Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nanaimo Bars

...otherwise known as crack. Warning: these things are seriously addicting! Everytime I make them I always end up eating a quarter of the pan. They have a delicious combo of crunchy, dense bottom, creamy center, and chocolatey top. Even though they're called bars, they're actually more like fudge, so cut the squares smallish (1"x1"). They're also labor-intensive (3 hrs in the fridge, between stages) but very very worth while. All told, this currently stands as my favorite dessert recipe!

Recipe from
* 1/2 unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1/4 granulated white sugar
* 1/3 unsweetened cocoa
* 1 large egg, beaten
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
* 2 graham cracker crumbs
* 1 c coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)
* 1/2 c walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

* 1/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 - 3 tbsp milk or cream
* 2 tbsp vanilla custard powder (Bird's) or vanilla pudding powder
* 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
* 2 c powdered sugar

* 4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
* 1 tbsp unsalted butter

-Note: I have always found I've needed to double or even triple the ingredients for the topping, but you can always start with the above and make more if need be.

Bottom Layer:
In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

In your electric mixer cream the butter. Beat in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Cool until lukewarm but still maleable. Spread over the filling and refrigerate.

To prevent the chocolate from cracking, use a sharp knife and bring the squares to room temperature before cutting.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Apple Pie Blondies

Please don't hate me! This is an experiment of mine and, while it turned out very, very well, I didn't take notes on what I was doing. The end result was gorgeous though. A blondie (white-chocolate brownie) with spiced apples throughout it, covered in a white chocolate-apple ganache: mmmmmmm.

Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes

These are a variation of the delicious black-bottom cupcakes from -- chocolate base with a cream-cheese dollop in the center. Instead these have a lemon pound cake base with a blueberry center. I pondered giving them a lemon glaze, but boyo claims they're sweet enough already. The blueberry is more prevelant this way!

Lemon Cake:
* 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 c granulated white sugar
* 4 large eggs
* 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
* Zest of one lemon

For Pound Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put paper-liners in a cupcake tin.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter until soft and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy (about 3 - 5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the lemon juice and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With mixer on low, add the flour mixture beating just until batter is smooth. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, making sure you do not over mix.

Fill each cupcake holder almost full (slightly greater than 3/4.) Move on to the filling!

Blueberry Filling:
* 1 package frozen blueberries
* 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
* 1/4 c sugar (or less, to taste)
* 8 oz cream cheese, softened
* 1/3 c sugar
* 1 egg

Heat the blueberries until thawed, press berries through a strainer back into saucepan and discard the skins. Boil the juice, lemon juice, and 1/4 c sugar until there's about 1/2 cup left; set aside to cool.

Beat the cream cheese, 1/3 c sugar, and egg until smooth; add cooled blueberry sauce and stir until combined.

Dollop ~1tbsp of the blueberry filling on top of the cake batter. Bake for 20 minutes.