Magic Pumpkin Bars

Magic Pumpkin Bars

Magic Pumpkin Bars

It seems now that Fall weather has set in recipes featuring pumpkin in some form or other are flooding the air-waves, web and periodicals.  Well, not to be left out, I wanted to get in on the fun of baking something with pumpkin.

You know what magic cookie bars are, right?  They’re also known as 7-layer bars.  But I like to call them magic cookie bars because 1) they don’t always have 7 layers, and 2)  the sweetened condensed milk performs the magic by tying all the layers together.

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Let’s start by reviewing all the layers in this version,  OK?

1. Gingersnap Crust.   I think that gingersnap and pumpkin are a match made in heaven.  They were made for each other.

2.  The chips.  White chocolate chips, preferred for color contrast and silky texture.  However, the day I made these bars I plunged into making them without checking and found I was out of white chips, so used chocolate instead.  But then, chocolate also goes well with pumpkin.  So use what ever kind you prefer or have on hand.

3.  Pecans, (or any nuts, really).  You gotta have them, especially in a fall dessert.

4.  Coconut.  This is totally optional, but it’s usually found in magic bars.

5.  Toffee Bits.  In my opinion, you can never have enough of these.  See #3.

6..  Pumpkin.  Come on……they are called pumpkin magic bars.

7.  Sweetened condensed milk.  The top and final layer;  the tie that binds it all together!   In this recipe it gets mixed with the pumpkin and some pumpkin pie spice and poured over the top.

Fudgy, chewy.  I love the way all the layers blend together.

Fudgy, chewy. I love the way all the layers blend together.

MAGIC PUMPKIN BARS

Yield:  12 -16 bars

Ingredients:

Get all the ingredients ready.

Get all the ingredients ready.

  • 25 gingersnaps
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup toffee bits
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

2  Grind gingersnaps to a fine crumb in a food processor.  Mix with sugar and melted butter.  Press into prepared pan.

3.  Sprinkle with white chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, and toffee bits over the top of the crust.

4.  Whisk pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and condensed milk in a small bowl or measuring cup and pour over the top of the bars.

All layered up and ready for the oven.

All layered up and ready for the oven.

5.  Bake for 29 – 31 minutes, until edges have started to brown.  Cool completely before cutting.  Using edges of foil, lift completely from the pan to a cutting surface and using a bench knife or other sharp knife, cut into 12 or 16 squares.

Use the foil "handles" and lift the whole square out of the pan for ease in cutting.

Use the foil “handles” and lift the whole square out of the pan for ease in cutting.

Looking sooo good!

Looking sooo good!

These are surprisingly not too sweet.

These are surprisingly not too sweet.

SOURCE:  Crazy For Crust

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Squares

Chocolate chip cheesecake squares.

Chocolate chip cheesecake squares.

Did I hear someone say “cheesecake”?.   Oh, that was me!  Yes, well,  I fell off the wagon, and I mean big time!  But you will remember it was my birthday and Mother’s Day all in the same weekend.  So that was my excuse for treating myself and, of course, anyone else who was around to some sinfully rich and oh-so-good chocolate chip cheesecake squares WITH toffee cookie crumb crust.  Try saying that three times fast.  I could eat one faster than I can say it, and I bet you could, too.

An elegant, creamy, smooth dessert.

An elegant, creamy, smooth dessert.

There are so many recipes for cheesecake bars and squares out there, that you could pick any one that you like, but I particularly like this one because it not only includes cream cheese, but also mascarpone.  And when you combine those two you can’t expect anything but perfection.

The most commonly used ingredient for making a crust is graham cracker crumbs,  but Mr. D. has an allergy to graham crackers, so in their place I usually use shortbread cookies crushed into crumbs.  In making these bars I would have done the same except when I was shopping for groceries I spied  these cookies called Toffee Sandies by Keebler.  Since I’ve always loved pecan sandies, I thought these would make an interesting crust instead.

The cookies I used.

The cookies I used.

Cheesecake is a dessert that is very forgiving in that you can add many different flavorings, use all kinds of toppings, change the crust, and bake in a variety of pans.  It still comes out creamy and delicious.  So you really can’t go wrong.  If you need a dessert that everyone will love, give this stellar creation a try.

The hint of orange is such a good companion flavor to chocolate.

The hint of orange is such a good companion flavor to chocolate.

CHOCOLATE CHIP CHEESECAKE BARS WITH TOFFEE COOKIE CRUST

Servings:   9

Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 1  1/2 cups toffee sandies—fine crumbs
  • 5 Tablespoons butter, melted

    Cream cheese, mascarpone, chocolate chips and orange zest provide the flavor

    Cream cheese, mascarpone, chocolate chips and orange zest provide the flavor

For the filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened  ( 1/3 less fat variety, OK )
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup semisweet (or your choice) chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs

1.  Place the toffee sandies in a food processor bowl and pulse to fine crumbs;  place in a mixing bowl.

2.  Add melted butter and mix well.

3.  Press crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 inch pan.  I made one and a half times the recipe, thus you see a larger pan.

Cookie crumb crust in the pan.

Cookie crumb crust in the pan.

4.  Bake crust for 10 – 12 minutes at 325*F.

5.  Allow to cool while you make the filling.

Filling:

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cheeses, sugar, zest and vanilla until smooth.

2.  Add eggs one at a time, beat on low speed just until combined.

3.  Fold in chocolate chips

4.  Pour over crust and smooth with an offset spatula

Going into the oven.

Going into the oven.

5.  Bake at 325 *F for 35 – 40 minutes or until center is just set and top begins to brown.

Out of the oven--only the edges are browned, but the filling is "set".

Out of the oven–only the edges are browned, but the filling is “set”.

6.  Remove pan from the oven, and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes

7.  Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen;  cool 1 hour longer then refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.

You will want more than one of these!

You will want more than one of these!

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SOURCE:   adapted from   A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennis

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies?   If a vote were taken for favorite cookie they would probably win by a landslide, and it seems as though every cook has their favorite recipe for making them.   Mine would have to be the traditional Toll-House cookie, so I don’t usually look at other recipes for chocolate chippers.   But you know how popular the addition of salt has become in the dessert world, so when I happened on this recipe for Salted Chocolate Chip cookies, I was curious what they would be like and had to try them.

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A sprinkle of salt on the cookies before baking is the finishing touch that brings out the chocolate flavor and tones down the sweetness, creating the ultimate sweet and salty snack.  We found these cookies to have a very nice taste, but they do flatten out quite a bit as they bake.  I normally like a thick, chunky cookie with lots of depth to bite into, and these were not that, but I did enjoy that hit of salt against the sweetness of the chocolate.  These cookies are crisp on the outside but chewy on the inside; a nice contrast in textures.  We both liked them enough for me to make them again, so I would recommend you try them especially if you would like to experience that sweet and salty combination.

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After baking the first sheet of cookies and seeing how they turned out, I put the remaining two sheets in the refrigerator to chill the dough and firm up the butter, before they hit the heat of the oven.  It’s important also be keep your oven at 375*F  throughout the baking time. For best results  bake only one sheet of cookies at a time, instead of two and rotating them, as the recipe suggests.

When using salt on your desserts, a sprinkle of one of the following will get the job done—just don’t use table salt.   Kosher salt, large crystals, dissolve quickly;   flaky sea salt,  light, crunchy texture, provides ideal finishing touch on cookies, etc.;  coarse sea salt,  grains are crunchy, but don’t dissolve as quickly, good with assertive flavors and textures.

SALTED CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

YIELD:   makes about 30 cookies

INGREDIENTSIMG_3423

  • 1  1/2  cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup  ( 1 stick ) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup ( packed ) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • flaky sea salt

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Prepare baking sheets with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.

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

3.  Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy,  4-5 minutes.  Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend.  Using a spatula, fold in chocolate.

4.  Spoon rounded tablespoons full of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1″ apart.  Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.

5.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until just golden brown around the edges, 10 – 12 minutes.  Cookies will firm up as they cool.  Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks;  let cool completely.   Store airtight at room temperature.

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SOURCE:   adapted from Bon Appetit,  January, 2013