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Category Archives: Brownies & Bars

Biscoff Butter Bars

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This month my Secret Recipe Club assignment was Annie’s Noms and I was in heaven. A baking blog with the majority of recipes given with grams instead of cups!  Be still my beating heart. :) While I enjoyed scouring through her recipes to find the one, I actually found it in the first thirty seconds but just had to keep looking because, hello. A baking blog. I love you and all your desserts, Annie!

I knew before I even saw the recipe that her Biscoff Butter Bars were exactly what I wanted to make. Hello. Biscoff and butter? Gimme gimme. If you haven’t had Biscoff yet, it’s cookie butter – smooth and creamy like peanut butter but made with lightly spiced cookies instead of peanuts.  Yes, seriously, cookie butter really is a thing, and it’s so good.  I encourage you to try it.  Most supermarkets, including Walmart, sell it now, and can be found by the peanut butter usually. Annie likes to eat it on croissants and that sounds like heaven!! Personally, I try not to buy it too often because it inevitably gets eaten spoonful by spoonful until I’ve devoured the entire jar in a shamefully short amount of time. But adding it to a butter-laden recipe, while perhaps even more sinful, makes it a lot easier to share with others and keep it off my own hips.

Unfortunately, I ended up eating more than my fair share anyway. Although I over-baked them a bit (something I previously considered an unforgivable culinary sin until I had a child and realized that over-baking is sometimes unavoidable), they were so good it was hard to stop eating them. Butter makes everything better, even something as perfect as Biscoff.

Please stop by Annie’s blog to see how beautiful these bars are when baked perfectly, and check out her other yummy desserts!

Biscoff Butter Bars

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½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
½ cup (3 ½ oz / 100 g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (3 oz / 84 g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups (8 ½ oz / 242 g) all-purpose flour
1 (14.1 oz) jar Biscoff Spread

Preheat the oven to 325F and grease a 9×9 in pan. Place the butter and sugars into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on med-high speed. Add the vanilla extract and flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Press half the dough into the greased pan (wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate) and bake for 12-14 minutes, until puffy and ever so slightly firm to the touch. It will not look done.

Allow the base to cool for 15 minutes. Once cooled, spread the Biscoff over the base, leaving a 1/4 inch gap around the edge. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the Biscoff and bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffy, very lightly golden and slightly firm to the touch. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Slice into 12-15 bars.

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Annie’s Noms.

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Cranberry Crumb Bars

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Are cranberries in season any more?  I haven’t been looking for them since they’re more of a December thing for me, but I had a jar of Killer Cranberry Sauce leftover from a large batch I made in December and I wanted to use it, so these bars were made…in season or not.

And oh my goodness, they are amazeballs.  I include orange juice and zest in my cranberry sauce, and there is even more orange flavor from the zest in the crust and crumb topping, which pairs so well with cranberry filling.  The crust and crumb are so tender, buttery, and crumbly – the perfect texture and I plan to use the base recipe for other crumb bars in the future.  The recipe does include a little bit of an unusual ingredient – almond flour or meal, but you can make your own by grinding almonds very fine in a food processor.  Also the Killer Cranberry Sauce is great in these bars, if you don’t want to make cranberry sauce, go see Bakerita’s recipe for her filling that doesn’t require cooking beforehand.

If you prefer very tart desserts you can skip the glaze, but for the sweet tooth like me, it is necessary to balance the cranberry.  Alternately, you could melt some white chocolate to drizzle over the top – a classic cranberry pairing.  Enjoy!

Cranberry Crumb Bars

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Printable recipe with picture

2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 oz) almond meal (almond flour)
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
1 large egg
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups Killer Cranberry Sauce
1 cup (4 1/2 oz) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice (or milk or water)

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 9×13 baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. The dough will be crumbly. Alternatively, you can pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor with the butter until pebbly, then mix in the egg until it all comes together. pat half the dough into the buttered pan. Spread the cranberry sauce over the crust, the crumble remaining dough over sauce. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until top is a light golden brown. Cool completely, then blend the powdered sugar and orange juice together in a small bowl and drizzle over the top. let set for 5-10 minutes before slicing into bars.

Recipe source: adapted from Bakerita

Who cares if cranberry is out of season when it makes such delicious eats?  Here are a few other ways to enjoy it…

Cranberry Chicken

Cranberry Bliss Cookies

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apples, Spiced Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Oatmeal Raisin Bars with Brown Butter Icing

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When I look back on things I’ve pinned, sometimes I’m like, “I would never make something like that – it’s just not me.  Why did I pin it?”  But I know why.  The blogger’s enthusiasm about how good it is sells me every time and I end up pinning a lot of things I’ll never make, but still want to make because the blogger was so enthusiastic about how good it was.  Such is the case with these bars, but they are SO me so of course I had to make them almost immediately. :)

Miss Marsha sold me with her sheer enthusiasm, but hello, did I ever mention that cookies are my second favorite food group (with dip being the first)?  The recipe itself probably would have sold me without her enthusiasm.  It had been way too long since I’d enjoyed an oatmeal raisin cookie and making them in bar form sounded genius.  I don’t have time to be portioning out dough right now, but I can fo sho pat it into a pan!

These bars are just as good as my award-winning oatmeal raisin cookies and I even used the same icing on them.  Marsha’s recipe uses cream cheese frosting so please check it out to if you’d like to make them that way – it looks and sounds majorly delish but I just had to go with brown butter this time.  It’s my weakness.  Along with cookies and dip.

Oatmeal Raisin Bars with Brown Butter Icing

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (8 oz) light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ¼ oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (3 ½ oz) old fashioned or quick cooking oats
1 cup (5 ¼ oz) raisins
½ cup (2 oz) chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Icing
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 9″ X 13″ baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until lightened and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir into butter mixture until well combined. Spread into prepared pan and press into an even layer with floured fingers. (It may seem there isn’t enough dough to cover the bottom, but there will be). Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

While cooling, prepare the icing. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and the solids separate and turn a chocolate brown. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in enough water to make an icing of drizzling consistency. Drizzle on warm bars and cool completely before cutting.

Recipe source: adapted from The Better Baker

You don’t have to go clubbing to hit up some good bars.  Check these babies out!

Fudge Brownies

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Pretty excited about these brownies! It’s my first time making a from-scratch brownie recipe that turned out better than a box mix (I’m not ashamed to admit I LOVE brownies from a box), AND had the shiny crackly top. Exciting stuff, at least in my world!  These were so fudgy and so chocolatey and so delicious, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce on top.  Ultimate dessert treat!  Treat yourself today…

Fudge Brownies

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Printable recipe with picture

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups (1 lb) granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (3 ¾ oz) Dutch-process cocoa (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder or 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs (cold)
1 ½ cup (6 ¼ oz) all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish.

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny-looking as you stir it.

Transfer the sugar mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, if you’ve heated it in a saucepan. Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth. Add the flour, again stirring until smooth, then stir in the chocolate chips if using. Spread the batter into prepared dish.

Bake the brownies for about 35 minutes, until they feel set on the edges, and the center looks very moist, but not uncooked. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack before cutting and serving.

Recipe source: King Arthur Flour

Other brownie favorites…

Mocha-Frosted Kahlua Brownies

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Brownies

Mocha Toffee Brownies

Sponsored Video: Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Krispies Treats

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*Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Kellogg’s, but all thoughts and opinions (and recipe-hehe) are my own. :)

Have you seen this adorable Rice Krispies commercial?  Sometimes I really miss commercials (we don’t watch TV), so it’s nice that the good ones are available online whenever I choose to watch them.

It’s true, they are so gentle on your tummy, which I know because I’m pregnant and a pregnant tummy can be awfully sensitive sometimes.  Although I lucked out in the morning sickness department, even I have food aversions and prefer Rice Krispies over a flavorful meal once in a while.  They are just so good!  They also supply a surprising amount of nutrition, despite consisting mainly of rice.  Have you ever looked at a nutrition label for these babies? Gotta love that they’re low in calories as well.

The ingredients for my treats. Still easy to digest…maybe not as nutritious. ;)

Anyway, after watching the commercial, I realized just how long it’s been since I’ve made Rice Krispies treats!  I had a special reason to make these, as well as the Pretzel Pumpkins yesterday, but I’ll share that with you later.

Although I love to bake, there is something really satisfying about combining a few ingredients and having a delicious treat to enjoy without ever having to turn on the oven.  Rice Krispies treats are my favorite no-bake treat, and I love coming up with new & fun recipes for them.  These were inspired by the Pumpkin Spice Mallows that are cropping up in stores lately, combined with my favorite recipe for Brown Butter Crispy Treats.  They are so simple and delicious!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Krispies Treats

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Printable recipe with picture

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag Pumpkin Spice Mallows
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box)
1 cube of vanilla almond bark/candy coating (for optional drizzle)

Line a 9-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides with foil, letting some hang over the edge. (You can also use a 9×13 pan if you prefer thinner treats.) Butter the foil and set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the butter turns amber in color, and the solids have separated and turned a chocolate brown. Turn off the heat and stir in the salt and the Pumpkin Spice Mallows. Continue to stir until the marshmallows have melted completely and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the cereal until well coated, then quickly spread into prepared pan and press down using a silicone spatula or a piece of waxed paper that has been sprayed with oil.

Once the bars are completely cool, use the foil overhang to lift the bars out of the pan. If desired, melt the almond bark in a small microwave safe bowl – microwaving for 1 minute at 50% power, then turning over and cutting in half, and microwaving another minute at 50% power, stirring well until smooth.  You might need an additional 10 seconds or so to get it completely smooth but be careful not to overheat it or it will seize up.  Spoon into a disposable pastry bag or small Ziploc bag and snip a bit off the tip (or corner for the Ziploc bag) and use a sweeping motion while gently squeezing to drizzle over the top of the treats. Allow to set, then cut into squares.

Need some more snap, crackle, pop in your life?  Try these yummy treats!

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

Gingerbread Rice Crispy Treats

Cake Batter Crispy Treats

Banana Bread Bars

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This year I only had a couple hours to prepare the food I was going to take to the Pig Roast so I didn’t have time to make some really razzlin’ dazzlin’ cupcakes like I had planned.  I went to the recipes I had saved on Pinterest and decided on these bars because they were pretty quick to make, could feed a crowd, and I had some overripe bananas ready to be used.  While many were disappointed I didn’t bring cake or cupcakes (I guess by now I’m kind of known for them), most of the pan was eaten by the time the meal was over (and there were tons of desserts) so apparently they weren’t too disappointed. :)

I got the best reaction from the teenage girls, for some reason – they flipped for them.  There were two short rows left when we were cleaning up after the meal, and I asked one of them if she wanted any more before I put them in my trunk and she took another three, saying she’d already eaten five.  I’d say that’s a pretty good endorsement.

The bars have a nice, moist crumb, and really good classic banana bread flavor, but the thing that makes them stand out is the browned butter icing.  I knew brown butter and bananas was a good match, and that’s why I worked so hard to perfect my recipe for Brown Butter Banana Bread.  But I think that the flavor comes through so much better when used in an icing on top of the bread.  Oh soooo delicious!

Banana Bread Bars

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Bars:
1 ½ cups (10 ½ oz) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
½ cup (4 oz / 1 stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups (15.25 oz, peeled) over-ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 or 4)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (8 ½ oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup (2 oz) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Frosting:
½ cup (4 oz / 1 stick) butter
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
about 3 tablespoons milk or half and half

Heat oven to 375F. Grease and flour a 10×15 jelly roll pan or line with parchment paper (for thicker bars use a 9×13 pan and bake longer). Beat first four ingredients until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla for one minute. Add dry ingredients and blend for one minute. Stir in nuts if desired and spread in pan. The pan will be very full but it’s OK, it won’t rise over the edge during baking. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack while you make the frosting.

For the browned butter frosting: Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat past the melting point until it is boiling and a delicate brown, stirring constantly. The solids will separate and turn into chocolate brown flecks at the bottom of the pan.  Remove from the heat and immediately add the remaining ingredients. This should be thicker than a glaze and thinner than frosting. Using a spatula, smooth over the top of the Banana Bread Bars immediately. The frosting will be easier to spread once it’s on the warm bread.

If not serving the same day, let the pan sit out until cool and the frosting is dry to the touch, then cover with foil until ready to serve.  These will last several days at room temperature, but I found them even more delicious when served cold from the fridge!

Recipe source: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Nutty for banana bread? You might go ape for these…

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread {Low Fat, Low Sugar}

Buttermilk Banana Bread (my favoritest favorite!)

Virginia Street Banana Nut Bread (multiple blue ribbons winner!)

*You may have noticed I’ve started to include links to older recipes at the bottom of each recipe post.  Since I’ve built up quite a collection of recipes on my blog that many new readers have never seen, I’d been thinking about sharing recipes from my archives on a certain day each week like my girl Marsha.  But I’m having so much fun rehashing them this way, because I get to search my own archives like a treasure hunter and see if I can come up with three similar recipes to the one I’m posting.  So far I’ve been able to do it fairly easily, and I hope you guys enjoy these oldies along with the newbies! :)

Guiness Brownies with Bailey’s Cream Cheese Swirl

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In the name of culinary exploration, I bought a single bottle of Guiness to make Wednesday’s cupcakes, knowing I could never use an entire 6-pack.  Unfortunately, the bottle was pretty ginormous so I still have more than half of it left.  I also have quite a bit of Bailey’s left, and since I can’t give this stuff to people I know who drink because they either don’t drink anything but the occasional wine or have drinking problems, I’m either going to have to toss it or keep baking up a storm with it.  And you guys know I can’t waste anything, right?

Hence, these brownies.  These crazy, rich, gooey, decadent brownies.  I went with my Kahlua brownies recipe, switching out the Kahlua for Guiness, and then went a little crazy with the mix-ins, adding butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, and walnuts.  Then I glanced the cream cheese in my fridge and got excited, thinking of my Brownie Cakes recipe and using it as a springboard to create a Bailey’s Irish Cream cheese swirl.

I liked these a lot, despite the Guiness.  I’ve discovered from reading Guiness & chocolate recipe reviews on blogs that I may be the only blogger alive not in the “Yay, Guiness and chocolate are the best combo evarrrr!” camp, but at least the flavor was not overpowering here, thanks to the sweet chips and cream cheese swirl.  There is a slight yeasty flavor from the Guiness, which is interesting but not off-putting.  For most people, that would translate to, “Yaaaaaaay, Guiness brownies are the best thing EVARRRR!!!!”

The only bad thing about these brownies (unless you want to count the calories, but who counts dessert calories??), is that they used up so little of this leftover alcohol.  I’m giving up on the Guiness, but as for the Irish cream…Bailey’s Banana Bread anyone?

Guiness Brownies with Bailey’s Cheesecake Swirl

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Guiness Brownies:
1 brownie mix
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
¼ cup Guiness Extra Stout beer
1 egg
Optional mix-ins (add up to 1 ½ cups total): chopped walnuts or pecans, caramel bits, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheese Swirl:
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom only of a 9×13” baking pan and set aside.

Combine the first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until shiny and smooth, about a minute. Add optional mix-ins and stir until well combined. Spread into prepared pan; set aside.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a small mixing bowl until creamy, then beat in the egg and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Drop batter by spoonfuls on top of the brownie batter and swirl through with a knife.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cheesecake is golden on top and the brownies are puffed in the middle but firmer at the edges. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Optional Reading:

OK, so this blog was too long to include this story before the recipe, but I wanted to put it at the end for those whose patience is still holding.

In high school drama class, we were doing a project where we were creating a spoof episode of the X-Files.  I remember nothing about the episode we came up with, except that some genius decided to cast me as an evil leprechaun.  (Speaking of evil leprechauns, doesn’t that one in my first picture look a little sadistic?)  We were actually filming it, just like a real TV show.

I showed up on filming day dressed head to toe in bright green.  I had no idea what I was going to wear for the role, but my mother happened to have a pair of bright green corduroy pants (oh, the glorious high fashion of the 90s!) stashed away in her closet.  She was a tiny woman and even at 115 pounds, I really had to stuff myself into those things and could hardly breathe all day.  I paired it with a matching shirt and called it golden (or emerald, if you will).

For my scene, we were filming in the hall and I was told to run off laughing after delivering my line.  It wasn’t until the camera started rolling that I thought to wonder how long I should run while laughing.  Convinced I should fight my urge to do it only a few seconds, thinking it was just my shyness trying to get the better of me, I tore off down the hall, squealing insanely with evil leprechaun laughter, throwing my hands up over my head and swinging them wildly back and forth as I ran…all the way down the hall.

That’s right.

I passed about five classrooms, squealing with high-pitched insane laughter at the top of my lungs.

When I turned back around, hoping I’d laughed long enough, there were curious heads leaning out of every single closed door I had passed, and in the far distance, I could see my classmates rolling with laughter while my drama teacher looked like he wished he could crawl under a rug.

I could have died.  The walk back to join my drama group was the longest walk of my life.  Every classroom stared at me as I passed, surely wondering who the crazy girl dressed in green was and if there was anything beyond my insanity that spurred the laughter that disrupted their class.

And of course, after that day, I was known far and wide as “the evil leprechaun.”

The end.

 

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