bars · cookies

“Bronzies” : blondies with toasted cashews, marzipan, and white and dark chocolate.

This is an unusual recipe from the food folks over at Food 52. If you can tear yourself away from the shop, filled with gorgeous cookware and other fun stuff for the kitchen, I’d suggest looking through their recipes. They are consistently great and different from the usual fare.

These blondies are rich and chewy with more than a hint of white chocolate, which you melt right in with the butter to make the batter. Then, you add chopped marzipan, toasted cashews, dark chocolate chips, and more white chocolate. They would make an excellent addition to any Christmas cookie tray. They will travel, ship, and freeze well.

Notes for the next time I make them:

  • I will be sure to use dark brown sugar. Light brown worked fine but I think the added layer of the molasses-rich dark brown sugar would make it even better.
  • I might also use already toasted and salted cashews. I toasted raw, unsalted cashews myself. They were good, but you know how I love the salty/sweet combo.
bars · cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

If there is one thing I don’t love about baking, it’s the clean up afterwards. I’ve figured out a system that works for me – basically, filling the sink with hot, soapy water when I start, tossing dirty dishes in while I work, and washing them while whatever I’m baking is in the oven. It’s not brain surgery but it accomplishes my goal of having a clean kitchen by the time whatever I’m making comes out of the oven.

Here’s what I made today. Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

The recipe comes from a new (to me) blog, South Your Mouth.

I love this recipe as much for the outcome – wonderfully classic cookie bars that have a chocolate punch and a chewy texture – as for the relatively small mess they make. I used a hand mixer, one big bowl to mix the ingredients, and lined the pan with foil, so all I had to was was the bowl, the beaters, measuring cups/spoons, and a spatula.

The chewy texture and perfect bar consistency come from using “mostly melted” butter, equal parts brown and white sugars, and..the kicker, self-rising flour. I didn’t have any, so I used her tip of converting AP flour by adding salt and baking powder. Genius.

These cookie bars travel well, keep well, and freeze well. I already stashed half the batch in my freezer for a rainy day. Now that’s thinking ahead.


Super Fudgy Brownies 

My cousin Beth believes that dessert is not worth having if it’s not chocolate. She would LOVE these brownies. 

I more often crave gummi bears than chocolate, but I also love these brownies. They are dense and fudgy, with a layer of frosting you put in while the brownies are still warm, which lets some of the frosting absorb into the brownies. They are next-level chocolate. 

I used to just “jazz up” boxed brownie mixes, but since I discovered this recipe, by Shelly over at Cookies and Cups, those days are behind me. These are just as easy, and you can control what goes into them. Shelly’s recipe doesn’t call for dark chocolate cocoa powder, but that’s what I had, and that’s what made this batch ultra dark. The recipe is so good, even the dark cocoa produces a moist and delicious (and not bitter) brownie. 

Try them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You’ll thank me later. 

bars · cookies

Salted Caramel Pretzel Crunch Bars 

Full disclosure: These are probably a little over the top. 

A shortbread crust topped with crushed pretzels topped with homemade salted caramel sauce topped with chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. I might have even stirred in a tablespoon of peanut butter in the chocolate topping. for a penny, in for a pound, especially when it comes to dessert, am I right? 

This recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction blog. Her recipes are consistently great and reliable. I took her tip of making the caramel sauce ahead of time, so the rest of the recipe came together pretty quickly. I also doubled the caramel recipe so I have plenty left over to use as ice cream topping. Here’s to planning!! 

I was distracted and didn’t press the pretzels into the unbaked shortbread, which made spreading the caramel over them a little complicated, but I persisted. I’m a survivor. 

I cut them into tiny squares. They’re rich enough that one or two bites will satisfy even the sweetest of sweet tooths. (That’s me.) Give these a try and let me know what you think! 


The Perfect Rice Krispy Treat

These may be the first things you learned to bake. They’re simple. A staple for summertime, in my house, anyway. But too often, they turn out too crisp. Or worse, too gooey. I’m a fan of goo but if your marshmallow-to-krispy ratio is off, you end up dispappointed. I wanted a throw-together recipe. I don’t want to consult the box. I don’t want to measure. And also, I don’t like dirtying up a million bowls and pots. Rice krispy treats are supposed to be easy, am I right? 

So, I’ve developed what I’ve come to think of as the perfect rice krispy treat recipe. It’s practically fool-proof. I have a few tips: 

  • Use generic “crispy rice” cereal. For some reason, the texture is better than the brand name stuff.
  • Do all the mixing in the pot you melt the marshmallows in. So, when you’re looking for a pot, pick a big one. 
  • Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture. 
  • Keep the waxed paper from the stick of butter to push the cereal mixture into the pan. 
  • If you are using add-ins, do it at the very last moment, right before you transfer the cereal and marshmallow mixture into the pan. This way, the mixture has cooled a bit and won’t melt 
  • Really press down on the cereal/marshmallow mixture when you get it into the pan. You want the mixture to be tightly packed. 

Perfect Rice Krispy Treats

  • 1 12-oz box crisped rice cereal
  • 1 16-oz bag of mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla (you can eyeball it) 
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I use pink Himalayan sea salt for a mild flavor) 

Optional add-ins: 

    • 2 cups Reese’s Pieces or M&Ms 
    • 1 cup toasted flaked coconut
    • 2 cups candy corn 
    • 1-2 cups gumdrops (the small ones) 
    • 1-2 cups dried strawberries or blueberries 
    • 2 tablespoons of sprinkles or non-perils 
    • 2 cups chocolate, butterscotch, or peanut butter chips 


    Grease a 13×9″ pan, and set aside. 

    In a big pot (I use my deep Dutch oven), melt the butter over medium heat. When it’s melted, add the entire bag of marshmallows. Stir occasionally until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt. Stir to incorporate. 

    Remove from heat and add the cereal in two batches, stirring to mix completely before adding the second batch. Then stir with a wooden spoon until thin webs of marshmallow begin to form between the cereal. 

    Just before you transfer the cereal mixture into the pan, add your add-in, if you want. Stir through until completely mixed in. 

    Transfer the cereal mixture into the greased pan. Using the butter wrapper (or your buttered hands), thoroughly press the mixture into the pan.  Let cool 1-2 hours before cutting. 

    Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag. 

    Let summer begin!! 

    bars · cookies

    Brown Butter Sugar Cookie Bars with Salted Caramel Buttercream.

    You. Guys.

    This Brown Butter Sugar Cookie Bars with Salted Caramel Buttercream recipe from The Recipe Critic’s blog is the stuff of dreams.

    There is nothing in this recipe that I don’t love. Brown butter? Check. Sugar cookie? Check. Salted caramel? Double check. Buttercream? Hell, yes. Yaaaasss, even.

    There are two things I would adjust in the recipe – aside from the author’s use of  “course” when referring to a type of sea salt. I’m an English major, so these things bother me.

    1. I’d recommend using the flaky type of sea salt for sprinkling over the frosting. Specifically, I recommend Maldon’s Flaky Sea Salt. It’s somehow simultaneously soft and crunchy. I can’t explain it, but I think it’s the best salt for finishing.
    2. To get the nice light caramel color on the bars like in my picture (which I prefer to the darker color on the recipe), just keep an eye on the bake time so that the bars don’t overbrown. It’s totally your preference, but I like a blonder cookie bar.

    As an aside, you can expect to see a lot of salted caramel stuff on this blog. It’s my unicorn flavor.