merry Christmas and all the best for the holiday season from my kitchen!  I made my annual batch of these absolutely addictive treats the other evening to share with others…and to nibble on for myself.   As many of you know, I am not exactly God’s gift to bakers as evident by the lack of dessert recipes on my blog.  But this, I can make.  Heck, I can even make a trip to the corner convenience store and get the ingredients, in a pinch!

Some added fun: see if people guess the ingredients.  Then see the look of surprise on their faces when you tell them that the base ingredient are saltine crackers.   And you better have an extra copy of the recipe on hand because trust me, they will ask for it!

My kitchen will be kicking into full gear this afternoon, with preparations for Christmas Eve dinner and then Christmas Day festivities.   May your holidays be filled with good food, family and friends.

Heavenly Toffee Chocolate Bars

Saltine crackers (about two sleeves)

2 cups light brown sugar

2 cups butter

24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or other best-quality chocolate, chopped

1 cup chopped nuts such as pecans or walnuts (optional)

Additional butter for greasing pans

Preheat oven to 350°

Line two jelly roll pans (each about 10″x15″) with foil and liberally spread with butter (or alternatively line with non-stick foil)

Place crackers in a single layer, side by side until full.  Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat in a large, heavy saucepan.  Boil for three minutes, stirring constantly.  Carefully pour butter/sugar mixture over saltines, covering them as evenly as possible.

Bake in the oven for 7 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with chocolate.  Let stand for a minute or two then carefully spread the melting chocolate over the toffee layer.  Top with chopped nuts.

Refrigerate until solid (a few hours).  Then break or cut into squares.

Yields: a lot

Tip: These bars will keep for weeks in the fridge.  Just cover or store in a Tupperware container.

Apple and Cranberry Crisp with Ginger Pecan Topping

I should mention that I’ve been baking again.  Well, I suppose you can get that by looking at the photo.  My one and only other dessert post was a crumble so I thought I would really mix things up this time around and do a crisp!   Honestly, I haven’t a clue as to the difference between a crumble or a crisp.  All I know is that given my lack of baking skills, this is something I can generally handle.  No rolling of crusts or tempering of chocolate or intricate piping.

Go figure, my last name is “Baker.”

So what drove me to dust off my canisters of sugar and flour?  The fall gathering of my gourmet group night before last.   We dined on heavenly smoked steelhead and chicken liver crostini for appetizers, chicken corn chowder, grilled sausages, cornbread, salad.  Eventually some Sambuca came out as well as an interesting domestic tawny port.  And yes…we actually had room for this dessert!  What a delicious end to our festive occasion.

Recipe notes?  Well of course there are always recipe notes!  The first has to do with crystallized ginger, which is  a remarkable food product and unfortunately quite remarkably overpriced at my local supermarket.  Note to self:  order some online from Penzeys, at about half the price of what my store charged me.  I will also mention that I dialed back a bit on the ginger from the original recipe, so if you’re a devout lover of ginger, feel free to up the quantity a bit.

Apple processing time can be reduced significantly by purchasing large apples.  Of course I learned this the hard way by purchasing cute little itty bitty Granny Smith apples (my peeler got quite a workout).   I also recommend doubling this recipe and baking it in a buttered 9×13″-baking pan because you know, the more the merrier when it comes to apple crisp!

And last, but certainly not least is my recommendation to try countless variations of this recipe.  Substitute dried cherries for the cranberries.  Or walnuts for the pecans.  Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or a drizzle of heavy cream.   The topping alone is marvelous and would work well with just about any crisp recipe around.

Or a crumble recipe which…dang I still don’t get the difference!

Apple and Cranberry Crisp with Ginger Pecan Topping

Filling

  • 4 medium Granny Smith apples (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Topping

  • 1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • Vanilla ice cream

Preparation

For filling:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter four 1 1/4-cup custard cups or soufflé dishes. Mix all ingredients in bowl. Let stand until juicy, about 5 minutes. Divide filling among prepared cups. Bake until bubbling at edges, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare topping:
Blend first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips until coarse meal forms. Mix in pecans with fingertips.

Crumble topping over hot apples. Bake until topping is golden brown, apples are tender, and juices are bubbling thickly, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 4

Farmers Market Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Do I really want to start  an “I hate to bake” rant here on my blog?   Take a look at my postings and you will find precious few dessert recipes.  Ok , actually this may be the first one I have posted to date.  I suppose … “hate” is too strong a word.  Suffice to say I rarely bake because A) I am not gifted at it; B) My tastes tend to lean more toward savory than sweet and; C) My 50-year-old metabolism does not take kindly to large amounts of refined sugar and butter.

That said… while in Wisconsin over the weekend, I came across a generous bounty of end-of-the-season strawberries at the local farm.  Their sweet smell enticed me and on impulse I purchased an enormous box of them, knowing that this meant many baking projects in my near future.  But I didn’t care.  I was under their spell.  The fact that several bunches of fresh rhubarb next to them sealed the deal.

Making an actual pie was out of the question due to time constraints and the fact that the few times I have been reduced to tears in the kitchen always seem to occur while I am making a pie crust.   A “crumble” or “crisp,” now THAT I can do.  And this recipe seemed to fit my needs perfectly.  Simple and straight forward.  My sweet red berries and tart ruby stalks needed little adornment.  Just some sugar and a flavorful, crunchy oatmeal topping.  Served warm with french vanilla ice cream, and I’m suddenly re-thinking this whole baking thing.

Farmers Market Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

For Filling:

2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and halved (about 6 cups)

1 1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 4 1/2 cups)

1 to 1 1/4 cups sugar, depending on sweetness of strawberries

3 TBS cornstarch

1 TBS fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

For Topping:

1 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, slightly softened

Put rack in middle of oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

To make filling, gently stir all ingredients in a large bowl.  Spoon mixture into a 3-quart shallow baking dish.

To make the topping, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar and salt in a bowl.  Blend in butter with fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.

Crumble the topping evenly over the filling.  Bake until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden, 40 to 50 minutes.  Cool slightly on rack.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8 to 10