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The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 2: Brownies

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The High Plains Sifter

Part 2: Brownies and Bars

Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude

by Chris Reynolds

Photography by Chris Reynolds

Copyright 2015 by the author of this book Chris Reynolds. The book author retains sole copyright to his contributions to this book.

Recipe Developer: Chris Reynolds

Writer: Chris Reynolds

Graphic Design: Chris Reynolds

Food Stylist: Chris Reynolds

Photographer: Chris Reynolds

Chris Reynolds is a graduate of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Ireland and owner of Waiting For Gateau, a full-service culinary studio, specializing in high-altitude recipe development and testing; food styling and food photography.

1000 3rd Ave

Longmont, CO 80501

[email protected]

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,

“said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully, “It’s the same thing,” he said.

- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Contents:

 

Brownies & Bars:

High-Altitude Baking Notes for Bar Cookies and Brownies

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Turtle Bars

Pecan Bars

Walnut Bars

Raspberry Bars

Magic Bars

Magic Apple Bars

Lemon Shortbread Bars

Key Lime Bars

Oatmeal Caramel Bars

Rainforest Crunch Bars

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Peanut Butter and Jam Bars

Caramel Apple Bars

Caramel Apple Walnut Bars

Raspberry Chocolate Bars

Cherry Chocolate Bars

Chocolate Chip Whiskey Bars

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Peach Crumb Bars

Plum Crumb Bars

Tropical Cranberry Bars

White Chocolate Tropical Cranberry Bars

Bakewell Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Nutty Bars

Cookies and Cream Bars

Silky Pear Clafouti Bars

Salty Pretzel Caramel Bars

Persian Nut Bars

S’mores Bars

Samoa Bars

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars

Candy Bar Cheesecake Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars

Toffee Cheesecake Bars

Double-Chocolate Toffee Cheesecake Bars

Triple-Chocolate Toffee Cheesecake Bars

Cranberry Streusel Cheesecake Bars

Cran-Apple Walnut Bars

Carrot Cake Cheesecake Bars

No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

No-Bake Coconut Peanut Bars

No-Bake Rocky Road Bars

Crispy Rice Treats

Crispy Rice Toffee Treats

Chai-Spiced Crispy Rice Treats

Loaded Crispy Rice Treats

Salty Cashew and Caramel Crispy Rice Treats

Almond Joy Crispy Rice Treats

White Chocolate Macadamia Crispy Rice Treats

Chocolate Cherry Crispy Rice Treats

Cinnamon Roll Crispy Rice Treats

Cake Batter Crispy Rice Treats

Cookies and Cream Crispy Rice Treats

Festive Crispy Rice ‘Cake’

Triple Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats

Mocha Almond Crispy Rice Treats

Pumpkin Spice Crispy Rice Treats

Fleur De Sel Peanut Bars

Crispy Rice Fleur De Sel Peanut Bars

Goody Goody Bars

Nanaimo Bars

White Chocolate Blondies

Peanut Butter Blondies

Peanut Butter Apple Blondies

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Blondies

Maple White Chocolate Blondies

White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies

“Coon Crack” Blondies

Black and Tan Blondies

Crispy Crème Blueberry Blondies

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

Oatmeal Butterscotch Blondies

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Snickerdoodle White Chocolate Blondies

Pumpkin Blondies

Red Velvet Brownies

Chocolate Truffle Brownies

‘Cakey’ Brownies

“Sylvania” Brownies

“China Star” Brownies

“Dolce Diablo” Brownies

“Madras” Brownies

“Chat Nior” Brownies

“Parprikash” Brownies

Raspberry Brownies

German Chocolate Brownies

Mint Brownies

Mocha Brownies

Insane Brownies

“Buckeye” Brownies

Caramel Pecan Brownies

Peppermint Bark Brownies

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Orange Hazelnut Brownies

Crazy Mixed-Up Brownies

Black-Bottom Brownies

Black-Bottom Peppermint Brownies

Black-Bottom Irish Cream Brownies

Black-Bottom Mocha Brownies

Black-Bottom Coconut-Almond Brownies

Cream Cheese Brownies

Goat Cheese Brownies

 

Introduction (For the entire series)

From The Slopes To The Shore…

Are you tired? Are you tired of fancy (or not so fancy) baking books by fancy chefs with even fancier recipes that just don’t measure up to all that hype? Are you tired of recipe failures while on a ski holiday or just because you live above 3000 feet? Are you tired of passion fruit foams and green tea cookies when all you want is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that will work every single time? Do you need a pie for the long summer weekend; or a quick, yummy after school treat; or a simple cake with effortless style to make your neighbors jealous; or a truffle that will awaken the mad passionate desires of your lover and make them beg for more? Psssst, do you want a chocolate chip cookie now? No, I mean a really good chocolate chip cookie? Well, let’s make that chocolate chip cookie together. It’s easy and I can show you how.

Family Recipes From My Home To Yours…

Come with me on a family journey through baking where the luck of the Irish gives way to solid science and produces a collection of family baking favorites that your family will cherish for years to come. This debut collection from Irish-trained chef, Chris Reynolds, celebrates the landscape of his family’s baking tradition and contains 323 “master” recipes and 582 recipe variations. This cookbook is a wide-ranging, comprehensive collection chock-full of beloved classics like chewy gingerbread cookies, triple-chocolate brownies, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, shoofly pie, sour cream coffeecake, fresh peach ice cream, crunchy granola, and the best pizza crust ever. This is an inspired collection of classics and contemporary twists where we tease traditional flavours and let you know you’ve just had something special. Classics with attitude and altitude.

High-Altitude Baking that Really Works…

You’ll learn that it’s possible to serve a from-scratch comfort food classic like buttermilk biscuits on a weeknight when time is tight or a high-altitude cake on your skiing holiday that won’t fall flat. In addition to foolproof recipes, all the recipes were tested at high-altitude by the author, himself. Each high-altitude adjustment is precise to give success at 5200ft (Denver, Colorado). In addition, each chapter introduction gives insights into high-altitude baking and tips on adjusting your own recipes.

Retro-Modern???

Chris Reynolds is a professional baker trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland by the famed cooking teachers Darina and Rachel Allen. While he embraces an artisan philosophy, emphasizing the freshest organic ingredients, sound techniques, and from-scratch baking; he’s also well aware that stirring a caramel on the stove for 90 minutes is a drag. “I wanted recipes that people would embrace, enjoy and actually make. No one, not even me, is going make a cookie that requires me to stand at the stove for 90 minutes. That’s just not practical in our modern world.” This book embraces a “retro-modern” approach. Old-fashioned recipes are updated for modern life. That could mean streamlining the steps, using modern flavour combinations, using different techniques to give fool-proof results, or even scaling a recipe to feed a family of four.

A Photo of Every Recipe…

If the easy, care-free recipes don’t grab you, then the stunning full-colour photos of every recipe surely will. This book is a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. This is homey, doable baking at its best – a lively, in-depth portrait of a family who loves to bake. Pass me another truffle!

High-Altitude Baking Notes for Bar Cookies and Brownies:

The beautiful thing about bar cookies and brownies is that they’re much less susceptible to the effects of high-altitude. Most bar cookies have a shortbread base or are rather dense and chewy in nature and thus have little or no leavening.

The principle adjustments recommended for cookies baked at higher altitudes are to decrease the amount of sugar used. Because of the lower boiling point of water and increased evaporation, sugars tend to get concentrated. Cookies will tend to taste sweeter than usual and may develop a sugary crust. I found that brownies and blondies still benefited from reducing the amount of chemical leavening (baking powder, baking soda) used.

Possible adjustments:

When trying a new recipe written for sea-level, I always follow the directions as written and then evaluate the results. As you gain confidence and experience, you will be able to detect the “trouble spots” in each recipe and make some basic changes ahead of time.

Different types of baked goods need different adjustments and each recipe is unique. Sometimes, a recipe might only need one of these adjustments, sometimes, they will need them all. Always keep high-altitude notes in the margin of each recipe and you will begin to see patterns and tendencies.

All of the photographs in the book were baked and photographed at my home in Longmont, Colorado. If they work in my high-altitude home, they should work in yours.

Baking Powder / Baking Soda (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven):

Decrease each teaspoon by: 0 to 1/8 teaspoon (3,000ft); 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (5,000ft); 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (7,000ft); 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon (10,000ft).

Flour (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven):

Increase each cup by: 0 to 1 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 to 2 tablespoons (5,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft). (I find this to be a rare adjustment in cookies unless they are very cakey, such as whoopee pies.)

Eggs (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven or seems dry):

I’ve found that adding one extra egg to many recipes is a great help. The egg helps the batter to set by adding protein and they add a little more moisture. (This is a rare adjustment in cookies, brownies, or pies, but it is a great help in cakes and quick breads.)

Sugar (for when your recipe seems too sweet or forms a sugary crust):

Decrease each cup by: 0 to 1 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 to 2 tablespoons (5,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Liquid (for when your recipe seems unusually dry):

Increase each cup by: 0 to 2 tablespoons (3,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (5,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Fats (for when your recipe seems unusually greasy):

Decrease each cup by: 0 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 tablespoon (5,000ft); 1 1/2 tablespoons (7,000ft); 2 tablespoons (10,000ft).

A Sexy Tart Trick:

If you’re searching for an easy, fun tart for a festive occasion, any of these bar cookie recipes can be made in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. If the recipe originally makes a 9×13-inch pan, just divide the recipe in half and proceed as directed. This is a simple way to take the bar cookie from homey to hot-to-trot in a snap.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

I first had these cookies while hiking in The Lake District of England after college. The English do love their sweets. The legend goes that this recipe was developed at a time when sugar and chocolate were very expensive – thus you had to be a “millionaire” to afford to make them. For us, Americans, they are a homemade “Twix” bar.

Shortbread Base:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Whisk together the flour, corn starch, and salt in a bowl; set aside. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until well combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together.

Press the dough into a 9×13-inch, ungreased baking pan and prick the dough all over with a fork to prevent it from puffing up. Refrigerate the dough for 20-30 minutes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until just golden browned around the edges. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Caramel Layer:

2 14-ounce packages traditional chewy vanilla caramels, unwrapped

4 tablespoons heavy cream

In a 3-quart heavy sauce pan, cook the unwrapped caramels and water over low heat until the caramels are melted and smooth, stirring constantly. Pour the caramel over the cooled base and spread into an even layer. Chill until the caramel is set, about 1 hour.

Chocolate Layer:

1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt all the ingredients in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Spread evenly over the caramel layer with an off-set spatula and allow to set for 4 hours. Cut into bars and serve.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Turtle Bars: Stir 3/4 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans into the caramel before pouring it over the base. Proceed as directed.

Pecan Bars

This is an American classic. What could be better than pecan pie in bar form. The orange and lemon zest add a grown-up twist to this recipe.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 ° F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla and mix well. On low speed, mix the dry ingredients into the batter until just combined.

Chill the dough for 20 minutes for easier handling.

Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 9×13-inch baking pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is set and golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Pecan Filling:

1 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

grated zest of one small lemon

grated zest of one small orange or tangerine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons heavy cream

3 cups coarsely chopped, toasted pecans

Combine the butter, honey, dark brown sugar, and salt in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, stirring with a wooden spoon. Raise the heat to medium and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, zests and pecans.

Pour the nut mixture evenly over the crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Walnut Bars: Substitute walnuts for the pecans. Proceed as directed.

Raspberry Bars

Tastes like the best Pop-Tart you ever had…enough said. In fact, I have eaten these for breakfast.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

1 cups dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spay a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on low speed until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Reserve half of the crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for the topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

Chill the pan for 15-20 minutes. Bake the bottom crust for 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze the remaining topping with your hand to make large crumbles. Refrigerate the crumble topping until ready to use.

Raspberry Filling:

1 1/4 cup raspberry jam (or your favorite jam)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine the jam and cornstarch then stir in lemon juice.

Spread the jam mixture evenly over the hot crust; sprinkle with the reserved crumble mixture. Very lightly press the crumble topping into the jam.

Bake an additional 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into bars. Store the bars in the refrigerator.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Magic Bars

I never heard of these until I was well out of college. I’ve even served these at dinner parties. I halve the recipe and baked them in a 9-inch tart pan. (Actually, this is a great trick to try with any of the bar cookies in this book.)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup butterscotch flavored chips

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup toasted, chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spay a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar. Press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine the condensed milk, salt, and vanilla. Pour the condensed milk mixture over the crust.

Top with the remaining ingredients in the order listed.

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Chill if desired.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Magic Apple Bars: Substitute 1 1/4 cups diced Granny Smith apples for the chocolate chips. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice to the sweetened condensed milk mixture. Place the diced apple over the crust. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butterscotch chips and the sweetened condensed milk, stirring until smooth. Pour the mixture over the apples before layering the coconut and the nuts. Proceed as directed.

Lemon Shortbread Bars

Can you eat sunshine? I think so. They are the perfect balance of tart and sweet. Don’t forget to reduce the oven temperature when you bake the filling.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon salt

grated zest of two lemons

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with a aluminum foil sling and lightly spray it with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter, powdered sugar, and salt on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and mix to combine. Add the flour and mix for 2-3 minutes or until the dough just starts to come together.

Sprinkled the mixture into the prepared pan and press it into an even layer. The flat bottom of a straight-side glass works great for this. Prick the crust all over with a fork and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the crust for 20 minutes until fragrant and just starting to brown. Cool the crust on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Meanwhile, reduce the oven to 325° F.

Lemon Filling:

1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened

grated zest of 4 medium lemons

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

4 large eggs

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons)

Put all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Pour the filling evenly over the crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the filling is just set. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 2 hours. Cover the pan with foil and chill in the refrigerator for an additional 2 hours.

Remove the bars from the pan using the foil sling, cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with a lemon peel twist, if desired.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): No change.

Variation:

Key Lime Bars: Substitute lime zest and lime juice for the lemon in the crust and filling.

Oatmeal-Caramel Bars

These have been a family addiction since about 1972. Yes, we have a weakness for butter, chocolate, and nuts. The streusel base and topping is the best and gets added to many family recipes. It’s the secret to our fruit crisp.

Oatmeal Base:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on low speed until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Reserve half of the crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for the topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

Chill the pan for 15-20 minutes. Bake the bottom crust for 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze the remaining topping with your hand to make large crumbles. Refrigerate the crumble topping until ready to use.

Filling:

1 cup caramel ice cream topping

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans

In small bowl, combine caramel topping and flour; blend well.

Remove the partially baked crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle evenly with the caramel mixture; sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture breaking up any very large pieces as you go.

Bake an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into bars. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Rainforest Crunch Bars

I miss rainforest crunch. When it came out in the 1980’s, I would buy boxes and boxes. While this recipe won’t save the rainforest, it is a nice reminder when big hair, shoulder pads, and the new romantics ruled the earth.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.

With an electric mixer, combine all the base ingredients and mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and looks like wet sand.

Press the base evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden brown.

Nut Topping:

2 cups roasted, lightly salted mixed nuts

1 cup dry roasted peanuts

1 cup caramel ice cream topping

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Sprinkle the nuts over the warm base. In a small bowl, combine the caramel topping and flour. Drizzle the mixture evenly over the nuts.

Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until the topping is bubbling and golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Despite my theory that everything with oatmeal in it is ‘health food,’ this probably doesn’t qualify. These are rich and decadent and will sure to be a hit with your family.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the filling, in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Reserve half of the crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for the topping.

Press the remaining crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan. Chill the pan for 15-20 minutes. Bake the bottom crust for 12-15 minutes.

Cool the crust completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, squeeze the remaining topping with your hand to make large crumbles. Refrigerate the crumble topping until ready to use.

Fudge Filling:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

4 teaspoons instant coffee

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, instant coffee and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in a bowl set over barely simmering water; stirring often. Remove from the heat and let cool for 3-4 minutes. Whisk in the eggs until combined. Stir in the flour mixture until incorporated.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F.

Spread the filling evenly over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumble topping over the filling.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs and the filling just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate and cut into squares.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Peanut Butter and Jam Bars

When I lived in Ireland, a friend referred to America as “that country where they eat peanut butter” in a rather disgusted tone. I, for one, am a proud peanut butter eater. This American classic combination is now an American classic dessert.

1 cup jam, any flavor

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups peanut butter, crunchy or creamy

1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix the jam and 1 tablespoon cornstarch together; set aside. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and peanut butter and mix on low speed until well combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

Press two-thirds of the dough into the prepared pan. Spread the jam evenly over the top. Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of dough and dot the surface of the jam.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Caramel Apple Bars

They are not just for kids and state fairs. Any good baking apple may be used in this recipe, but I like the mellow sweetness of Golden Delicious.

Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on low speed until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Reserve half of the crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for the topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

Chill the pan for 15-20 minutes. Bake the bottom crust for 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze the remaining topping with your hand to make large crumbles. Refrigerate the crumble topping until ready to use.

Apple Filling:

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 medium Golden Delicious apples; peeled, cored and grated

1 cup caramel ice cream topping

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and spices. Squeeze as much excess liquid from the grated apples with your hands and add them to the sugar mixture. Stir to combine.

In small bowl, combine caramel topping and flour; blend well.

Remove the partially baked crust from oven; sprinkle with the apple mixture. Drizzle evenly with the caramel mixture; and sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture breaking up any very large pieces as you go.

Bake an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into bars. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Caramel Apple-Walnut Bars: Sprinkle 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (or pecans) over the apples before you add the caramel.

Raspberry-Chocolate Bars

Some observant readers may have noticed that I have a ‘standard’ crumble topping recipe that I use all the time. If you have a recipe that you love, whether it’s a pie dough or salad dressing, don’t stress yourself out trying to constantly reinvent it. If you love the recipe and it works, keep on using it.

Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on low speed until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Reserve half of the crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for the topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

Chill the pan for 15-20 minutes. Bake the bottom crust for 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze the remaining topping with your hand to make large crumbles. Refrigerate the crumble topping until ready to use.

Jam Filling:

1 cup raspberry jam

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)

In a small bowl, stir together the jam and cornstarch; set aside.

Remove the partially baked crust from oven and carefully spread the jam over the surface. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts evenly over the jam. Sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture breaking up any very large pieces as you go. Gently press the crumb mixture into the chips and jam with the back of a spatula.

Bake an additional 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into bars. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Cherry-Chocolate Bars: Substitute cherry preserves for the raspberry jam. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Chip-Whiskey Bars

This is a variation of Kentucky Derby Pie in bar form. They are perfect for a picnic (yes, people still do that) whether you’re at the derby or your local park.

Shortbread Crust:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on low speed for 3-5 minutes until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Press the crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake the bottom crust for 15 minutes until set. Cool the pan on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Chocolate Chip-Whiskey Filling:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup whiskey or bourbon

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and whiskey until smooth. Stir in the flour, salt, chocolate chips, and pecans until combined.

Pour the filling over the prepared crust and smooth it with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is set and the top is golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons in the filling.

Blueberry Crumb Bars

I love, love, love blueberries! Enough said.

1 cup granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cubed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

grated zest of 1 lemon

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

4 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, mix the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and butter on low speed for 3-5 minutes until it resembles wet sand. Add the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest and mix for a few seconds until the mixture is crumbly. Press half of the crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Sprinkle the berry mixture over the bottom crust.

Crumble the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the blueberries. (If you prefer large crumbles, squeeze the dough in your hand so that it holds together and then break it apart into large chunks.)

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the berries are bubbling. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Peach Crumb Bars: Substitute peeled, pitted, chopped peaches for the blueberries. Proceed as directed.

Plum Crumb Bars: Substitute pitted, chopped plums for the blueberries. Proceed as directed.

Tropical Cranberry Bars

These are chewy with a sweet-tart finish. Feel free to use any nut and dried fruit combination that you love. Dried, chopped mango would be amazing.

Shortbread Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter; diced

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on low speed for 3-5 minutes until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Press the crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake the bottom crust for 15-18 minutes until light golden brown. Cool the pan on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Cranberry-Pistachio Filling:

2 cups toasted, chopped pistachios

2 cups dried cranberries

1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

2 large eggs

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, stir together all the filling ingredients until well combined. Spread the filling evenly over the cooled crust.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

White Chocolate-Tropical Cranberry Bars: Add 3/4 cup white chocolate chips to the filling. Proceed as directed.

Bakewell Bars

(Raspberry Almond Bars)

This is a classic British recipe. This recipe would be adorable baked as a tart. Just halve the recipe and bake it in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. I found almond flour (ground almonds) in the specialty flour section of my grocery store.

Shortbread Crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter; diced

2 tablespoons cold water

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

Using an electric mixer, combine the flour, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and butter and mix on low speed for 3-5 minutes until it resembles wet sand. Add the water and continue to mix until a soft dough forms.

Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Bake the crust for 18-22 minutes until light golden brown. Cool the pan on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Raspberry Filling:

3/4 cup raspberry jam (or your favorite flavour)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

In a bowl, stir together the jam and cornstarch until well combined. Spread the filling evenly over the cooled crust. Set the pan aside while you prepare the almond mixture.

Almond Topping:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups almond flour (ground almond meal)

1 cup slivered almonds, for garnish

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and almond extracts and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated. On low speed, add the almond flour and salt and mix well.

Spread the almond batter evenly over the raspberry jam with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the top with the slivered almonds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the powdered sugar by 1/4 cup in the almond topping.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Nutty Bars

I won’t deny it – this is a sugary, candy bar confection. There are some moments when we just NEED that.

Cookie Crust:

3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2/3 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

Place the oats in a large bowl; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, stir the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup over medium heat until well combined. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt, peanut butter, and vanilla until melted and smooth.

Pour the peanut butter mixture over the rolled oats and stir to combine. Press the oat mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake 10-12 minutes until light golden. Cool the pan on a wire rack.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Filling:

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter chips

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

In a medium saucepan, stir together the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and peanut butter over low heat until melted and smooth. Pour the mixture evenly over the crust.

Topping:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter chips

1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts

Sprinkle the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and peanuts over the filling and press them, lightly, into the chocolate layer. Refrigerate 1-2 hours, until firm.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Cookies and Cream Bars

If you love Oreo cookies, this recipe is for you. The cake mix makes this recipe a snap to put together. I have always been an advocate of from-scratch baking, but it’s also nice to have a few easy yet satisfying recipes in your arsenal.

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix (or devil’s food)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

20 chocolate cream sandwich cookies, broken into bite-size pieces

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk together the condensed milk, vanilla, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, butter, and egg together on low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand and begins to clump together.

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the broken cookies all over the top.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk mixture evenly over the cookies and top with the chocolate chips.

Bake 20-22 minutes until bubbly and cooked through. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Silky Pear Clafouti Bars

These bars with their silky, custardy filling reminds me of a French clafouti – a soft custard cake from the Limousine region of France. Apples, cherries, or berries would be lovely in this recipe.

Shortbread Crust:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on low speed for 3-5 minutes until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Press the crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake the bottom crust for 15-18 minutes until set. Cool the pan on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Pear Filling:

3 medium Bartlett pears; peeled, cored and diced

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

grated zest from 1 orange

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsalted butter; melted and cooled slightly

In a medium bowl, toss the diced pears, sugar, and lemon juice until combined; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, orange zest, flour, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly, whisk in the melted butter until thoroughly combined. Stir in the pears and any juice that may have been released in the bowl.

Pour the filling evenly over the crust.

Bake 35-40 minutes until the filling is a deep golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Salty Pretzel-Caramel Bars

I used packages vanilla caramels in this recipe. Making chewy caramels from scratch is rewarding but also time-consuming and finicky. I’ll take a little help when I can get it to ensure a successful recipe. If I can avoid using a candy thermometer, I will.

Blondie Base:

1 1/2 cups qll-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the bottom crust for 20-22 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool the pan on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Caramel-Pretzel Filling:

75 pieces soft vanilla caramels (20 ounces)

4 teaspoons heavy cream

2 cups roasted, salted peanuts

2 cups salted mini pretzel twists, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon vegetable shortening

In a large saucepan, combine the caramels and cream over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until the caramels are melted and smooth. Off the heat, stir in the peanuts and pretzels and mix well.

Scrape the mixture onto the cooled crust and spread it into an even layer. If it gets thick, you may have to use your hands to press the caramel into place. Alternatively, you can put your hand in a small plastic sandwich bag and spray the outside of the bag with vegetable oil spray so that the caramel doesn’t stick to it.

Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH power, stirring every 15 seconds until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip a fork into the chocolate and drizzle it all over the surface of the bars.

Let the bars cool at room temperature until the caramel and chocolate are set.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the baking powder to 1 teaspoon; reduce the brown sugar to 1 3/4 cups in the blondie base.

Persian Nut Bars

These bars are reminiscent of baklava with their exotic spices, nuts and honey.

Shortbread Crust:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on low speed for 3-5 minutes until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Press the crumb mixture into bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake the bottom crust for 15 minutes until set. Cool the pan on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Walnut-Pistachio Filling:

2 cups finely chopped walnuts

1 cup finely chopped pistachios

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

In a large bowl, stir together all the filling ingredients until they are mixed well. Spoon the filling evenly over the baked crust and press firmly into a tight layer.

Bake for 16-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool the pan on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

Honey Glaze:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup wildflower honey

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

In a small saucepan, combine all the glaze ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the hot bars. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

S’mores Bars

No campfire needed.

Cinnamon Base:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced

1/3 cup clover honey

5 tablespoons whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and butter and mix on low speed for 3-5 minutes until it resembles coarse meal. Add the honey, milk, and vanilla and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Press the dough into bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake the bottom crust for 20-25 minutes until browned and set. Cool the pan on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Chocolate-Marshmallow Filling:

1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups milk chocolate chips

3 cups mini marshmallows

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the peanut butter, butter, and vanilla. Microwave on HIGH power for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until it’s melted and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes. Stir the mixture until it’s smooth. (If all the chocolate chips don’t melt, microwave it on HIGH for 15-second intervals and stir until it’s melted and smooth.)

Let the chocolate mixture cool for 10 minutes. Fold in the marshmallows and scrape the mixture over the crust and smooth it out with a spatula. Refrigerate the bars for 1-2 hours until the top is set.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): Decrease the baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon; increase the milk to 6 tablespoons in the cookie base.

Variation:

Crispy S’mores Bars: Stir in 3 cups of crispy rice cereal along with the marshmallows. Proceed as directed.

Samoa Bars

No Girl Scouts needed.

Shortbread Crust:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and butter and mix on low speed for 3-5 minutes until it resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and mix until it’s just incorporated. (The mixture should still resemble bread crumbs.) Press the crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake the bottom crust for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Cool the pan completely on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Meanwhile reduce the oven to 300° F.

Coconut-Caramel Filling:

3 cups sweetened shredded coconut

1 14-ounce bag of chewy vanilla caramels (about 50 pieces), unwrapped

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vegetable shortening

Spread the coconut evenly on a sheet pan. Toast the coconut in the oven, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes until it’s golden brown. (Keep an eye on it since it can burn quickly.) Place the toasted coconut in a large bowl; set aside.

Combine the caramels, salt, and cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir often until the caramels are melted and smooth. Pour the caramel over the coconut and stir to combine.

Scrape the caramel mixture over the cooled shortbread crust. Use a spatula sprayed with vegetable oil spray to maneuver and smooth the filling. (Alternatively, you can place you hand inside a quart zipper-top bag like a glove and spray the outside of the bag with vegetable oil spray. Then use your “gloved” hand to spread and smooth the caramel layer.)

Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH power, stirring every 15 seconds until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip a fork into the chocolate and drizzle it all over the surface of the bars.

Let the bars cool at room temperature until the caramel and chocolate are set.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars

A basic cheesecake bar recipe is essential for every home baker. This recipe is easy and creamy. Feel free to change the flavours and mix-in any candy or treats you like. Be careful not to over-bake the bars or you might get one of those nasty cracks on top.

Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Whisk together the graham cracker crumb, brown sugar, flour, salt until combined. Stir in the melted butter until the mixture looks like wet sand. Use your fingers or the bottom of measuring cup to press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until it’s just beginning to brown. Cool the crust on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F.

Cheesecake Filling:

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup sour cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 cups chopped peanut butter cups (I used the mini ones)

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. Gradually, beat in the sweetened condensed milk, scraping down the side of the bowl a few times, until the mixture is smooth. On low speed, add the sour cream, salt, vanilla, and eggs and mix until well combined.

Pour the cheesecake filling over the crust and spread to an even layer. Sprinkle the chopped peanut butter cups evenly over the surface of the cheesecake mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just set. The center should jiggle ever so slightly.

Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack at room temperature. Then, refrigerate the bars until set, about 2-3 hours.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Candy Bar Cheesecake Bars: Substitute your favorite chopped candy bars for the peanut butter cups. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars: Add 1/2 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips along with the sweetened condensed milk. Proceed as directed.

Toffee Cheesecake Bars

When I was a kid, I hated toffee. Now, it’s my candy of choice. Gosh, does this mean I’m all grown-up?

Chocolate Shortbread Crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Whisk together the flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a small bowl until thoroughly combined.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes until thoroughly combined and looks like frosting. Add the flour mixture and mix until a stiff dough forms.

Press the dough firmly into the bottom of the baking pan and bake for 15 minutes until it’s just beginning to set.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F.

Cheesecake Filling:

1 8-ounce package (1 cup) of cream cheese, softened

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups English toffee bits, divided

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the sweetened condensed milk, eggs, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the toffee bits. Set aside.

Pour the cheesecake filling over the hot crust and bake for 20-25 minutes or until just set and the edges just begin to brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of toffee bits over the top. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack at room temperature. Then, refrigerate the bars until set, about 2-3 hours.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the powdered sugar in the crust by 2 tablespoons.

Variations:

Double-Chocolate Toffee Cheesecake Bars: Add 1/2 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips along with the sweetened condensed milk. Proceed as directed.

Triple-Chocolate Toffee Cheesecake Bars: Add 1/2 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips along with the sweetened condensed milk. Stir in 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips to the finished batter. Proceed as directed.

Cranberry Streusel Cheesecake Bars

This is the love child of cheesecake and pie. You gotta love a love child. I tried this with my mom’s homemade peach jam and it was FANTASTIC.

Oatmeal Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix on low speed until it resembles wet sand and begins to clump together. Reserve half of the crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for the topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture in bottom of the prepared pan.

Squeeze the remaining topping with your hand to make large crumbles. Refrigerate the crumble topping until ready to use.

Chill the pan for 15-20 minutes. Bake the bottom crust for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F.

Fruit and Cheesecake Filling:

1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (or any of your favorite jams)

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

grated zest of one orange

2 large eggs

In small bowl, combine the cranberry sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch; set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. Gradually, beat in the sweetened condensed milk, scraping down the side of the bowl a few times, until the mixture is smooth. On low speed, add the sour cream, salt, vanilla, orange zest, and eggs and mix until well combined.

Pour the cheesecake mixture over the prepared crust and spread it to an even layer. Drop tablespoons of the cranberry sauce mixture over the cheesecake layer. Use a dinner knife or the handle of a wooden spoon to swirl the cranberry sauce into the cheesecake mixture. Top the entire surface with the reserved streusel topping.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the streusel is brown and the cheesecake layer is just set – it should jiggle ever so slightly in the pan. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate 2-4 hours or until filling is set. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Cran-Apple Walnut Bars: Sprinkle 1 cup peeled, chopped apples and 3/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts over the cheesecake layer before adding the cranberry mixture. Proceed as directed.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake Bars

If you want to make this recipe even easier and get a little creative, replace the crust ingredients with a box of your favorite cake mix and mix in the egg and butter and proceed as directed. This is my ‘new’ favorite recipe. So yummy!

Carrot “Cake” Crust:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup raisins

1 1/2 cups grated carrot (about 2 medium carrots)

1 large egg

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.

With an electric mixer, mix all the crust ingredients on low speed until a thick dough forms. Use your fingers to press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan in an even layer.

Bake for 15-17 minutes until just set. (It will bake more in a moment.) Place the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F.

Cheesecake Filling:

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup sour cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temperature

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. Gradually, beat in the sweetened condensed milk, scraping down the side of the bowl a few times, until the mixture is smooth. On low speed, add the sour cream, salt, vanilla, and eggs and mix until well combined.

Pour the cheesecake filling over the warm crust and spread to an even layer.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until just set. The center should jiggle ever so slightly.

Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack at room temperature. Then, refrigerate the bars until set, about 2-3 hours.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the baking powder to 3/4 teaspoon; reduce the baking soda to 1/4 teaspoon in the crust. Proceed as directed.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

No-bake recipes are a parent’s best friend. This is very similar to the very first recipe I remember making. I felt so accomplished and proud. Get your kids in the kitchen to help stir and press the bars into the pan. They will love it.

1 16-ounce box of granola cereal (raisins optional)

2/3 cup light corn syrup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup peanut butter chips

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bars

Place the cereal in a large bowl; set aside. In a heavy-bottom sauce pan, combine the corn syrup and butter, Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and add the peanut butter chips. Stir the mixture until the chips are melted and smooth.

Pour the mixture over the granola and mix well with a wooden spoon. Press the mixture into an ungreased 9×13-inch baking pan. Cool on a wire rack for about an hour.

Once the bars are cool, finely chop 2 ounces of the chocolate; set aside. Melt the remaining chocolate in a bowl set over barely simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the reserved chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Spread evening over the bars with an off-set spatula and allow to set for 2 hours.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

No-Bake Coconut-Peanut Bars: Add 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut to the granola.

No-Bake Rocky Road Bars

This recipe is very similar to an old British favorite. It was the groom’s cake for Prince William.

8 ounces graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces (about 10-12 crackers)

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted almonds

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup light corn syrup

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup milk chocolate chips

Line an 8-inch square cake pan with plastic wrap. Place the broken crackers, marshmallows, and almonds in a large bowl; set aside.

In a saucepan, melt together the butter and corn syrup. Stir in the chocolate chips until melted.

Pour the mixture over the cracker mixture and gently stir to combine. Press the mixture into the prepared pan and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Grow Up: Use a 9-inch round cake pan instead of the square one. Slice it in small wedges and serve with sweetened crème fraiche, sweetened sour cream, or whipped cream. Top with shaved chocolate or powdered sugar and serve at your fanciest dinner party.

Crispy Rice Treats

Someone once said that dinner guests never remember what was served for dinner, but they always remember what was served for dessert. Add some fun and life to your fanciest dinner party by serving this American classic for dessert. I guaranty that your guests will remember the evening fondly. I like my treats gooey.

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 (16-ounce) bag marshmallows* (6 cups mini-marshmallows)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 cups crispy rice cereal

Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the marshmallows, vanilla, and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth.

Off the heat, stir in the cereal until thoroughly mixed. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and press down with a greased spatula. Cool completely in the pan. Cut into bars.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

*This is the only size my grocery store had. If you want to use a 10-ounce bag, use these measures: 1/4 cup butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 7 cups crispy rice cereal.

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Crispy Rice-Toffee Treats: Melt 1 cup of toffee bits (with or without chocolate) along with the butter and marshmallow mixture. Proceed as directed.

Chai-Spiced Crispy Rice Treats: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves to the marshmallow mixture. Proceed as directed.

Loaded Crispy Rice Treats (Pictured): Reduce the cereal to 9 cups. Add 1 cup broken pretzels, 1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips and 1/2 cup toffee bits with the cereal. Proceed as directed.

Salty Cashew And Caramel Crispy Rice Treats: Reduce the cereal to 9 cups. Add 1 cup salted, roasted cashews, coarsely chopped, and 15 caramels, cut into quarters, with the cereal. Proceed as directed.

“Almond Joy” Crispy Rice Treats: Reduce the cereal to 9 cups. Add 1 cup sweetened shredded toasted coconut; 1 cup sliced toasted almonds, and 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips with the cereal. Proceed as directed.

White Chocolate-Macadamia Crispy Rice Treats: Reduce the cereal to 9 cups. Add 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped, toasted macadamia nuts and 1 cup white chocolate chips with the cereal. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate-Cherry Crispy Rice Treats: Add 1/2 cup white chocolate chips to the melted marshmallow mixture and stir over low heat until smooth. Add 1 cup chopped dried cherries along with the cereal. Proceed as directed. Once the bars are completely cooled, melt 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, drizzle it over the bars with a small spoon.

Cinnamon Roll Crispy Rice Treats: Add 1 tablespoon molasses and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon to the marshmallow mixture. Proceed as directed and frost with cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting: Beat 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 1/2 cup cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 cups powdered sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.

Cake Batter Crispy Rice Treats: Stir 1/3 cup “boxed” yellow cake mix into the marshmallow mixture. Proceed as directed. Top with multi-coloured sprinkles, if desired.

Cookies and Cream Crispy Rice Treats: Reduce the cereal to 9 cups. Stir in 12 chopped chocolate sandwich cookies along with the cereal. Proceed as directed.

Festive Crispy Rice ‘Cake’: Reduce the cereal to 9 cups. Stir in 1 cup candy corn and 1 cup candy-coated peanut butter pieces along with the cereal. Firmly press the cereal mixture into a fluted tube pan that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Proceed as directed. Once the cereal is completely cool, invert it onto a serving plate. Feel free to change up the mix-in candies or add sprinkles to suit your party theme.

Triple-Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats: Substitute cocoa krispies for the rice krispies. Stir in 2 teaspoons cocoa powder to the marshmallow mixture. Stir in 1 cup mini chocolate chips along with the cereal. Proceed as directed.

Mocha-Almond Crispy Rice Treats: Reduce the cereal to 9 cups. Substitute cocoa krispies for the rice krispies. Stir in 2 teaspoons cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons instant coffee to the marshmallow mixture. Stir in 1 cup mini chocolate chips and 1 cup toasted slivered almonds along with the cereal. Proceed as directed.

Pumpkin Spice Crispy Rice Treats: Add 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg along with the marshmallows and heat until melted and smooth. Proceed as directed.

(Loaded Crispy Rice Treats)

Fleur De Sel Peanut Bars

I ‘discovered’ Maldon Sea Salt while I in culinary school in Ireland. The large, flaky crystals are the perfect unexpected crunch that takes this treat from the playground to uptown chic. If you can’t find Maldon Sea Salt at your store, you can easily order it on-line from a popular book-seller named after a famous South American river.

8 cups Multigrain Cheerios (or Kashi Go-Lean)

1 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 1/4 cups low-fat crunchy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups butterscotch chips

1 teaspoon fleur de sel or other flakey sea salt, such as Maldon

Line a 9×13-inch pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray it with vegetable oil spray.

Place the cereal in a large bowl. Place the corn syrup, sugar, and peanut butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal and mix until thoroughly combined. Gently spread the cereal into the prepared pan. Press the mixture with the back of a spatula until it’s level. Set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips for 1 1/2 minutes on high. Stir the chocolate and continue microwaving at 15-second intervals until the chips are completely smooth. Pour the chocolate over the cereal bars and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the flaky sea salt over the top. Chill the bars until cooled and the chocolate is set.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Crispy Rice Fleur De Sel Peanut Bars: Substitute crispy rice cereal for the Cheerios. Proceed as directed.

Goody Goody Bars: Substitute cornflakes for the Cheerios; omit the butterscotch chips and sea salt; increase the semisweet chocolate chips to 3 cups. Add 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts along with the cereal. Proceed as directed.

Nanaimo Bars

This is just another reason to love Canada!

Chocolate Base:

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted*

3/4 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, melt the butter, cocoa powder, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Stir until melted and combined.

Whisk in the eggs and stir for 1-2 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove the mixture from the heat and fold in the graham cracker crumbs, toasted coconut, and pecans.

Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate the base while you prepare the next layer.

*To toast the coconut: spread the coconut out on a sheet pan in an even layer. Toast it in a 325° F oven for 12-15 minutes, stirring often, until it’s golden brown.

Custard Filling:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

5 tablespoons half-and-half

With an electric mixer, mix the soft butter, pudding mix, and powdered sugar on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add the half-and-half and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Spread the filling over the brownies with an offset spatula into an even layer. Refrigerate for 1 hour until the custard layer is firm.

Chocolate Ganache:

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and vanilla and gently whisk the cream and chocolate together until they are smooth and glossy. Pour the ganache over the custard layer and smooth it with a spatula.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until the ganache is set and cut into squares. Keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Mocha Nanaimo Bars: Dissolve 1 tablespoon of instant coffee in the half-and-half in the custard filling. Proceed as directed.

White Chocolate Blondies

Along with chocolate chip cookies and brownies, a good blondie recipe should be in everyone’s recipe box. Delicious and adaptable. Hey, that was my nickname in college.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips, divided

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with an aluminum foil sling and spray the foil and the exposed pan with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and oats in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oil, and the sugar until the mixture is light and smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine. Stir in the flour mixture until it’s fully incorporated. Stir in the walnuts and 1 cup of the chocolate chips.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips on the top of the batter and lightly press them down.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until they are cooked through and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool thoroughly in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking powder to 3/4 teaspoon; reduce the butter by 2 tablespoons; reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Variations:

Peanut Butter Blondies: Omit the walnuts, white chocolate chips and vegetable oil. Melt 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter along with the butter. Stir in 1 1/4 cups peanut butter chips and 3/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts. Proceed as directed.

Bourbon-Coconut Blondies: Omit the walnuts and white chocolate chips. Add 2 tablespoons bourbon along with the eggs. Stir in 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips. Proceed as directed.

Peanut Butter-Apple Blondies: Omit the white chocolate chips. Reduce the butter to 3/4 cup. Add 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter along with the melted butter. Stir in 1 1/4 cups peanut butter chips and 1 cup peeled, cored, and diced golden delicious apples along with the walnuts. Proceed as directed.

White Chocolate-Peanut Butter Blondies: Omit the vegetable oil. Melt 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter along with the butter. Proceed as directed.

Maple-White Chocolate Blondies: Reduce the brown sugar to 1 1/4 cups. Add 1/2 cup pure maple syrup along with the brown sugar. Add 1 teaspoon maple extract with the vanilla. Proceed as directed.

White Chocolate-Gingerbread Blondies: Substitute 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for the baking powder. Reduce the brown sugar to 1 1/4 cups. Add 1/4 cup molasses along with the brown sugar. Increase the ground cinnamon to 1 teaspoon. Add 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves to the flour mixture. Proceed as directed. High altitude directions for this variation (5200ft): Reduce the baking soda to 1 teaspoon; reduce the butter by 2 tablespoon; reduce the brown sugar by 2 tablespoons.

“‘Coon Crack” Blondies (Peanut Butter And Marshmallows): Omit the walnuts and vegetable oil. Melt 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter along with the butter. Stir in 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows and 3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts. Proceed as directed.

Black And Tan Blondies: Bake the blondies as directed. Place 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Heat 1 cup heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee and gently whisk the cream and chocolate together until they are smooth and glossy. Pour the ganache over the brownies and smooth it with a spatula. Refrigerate the blondies until the ganache is set.

Crispy Cream-Blueberry Blondies: For the “Crispy Crème Crunch”: Mix together 3/4 cup melted white chocolate, 1 cup crispy rice cereal, and 1/3 cup nonfat milk powder in a bowl. Spread the mixture out onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Refrigerate until they are set. Once they are set, break them up into small clusters. For the blondies: Omit the nuts and white chocolate chips. Stir the cereal crunch clusters and 1 cup dried blueberries into the batter. Proceed as directed.

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies: Omit the white chocolate chips. Stir in 2 cups chopped peanut butter cups (or mini peanut butter cups) into the batter. Proceed as directed.

Oatmeal-Butterscotch Blondies

These are my brother’s all-time favorite cookie. I knew he was smart. Feel free to use other baking ‘chips’.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

With an electric mixer, mix the butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy. On low speed, gradually mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the oats and butterscotch chips by hand.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and set. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon and reduce the brown sugar by 3 tablespoons.

Snickerdoodle Blondies

For the absolutely best flavour, buy whole nutmeg and grate it fresh. You will notice the difference, I promise.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with an aluminum foil sling and spray the foil and the exposed pan with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, melted butter, and oil until the mixture is light and smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine. Stir in the flour mixture until it’s fully incorporated.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until they are cooked through and a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached when inserted in the middle. Cool thoroughly in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking powder to 1 3/4 teaspoon; reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup.

Variations:

Snickerdoodle-White Chocolate Blondies: Stir 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips into the batter. Proceed as directed.

Pumpkin Blondies

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. That first day when you really need to put on a sweater is the best day of all. Celebrate that day with these treats.

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with an aluminum foil sling and spray the foil and the exposed pan with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oil, and the brown sugar until the mixture is light and smooth. Add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin and whisk to combine. Stir in the flour mixture, chocolate chips, and nuts until it’s fully incorporated.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until they are cooked through and a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached when inserted in the middle. Cool thoroughly in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon.

Red Velvet Brownies

Don’t hate me but I’ve never been a huge fan of red velvet cake. But, my southern friends insisted that I have a red-velvet recipe in the book. So, I decided to mix things up a bit and make a brownie out of them. While developing the recipe, I had a not-so-great batch. I didn’t want to save it, so I put it outside for the squirrels. Well, my neighbor’s dog found them and ate them. His mouth and muzzle were blood red. I could hear the screams of my neighbor when the dog came home since she thought he had killed and eaten a cat. She still hates me.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (1-ounce) bottle red liquid food coloring

cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 300° F. Line a 9”×13” pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray it with vegetable oil spray.

Wisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a small bowl; set aside.

Microwave the chocolate chips and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl on high powder 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the vegetable oil and sugar and whisk until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until well combined. Wisk in the vanilla and food coloring. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon “clear” vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, cream the beat cheese and butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, salt and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread the frosting on the “brownies” with a small off-set spatula.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce sugar by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to 1/2 teaspoon.

Chocolate Truffle Brownies

If you require your brownies with frosting, this recipe is for you.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cups dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the butter, oil, and chocolate chips and stir occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the brown sugar and granulated sugar into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the eggs, instant coffee and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Gently stir in the flour mixture until it forms a smooth batter. Toss the walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour and fold them into the chocolate batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool thoroughly in the pan on a wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache:

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

Place all of the ingredients in a heat-proof bowl placed over a sauce pan of simmering water. Be sure that the bottom of the bowl touches the water. Gently whisk the cream and chocolate together until they are smooth and glossy. Pour the ganache over the brownies and smooth it with a spatula.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until the ganache is set and cut into squares. Keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking powder in the brownie to 1 teaspoon.

Variations:

‘Cakey’ Brownies: Reduce the chocolate chips to 1 cup; increase the granulated sugar to 1 1/4 cups; add one additional large egg; add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour. Proceed as directed.

“Sylvania” Brownies: Add 2 teaspoons rum extract and 2 teaspoons almond extract along with the vanilla. Fold in 1 1/2 cups chopped dried cherries mixed with 1 tablespoon flour into the finished batter. Proceed as directed.

“China Star” Brownies: Add 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder to the flour mixture. Fold in 1 1/2 cups toffee bits into the batter. Proceed as directed. Add 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder to the cream in the frosting. Garnish the top with 1 1/2 cups toffee bits, lightly pressed into the frosting.

“Dolce Diablo” Brownies: Increase the instant coffee to 1 tablespoon. Add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder to the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

“Madras” Brownies: Add 1 tablespoon “sweet” curry powder and 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

“Chat Nior” Brownies: Add 1 teaspoon almond extract with the vanilla and 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper with the flour mixture. Fold in 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted almonds into the batter. Proceed as directed.

“Paprikash” Brownies: Add 1 tablespoon “sweet” Hungarian paprika with the flour mixture. Garnish the top with 2 cups toasted chopped hazelnuts, lightly pressed into the frosting. Proceed as directed.

Raspberry Brownies: Swirl 1/2 cup raspberry jam into the batter before baking. Proceed as directed.

German Chocolate Brownies: Top the cooked and cooled brownies with coconut-cashew filling (see the cake chapter). Refrigerate the brownies until the topping is set.

Mint Brownies: Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract along with the vanilla in the batter and frosting. Substitute the mint chocolate chips for the semisweet chocolate chips, if available.

Mocha Brownies: Increase the instant coffee to 1 tablespoon in the batter.

Insane Brownies: Bake the brownies as directed. Combine 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips, 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup salted peanuts, 1 cup chopped candy bars (your choice) and 1 1/2 cup crispy rice cereal. Pour the mixture over the cooked and cooled brownies and spread it into an even layer. Refrigerate the brownies for 2 hours until the top is set.

“Buckeye” Brownies: Bake the brownies as directed. Combine 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the cooked and cooled brownies and spread it into an even layer. Proceed as directed.

Caramel-Pecan Brownies: Bake the brownies as directed. Combine 1 14-ounce bag (about 50 pieces) with 2 tablespoons heavy cream in a small sauce pan over low heat. Stir until the caramels are melted and smooth. Pour the caramel mixture over the cooked and cooled brownies and smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans over the caramel.

Peppermint Bark Brownies: Bake the brownies as directed. Combine 2 cups white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high power for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the mixture is melted and smooth. Pour the white chocolate ganache over the cooked and cooled brownies and spread to an even layer. Top the warm chocolate with 1 cup crushed hard peppermint candies.

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Do you ever give out “fake” versions of your favorite recipe so that when other made it they were never as good as yours? I’m guilty of that with this recipe. This is the real deal, I swear.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee

1 tablespoons vanilla extract

3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts

1cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1cup white chocolate chips

1cup milk chocolate chips

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the butter, oil, and 2 cups chocolate chips and stir occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar into the warm chocolate mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until it forms a smooth batter. Toss the walnuts and chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons flour and then stir them into the chocolate batter.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer just comes out clean. Cool thoroughly in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate well and cut into squares. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce baking powder to 1 teaspoon.

Variations:

Orange-Hazelnut Brownies: Omit the walnuts, white chocolate, and milk chocolate. Add 2 tablespoons grated orange zest and 2 cups chopped, toasted hazelnuts.

Crazy Mixed-Up Brownies: Use any combination of chocolate chips that you’d like. I’ve used peanut butter chips, mint chips, candy-coated chocolate pieces, and chopped up candy bars.

Cookies And Cream Brownies: Omit the mixed-in white and milk chocolate chips. Stir 15 broken Oreo cookies into the batter before baking. You can dot the top with more cookies, if you’d like.

Black-Bottom Brownies

I always taking the best part of this recipe and the best thing about another recipe and merging them together. I think I get this knack from my mom. Don’t be afraid to take the crust from this and the filling from that and the sauce from another and putting them together to make your own creation.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cups dark brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the butter, oil, and chocolate chips and stir occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the brown sugar into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the eggs, instant coffee and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Gently stir in the flour mixture until it forms a smooth batter. Toss the walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour and fold them into the chocolate batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool thoroughly in the pan on a wire rack.

Cream Filling:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

5 tablespoons half-and-half

With an electric mixer, mix the soft butter, pudding mix, and powdered sugar on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add the half-and-half and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Spread the filling over the brownies with an offset spatula into an even layer. Refrigerate for 1 hour until the custard layer is firm.

Chocolate Ganache:

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add the salt and vanilla and gently whisk the cream and chocolate together until they are smooth and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the custard layer and smooth it with a spatula.Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until the ganache is set and cut into squares.

Keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking powder in the brownie base to 1 teaspoon.

Variations:

Black-Bottom Peppermint Brownies: Add 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract to the cream filling. Proceed as directed.

Black-Bottom Irish Cream Brownies: Substitute Irish cream liquor for the half-and-half in the cream filling. Proceed as directed.

Black-Bottom Mocha Brownies: Dissolve 1 tablespoon of instant coffee in the hald-and-half before adding it to the cream filling. Proceed as directed.

Black-Bottom Coconut-Almond Brownies: Stir 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut into the cream filling before spreading it over the brownies. Sprinkle 1 cup chopped, toasted almonds over the frosting before it sets.

Cream Cheese Brownies

Don’t be afraid to try the goat cheese variation of this recipe. The sharp tang of the cheese is the perfect compliment to the rich chocolate.

1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

2 teaspoons instant coffee

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

2/3 cup boiling water

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, instant coffee, unsweetened chocolate, and boiling water until melted and smooth.

Whisk in the melted butter and vegetable oil. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the flour, salt, chocolate chips, and walnuts until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and prepare the cream cheese filling.

Cream Cheese Filling:

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large egg yolks

With an electric mixer, beat all the cream cheese filling ingredients until smooth. Place tablespoons of the filling randomly over the surface of the brownie batter. Use the blade of a table knife to gently swirl the cream cheese into the batter creating a marbled effect.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool thoroughly in the pan on a wire rack.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until the cream cheese is set and cut into squares. Keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 18 3×2-inch bars

High Altitude (5200 ft): No change.

Variations:

Goat Cheese Brownies: Substitute soft goat cheese and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream for the cream cheese in the filling. Proceed as directed.

The End

 


The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 2: Brownies

Introduction (For the entire series) From The Slopes To The Shore… Are you tired? Are you tired of fancy (or not so fancy) baking books by fancy chefs with even fancier recipes that just don't measure up to all that hype? Are you tired of recipe failures while on a ski holiday or just because you live above 3000 feet? Are you tired of passion fruit foams and green tea cookies when all you want is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that will work every single time? Do you need a pie for the long summer weekend; or a quick, yummy after school treat; or a simple cake with effortless style to make your neighbors jealous; or a truffle that will awaken the mad passionate desires of your lover and make them beg for more? Psssst, do you want a chocolate chip cookie now? No, I mean a really good chocolate chip cookie? Well, let's make that chocolate chip cookie together. It's easy and I can show you how. Family Recipes From My Home To Yours… Come with me on a family journey through baking where the luck of the Irish gives way to solid science and produces a collection of family baking favorites that your family will cherish for years to come. This debut collection from Irish-trained chef, Chris Reynolds, celebrates the landscape of his family's baking tradition and contains 323 "master" recipes and 582 recipe variations. This cookbook is a wide-ranging, comprehensive collection chock-full of beloved classics like chewy gingerbread cookies, triple-chocolate brownies, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, shoofly pie, sour cream coffeecake, fresh peach ice cream, crunchy granola, and the best pizza crust ever. This is an inspired collection of classics and contemporary twists where we tease traditional flavours and let you know you've just had something special. Classics with attitude and altitude. High-Altitude Baking that Really Works… You'll learn that it's possible to serve a from-scratch comfort food classic like buttermilk biscuits on a weeknight when time is tight or a high-altitude cake on your skiing holiday that won't fall flat. In addition to foolproof recipes, all the recipes were tested at high-altitude by the author, himself. Each high-altitude adjustment is precise to give success at 5200ft (Denver, Colorado). In addition, each chapter introduction gives insights into high-altitude baking and tips on adjusting your own recipes. Retro-Modern??? Chris Reynolds is a professional baker trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland by the famed cooking teachers Darina and Rachel Allen. While he embraces an artisan philosophy, emphasizing the freshest organic ingredients, sound techniques, and from-scratch baking; he's also well aware that stirring a caramel on the stove for 90 minutes is a drag. "I wanted recipes that people would embrace, enjoy and actually make. No one, not even me, is going make a cookie that requires me to stand at the stove for 90 minutes. That's just not practical in our modern world." This book embraces a "retro-modern" approach. Old-fashioned recipes are updated for modern life. That could mean streamlining the steps, using modern flavour combinations, using different techniques to give fool-proof results, or even scaling a recipe to feed a family of four. A Photo of Every Recipe… If the easy, care-free recipes don't grab you, then the stunning full-colour photos of every recipe surely will. This book is a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. This is homey, doable baking at its best - a lively, in-depth portrait of a family who loves to bake. Pass me another truffle!

  • Author: Chris Reynolds
  • Published: 2017-03-25 17:21:29
  • Words: 15695
The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 2: Brownies The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 2: Brownies