Tag Archives: dessert

End of Summer Strawberry Peach Crisp

7 Sep

There is nothing that I love more than strolling through my local farmer’s market on warm summer mornings with my family and sampling the delectable varieties of peaches, plums, plots, and nectarines that the farmers display with such pride. All year I wait for the mouth-watering stone fruits to arrive, and when they finally do I take it upon myself to see how many of the juicy beauties I can eat before they disappear once more.

Now that Labor day has come and gone, summer is officially starting to come to an end. This recipe is the perfect way to savor the delicious summer berries and stone fruits before it’s too late.

Because the fruits are at their sweetest and most succulent, they do most of the work for you. Simply chop up the fruits and toss together some sugar, flour, butter, and spice and bake!

As you can probably tell by the amount of fruit this recipe calls for, it feeds a crowd. Feel free to cut the entire recipe in half for a reasonable 9 inch by 9 inch crisp, or make the whole thing and freeze the leftovers so that you can lavish in the sweetness of summer even a few months down the road.

End of Summer Strawberry Peach Crisp

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Serves: Many (about 12-18 depending on how hungry your guests are)

Ingredients:

  • Fruit filling
    • 4 white peaches
    • 8 yellow peaches
    • 3 pounds of strawberries (about 3 pints)
    •  3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    •  1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
    •  1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Topping
    • 1  cup brown sugar
    •  1/2 cup call purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
    •  1 1/3 cup rolled oats
    •  1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) softened butter (or substitute coconut butter if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, then butter a 9″ x 13″ glass or cermanic baking dish.
  2. Whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt.
  3. Toss the flour mixture with the peaches, strawberries, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract. Then spoon the filling into the prepared pan.
  4. Use a fork to combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, and spices, then mixing in the soft butter until the mixture is crumbly.
  5. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit mixture, shaking the pan to distribute it evenly.
  6. Bake the crisp for about 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven, and cool briefly before serving.

***the topping makes more than needed for a 9 by 13 inch dish, so make only half a batch, or use the extra crumble on top of  oatmeal, ice cream, yogurt, muffins, or other fruit

Roommate Cookies (aka Momofuku Milk Bar Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies)

29 Aug

After three tedious mornings of taking the SAT, weeks of college essay revision, and months of waiting for college acceptance letters, I am finally a university student at my dream school. For the past week I’ve been living in the arts and humanities building with my incredible suite mates, and I’m loving every minute of it.

What did I do my first weekend of college? Bake cookies of course!

When I went home for the weekend, I wanted to bring a nice big batch of cookies for the dorm. These couldn’t just be any cookies, they had to be knock your socks off cookies to introduce my constant baking. So I turned to the brilliance of Christina Tossi’s Momofuku cookies.

They turned out even better then I had expected. They were so delicious that my floor mates and I eagerly devoured them within a day. They integrated the staples of a college student’s diet: cookies, chocolate, marshmallows, milk, and cereal.

The crunchy cornflake crumb and gooey marshmallows are reminiscent of rice krispy treats, while the buttery dough and chocolate chips are similar to traditional chocolate chip cookies.

The cookies take a lot of prep time between making the cornflake crunch, creaming the butter and sugar for 10 minutes, and allowing the dough rounds to chill for over an hour, but they are worth it!

By making the cookies smaller, reducing the butter by half a cup and substituting half of the mini chocolate chips for higher quality dark chocolate chips, I made the cookies slightly lighter so that you can eat two or three of them without a terrible stomach ache or sugar rush. Trust me, there’s no way to stop after just one.

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar via Daily Candy

Yield: 15-20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1¼ cup mini marshmallows
  • 3 cups Cornflake Crunch
    • 3 3/4 cup cornflakes
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk powder
    • 1/4 cup plus 3/4 teaspoon sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 6 tablespoons plus 2 1/4 teaspoons butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275° and line 4 large baking trays with parchment.
  2. Prepare the cornflake crunch by crushing the cornflakes with your hands in a medium bowl to 1/4 their original size. Add milk powder, sugar, and salt, then toss to mix. Add butter, then toss to coat. The butter will act as a binding agent to combine the dry ingredients with the cereal, creating small clusters. On a lined sheet pan, spread the clusters and bake for 20 minutes, until they are toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed. Allow them to cool completely.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Using a spatula, scrape down sides of bowl, then add egg and vanilla and beat 7-8 more minutes.
  4. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Mix just until dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step or risk overmixing.) Scrape down sides of bowl. Still on low speed, paddle in cornflakes and chips until just incorporated, about 30-45 seconds. Then paddle in marshmallows.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup scoop to plop the dough onto the remaining lined pans, leaving 3 inches between cookies. Pat tops of dough domes flat. Wrap pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week. Do not bake room-temperature disks — they will not hold their shape.
  6. Once again preheat the oven. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until cookies are browned on edges and just beginning to brown toward the center. Cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. Leave them in oven for another minute or so if they still seem pale and doughy on the surface.
  7. Cool the cookies completely on pan before moving them to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temperature, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Festive Summer Fruit Basket

22 Jul

I always count down the days until my favorite summer fruits starts to flood the farmer’s market stands. Oranges and apples are nice, but nothing can beat the taste of a ripe mid-summer peach or a juicy pint of strawberries. They are delicious in compotes, pies, jams, or tarts but I think that they are best eaten plain.

So often people feel entitled (myself far too often included) to a sugar-packed treat after dinner or even after lunch. However, when fresh fruits are so sweet and delectable, there’s no need to turn to goodies with added sugar because fruit tastes even better. Fruit takes less time to prepare, is far healthier, tastes better, and can be even prettier than any baked treat.

The next time you’re entertaining and need a fun way to end the meal, give this fruity basket a try. Its cute presentation will thrill kids and adults alike!

Summer Fruit Watermelon Basket 

Adapted from the National Watermelon Promotion Board

Materials:

  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1 pint of strawberries
  • 1 large seedless watermelon
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen and paring knives
  • Nontoxic green dry erase marker
  • thin rope or ribbon
  • Large bowl and spoon
  • Melon baller
  • cookie cutters in hearts, stars, and other fun shapes

Directions:

  1. Rinse strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Cut the strawberries in half and set all berries aside.
  2. Wash watermelon and pat dry.
  3. Place the watermelon on its side and cut off the bottom  1/4 to 1/2 inch so it can stand up flat.  Make sure not to cut too deep into the white part of the rind so that the liquid doesn’t leak from bottom of the melon.
  4. Stand the watermelon on its cut end then use the dry erase marker to draw a line about 1/3 of the way down from the top, around the whole watermelon. Use the rope or ribbon to make sure that you make a smooth line going around the melon.
  5. Pick a point on the line and find the corresponding point on the exact opposite side of the watermelon. From those points measure 1 inch to the right and to the left. Connect those points by using the rope to draw two parallel lines across the top forming the handle.
  6. Use the paring knife to cut along the horizontal line and two vertical lines. Go very slowly with gentle force so as not to break or crack handle. For best results, hold paring knife like a pen, but only cut half way into rind. Once you complete that first cut all the way around, go back and cut the rest of the way through the rind. Doing the cut in two steps will ensure a cleaner line and smoother cuts.
  7. Make a cut around the inside perimeter and carefully remove the trimmed rind and flesh. Try to remove as much as possible in large portions that can later be sliced and used with the cookie cutters.
  8. Scoop out remaining flesh from base, trying to leave as much flesh intact. Remove it in larger pieces that can be used for making watermelon balls or bite-sized chunks.
  9. Using cookie cutters, cut shapes from watermelon. Se the shapes aside on a paper towel to drain.
  10. Use the melon baller to scoop out balls of watermelon.
  11. Then use a large spoon to remove any unsalvageable watermelon and puree it and mix it with lemonade or freeze it to make popsicles.
  12. Start filling the carved out melon with a mixture of watermelon and berries from the first step. Make sure to save the fruit cut outs for the top of the melon.
  13. Arrange any remaining fruit around the perimeter of the melon.
  14. Optional: Use a shovel or cake mix sand to create a beachy vibe.

Focusing On What Really Matters With Fluffernutter Chocolate Puddles

17 Jul

Sometimes we all get so caught up in our to-do lists that we lose track of what’s really important. I’ve always struggled with separating the things that I need to do from the things that I want to do. FOr years this has been a constant source of self-inflicted angst. For instance, in high school I would always shoot for the highest A I could get instead of simply being satisfied with a 90%, I used to feel a need to check in with each of the blogs that I read on a daily basis to make sure that I didn’t miss out on anything, and I always tried to publish the greatest possible number of posts here on ModernAlice per week.

While these may be characteristic qualities of perfectionism, a few weeks ago I decided that I wasn’t going to let my goals derail me from simply making the most of every moment and living a bit more spontaneously. Some people may call it slacking off, but I simply call it reevaluating my priorities. Spending time fully focused on my friends, family, and boyfriend is my greatest priority, and I am making sure that my habits and time distribution reflect that.

What this means for my blog is that I may be blogging less frequently and with fewer step-by-step pictures of my baking projects. It also means that when I go out to dinner with my family, I will focus more on the conversation than on snapping blog-worthy photos in hopes of turning a meal into a blog post.

Now back to the cookies….

Goose and my incredible younger sisters helped me whip up these cookies and this recipe was one of my first baby steps toward more spontaneous, relaxed baking. The recipe is pretty simple and adaptable, so this is a great place to start relinquishing my kitchen control.

I baked these cookies twice last year and got rave reviews both times, so instead of spending precious time searching the internet for recipe inspiration, I wanted to share this delicious stand by with you. It combines a slightly healthier peanut butter cookie base with ooey gooey marshmallows and a decadent chocolate glaze. What’s not to love? These are a snap to whip up and a great way to show the people in your life that you care.

This ooey gooey cookie is the antitheses of light and delicate Parisian macarons. It’s a purely American mishmash of beloved flavors: salty peanut butter, sugary marshmallow, and rich chocolate. The cookies are perfect in their imperfection. What matters most about cookies are how delicious they taste, not how beautiful they look. Allow the marshmallows to deform as desires and the chocolate to spread or drizzle however it wants, and simply embrace the puddles of deliciousness.

Fluffernutter Chocolate Puddles 

Adapted from Bakegirl

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown  sugar
  • 
1 egg
1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 bag of large marshmallows (or you can use minis if you prefer)
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate (chips, bars, or chunks)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk (or heavy whipping cream if you want a thicker glaze)
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda, salt, and flour. Set the dry mixture aside.
  3. Combine the egg and both sugars in a medium bowl and whisk until the until the mixture becomes pale yellow. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring out the peanut butter, then use a spatula to combine.
  5. Add the flour mixture from step two to the wet ingredients and mix until fully combined.
  6. Roll the cookie dough into balls, then slightly flatten them and place the disks on the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 5-7 minutes.
  7. In the meantime prepare the chocolate glaze by placing the butter and chocolate in the bowl of double boiler. Occasionally stir the mixture, then once it’s almost entirely lump-free, whisk in the milk. Set aside.
  8.  Remove the cookies from the oven and lightly press a large marshmallow (or 3-4 small ones) into the top of each cookie and bake for another 2-3 minutes so that the marshmallow softens.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool for 2-3 minutes. Use a fork to lightly drizzle or a spoon to drop the chocolate onto the cookies.
  10. Allow the cookies to cool on baking racks for as long as you can wait, then enjoy!

Four Bite Sized Desserts for the Fourth

4 Jul

Fourth of July is one of the most beloved American holidays because not only does it celebrate America’s hard-won freedom, it also gives Americans a great deal of freedom as to how they want to celebrate. While a BBQ and fireworks are traditional, there is no necessity to do anything other than have a good time. You don’t have to buy gifts, spend lots of money, or go through the stress of planning the perfect holiday meal. Fireworks are free, the beach is open to everyone, and barbecuing is way easier than planning a sit-down dinner party. The Fourth of July is an excuse simply to hang out and have a good time.

And what could be a better complement to your BBQ than a few homemade American desserts. Instead of getting super elaborate with the sweets, keep it easy with rice krispies, lemon bars, s’mores, or brownies. In bite-sized squares, these treats are easy to pick up and nibble on at any point of your 4th of July celebration.

I chose to update these American classics a bit with Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats, Light and Tangy Lemon Bars, S’mores Cups, and Chewy, Chocolate-Studded Brownies. When I made these desserts for a casual get-together with friends a few weeks ago, the s’mores bites and lemon bars were both HUGE hits.

Just a secret between you and me…these desserts are all a bit healthier than most treats, so you can indulge without feeling guilty. These desserts each take less than an hour to whip up, so make all four or just stick with one of two.

This year we are having a BBQ and outdoor screening of Independence Day for some of our friends and just keeping it simple and relaxed. What are you doing to celebrate?

Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats

Adapted from Krissy’s Creations

Serves 16 (to make 24 treats, I  made mine in a 9 by 13 inch pan and multiplied all ingredients by 1.5)

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag of large marshmallows
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla bean extract)
  • 5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
 Directions
  1. Butter the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Continue to cook until the butter has turned a golden brown color, about 7 minutes.
  3. Place a mesh strainer over a large saucepan and pour the browned butter through the strainer to remove any little black dots (the slightly burned pieces). Place the large saucepan over low heat and add the marshmallows and salt.  Stir occasionally until the marshmallows are completely melted and smooth, then mix in the vanilla. Make sure not to keep the marshmallow mixture over the heat for too long otherwise your rice krispy treats will turn out hard and crunchy instead of soft and chewy.
  4. Add the cereal to the marshmallows and stir until the cereal is completely coated with the melted marshmallows.Remove from the heat and stir a few more times to make sure the cereal is evenly coated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let it cool slightly for 2-3 minutes, then use a rubber spatula to press it down into the pan.
  6. Let the treats cool in the pan on counter until completely cooled and hardened, about 2 hours.  Do not refrigerate them in an attempt to speed up the cooling process, as this too will make your rice krispies undesirably hard.
  7. Cut into 16 squares, and serve!

Light and Tangy Lemon Bars

Adapted from Shape Magazine

Serves 16

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 chunks

Filling

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 lemons
  • 1 lime
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Additional powdered sugar for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and lightly coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. To make the shortbread, in the bowl of a mixmaster, mix the almond meal, flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Add butter and beat until no large chunks remain and mixture is loose and sandy.
  3. Transfer to baking dish and press firmly into base and edges until even. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling by combining sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Finely zest lemons (about 2 teaspoons) and one lime (about 1 teaspoon) into bowl. Squeeze 1/3 cup juice from lemons and 1/4 cup juice two tablespoons from two limes and add to bowl along with eggs; whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour the filling over crust and return the dish to oven and bake for 30 to 32 minutes or until center is set.
  6. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Just before serving, cut the squares into 16 squares and sift powdered sugar over squares to garnish

S’mores Cups

Adapted from The Pampered Chef

Serves 24

Ingredients:

  • 8 graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 bars of chocolate, milk or dark
  • 12 large marshmallows (or 24 if you like very marshmallow filled s’mores)
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the graham crackers in a large plastic bag, and use a rolling pin to finely crush them.
  3. Using a spoon, combine the graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and butter in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin. Then evenly distribute the crumb mixture among the cups, placing about a tablespoon in each tin.
  5. Use your fingers to press crumbs to form shallow cups. Bake the graham cracker crust for 4-5 minutes, or until edges are bubbling.
  6. Meanwhile, break the candy bars into 48 rectangles. Remove the pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup.
  7. Cut marshmallows in half  crosswise (or use whole marshmallows if you like your s’mores really gooey) using kitchen shears. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup. Return to oven 2-4 minutes depending upon how toasted you like your marshmallows.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and press the chocolate pieces into the top of each marshmallow and return for them to the oven for another 1-2 minutes so that the chocolate can start to soften a bit.

Chewy, Chocolate-Studded Brownies 

Adapted from First Look, Then Cook

Serves 16

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a straight edge. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Combine 1/2 cup chocolate chips and butter in the bowl of a double boiler until melted. Remove chocolate from the heat and allow it to cool for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Stir in milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs into the chocolate mixture until combined.
  5. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the remaining cup of chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the brownies comes out almost clean.
  7. Allow the brownies to cool over e baking rack then cut into 16 squares.

Oatmeal Cookies Two Ways: Chocolate-Cherry and Butterscotch-Chip

6 Jun

I know that as summer rolls around, people start choosing frozen treats over baked goods, but I wholeheartedly believe that even during the summer, nothing can beat homemade cookies.

Butterscotch-Chip on the left and Chocolate Cherry on the right

These cookies are for when you just need a good, chewy cookie. The cookies that I have to share with you today are not soft, airy cake cookies, but rather chewy, textured oatmeal cookies. That’s why they’re best served warm with a glass of milk!

Yummy Fillings

Carmely sugar and butter mixture

Sugar mixture plus flour mixture

Dough combined

Mixed again after addition of egg and vanilla

Although my mom has always had a soft spot for  oatmeal raisin cookies, to be honest, I’ve never been a big fan. I always felt like I was getting ripped off by finding yucky raisins instead of chocolate chips in my cookies. Unlike raisins, tangy sour cherries, on the other hand, are delicious. Even still, everything is better with chocolate chips.

Two bowls of basic oatmeal cookie dough

Butterscotch and Chocolate Chips added

Dried Sour Cherries and Chocolate Chips added

Butterscotch-Chip on the left and Chocolate Cherry on the right

That’s why I first decided to make cherry chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. But Goose hates cherries (or any fruit for that matter) and whenever I bake, I like to be able to share the goodies with him. So I decided to also make chocolate chip butterscotch cookies, so that he could have some too. Instead of making two entirely different cookies, I wanted to make a basic dough that could suit us both. Hence, these super-adaptable oatmeal cookies were the perfect fix. Simply divide the batter into two (or more) bowls and add whatever mix-ins you want.

Butterscotch-Chip cookies ready to bake

Chocolate-Cherry cookies ready to bake

Chocolate-Cherry Cookies (for me)

Butterscotch-Chip Cookies (for Goose)

Chocolate-Cherry and Butterscotch-Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted From Cooking Light

Serves 60

Ingredients

  •  2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  •  2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 2/3 cup butterscotch chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line your baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flours, oats, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar until smooth.
  4. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Then add the vanilla and eggs and beat until combined.
  5. Divide the dough among two bowls and add cherries and one cup of the chocolate chips to one bowl. Add butterscotch chips and the remaining chocolate chips to the other bowl.
  6. Drop tablespoons of the dough two inches apart onto the baking trays from the first step.
  7. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes. Cool on pans 3 minutes or until almost firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks. Repeat until you have baked all of the cookies.

Other possible flavor variations…the sky’s the limit!

  • Pistachio Ginger
  • Salted Caramel
  • Apple Pie (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and freeze dried apples)
  • Peanut butter
  • Pumpkin Pie (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pumpkin puree)
  • Maple Pecan
  • Rocky Road (mini marshmallows, walnuts, and chocolate chips)
  • Fluffernutter (peanut butter chips and marshmallow fluff)

Halfway Cookie Bars

17 May

Recently I’ve been reading Amy Thomas’s dessert-filled memoir, Paris My Sweet in which she describes her journey to track down the most delectable sweets in Paris. I am so impressed by how simply through her mastery of language, she can make my mouth water! I’ve had an insatiable desire for an indulgent treat ever since reading Thomas’s description of macarons as “firm but tender, shiny yet rigged ,with ethereally light shells and heavy middles [that make them] miniature studies of contrasts-and deliciousness.”

While these Halfway Cookie Bars definitely lack the delicate refinement of macarons, they make up for it with their melty chocolatey deliciousness.

Cookie Dough

Press it into the pan: Layer one done!

I’m warning you now…these cookies are addictive. Make them at your own risk. Luckily for me, I made them and then was immediately able to dispense them among ravenous friends, our high school’s victorious baseball team, and much-deserving teachers.

Chocolate: layer two

These things are ridiculously good! If chewy chocolate chip cookies and fluffy meringue cookies had a love child, this would be it. These bars consist of a classic cookie dough base topped with a layer of chocolate, and then finished off with a meringue coating. The lightness of the meringue makes it so that you can scarf down two or three of these bars without going into a butter-induced food coma.

Whipped Brown Sugar Meringue

Scoop all of that fluffy deliciousness on top of the cookie dough and chocolate…what could be better!

Three layers complete. Add the sprayed parchment, then into the oven they go!

My little sister helped me make these scrumptious treats, and while they do require quite a few steps, none of them are that difficult… except for the last one.

 

Halfway Cookie Bars

Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, separated
  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chunks
  • Canola oil cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover a 9 x 13 inch pan with aluminum foil, leaving some extra foil to  hang over all four sides of the pan and spray the foil with cooking spray. This will ensure safe removal of the bars after they cool.
  2. Make the cookie dough by whisking together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl. Then use a mixmaster to blend together the butter, the granulated sugar and just 1/2 cup of the brown sugar until it’s smooth and creamy. Slowly mix the egg into the sugar-butter mixture until it is completely absorbed, then mix in the water and vanilla. With the mixer at a low speed, add the flour mixture and beat gently until all the flour has been absorbed and the dough looks crumbly.
  3. Gently press the cookie dough gently into the pan with your hands, making sure the surface is even.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and chocolate chunks on top of the cookie dough and use your palms to press them slightly into the dough. This will help keep the chips from moving when you add the meringue.
  5. Start making the meringue by whisking together the two egg whites in the mixmaster in a clean bowl with a clean whisk attachment. Gradually increase your speed to medium-high. When the egg whites are very frothy and look like loose foam, start adding the remaining half cup of brown sugar a little at a time. Continue increasing your speed to the highest setting. When all the sugar has been added, continue whipping the meringue until it holds firm peaks.
  6. Use a spatula to gently spread the meringue on top of the chocolate layer. Star by dumping the meringue in the center of the pan, and gradually spreading it out towards the edges.
  7. Coat a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray, then lightly press it on the top of the meringue to protect the meringue from scorching. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the parchment. Continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the edges look toasted and are pulling away from the sides of the pan.
  8. This is the most difficult step of the entire process, but do your best to wait until the pan is completely cook before lifting out the bars and cutting them into pieces.

Optional Variations:

  • Add some espresso powder or cocoa powder to the top merangue layer for a more pronounced flavor
  • Swap some or all of the chocolate chips for butterscotch chips or toffee pieces
  • Replace the chocolate layer with a fresh fruit preserve layer
  • Replace the classic cookie base with a peanut butter cookie base
  • Add old fashioned oats and coconut to the bottom for a bar reminiscent of Hello Dolly Bars

Or try anything else you can think of, the sky’s the limit!