Friday, October 21, 2016

Apple Toffee Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting

Growing up, one of my favorite desserts was my grandmother’s apple cake. When we would visit my dad’s parents, that was one dessert that we’d commonly have. While my grandmother did have a recipe, I think she really did most of her baking and cooking by intuition, or maybe she had just made things so often that she didn’t really measure. I’ve made the apple cake from her recipe, and there’s just too much batter for the pan. It was still great though. Since then I have had a fondness for apple desserts.

I always look forward to the fall when it is the perfect time to bake with apples. Ok, I bake with apples all the time, but I can step it up more in the fall. I’ve had this recipe saved for a long time, but for whatever reason I’ve never made it. The recipe isn’t hard, and doesn’t really use unusual ingredients, so I am not sure why I waited so long. (On another note, I seriously need to go through my saved recipes and mark down somehow which I have made and which I haven’t.)

When I made these bars, I lined the pan with foil, which I think made the bars stick somewhat. I think I would have been better off just spraying the pan with cooking spray. I also used one big apple, which was more than a cup. You really need to chop the apples finely. Mine were too big and/or I had too many apples, so it was hard to incorporate them fully into the dough. While these bars are a bit gooey, they are so good! The apple paired with brown sugar (3 cups total in this recipe) is fantastic! These are perfect for fall, or any time of the year that you want a nice apple treat.

Apple Toffee Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting
⅔ cup butter, room temperature
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup peeled, finely chopped apple
½ cup toffee bits   

½ cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9” x 13” pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium until light. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again on medium until incorporated. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the apple and toffee bits with a spatula. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center of the bars comes out clean. Allow the bars to cool for an hour.

Make the frosting: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and milk and stir to combine. Cook over medium until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the powdered sugar, whisking until smooth. Allow the frosting to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk again, and then spread the frosting over the cooled bars.

Allow the frosting to set for 30 minutes before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Cookies and Cups

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cinnamon Chip Biscotti

We’re having super stormy weather in the Seattle area, with tons of rain and wind predicted. Even though the rain is just starting, our library building is already leaking, and I sat at work all day listening to the rain on the roof. When I have days like this, all I want to do is go home and bake. I had planned a different cookie for today, but it just didn’t fit my mood. I wanted something homey and comforting. I picked a couple of recipes from my Pinterest site and my friend at work picked. She picked these biscotti.

I don’t make biscotti a lot, and sometimes I find them to be too dry. At least homemade ones are better. They aren’t so hard that they’ll break your teeth. Of course they are still good with coffee or tea, but they are enjoyable on their own, too. I shaped these a little bit differently, to 4 smaller logs. That make for smaller cookies overall, but I think that worked a little better.

I was worried that these would be crumbly when I cut them into slices, but I was pleasantly surprised. A biscotti with nuts and chips I thought would be especially difficult to work with, but they cut beautifully. When they come out of the oven after the second bake, don’t worry if the cookies seem soft. As the cool they will harden up, but they don’t get overly hard. I like the topping of cinnamon and white chocolate chips. I think biscotti can be a little plain, but these look and taste fantastic.               
Cinnamon Chip Biscotti  
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10-oz package cinnamon chips, divided
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium until light. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again on medium until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until the flour is incorporated. Add 1 cup cinnamon chips and the pecans; stir on low until the dough comes together.

Divide the dough into 4 quarters. Shape each piece of dough into a log, about 3 inches wide and 8 inches long. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each piece of dough.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes. (Keep the oven on.)

On a cutting board, cut the logs diagonally into ½” slices. Place them cut side down on that baking sheet. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for 8 more minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the remaining cinnamon chips with 1 tablespoon shortening, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled biscotti. Melt the white chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon shortening, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over the biscotti. Allow the drizzle to set before serving.

Recipe from Tried and Tasty

Friday, October 7, 2016

Apple Pie Jam Shortbread Bars

The other night, I was at an event in the evening so I wasn’t home for dinner. I was texting with my husband and he said he was having PB&J for dinner. He said that the only jelly/jam he could find in the cupboard was lingonberry jam. I didn’t think that sounded like a very good combination! We got a new refrigerator in the past year, so I knew that we had thrown away a lot of things, but I thought there were some new jars in the cupboard.

When I got home, I was curious about this lack of jam in the house. I asked where he looked, and he said “the cupboard” and I asked where in the cupboard. I guess he just looked on the top shelf, and, of course, all the jams, jellies and syrups are on the bottom shelf. I counted and we had about 9 different jams and jellies (and one honey). Many were on the unique side, likely purchased to use in a recipe. One of the jars I discovered (rediscovered?) was apple pie jam. I immediately knew that I was going to use it in a recipe this week.

I wanted to highlight the jam, so I looked for a fairly simple recipe. I found this shortbread bar that I thought would be perfect. You could use any type of jam or preserves, as I doubt that you’d be able to find apple pie jam. The original recipe called for 1-1/2 cups of jam, but I my jar was 12 ounces, about 1 cup, which was fine. These bars are super buttery, but you do get the spiced flavor of apple pie as well. I really like the great fall flavors in these bars.

Apple Pie Jam Shortbread Bars
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely ground almonds
2 3/4 cups flour
12 ounces Apple Pie jam
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick spray.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on medium until light. Add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Gradually add the almonds and flour and mix on low, just until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into two halves. Wrap one half of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Press the other half of the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned along the edges. Cool for 10 minutes.

Spread the jam evenly over the partially baked crust. Remove the rest of the dough from the refrigerator and crumble the dough over the jam. You won’t complete cover the jam, but that’s ok. Gently press the dough down with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. If desired, dust lightly with powdered sugar before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Recipe Girl