Strawberry-Lime Gooey Bars

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Strawberry Lime Gooey Bars

 

It was the name that got me first, then the color.  They looked so bright and pretty in the picture, my mouth began to water, and next thing I knew I was tearing through my storage cupboard looking for the strawberry cake mix that I knew was in there somewhere.

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I was desperate for these bars.  I could taste them way in advance of making them.  You know, I often forget how much I like strawberry (anything), until something forces me to make it.  Then, of course, I remember how much I really like it.  Just like when I’m ordering a milk shake….I always order vanilla.  But if Mr. D. orders strawberry, and I taste his, then I’m like, “dang, why didn’t I order that too”?

That’s pretty much how it was with these strawberry gooey bars.

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There was no lime in the original recipe, but I felt that all that concentrated strawberry sweetness would be too much, so I brightened up the flavor with fresh lime juice and zest.  Now they are not cloyingly sweet, and I love how pretty and pink they are.  Just the ticket, I think, for a Valentine’s Day treat.

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STRAWBERRY LIME GOOEY BARS

Yield:  Make 16 barsIMG_9008

Ingredients:

  • 1  (15.25-oz.) box Strawberry Cake Mix
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, ( low-fat, or non-fat are OK)
  • lime zest to garnish tops of bars, if desired

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil, then spray well with cooking spray and set aside.

2.  Beat butter with an electric mixer until soft and fluffy.  Add in the cake mix, egg, lime juice and zest and continue beating until it all comes together and forms a thick dough.

3.  Press about 2/3’s of the cake mixture onto bottom of the foil-lined pan.  Sprinkle white chocolate chips over the top.

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4.  Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top of the chips.

5.  Drop the remaining cake dough in “blobs” over the top of the milk, trying to spread it out as much as possible.  Press lightly.

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6.  Bake for 29 – 32 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

7.  Cool bars in pan on a cooking rack.  When completely cooled, cut into squares.  Top with additional lime zest, if desired.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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SOURCE:    Mom on Time Out

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Blackberry Pie Bars

Blackberry Pie Bars.

Blackberry Pie Bars.

Once again I’ve been called upon to provide the dessert for a pot-luck affair.  As we approach the end of the school year, many other activities also take a break for the summer and the last meeting of many organizations often involve food in the form of a picnic or pot-luck dinner.  So here we go again —-not that I mind,  it gives me the chance to bake, maybe try out something new, and then tell you all about it.  How cool is that?

Buttery crumb crust, creamy blackberry filling, more buttery crumbs on top.

Buttery crumb crust, creamy blackberry filling, more buttery crumbs on top.

While today’s recipe is called “pie’ bars, they’re not really like pie at all.  There is a bottom crust made of buttery crumbs, with a sprinkle of more crumbs to top, and in the middle a “berry” filling.  The recipe calls for black berries and that is what I used here, but I’ve made these before using raspberries, and they were super yummy too.  These bars are quick to put together, and are a great way to use up frozen berries you might have in your freezer;  you know, to make room for more berries over the summer.

Oh yeah, these are simply the best!.

Oh yeah, these are simply the best!.

I added a little lemon zest to the crust, and lemon juice to the filling and I think it brightens up the flavor, and makes an irresistible combination.  They bake up quite thick, so I cut them into small-ish squares to be eaten with fingers, but if serving them on a plate, these would be set off nicely by a dab of vanilla ice cream.  I like them while still a little warm from the oven, but they are also excellent served chilled straight from the fridge.  Once you give these a try they will undoubtedly become a staple for bringing to summertime parties and get-togethers.  Be adventurous and try other fruits as well.

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Yield:  16 – 20 bars

Ingredients:

For the crust and topping:

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, cold

    Blackberries----the stars of  the show!.

    Blackberries—-the stars of
    the show!.

For the filling:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 15 – 16 oz. blackberries, fresh or frozen (thawed and drained of excess juices)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly.  In the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Pulse briefly to blend.  Cut the butter into small pieces, then add to the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Process in short pulses to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until only small pieces of butter remain and the mixture is crumbly.

Reserve 3/4 cup of the mixture for topping the bars.  Add the rest of the mixture to the  prepared pan and press to form an even layer of crust on the bottom of the pan.  Bake 12 – 15 minutes, until light golden.  Let cool 10 -15 minutes before proceeding.

In a medium bowl, make the filling mixture.  Combine the eggs, sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon juice an vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  Gently stir in the blackberries with a spatula.  Spread the filling mixture over the pre-baked crust in the baking pan.  Crumble the reserved topping mixture evenly over the filling.

Bake until the top is beginning to brown and the bars are just set, about 45 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Chill to firm up before slicing and serving.

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SOURCE:   The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Peppermint Patty Brownies

Peppermint Patty Brownies

Peppermint Patty Brownies

York Peppermint Patties are one of my husbands’s favorite candies.  So I attempted to recreate those sweets in this brownie recipe.  The candy has a peppermint filling encased in a dark chocolate shell.  To make it into a quick recipe I started with a brownie mix which in this case is Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownies that have chocolate chips in the mix.  After the brownies were baked according to the directions on the package and thoroughly cooled, I made the peppermint filling, then topped it with dark chocolate.

My intention was to casually drizzle the chocolate over the top so some of the white filling would show through. However I had just gotten the chocolate melted when I was interrupted, and couldn’t continue for a few minutes and so the chocolate began to harden in the bowl.  As you can see by the pictures, it went on in dabs rather than a drizzle.  The taste was unaffected by that, and the whole brownie did recreate the taste and cool sensation of eating a peppermint patty.  I keep them refrigerated as I just love them when they’re cold.  My husband thought my experiment was a success, even though they didn’t come out looking exactly as I had planned.

PEPPERMINT PATTY BROWNIES

SERVINGS    16

A.   Brownie Layer:   Prepare a boxed brownie mix that makes an 8 or 9 – inch pan of brownies, according to the package directions.

B.   Mint Layer:   In the small bowl of a stand mixer beat together till smooth and creamy:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon butter, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons milk,  half and half, or light cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Spread evenly over the brownie layer.

Spread peppermint cream over the brownie layer.

Spread peppermint cream over the brownie layer.

C..  In a small bowl place 1 cup dark chocolate chips, and melt in micro-wave for 1 minute.  Stir to smooth.  Spread or drizzle over the top of peppermint layer.

Spread, drizzle or "plop " chocolate over white layer.

Spread, drizzle or “plop ” chocolate over white layer.

Place in refrigerator to cool and firm up.  Cut into 16 squares and enjoy!

These are so cool and refreshing when served cold.

These are so cool and refreshing when served cold.

SOURCE:   slightly adapted from   How Sweet It Is

Another Elf!

Another Elf!

This is another of my elves. He usually sits in a cookie cutter on my kitchen window sill where he can watch all that I do.  However this morning I found him perched on an old scale that I keep on one of my cupboards.  I think he has been eating too many cookies and wanted to check his weight.   ( I think I should check mine too.  La-la-la )

Brown Butter White Chocolate Pretzel Blondies

Brown Butter Blondies with White Chocolate M & M’s and Pretzels

I do believe I’m becoming a convert to blondies.  I used to think they were sort of second-rate to “real” brownies.  But since early Spring when I first started writing this blog,  I’ve found three recipes for blondies, all of which appealed to me enough to want to make them.

I’ve been saving this recipe since late winter/early spring when it was featured for Easter using pastel colored M & M’s.  My thought at the time was that it could easily be adapted to any time of year just by changing the M & M’s.  So this past week, when I saw white chocolate M & M’s on display for Halloween I grabbed them and thought “now is the time to try that recipe”.

These squares are so easy and quick to make– mixed by hand, no need to get out your mixer–and so pretty to serve with the colorful M & M’s.  They taste a little salty from the pretzels, have crunch from the  pretzels and candy, and the browned butter provides a nutty background flavor to all of it.   My only concern about these bars is related to the salt content.  Unsalted butter is not specified but I would recommend it, since the pretzels add salt and the recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  If you use salted butter, cut back the added salt to 1/4 teaspoon, since browning the butter adds to its saltiness.

BROWN BUTTER WHITE CHOCOLATE PRETZEL BLONDIES

SERVINGS:   24 squares

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, browned and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pretzels, crushed
  • 1 cup white chocolate M & M’s ( or white chocolate chips)

Browned Butter

1.  Begin by browning your butter.  Use a light colored pan rather than one with a dark interior, so you can see the color change in the butter.  Allow the butter to melt over low heat,  once melted raise heat to medium and let butter cook, watching it all the while for a color change to golden brown.  This can take from 2-3 minutes, but it will happen quickly.  Remove from the heat at that point, otherwise it will burn.  Allow to cool.

2.  Crush the pretzels:  Place in a zip-lock bag and crush with a rolling pin or meat mallet.  They will be a variety of sizes. Break some of the larger pieces with your hands.  Large pretzel pieces will make it difficult to cut the squares, but you don’t want them to be all crumbs either.

3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 13″ x 9″ pan with foil, and spray the foil with non-stick spray.

4.  In a medium bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients.

5.  In a large bowl, mix butter with brown sugar, stirring until all the sugar is saturated with the butter.  Add eggs and vanilla, stir to combine well.

6.  Fold in dry ingredients using a spatula.  Don’t overmix.

7.  Add in pretzels and white chocolate M & M’s and stir to distribute.

8.  Transfer to prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes.  The top will be shiny and somewhat crackled.  A toothpick should test clean.  Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Ready for the Oven.

Out of the Oven.

     

SOURCE:   Cook’s Illustrated New Best Recipes