Apple Blackberry Crumble Bars

Good afternoon everyone!! I hope that your St. Patrick’s Day was filled with lots of green, clovers, and hopefully not too many green treats, because to be honest, those kind of scare me. Mine was pretty uneventful, but this coming weekend is going to be filled with lots of news. In the next few weeks, I’m going to be receiving all of my college notifications, which is a little bit stressful to say the least. But, the only thing that I can do at this point is wait, and to help you wait too, I made you something that isn’t green!

-4My last ever state gymnastics meet is this coming weekend. I’m still having a hard time thinking about that, but I knew that this day would come eventually. I’ve been at my gym for 7 years, and it’s sad to think that this is the last time that I’ll be able to wear my leotard and warmups. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to a sport that I’ve spent so much of my life participating in, but I’m hoping that wherever I go I will be able to compete on a club team or even train at a gym recreationally.

-1I always seem to end up with tons of apples at my house. I love to eat them as a healthy after school or gymnastics snack, but there are some weeks where there seems to be an endless supply of apples in our kitchen. I’ve made so many apple desserts that are just so similar, and I wanted something a little different. These crumb bars are a mixture of a buttery shortbread crust, cinnamony apples, and a slightly tart layer of all natural blackberry preserves. While you can use whatever you would like, I love the mixture between these 2 and would highly recommend it.

Apple Blackberry Crumble Bars- From Annie’s Eats

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling:

  • 4 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and coarsely diced
  • 5 tbsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fruit jam (I used peach)

For the topping:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

Directions:

  1. To prepare the filling, in a large skillet combine the apples, sugar, and cinnamon.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until apples are tender but still firm.  In a small cup, whisk together cornstarch and lemon juice.  Add to the apple mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly for 3 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.  Line an 8×8” baking dish with foil, leaving overhang on both sides for easy removal later.  Grease foil.
  3. To make the base, in a medium bowl combine flour, sugar and salt.  Mix well.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, two forks or your hands, until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.  Remove from the oven.  Spread the fruit jam evenly on the base while it is still hot.  Top with the cooked apple mixture.
  4. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients for the topping.  Mix well until combined and crumbly.  Sprinkle over the apple layer.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Using the foil, lift out of pan.  Cut into squares and serve.  (If desired, refrigerate before cutting to firm up a bit for easier slicing.)

Enjoy!

-Rayna 🙂

 

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Chewy Butterfinger Blondies

Happy Halloween! I hope your day is filled with many chocolates, sugar comas, and of course fantastic costumes. I know pumpkin is all the rage for Halloween, but I figured a recipe that will help you get rid of all of that candy you’re going to collect tonight would be pretty helpful too. While this could work with a variety of candies, I like how the crumbly texture of the Butterfinger works with the chewy blondie.

-3

I don’t really care about Halloween very much. There. I said it. I don’t understand the allure of spending money on a ridiculous costume you are going to wear once as you walk around freezing outside knocking on strangers’ doors asking for candy, just so you can go home and eat so much that you get sick. Fun? No, not to me. I stopped trick-or-treating when I was in sixth grade, which was the year that I started to take gymnastics seriously, and I wasn’t going to miss practice to go walking around outside.

-1

Just because I don’t like Halloween doesn’t mean I don’t like candy though! Butterfingers are one of my favorites with their chocolate outside and uniquely textured inside, so I grabbed a blondie from Warm Vanilla Sugar and got going. The end result was a chewy, nutty and butterfinger-y treat to help me celebrate Halloween. These are just too simple not to whip up!

Chewy Butterfinger Blondies

Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 2¼ cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 regular-sized butterfinger candy bars, crushed

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13×9-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, combine butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour mixture and 1 cup of crushed butterfingers.
  3. Spread in prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining crushed butterfinger bars over top of batter.
  4. Bake 30- 35 minutes, or until the bars are a bit firm to the touch. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Happy Halloween!

Cherry Almond Goat Cheese Bars

During quartet camp today, I realized that it was the middle of August, and I can’t figure out how my summer managed to go by so fast. Yesterday, I finished my first week of quartet camp, which was fantastic as always. I study chamber music with the program director during the year, so being able to buckle down and work on 2 full quartets in 2 weeks is very intense, but also really fun. The members of my quartet are some of my best friends, so rehearsing with them is really great.

DSC_0054Cheesecake is such a fun but temperamental thing for me to make. As you can see, the amount of cheesecake recipes here on the blog is rather limited, but that’s partially because I have a limited audience that will actually eat the cheesecake. My family tends to stay on the healthy side (surprising for an avid baker) so super rich and creamy desserts aren’t big sellers in my house. Not to mention, goat cheese is one of the few foods that almost no one in my family really likes, so I don’t think these bars ever got the attention that they truly deserve.

DSC_0077I loved these bars that I found on Sift and Whisk. The crust is not graham cracker based, but rather crushed almonds give it not only a wonderful crunch, but an amazing warm flavor too. The mixture of the goat cheese and the cream cheese ensures that the batter is not too dry, but it has a little bit of a tangy flavor because of the goat cheese, which I just loved. The fresh cherries not only mixed into the batter but sprinkled on top provide a sweet contrast to the sour edge of the cheesecake. All in all, I can’t rave about these bars enough.

Cherry Almond Goat Cheese Bars

Ingredients

For the almond crust:

  • 1 cup (140 grams) raw, whole almonds
  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (55 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces (226 grams) goat cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (150 grams) cherries
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes, until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly, then roughly chop the almonds.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together chopped almonds, flour, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake crust for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
  3. Halve cherries and remove pits. In the bowl of a food processor, process goat cheese, cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. (If you do not have a food processor, you can use a hand or stand mixer. Beat the goat cheese and cream cheese together first, until smooth and creamy, then add the eggs and sugar.) Remove the food processor blade, then gently stir in most of the cherry halves by hand, reserving 18 cherry halves for the top. Pour filling onto cooled crust. Arrange remaining 18 cherry halves, cut side up, on top.
  4. Bake at 325°F for 35-40 minutes, until the center just barely jiggles, or a thermometer inserted in the middle of the pan reads 155-160°F. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into 16 squares and serve.

Don’t be fooled by the goat cheese- these are some great cheesecake bars.

-Rayna 🙂

 

 

Brown Butter Toffee Blondies

GUESS WHO’S DONE WITH SCHOOL?!?! That’s right, my last day of my second year of high school was this past Friday, and boy, did it feel good. I’ve surely put in my fair share of late nights and hours upon hours of studying, and having the weight of finals lifted off of my shoulders feels absolutely fantastic. My school-free schedule leaves room for plenty of baking this summer, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to post and make recipes more frequently, so I can share them with you guys!

After all of the stress of finals was done, I attended my yearly gymnastics banquet, where all of the girls, coaches, and parents celebrate the awards and accomplishments that our team has done this year. It’s always a lot of fun, and last night was no different. It’s always fun seeing all of my gymnastics friends in dresses and high heels, instead of our usual leotards and velvet shorts. In honor of the graduating senior, who got a FULL gymnastics scholarship to the University of New Hampshire, I made adorable sugar cookies with the Wildcat blue paw-print on them, and I can’t wait to share the recipe with you.

These blondies will change your life. I’m not exaggerating. At all. Deanna was at my house, and as soon as I saw these in Martha Stewart’s Cookie book, I knew that these would be a hit for sure. I can’t even describe how good these were, especially warm right out of the oven. The brown butter gives a nutty, warm quality that just made the dessert so decadent, and the bits of toffee just added a bite of heath-y, caramel-y goodness. Not to mention, they have the most gorgeous golden brown color. Do yourself and your dad a favor, and make these for Father’s day. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Brown Butter Toffee Blondies

Makes One 13×9 pan

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons abking powder
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup toffee bits

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown; remove from heat, and let cool. Whisk together flour and baking powder.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine browned butter and both sugar, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Attach the bowl to the mixer and add the eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture, walnuts and toffee bits. Mix until just combined, and pour into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Happy Father’s Day!

-Rayna 🙂

On-The-Fence Brownies

I am in serious need of some baking. The state’s yearly standardized tests started a few days ago, and luckily for me, they are only given to sophmores. That means that every morning for the next 2 weeks, my older brother gets to sleep in every day while I go in early to take standardized testing. You could say I’m less than pleased about that.

Gymnastics is also in full gear right at this time of year. Our last meet of the season before States is this coming weekend, so you could say that the pressure is building. This is the first year that I am able to make it to Regionals, making the 12 hours a week that I’m in the gym so much more important.

Brownies are one of those desserts that I just can’t turn down. Some are light and cakey, some are fudgy and dense, and others are loaded with fillings that just can’t be left uneaten. Enter these On The Fence brownies. These decadent delights from King Arthur Flour’s Cookie Companion are the perfect balance between a dense, fudgy brownie and a light and cakey one, which is exactly what I love in a brownie. So after all of this craziness is done, you can be sure to find me in my living room couch watching the Big Bang Theory, and eating these brownies. 🙂

On-The-Fence Brownies

Makes 1 9 by 13 inch pan, or 2 dozen 2 inch brownies.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (3 3/4 ounces) cocoa powder (Dutch-processed if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) walnuts/pecans (optional)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In the microwave or over a double boiler, heat the butter, then add in the sugar and stir to combine. Heat the mixture again until the sugar dissolves more.
  3. Add in the cocoa, baking powder, and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, and stir until smooth. Add the flour, then the nuts and chips, and stir until smooth.
  4. Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before taking them out of the pan.

Everyone needs a good brownie recipe, and I think I’ve found mine 🙂

-Rayna 🙂

The brownies are pictured with the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling.

Peanut Butter Snickers Brownies

With Halloween just around the corner, there’s candy everywhere! 🙂 So to start of Halloween baking this year, and seeing Peanut Butter Snickers in the store, there was only one logical option. Although Twix may be my favorite candy, Snickers come in at a pretty close second. Add some more peanut butter to an already decadent dessert, and I’m one happy girl 🙂

Through many attempts at brownie recipes, I’ve found that I like my brownies on the cakier side, with just a little bit of fudge in the middle. These brownies fit that criteria exactly. If you’re more of a fudgy brownie person, feel free to use your own recipe and throw some peanut butter snickers in, you won’t be disappointed!

Peanut Butter Snickers Brownies- From My Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter (You can be generous!)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 12 Peanut Butter Snickers Squares, cut into fourths

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 inch baking pan
  2. Microwave the butter and chocolate for 3-4 minutes, or until the butter is melted.
  3. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and stir in the sugar. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually add in the flour and stir until just combined.
  4. Spread 1/2 the batter into the baking dish and cover with an even layer of snickers. Add in the other 1/2 of the batter and cover with remaining snickers.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes (Don’t overbake!) and cool completely.

This brownie recipe really does take the cake! 😉

-Rayna 🙂

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

I’m always looking for excuses to bake overly excessive amounts food. Because why not? So when my mom had a dessert party at our place for all of the incoming freshman going to Vassar, (where she went to college) my baking brain was in heaven! I’ll spread out the recipes over a couple of posts so you don’t have to read too much while getting ready for school (something all of us are dreading). Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies: Makes 9 large or 16 small brownies

From Martha Stewart

Ingredients

For the Batter

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped**
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Filling

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray an 8×8 baking pan.
  2. Batter: Microwave the semisweet chocolate and the unsalted butter in a large microwave-proof bowl for about 1 1/2 minutes or until smooth, stirring after every thirty seconds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and the baking powder.
  3. Whisk the granulated sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs, and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, and stir until combined.
  4. Filling: Stir together the butter, confectioners sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  5. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the pan and smooth out with a rubber spatula. Drop dollops of peanut butter filling on top of the batter, about 1 inch apart. Drizzle the remaining batter on top, and spread to fill the pan. Drop remaining peanut butter filling on top. Gently swirl with a butter knife, running lengthwise and crosswise through layers.
  6. Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs, but not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes then dig in!

** If you would like a less sweet brownie, use 4 ounces semisweet chocolate and 2 ounces bittersweet

It’s peanut butter. It’s chocolate. It’s a brownie. It’s amazing. 🙂

-Rayna 🙂

Toffee Cashew Blondies

When you combine the crumbly goodness of a blondie with the crunch and the warm flavor of a nut with just a touch of toffee bits, what’s not to love? My brother is notorious for complaining about how much I bake with peanut butter, so I figured I would take a break from the endless peanut butter (recipes to come 🙂 ). So, I thought it would be nice to take a break from not only peanut butter, but make a bar cookie- something I haven’t made in awhile. And boy did he love these. So will you!

Toffee Cashew Blondies (from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped unsalted cashews
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8 baking dish.
  2. Mix together flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  3. Cream together the brown sugar and the butter. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  4. Add in the flour mixture until well combined. Mix in the cashews, toffee bits, and butterscotch chips (if you’re using them).
  5. Bake until golden brown, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs, about 42-45 minutes.

Nutty and Blondies. What’s not to love? 🙂

-Rayna 🙂

Baci Brownies with Nutella Buttercream

Hello there again fellow bakers!

I modified this amazing recipe from Gingerbread Bagels

I switched it up a bit though.

See, I made this because my sister is going away to camp for 6 weeks. And she doesn’t like blondies. Because she’s picky, and because she’s my little sister.

I forgot to take pictures of the steps and all because I was too annoyed at the lack of BUTTER in my household. We have dried chrysanthemum flowers but no BUTTER? There is something wrong with this equation.

That’s what aunts are for though, right? She was so kind to bring me to the grocery store and buy butter with me 🙂 (along with my multigrain low fat waffles :p)

Here’s my modified version, but I’m sure if I had stuck with the original way, they would have turned out better.

Baci Brownies

  • 1 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Baci bar (I used Lindt with Hazelnuts) chopped/broken into pieces

Directions

1. Set the oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8×8 baking pan

2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa powder. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the light brown sugar, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Once combined, add the eggs in.

4. Slowly add in the dry ingredients (half and half is what I generally do) and fold in. Be careful not to overmix!

5. Add the chopped up Baci bar to the batter and fold to combine

6. Put in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. (You can add some chocolate chips/ baci bar pieces to the top so they get all melty and yummy :D)

7. Set aside to cool and then glob on the delectable Nutella Buttercream!

Nutella Buttercream

  • 7 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 1-1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a bowl, mix together the butter, Nutella, and vanilla extract

2. Once well mixed, add in 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, followed by 1/4 cup of heavy cream.

3. Repeat step 2 with the remaining powdered sugar and heavy cream.

4. Use all the willpower to have NOT to eat the entire bowl while mixing (electric mixer works best, I used hand) on high for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy.

Spread the ooey gooey buttercream on the brownies and enjoy!