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Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars

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Well, as you can tell from the picture, I made these at Christmas. They were part of the 12 Days of Christmas Goodies, of 2009. And somehow, I never got around to posting this recipe. Which is a shame, because they’re really yummy.

These were super easy to throw together, and the combination of cream cheese, oatmeal and butterscotch is so warm and cozy and comforting. But you certainly don’t have to wait until Christmas to make them. I think they’d be a hit any time of the year 🙂

Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars
adapted from Anne Burrell

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pea-sized pieces, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (11-ounce) bag butterscotch chips
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drape a 9 by 13-inch pan with overlapping pieces of aluminum foil, creating handles for easy removal. Butter the paper, and reserve.

In a food processor add the flour, oats and brown sugar and pulse to combine. Add the 2 sticks of butter, the cinnamon and the butterscotch chips. Pulse, pulse, pulse until the mixture forms clumps when pressed between your fingers. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer, reserve the other half. Bake in the preheated oven just until slightly golden and set, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Beat together the cream cheese, condensed milk, lemon zest and juice and vanilla in an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle, or with an electric hand mixer until no lumps of cream cheese remain. Spread evenly over the baked and cooled oatmeal mixture. Sprinkle the remaining half of the oatmeal mixture over the cream cheese. Bake until the top is golden, about 40 minutes.

Cool and chill before cutting. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and using the foil handles, transfer the bars to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares with a sharp knife and serve.

Cook’s Note: For a delicious and healthy variation of this recipe, try replacing the butterscotch chips with tasty dried cranberries.

Grasshopper Squares

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I love chocolate and mint together. LOVE THEM! So I’m always on the look-out for a good recipe that combines the two.

This certainly fit the bill! Just a few notes for you though. The brownie is pretty thin. I baked mine a little too long, so it was a bit crispier than I would have liked. I would recommend checking it about 15 minutes in.

And y’all. Please use good white chocolate. Since this is a white chocolate ganche, so basically just white chocolate and cream, the flavor is really important. Yes, I got mine at William Sonoma and spent way too much. Whatever, it tasted good. You could also check at somewhere like World Market. Just make sure it actually says “white chocolate” on the package. Nothing else. Just that phrase. I beg of you.

And the final note. The ganache is pretty sticky. Which is fine if you don’t have to transport it. But if you need to stack these at all, cut the cream by up to half.  No more than that. And if you’re just going to serve them at home, and don’t need to take them to the office, like I did, the recipe as-is should be fine.

Grasshopper Squares [aka Creme de Menthe Brownies]

Adapted from Gourmet, December 2005 and smittenkitchen.com

Makes anywhere from 72 normal-sized brownies to 117 one-inch squares (I think the perfect size)

For brownie layer

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter

10 1/2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not extra-bitter or unsweetened and no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

For mint ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream (this will make a stickier ganache…you can use half of this, for more of an “al dente” bite to it)

10 oz fine-quality white chocolate, chopped (please please please use the good stuff. It’s worth the splurge)

1 tablespoon green crème de menthe

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For chocolate ganache

1 cup heavy cream (see note for mint ganache)

10 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped

Make brownie layer:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil.

Melt butter and chocolate with brown sugar in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in eggs and vanilla until combined. Whisk in flour, cocoa, and salt until just combined.

Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake until set and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs adhering, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make mint ganache:

Bring cream to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over white chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Stir in crème de menthe and extract and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 1 hour.

Make chocolate ganache:

Bring cream to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over bittersweet chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes.

Assemble layers:

Spread mint ganache over top of cooled brownie in a thin even layer using offset spatula, then chill until firm but still slightly sticky, about 30 minutes.

Spread chocolate ganache over mint and chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang. Run a heavy knife under hot water and wipe dry, then trim edges of dessert (1/4 inch off each side). Cut dessert into squares and peel from foil.

Cranberry Bliss Bars

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Can you tell I’m posting things that I made MONTHS ago? This was actually a treat from the 12 Days of Christmas Goodies. But they were so yummy, that you should make them year-round!

These are somewhat a copy-cat recipe of Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars, which are a seasonal treat there. I think I like these better though! I actually increased the cream cheese from the recipe I had (I thought the original was a tad too sweet), and I didn’t do the powdered sugar and milk drizzle. I just didn’t think it needed it.

These are a really yummy treat! I highly recommend them 🙂

Cranberry Bliss Bars
adapted sligthly from recipezaar and Good Things Catered

Ingredients:
for cookie
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange extract
1 tsp ground ginger (I would say this is optional. I like the ginger flavor, but I know not everybody does)
1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. diced dried cranberries
3/4 c. white chocolate chunks

for frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 c. powdered sugar
4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c. diced dried cranberries

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare (well grease) 9×13 baking pan.
-In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy and light in color, about 2 minutes.
-Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt; beat well.
-Gradually mix in flour just until combined.
-Remove bowl from mixer and fold in cranberries and white chocolate.
-Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
-Place in oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake is barely light brown on the edges.
-Remove from oven and let cool.
-Meanwhile make the frosting.
-In stand mixer bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla and beat on low until smooth.
-When the cake has cooled invert onto cutting board and spread frosting over top, evenly.
-Sprinkle top with diced cranberries.
-Place cake on cutting board into the fridge to set, at least 1 hour.-Remove cake from fridge and, using a long knife, carefully slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle.
-Slice the cake across the width three times making a total of eight rectangular slices.
-Slice each of those rectangles diagonally creating 16 triangular slices.
-Or, really, just slice ’em in squares. The triangle will make it look like Starbucks. But I didn’t care when I sliced mine 🙂
-Serve immediately or place into the fridge to keep for later.

The best pumpkin muffins EVAH

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Ahhhhh, it’s fall. That means, it’s time to start baking with copious amounts of brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin, nutmeg, apples, and cloves. There is nothing like the smell of your house when you’re doing fall baking.

So this week I decided to try a new pumpkin muffin recipe.

Aren’t they pretty? And it was a really simple recipe. Just basic ingredients that I alread had in my pantry resulted in a yummy, tender, moist muffin.

But wait. What is that poking out of that muffin on the right? Is it…? Can it be…?

Why yes, it’s a cream cheese filling. And I have to tell you, the method for doing this cream cheese filling is brilliant. You mix the cream cheese with the powdered sugar, roll it into a log in plastic wrap, and freeze it. Then, when it’s time to fill, slice the log into 24 pieces (or 12 if you half the recipe, of course). Fill the muffin tin about halfway with batter, press in a cream cheese “nugget,” then put more batter on top. No trying to cut cones into cooked muffins and discarding any of the yummy goodness. Quick, easy, and perfect results.

See for yourself.

So there you have it. Simple, cream cheese filled pumpkin muffins.  Make them. You won’t regret it! I promise!


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

(adapted from Annie’s Eats)
Yield: 24 muffins (but it’s very easily half-able!)


Ingredients:

For the muffins:

3 cups flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 tbsp. and 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (the original recipe called for nutmeg, but I was out, so I upped the pumpkin pie spice–this reflects that)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

4 eggs

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree


For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar


For the streusel topping:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup and 1 tsp. flour

4 tbsp. butter, cubed

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon


For the paper liners:

If you like the more “rustic” look of the muffins pictured, just cut 5-inch squares of parchment paper. Spray the muffin tin with vegetable oil, and then press the parchment paper in, tightly pressing the paper against the edges so it lays flat.

Directions:

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth.  Form into a log on plastic wrap, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan.  Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours.


To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Mix well and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree.  Mix until well combined.  Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.


To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks (or your hands!) until crumbly.


Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line two muffin pans with paper liners.  To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter.

Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 24 equal slices.  Place a slice in each muffin well.  Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese.  Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool completely before serving.


Biscotti

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Remember a long time ago when I was doing the 12 Days of Christmas Goodies? And then I just kind of dropped off the face of the earth?

Well, I have some confessions. First of all, I only did 10 days. One day I cheated and brought in bagels. And on the last day I decided getting to the airport in time to fly home for Christmas was more important. My co-workers may have disagreed but they’re too afraid to say anything because then I might NEVER BRING THEM COOKIES AGAIN.

Did you hear that? That was my co-workers crying at the mere prospect of that. They’re a sad bunch.

But one of those days, when i was fulfilling my role as the office goodie maker, I brought in biscotti. Not one kind. But two. And they were yummy, if I do say so myself.

The first kind I made was a pistachio cranberry biscotti with a white chocolate drizzle. I love using cranberry in my baking, especially Christmas baking. Cranberry cookies. Cranberry breads. They’re all just yummy.

The second kind I made was a brownie walnut biscotti. A little sweeter than the cranberry one, but not brownie sweet. I like my biscotti being a little more biscuit than cookie. It’s how I roll.

And you can always dip half of your biscotti in chocolate. I know a lot of people do that. I don’t, because I like to have some chocolate in every bite. Who cares if you get a little chocolate on your fingers. Man up. Geez.

I’m kind of cranky today. Maybe it’s because I’m looking at these pictures of biscotti, but have none to eat myself.

It’s a sad world I live in my friends. A sad world.

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Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 12 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Put the chocolate into a freezer bag, snip off one corner, and drizzle over the biscotti. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.

The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.

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Brownie Biscotti
Adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

12 oz. good quality white chocolate, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended. Dough will be stiff, so mix in the last bit by hand. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Divide dough into two equal parts. Shape into 9x2x1 inch loaves. Place onto baking sheet 4 inches apart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm. Cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Using a serrated knife, slice the loaves diagonally into 1 inch slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet, placing them on their sides. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes on each side, or until dry.

Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Put the chocolate into a freezer bag, snip off one corner, and drizzle over the biscotti. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes. Store in an airtight container.