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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cookie butter brown sugar streusel bars

A friend of mine made these and told me that they were awesome....so I had to make them.  I even had the cookie butter at home, but it had expired, so I had to wait a little while until I made it back to Trader Joe's to pick some up.  In the mean time, I did come across some Biscoff butter at Target, but I knew I liked the Trader Joe's Speculoos butter (I used it a while ago when I made the chocolate cups), so I just went with that one.

The best thing about these bars?  Besides the fact that they are totally delicious?!  They are a one bowl recipe!

The bar is basically a decadent brown sugar blondie with the addition of cookie butter, topped with a cinnamony streusel topping, and then drizzled with more melted cookie butter.  Did I mention that they were decadent?  And heavenly?  And delicious? 

And just an FYI, I made these in a 9x9 inch pan (simply because that's what I have), and they ended up baking for 28 minutes.

Cookie Butter Brown Sugar Streusel Bars
From Averie Cooks


For the bars:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (you could also use browned butter)
1 large egg
1 cup brown sugar, packed (I used light; dark may be used for more robust flavor)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
heaping 1/3 cup smooth Cookie Butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt, optional and to taste
For the streusel topping:
1/4 cup unsalted butter (half of one stick), softened
1/2 cup whole rolled old-fashioned oats (not quick cook or instant)
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I used light; dark may be used for more robust flavor)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1+ teaspoon cinnamon, to taste (add to taste.  She used 2 teaspoons, I used a little more)
2 tablespoons Cookie Butter, melted for final drizzle after baking
Make the bars

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line an 8-by-8-inch pan (or in my case, a 9x9 pain) with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray.
Set aside.

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter.
Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don't scramble the egg.
Add the egg, 1 cup brown sugar, vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and whisk or stir until smooth.
Add the heaping 1/3 cup Cookie Butter, and stir to incorporate.
Add the flour, optional salt, and stir until just combined; don't overmix.
Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
Set pan aside.

Make the topping.

In the same bowl you made the batter in (provided you scraped it fairly clean with a spatula), add all the streusel ingredients except the 2 tablespoons cookie butter for final drizzle post-baking, and work the mixture with a spoon, a pastry cutter, or your hands until small pebbles form.
Sprinkle topping evenly over base layer (it looks like there's quite a bit, but it seeps in during baking....also, it looks like less when you use a bigger pan ;-)).

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until center is set and not wiggly and the edges are set and have pulled away slightly from sides of pan. It will be hard to determine how set the center is because it's hard to see what's going on underneath the streusel topping and edges are the best clues. Testing for doneness in the center with a toothpick is another clue; toothpick should come out mostly clean.

After bars emerge from the oven, heat 2 tablespoons of Cookie Butter in the microwave to melt, about 15 seconds.
Immediately and evenly drizzle Cookie Butter over the top.
Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Store bars in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Baked apple cider donuts

Ever since I saw this recipe a week and a half ago, I just HAD to make it.  Despite my statement that the only things I drink with calories are coffee and alcohol, I secretly adore apple cider.  It is, to me, fall in a cup.  Now just because I love it doesn't mean I buy it or drink it often, but this recipe for baked apple cider donuts just screamed out to me.  The combination of my love of apple cider and B's love of donuts make it seem like a good recipe to try.  That, and the fact that I had just bought a donut pan (I don't love donuts, partly due to the fact that they're deep fried).

My goal had been to make these Sunday, the first day of fall, but I neglected to notice apple butter on the ingredient list, and then didn't have a chance to get any for a few days.  So these are a little bit belated for the first day of fall, but seeing as the weather hasn't quite decided if it is summer or fall, I figured I had a little leeway in terms of baking them ;-)

Two things about this recipe:
1. I have a mini donut pan.  It took so little batter to fill each cavity 1/2-2/3 of the way full, and they baked in 6 minutes.  I got frustrated having to fill those small cavities that I switched to a mini bundt pan for the rest of the "donuts."
2. I sprinkled them with sugar.  They were OK.  So I decided to use cinnamon sugar (a trick I borrowed from my great grandmother's coffee cake recipe.  Even better!!

The one on the left is the one I made in the mini bundt cake
pan.  The one on the right is from the mini donut pan.
Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
from RecipeGirl (there's even nutritional information on her site, link above)


Granulated sugar for preparing pans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Coat pan with nonstick spray or oil.
Sprinkle with sugar, shaking out excess.  Or make a simple cinnamon sugar, mixing granulated sugar and cinnamon until desired cinnamoniness.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, apple butter, maple syrup, cider, yogurt and oil.
Add dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.
Divide half of the batter among the cavities in the prepared pan, spoon about 2 generous Tbsp. of batter into each cavity (This must have been for a regular-sized donut tin, mine barely used one Tbsp; about 2-3Tbsp filled each of my mini bundt pan cavities).  Don’t fill them to the top or your doughnuts will lose their holes when the batter puffs up while baking!
Bake 10 to 12 minutes (My mini donuts took 6 minutes, mini bundt "donuts" took 10 minutes), or until the tops spring back when touched lightly.
Loosen edges and turn the doughnuts out onto a rack to cool.
Clean the pan, re-coat it with spray and sugar.
Repeat with remaining batter.
Ice your doughnuts, if desired:
Sift 1 cup powdered sugar and mix w/ 2 ounces light cream cheese, a dash of cinnamon and enough nonfat milk to create a spreading or dipping consistency. (If I made icing, I might try using apple cider instead of milk.  It would be less white, but I think the flavor on an apple cider donut might be extra yummy).
Dip tops of doughnuts into the icing, then set right side up on a rack to let the icing set.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chewy apple oatmeal cookies

Apples are synonymous with fall, at least in my opinion.  Apple picking (which I haven't done in a while and am dying to go).  Apple cider.  Apple cookies.  Fall. 

Although you can't tell based on the weather in New York City today (it was a perfect 78 degrees), fall is right around the corner (3 days, to be exact).  So it seemed only fitting that on my day off today, I would bake something with apples.  I actually had two things in mind, but I needed apple cider for the other recipe, and I couldn't find it at two grocery stores (I know a grocery store that would have it, but it's a little far away....so I'll save that recipe for tomorrow).

It's probably not a surprise to you all that I love oatmeal raisin cookies (I do!), so I was excited to try this recipe.  I (not so shockingly) made them smaller than the recipe called for, so I stopped counting after the first 40 cookies, with a few more batches baked afterwards.  They're pretty awesome! 

I even think I have some of those awesome cinnamon chips in the cabinet, and those might make these cookies even more often (not that they need to be made better!).

Chewy Apple Oatmeal Cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown packed brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (I accidentally used a little more)
3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped dried apples


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix well.
Stir in oats and apples.
Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 in. (I used my cookie scooper and mine were smaller) apart onto ungreased baking sheets (I used parchment paper).
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown (since mine were smaller, 7-8 minutes was enough).
Let stand for 1 minute before removing to wire racks. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Twin baby shower chocolate lollipops

A friend of mine has a good friend who is pregnant with twin boys!  So exciting!  So for the baby shower this weekend, my friend R asked me to make some treats.  Given the hecticness of the two weeks before, I decided that cupcakes and cookies would be out, since they'd go stale by the time the shower rolled around.  Chocolate lollipops, on the other hand, would last a week in the fridge.

And I already had the molds!  I used (almost all of) them for R's baby shower just over 3 and a half years ago.  The biggest change was that for R's shower, I made "it's a girl" lollipops, and this time they said "it's twins" instead.  And I didn't make the strollers, because I thought that the other ones were way cuter.  So this time I made rattles, baby booties, "it's twins," bottles, pacifiers, and bibs.

And then I packaged them up in a cute little box with gold and silver curling ribbons (that I bought today and couldn't wait to use)!

Grapefruit yogurt cake

I have a new coworker -- she started less than 2 months ago.  The other day we were standing in the kitchen chatting (really, I was showing off a picture of the chocolate lollipops that are going to be up in a few days), and she had recommended a recipe to me.  She had made a grapefruit yogurt cake from Smitten Kitchen that she said was really good.  So, since I changed my mind and decided not to bring home the New York style crumb cake (turns out my grandmother made my great grandmother's coffee cake) for the break fast, I made the grapefruit yogurt cake instead!


I over-reduced the grapefruit juice-granulated sugar mixture, so I added a little extra juice.  And I added the glaze before the cake was completely cooled because, well, it was late and I needed to go to bed.  How's that for honesty?  Oh, and since the glaze was a little thin (most likely because the cake was still warm), I scooped up some of the run-off and "reglazed" the cake.

Grapefruit Yogurt Cake
From Smitten Kitchen


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used fat free Greek yogurt)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon grated grapefruit zest (approximately one large grapefruit)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice


Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan.
Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Grease and flour the pan.  Oops....Missed that part.  Mine needed a quick run of the knife around the edges and it popped right out of the pan -- and the parchment paper didn't even stick to the bottom of the cake.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla.
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup grapefruit juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.
Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Although it didn't say so, I assumed that this was the point at which to remove the cake.
Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan.
While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and grapefruit juice and pour over the cake.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New York style crumb cake

When I told my coworker that I wanted to bake something for Yom Kippur, the comment was met with a quizzical look.  See, on Yom Kippur, we fast.  So saying that I was going to bake something on a day when one doesn't eat seemed, well, bizarre.  But what I meant to say was that I wanted to bake something for the break fast -- the meal that we eat when the fast is over.  What better treat to bake than a coffee or crumb cake?!

I pinned this recipe a while ago.  The original recipe called for jam, but I decided that I didn't want to use it.  Until I read a review that said it was better with jam.  So I went with the blueberry jam that it called for.  The reviewer said any jam would work, so I have a long list of flavors I'd like to try now (next up: raspberry).  But frankly, the blueberry is so good, that I may not ever stray from it.

New York Style Crumb Cake
From no other than Ms. Martha Stewart


For the crumb topping:

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)  
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Coarse salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 cup store-bought blueberry jam (optional)

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Make the crumb topping:
Mix together flour, sugars, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
Pour warm melted butter over mixture, and mix using your hands until medium to large clumps form.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Make the cake:
Butter (I used Pam) a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Beat in eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, then vanilla.
Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Continue to beat until well combined.

Spoon batter into pan, and spread evenly using an offset spatula.
Spread with jam, if using.
Sprinkle crumb-topping mixture evenly over top.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Transfer pan to a wire rack.
Let cake cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
Dust with confectioners' sugar.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chocolate-dipped sugar cookies

B and I had our first date a just over a year ago (a year and 10 days ago, not that I'm counting or anything ;-)).  In hopes that we'd get to see each other, I made some dark-chocolate dipped sugar cookie hearts for the occasion.  Of course we didn't get to see each other that day, as I had to go to work and he had to work from home (it's OK, we had a lovely dinner the Friday night beforehand), so the cookies are still in my fridge.

See, I had leftover red sugar cookie dough from the lobster sugar cookies I made the week before.  Since I had dyed it all red at the beginning, I was limited in what sugar cookie shapes I could make with red dough (apples?  hearts?  cars?).  Well, hearts won out.  I think it's pretty clear why.  But regardless, I wanted to do something fun with the cookies.  So why not dip them in chocolate?  I personally love dark chocolate - as does B - so it was clear that dark chocolate was the best option.  White would've been pretty, too, but dark was a better option.

I ended up sprinkling some white nonpareils on some and mini heart sprinkles on the others.

The recipe for the sugar cookie dough can be found here

After they had baked and cooled, I dipped them in some melted dark chocolate and placed them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  While the chocolate was still wet, I sprinkled on some sprinkles.  Then, I put them in the fridge to set up.