Archive for the 'Brownie + Bar' Category

Prairie Pâté (or Granola Bars with Oats, Nuts, Marshmallows, Dried Cranberries and Pork Rinds)

Prairie Paté - Bon Appetit May 2013

Granola bars aren’t usually the kinds of things that I tackle in my home kitchen, mostly because they’re too darn wholesome and practical, but I couldn’t pass up making a batch of Prairie Pâté—a wonderfully twisted granola bar punctuated with pork rinds, sweetened with honey and marshmallows, tarted with dried fruit, and fortified with three varieties of nuts and whey protein powder.

I found this most unusual recipe while thumbing through the latest issue of Bon Appétit. Once the idea of a chicharrón-studded energy bar took hold of my imagination, I found it difficult to concentrate on anything else; I just had to know what this peculiar combination of ingredients tasted like as soon as possible.

Since the recipe called for a random assortment of dried goods that I didn’t already have in my pantry, I headed for the bulk bins at my local Sprouts. There, I found everything that I needed and was able to purchase the precise amount of each that the recipe called for. I mean, what’s a girl to do with a full-sized jug of whey protein powder? Problem solved.

The resulting bars were sweet and tangy with just the right amount of porky essence—the bites with cracklins and cranberries were especially noteworthy. Since the article’s author promised that these bars “will sustain you during car rides and afternoon hikes,” The Astronomer and I packed them on our Sunday afternoon stroll through Eaton Canyon. Sure enough, we were very well fueled from start to finish. It must’ve been the pork rinds.

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unflavored whey protein powder
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 2 ounces pork rinds (about 2 cups), large pieces crumbled

Prairie Paté - Bon Appetit May 2013

Line a 13x9x2-inch pan with parchment paper or nonstick spray. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add marshmallows and honey and cook, stirring constantly, until marshmallows are melted.

Prairie Paté - Bon Appetit May 2013

Add protein powder and stir until smooth. Off heat, fold in oats, sunflower seeds, nuts, cranberries, and pork cracklins. Working quickly, stir to combine.

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Rosemary Rice Krispies Treats

Rosemary Rice Krispy Treats

My last three attempts at making dessert have turned out terribly. I mean, they were good enough for The Astronomer and me to eat after dinner, but not nearly perfect enough to share in this space. The first mishap was my grandfather’s birthday cake. He is a strawberry lover through and through, so I decided to use this recipe for Sprinkle’s cupcakes as the base of a two-layer cake. It turns out that great cupcakes don’t necessarily translate into great layer cakes, and I ended up with a dense, scone-like tower. Fail.

My second not-so-hot execution occurred while making butterscotch pudding a la Pizzeria Mozza. I removed the pudding from the heat probably three minutes too soon and ended up with pudding the texture of melted ice cream rather than thick, luscious custard. Fail squared.

Most recently, I attempted Baked‘s Grasshopper Bars, and the result was downright atrocious. The bar consisted of three layers—brownie, mint buttercream, and chocolate ganache. The first one went off without a hitch, while the second one resembled watery butter infused with creme de menthe. I was so crushed that I didn’t even make the final layer. Fail cubed.

After a slew of kitchen heartbreaks, my confidence was at an all-time low and I desperately needed a sure thing. Enter: Rice Krispies Treats.

For the amount of effort that goes into making marshmallow squares, they give back ten-fold in taste. Even better, they are almost impossible to screw up. Instead of preparing the standard recipe found on the back of the Kellogg’s cereal box, I drew inspiration from the Los Angeles Times‘ test kitchen. The addition of fresh rosemary penetrates every “krispie” grain and adds a whole new savory dimension to this all-American sweet. After  successfully preparing these rosemary marshmallow squares twice in the past week, I think I’m finally ready to move on to something slightly more difficult. Wish me luck.

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag plain marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 cups crisped rice cereal

Rosemary Rice Krispy Treats

In a large sauté pan heated over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the rosemary and stir until the rosemary is coated.

Rosemary Rice Krispy Treats

Stir in the marshmallows, and continue to stir until the marshmallows melt and mix with the butter, about 5 minutes.

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Triple-Cherry Streusel Bars

Triple-Cherry Streusel Bars

The moment I laid eyes on this Triple-Cherry Streusel Bar recipe from the upcoming Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful by Barbara Fairchild, I knew it was the perfect sweet for this month’s Eat My Blog charity bake sale. Cherries are one of my favorite summertime treats, and this bar captures their fruity profile using a combination of dried Bing cherries, tart cherry preserves, and cherry brandy.

I tested the recipe with two different streusel toppings—The Astronomer loved the cinnamon-laced one from the original recipe, but I ultimately preferred a topping recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. The mounds of buttery streusel flecked with almonds and brown sugar rounded out the flavors just right. I invite you to eat my blog on June 19.

For filling

  • 1 cup dried Bing (sweet) cherries
  • 1 cup tart red cherry preserves
  • 2 tablespoon kirsch (clear cherry brandy)

For crust and streusel

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces and softened
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Triple-Cherry Streusel Bars

For the filling, combine cherries, cherry preserves, and kirsch in a food processor; blend to chunky puree. The filling can be made one day ahead. Transfer to bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Triple-Cherry Streusel Bars

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with a foil sling and grease the foil. Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Beat in 16 tablespoons of butter with an electric mixer at low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Reserve 1 1/4 cups of the mixture for the topping.

Sprinkle the remaining mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake the crust until fragrant and the edges begin to brown, 14 to 18 minutes.

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Rosemary Apricot Bars

ROSEMARY APRICOT BARS

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with a suitable gift for my brother and his girlfriend to thank them for allowing The Astronomer and me to crash at their Lower East Side apartment. Cookbooks and restaurant certificates are usually my go-to gifts, but my brother’s the kind of guy who has everything, so this situation called for something more unique.

I decided to whip up a batch of Rosemary Apricot Squares because home baked goods have an awesome way of speaking louder than words. Plus, the clever combination of rosemary and apricot sounded intriguingly different and outrageously good. The recipe is from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito of Baked, an innovative bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I previously made their Root Beer Bundt Cake and Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bars. This one is my favorite of the three.

  • 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature plus 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups dried California apricots
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper, allowing the parchment to hang over the edge.

ROSEMARY APRICOT BARS

In a small bowl, whisk 1 3/4 cups of the flour with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the rosemary. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the 1 1/2 sticks of butter with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. At low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan; with lightly floured hands, press the dough evenly over the bottom. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

ROSEMARY APRICOT BARS

Bake the crust for 30 minutes, until light golden. Transfer to rack and let cool, about 30 minutes.

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