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Choco-Cherry Cheesecake Cookie Bars

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*Update 10/4/11: I won the editor’s choice award for these bars. Whee!

Editor's Choice: Choco-Cherry Cheesecake Cookie Bars

It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!  Members of the club are assigned a secret food blog each month and they can pick any recipe(s) they want to make from the blog.  On reveal day, nobody knows what other blogger was assigned their blog so I find it really fun.

This month I was super stoked to get assigned to Big Bear’s Wife, because Angie (who also happened to be my group’s host this month) has plenty of dessert recipes to choose from.  I think you all know by now that dessert is both my strength and my weakness!

I thought of Dennis when I saw these bars because he loves cherries and chocolate.  Chocolate-covered cherries (aka cherry cordials), black forest ice cream sundaes, cherry mudslides (layers of ice cream, cherry pie filling, and hot fudge), black forest cake.  He loves it all.  And I think I’ve mentioned my little cheesecake problem.  So yeah, I pretty much had to make these.  And then I pretty much had to get them out of the house as soon as possible so I didn’t eat the whole pan.  I managed to inhale two rows before he got them out the door to bring to work.  Doh!

I never buy packaged cookie dough (perhaps it’s hypocritical to be for cake mixes but against premade cookie dough-lol), so I adapted the recipe with homemade, but you can use a package of store-bought to save time.

Be sure to check out all the other secret recipe club blogs at the bottom of this post! ***Something is up with the linky thing so there may be no links at the bottom. While it is getting figured out, you can go to Big Bear’s Wife at the bottom of her post to see all the links.***

Choco-Cherry Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Sugar Cookie layer:
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to cool room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Filling & topping:
1 egg, separated
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
¼ teaspoon almond extract
3 drops red food color
1 jar (10 oz) maraschino cherries, finely chopped, drained on paper towels
1 (12 oz) bag semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and extracts and mix until blended. Add half the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Add remaining flour and mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft. Spread and press dough into the bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Meanwhile, in small bowl, beat 1 egg white until frothy. Brush egg white over crust. Bake 3 minutes longer or until egg white is set.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add egg yolk, 2 eggs, the condensed milk, almond extract and food color; beat until well blended. Stir in chopped cherries. Pour cherry mixture evenly over crust. Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until set. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium saucepan, heat chocolate chips and butter over low heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool 20 minutes. Stir whipping cream into chocolate mixture until well blended. Spread over cooled bars. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until chocolate is set. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 6 rows. Store in refrigerator.

Recipe source: adapted from Big Bear’s Wife



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Cherry Crumble Bars

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This is my favorite recipe of Laura’s.  The chocolate chip cookies are my favorite cookie but this is my favorite recipe of hers….so far.  I have a lot left to try.  The buttery cherry-almond combo here is very good.  I’m being very reserved because if I unleashed my enthusiasm for this recipe, I’d probably be put in a straight jacket in a padded cell.

Cherry Crumble Bars

Cookie base and topping
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup almond paste (not marzipan)
1/4th teaspoon almond extract
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup sliced almonds (Reserve for topping)

Filling
2 cups frozen cherries
3/4th cups sugar
3 Tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

Icing
1/3 cup powdered sugar or more if needed, whisked or sifted
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/4th teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square pan with foil and grease lightly with vegetable or olive oil.

In a food processor add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and process to fluff and combine. Add almond paste and almond extract and pulse to combine. Add cold butter pieces and pulse until crumbly. Remove 1 cup of the mixture and set aside for topping.

Put the rest of the mixture into the pan, spread out evenly, and press with the bottom of a measuring cup to make a crust. Bake for 15-17 minutes until crust starts to brown slightly around the edges. Remove and leave the oven on.

Meanwhile dump all the filling ingredients into a saucepan and cook on medium high heat until thickened and translucent. About 8 to 10 minutes. Spread the filling over the crust.

Sprinkle the top with the reserved crumb mixture and top with the sliced almonds. Bake for about 28 to 30 minutes or until the filling bubbles and the top is golden. Let cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack.

Whisk or beat the icing ingredients together, drizzle over bars.

Hint: To easily remove bars from the pan freeze for 30 minutes and lift out by the foil edges. Peel off foil and cut into squares or diamonds.

Veronica’s Notes: I’ve also made this successfully with a can of tart cherries.  To do this, put a (14.5 oz) can red tart cherries packed in water in the saucepan, water and all, along with the other filling ingredients but omit the water & lemon juice.  It won’t have the same deep red color as the frozen cherries give, so you can add some red food coloring if you wish.

Secret Recipe Club

Razzcherry Pie

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I am a cake lover, born to a family of pie lovers.  Making pie does not thrill me the way making and decorating a cake can, but in most cases, my family would prefer I bring pie to our get-togethers.  I’m making them so often now that I seem to have earned an unwanted reputation and have become, somewhat grudgingly, the designated pie maker amongst my friends and family.

This is how my Razzcherry Pie was born. Dad wanted pie for his birthday celebration last year, so I did an experiment to come up with a cherry & raspberry filling.  Though delicious, it turned out pretty runny so I tweaked it a bit and tried it again for our belated Mother’s Day barbecue this year (because, of course, Mom wanted pie instead of cake).  It came out perfect so I thought I’d share the recipe now that I’ve worked out the kinks.

Veronica’s Razzcherry Pie

Prepare to be razzle dazzled!

Almond Crust
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 16 pieces
4 to 6 Tbsp ice water, very cold

Raspberry-Cherry Filling
1 (10-oz) package frozen raspberries
2 (14.5-oz) cans sour pitted cherries, drained well (juice reserved)
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp butter
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp. almond extract
½ tsp red food coloring (optional)

Additional
milk & coarse sugar for top crust

Directions


This slideshow is meant as an accompaniment to the directions and has step-by-step photos & instruction for making a lattice top crust.

The night before you make the pie, put the raspberries into a colander and set it over a bowl.  Put the whole thing in the refrigerator and by the time you use them, they’ll be thawed and drained.  Save the juice.

For the crust (which can be made up to two days ahead), I recommend using a food processor.  Process the almonds until very finely ground—about the texture of cornmeal.  Add the flour, salt & brown sugar, then pulse a couple times to combine.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal & pieces are no larger than peas.  Sprinkle 4 tbsp ice water over the top and pulse until it starts to clump together & holds together when you pinch it with your fingers.  Add additional water if necessary (I personally use 5 tbsp).  Form the dough into 2 disks, dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.  Roll out one of the disks on a floured surface and fit it into a 9 inch deep dish pie plate, trimming off the excess (leave a ½” overhang if you will be using a lattice top crust).  Set in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees & place one oven rack in the lowest position and one in the middle. If you only have one rack, put it in the lowest position.

Pour the collected raspberry juice into a 1-cup measuring cup (you’ll probably only have a few tablespoons).  Add the reserved cherry juice until you have ¾ cup of liquid. In a saucepan mix the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in the juice and simmer over medium heat until filling is thick and clear (by clear I don’t mean the red will disappear, but that the cloudy appearance from the cornstarch will go away), about 4 to 5 minutes. Since you’ll be adding more liquid after it’s done cooking and the berries will break down and make the glaze juicier, you want to get it pretty thick.  If it isn’t gel-like after 5 minutes, whisk in more cornstarch (1 tsp at a time) and cook for another few minutes after each addition until it’s very thick.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter, almond extract & food coloring until the butter is melted and incorporated. Gently fold in the cherries & very gently fold in the raspberries.  Yes, the raspberries will fall apart but the more careful you are, the less likely it is they’ll turn to unrecognizable mush. Pour into pastry-lined pie dish and set aside. Roll out second dough disk and cut into 1/2-3/4″ strips.  Arrange the strips on top to make a lattice, trim them to the edge of the plate (slightly shorter than the overhanging edge), fold the edge over & seal.  Pour some milk (I used cream) into a dish and use your clean fingertips to moisten the strips.  Sprinkle the strips with coarse sugar (try to get it on the strips but it’s OK if some falls into the filling).

If you are just using a full top crust, seal & flute the edges, brush with milk/cream, sprinkle with sugar and cut steam vents so you don’t have a royal pie explosion in your oven. Place pie on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, and then move to the middle shelf & reduce the heat to 350 degrees F.  At this point, you MUST put an oven liner on the rack below the pie, or cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place it below, because the pie will most likely bubble over and make a mess.  Continue to bake until bubbling & the crust is a golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes more. Cool completely (best if made the day before serving) before cutting & serve with vanilla ice cream.

Will last several days on the counter & longer in the fridge.

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