Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

This is totally not something I would think I would ever make. I guess it is because I like peanut butter, but I don’t really like peanut desserts. Strange, I know, but there it is. Which is interesting since I’ve recently made two peanut butter desserts and have plans to include a peanut cookie to the mix as well. They are not quite pretty, but sometimes that does not matter. D&D_1966

To be honest I was not sure how this was going to work, but I am pleased in the grand scheme of things. And I knew The Boy would like them no matter what. In small bits they are really good. But that is my thing – I bake things and then just try one or a small bit. And then I am done. Just have to sample and then I am over it to see if it works out. This totally worked out.

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup grape jam or jelly – or any other flavor
2/3 cup coarsely chopped honey roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8×8 inch metal baking pan with heavy duty foil leaving an overhang. Press foil firmly into corners and up sides of the pan. Spray with non-stick spray.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together peanut butter, sugar and butter until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add dry ingredients and beat until just mixed. Transfer half of the dough (c. 1 1/2 cups) to pan and press into bottom on an even layer. Place remaining dough in freezer for 10 minutes. Top bottom layer with jelly layer, spreading evenly as possible. Remove dough from freezer and break into small (grape-sized) pieces and scatter over jelly layer. Sprinkle nuts on top.

Bake until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in rack. Using overhanging foil, lift bars from pan and peel foil from edges. Cut into 16 squares. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days.

These are just stupidly good. And the test kitchen liked them  – a lot.

source: Epicurious

Lemon Bars – again

Yep! One more time, but this time I will take some to the office too. Share the love as it were –   or as my office says I’m just trying to make them fat – not really. But I made these for a friend for her birthday which is tomorrow. She will be 21.

But it is nice to make things that make people happy. And that is what I try to do.

When I used this recipe for the first time I was expecting the same kind of big failure that I have had before with this idea  – many times. But these were an amazingly pleasant surprise. dd_1599

Sometimes you just have to keep trying to see what will happen. In this case, this recipe is just golden. I do not think I will ever try another one for this favorite lemon bar cookie of mine. The crust and curd ratio is damn near perfect.

Right now I am trying (not very hard) to talk myself out of ordering lots of Meyer Lemons on-line since my little (Charlie Brown Christmas Tree version) of a Meyer Lemon did nothing for me this year. I think I have to pot it up*, but I am so not sure what time of year to do that because now it is blooming – and it smells like orange blossoms – because the Meyer is a cross between a lemon and an orange – it is just heavenly. There never seems to be a good time to pot it up and I will NOT plant this in the ground. It has spent 10 years with me and while not very promising, usually I get a couple Meyer lemons or maybe three. I always want it to be with me. Sounds strange, but when you invest yourself in something – well, there it is.  I may be reduced to ordering from California since our Palafox Market seems bereft of Meyer Lemons. Sad since it has been not such a terrible “winter” (and I use that word very loosely) for us so far.
We already have pollen on the vehicles and azaleas are blooming. This is not going to make an easy spring for us, um, at. all.

* That means putting it in a different (larger) pot. You weirdos.

So here, again, are lemon bars.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

 

 

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Blondies

I think my favorite kind of recipe is one where I have all the ingredients on hand – no need to go to the grocery store. It also helps if it something that, in general I like, but made a little better because of a twist. I think that definition suits this recipe exactly. I had pretzels from a non-starter recipe for, well, something. I cannot remember, but I’m sure it was a good idea at the time. And there we are. This was my Friday night baking. I only do that if I have had a good week – and – have everything on hand. This was so not a disappointment. It has gone over well with everyone I’ve shared it with.

dd_1675

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup  brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
12 ozs semi sweet chocolate chips (1 bag) Ghiradelli
1 1/2 cup chopped pretzels

Line a 9 x 13 inch metal pan with parchment to overhang the long sides. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Over waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together both sugars and butter until light. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients. Stir in chips and pretzels.

Spread batter in baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, until golden. Run a plastic knife around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack. Then make into squares.

I made these for The Boy – we are just going to call it a Friday night special –  and I really loved them and The Boy did too. He is a huge fan of the blondies. But so am I.

The recipe says they can be stored in an airtight container for two weeks. They will not last that long.

Thank you Food & Wine – even though your website is more annoying than I had any idea of. Really – rethink your advertising. Left your site more often than stayed. I am pretty sure I am not the only one.

“Meyer” Lemon Bars

I have this habit of asking people what they would like me to bake or cook for them. It keeps me interested in baking and cooking and pushes me outside of what I typically do. I do it at work, “what do you guys want me to make for the pot-luck?” and I do the same thing at my favorite restaurants. I think restaurant staff is not appreciated enough. Guess that comes from being a server ages ago. I hope they appreciate it, but it is more to get me to try to do different things.dd_1599

So I asked Berta, at my beach local, to tell me what she would like in the baking department, and she said my baking nemesis – lemon bars. I have not had good luck with these in the past – at all. That said, I was going to give it another go – it is a challenge after all. And I never back down from a challenge.

This is a recipe on my little USB drive of recipes that I have been working on for ages and I just sort of picked it out of the two I had. It was daunting – I have to admit that I was not comfortable trying this idea again. I did this on a Thursday because I figured if I fucked it up, I would have Friday to try again. And I am really not scared in the baking department, but you never know if things are going to go pear-shaped.

I have to say, I just cut a corner out of this and just got stupid over how good it was. That is, indeed, a good sign. I guess when I get silly about something in the kitchen, that makes me happy and pleased with myself. And that makes me think it will be something other people will like too.

Personally, I would like to keep the entire pan of these lemon bars to myself, but I won’t. But I will damn sure to make this recipe again. The original called for Meyer lemons, but I only have those when my (precious) little tree produces Meyer lemons and this is totally the wrong time of year, so I just used regular lemons. It was amazing. Stupidly so. Yeah me! yep.

Meyer Lemon Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

I think I made a few friends with these – at least I really hope so. Berta loved them and her daughter asked for them on her birthday at the end of November. I guess there are more lemon people than I had imagined. I shared one of my favorite lemon things ever – lemon, white chocolate chip cookies – they sound slightly weird, but they are stupid good.

And then in my head – lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for another person that is a lemon person. I think we have to stick together. There just are not that many of us. Lemon People Unite – or something?  No, that just does not work. I guess you chocolate people have us outnumbered. Again.

Butter usage – by month – April 2016

D&D_1337

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars – yep

2 April –  8 Tbs – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars (for Heather)

9 April – 8 Tbs – Salted Crispy Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

11 April – 2 Tbs – Everyday Orzo (once again amazing!)

13 April – 8 Tbs – Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

16 April – 12 Tbs – Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze – don’t do this

17 April – 7 Tbs – Italian Cream Cake

21 April – 8 Tbs – Lemon Ricotta Cookies – don’t do that either, do this

28 April – 12 Tbs – Brown Sugar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

30 April – 5 Tbs – Mac and Cheese My Mom’s recipe, as such which I will say again – just do it. Really. Not kidding.

30 April – 8 Tbs – Brown Sugar Pecan Scones

78 Tbs = 9.75 sticks = 39 ozs = 2.4375 pounds

Not great, but not a ringing endorsement either. And from what I can gather my May does not start out any better. Crap.

 

Egg Usage – by month – April 2016

D&D_1331

M & M Cookies – the Spring Edition

2 April – 1 Egg – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

2 April – 2 Eggs – M & M Cookies, Spring Edition

9 April – 1 Egg – Salted Crispy Butterscotch Pecan Cookies (These are just amazingness it self – so far these are favorite of all the people I take cookies to).

13 April – 1 Egg – Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Bars

16 April – 4 Eggs – Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze – don’t do this.

17 April – 4 Eggs – Italian Cream Cake

21 April – 2 Eggs – Lemon Ricotta Cookies – do not do this either. But do this  – Yes This. 

28 April – 2 Eggs – Brown Sugar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

 

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Bars

So when I buy buttermilk to bake something I try to find other things to make with what is left. I know, I know, you can freeze leftover buttermilk, but I never seem to do it.

D&D_1361

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

 

It is funny I do not remember my mom making anything with buttermilk – really nothing. Not even biscuits and that is strange for a Southern woman. I do not have it on hand all the time, but most of the time.

Most recently, I have used buttermilk in Savory Herb Muffins and in Basil Sun-Dried Tomato Mozzarella Bread, and of course, Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze which was the original intent of the buttermilk purchase. And now another recipe with just a bit of buttermilk in it.

In the grand scheme of things, it is kind of a test. What can you do with it, and make it different. Not just cake or biscuits or whatever – try to make a variety of things. I am sure the next time I have buttermilk (like now) homemade ranch dressing will be in my future as is often the case in the spring. And that always means spinach and mushroom quiche. One of my favorite things ever and a recipe I have had since before the boy was born – way before.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs canola oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped pecans (Renfroe’s, of course)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 x 13 inch baking pan*, spray with baking spray and line with parchment and spray again.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and both sugars. In a small bowl, crack egg, add canola oil, vanilla, and buttermilk. Add flour a little at a time. Stir in chocolate and pecans.

Spread dough, it will be thick, into pan making sure to get dough all the way into the corners. Bake 30 – 35 minutes until center is set and the edges are golden. Cool bars in pan and the cut into bite-sized pieces with a plastic knife because you do not want to jack up the pan with a metal knife.

Source: Baking Bites – one of my favorite baking sites. Must, at some point, figure out how many recipes that I have used from this site. I think there will be several.

* Love William-Sonoma Gold Touch Pans – they really are the best. Thank you America’s Test Kitchen for showing me how amazing these pans are. They really live up to all the hype.