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. Because..in 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! 

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cookies

Fairy Bread Cookies and an Embarassment of Sprinkles 

Once upon a time, my brother-in-law informed me that there are two types people in this world: those who like sprinkles and those who don’t. 

I fall firmly and forever in the first category. They’re so happy. I want them everywhere. Rainbow sprinkles, rainbow non-perils, white non-perils on white frosting. They can be over the top unicorn and rainbows or understated tonal. Either way, I am 100% pro-sprinkle. I’m not even sure we can be friends if you don’t like sprinkles. I’ll have to think about it. 

I’m also a sucker for sugar cookies, upon which I like …you guessed it: sprinkles. So when I saw Shelly from my very favorite baking blog, Cookies and Cups, post this recipe for Fairy Bread Cookies, it was a no brainer. Look at these gorgeous things. 

The cookies are easy to make and come out as kind of a sugar cookie-shortbread hybrid. They’re not overly sweet, which is good because you slather the top with vanilla buttercream and then load them up with an embarassment of sprinkles. Yay!! 

Shelly tells the story behind Fairy Bread. All I know is that these cookies definitely made my wishes come true. 

bars

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 

    Instructions

    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.

    cookies

    My Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies

    My son is 12, and when I ask him what kind of cookies I should make, 9 times out of 10, he asks for peanut butter.

    These cookies, from Handle the Heat, are fantastic. The cookies themselves have a good peanut butter punch, and they’re filled with peanut butter chips and Reese’s Pieces. Triple peanut butter PLUS chocolate chips. They’re just soft enough and deliciously chewy. People. You cannot go wrong with these cookies.

    As written, these cookies are a good size. When I made them for my friend’s restaurant, I used a full 1/2 cup of cookie dough. PER COOKIE. That, my friend, is a giant cookie. If you go that route, double the recipe and watch the bake time to maintain the soft and chewy texture.

     

    Uncategorized

    All Butter Pie Crust

    My tried and true recipe.

    Ingredients

    For a double-crust pie.

    • 2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur, unbleached AP flour)
    • 2/3 cup salted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
    • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
    • 7-8 tablespoons ice water

    For a single-crust pie:

    • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup salted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
    • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
    • 4-5 tablespoons ice water

    Tools:

    • Pastry cutter
    • Large bowl
    • Whisk
    • Plastic wrap or waxed paper
    • Rolling pin (with sock, if desired)
    • Roulpat or other flour-able surface

    Instructions:

    In a big bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Add the chilled butter and work it through the flour mixture with the pastry cutter until it looks like coarse meal. To ensure a flaky crust, you will want to have pea-sized bits of butter visible. Add half of the iced water, and continue to cut in with the pastry cutter. Add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together. You may need to use your hands at the end to get the remainder of the flour mixture incorporated. Just be quick about it; you don’t want the butter to get soft.

    If you are making a double-crust pie, divide the dough evenly into two pieces. Form the dough into a ball, and place it on a square of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Using the plastic wrap or waxed paper, shape the ball into a disk. Wrap up the dough and put it in the fridge (or freezer, if your kitchen is hot) for a bit to chill while you make the pie filling.

    When you’re ready to roll out the dough, prepare a floured surface. I use a Roulpat and a wooden rolling pin covered by a cotton sock, all dusted with flour. Working with one disk of dough at a time, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/4″ thick. Transfer the dough to a buttered pie plate (I like ceramic or stoneware pie plates), and press down with your fingers to remove any air bubbles.

    At this point, you’ll follow your recipe — whether you pre-bake the crust or not.

    Good luck! Butter is better!

    Uncategorized

    Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

    The Bakary is open!

    I’ve started this blog because I love to bake, I love to write, and I always get requests for the recipes I use. I thought this would be a good convergence of the three things.

    This weekend, I’m having a few friends over for dinner. Of course, this means I had to make a dessert, so I decided on strawberry rhubarb pie, since both are in season right now where I live. I first had strawberry rhubarb pie when I was a teenager, working as a hostess at Baker’s Square in Minneapolis. I’ve been hooked ever since.

    I’ve used the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction website before, and it’s amazing. Usually, strawberry rhubarb pies tend to be pretty runny. I like a pie that holds together and doesn’t get all goopy once you cut into it. The addition of a good bit of cornstarch helps the filling to hold together without tasting gluey or pasty. And Sally is a genius and uses brown sugar and orange juice in the filling — this variation from the norm adds a nice complexity to the flavor.

    Sally shows her pie with a lattice top. It’s beautiful, but I almost always do a full, two-crust pie. This is because I’m not great at lattice work and also because I love the crust almost as much as I love the pie filling.

    I always make an all-butter crust. I am trying to avoid processed foods, like shortening, whenever possible. Plus, I think a good salted butter and a pastry cutter are the keys to a flaky and perfect pie crust.

    I prefer my pie warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. How do you take yours? Ice cream, whipped cream, or plain?

    Welcome to the Bakary! Let’s make stuff.