Archive for ‘Bars’

April 13, 2013

Perfect Brownies

I’m pretty sure I’ve made this declaration before: I like Betty Crocker Brownie mix and I don’t care who knows it. I am consistently disappointed by homemade brownie recipes. Sure, they are good and chocolatey and often have many redeeming qualities. But every one I had tried had always fallen short somehow.

Until I made this recipe. Which came pretty darn close to box-mix goodness. These brownies have that crackly top and a dense inside that is fudgy without being oily or greasy. This is a go-to utility brownie. Good for bake sales, small children, pizza nights, grandparents, husbands, wives, friends, dogs. Wait. Not dogs. They can’t have these brownies.

But you can. And the best part? If brownies any even make it alive in your house past a few days and start to get a little stale, crumble ’em up on ice cream. I can verify this is a truly excellent and resourceful and delicious idea.

Perfect Brownies
adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker

1¼ c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11-12 oz  semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped
1 c (two sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 c granulated sugar
1 c packed light brown sugar
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and line bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.Over a double boiler (or heat-proof bowl resting on a pot of boiling water), melt together chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Turn the heat off but leave the double boiler over the hot water. Whisk the sugars into the chocolate until combined. If using a small double boiler, transfer the mixture into a large bowl. If using a heat-proof bowl, remove from the pot of water.

Add 3 eggs and whisk until combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Do not over mix to ensure fudgy brownies. Sprinkle in the dry ingredients, and then fold in until just barely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, with just a few crumbs. Let brownies cool completely before cutting and serving. (Who are we kidding… grab a fork and dig in!)

April 6, 2013

Lemon Bars (new and improved)

Spring is teasing me. The sun is shining, the daffodils outside my front door have bloomed, my cat is shedding his winter coat onto every single thing I own. But then I try things like going for a run early on a Saturday morning and only make it around the block because it is actually still below freezing. Or I store my space heater away for the winter only to wake up to goosebumps when my feet hit the cold floor.

Spring, I am luring your in with these totally, perfectly tart Lemon Bars. In fact, I am skipping right by you and calling on summer. Because these lemon bars should really be eaten in full sunshine, on the back steps, in bare feet.

Or snuggled under a heated blanket during an early April cold snap. I’m not that picky.

I am picky about my lemon bars though. I’ve even blogged this recipe before, based on a recipe from alpineberry. But this batch was such an improvement that I have to share it again. I like my lemon bars tart. Like pucker up tart. With a sweet crust that doesn’t get in the way, but serves as a nice firm base for all that lemon goodness. Just a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top does the trick.

Lemon Bars
adapted from alpineberry

1 cup flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
dash of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cubed

2 eggs
1 cup superfine sugar (I just pulse regular granulated sugar for a minute in a food processor to get it super fine)
1/4 cup flour
dash of salt
1 Tbs lemon zest (or as much as you get from the lemons needed for the juice)
1/2 cup lemon juice (for the zest and the juice, I used about 6-7 lemons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and butter together until mixture resembles coarse sand. It will seem really dry, but dump it into a greased 9×9 square pan and press it down evenly. Bake until the crust turns golden at the edges, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and superfine sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Add the lemon zest and juice and whisk until smooth and pretty. Pour over warm crust and return to oven. Bake for 15-18 additional minutes, until filling is just set. Let cool completely before cutting and serving. If desired, sift a little confectioners’ sugar over the top of the sliced bars.

March 30, 2013

Rice Krispy Easter Eggs

I used to get really upset about the Easter Bunny. I didn’t understand how he could get in the house if my dad locked the door at night, because I knew he wouldn’t get his fur dirty by coming down the chimney. But somehow he always managed to sneak in (which probably should have been an even scarier thought) and launch a competitive easter egg hunt/battle amongst my brothers and me.

But really, my favorite thing about Easter never had to do with treats or bunnies or chocolate (okay maybe chocolate). It was all about the Easter Dress. My wonderful Auntie Kay (who had two boys that she couldn’t really dress up too much) used to send me a beautiful dress every year for Easter. Imagine pastel flowers, pleated flouncy skirts, ruffled sleeves (oh the ruffled sleeves!!), and I’m pretty sure I usually rocked a matching headband. Cue sweet pictures with my oldest brother sitting on our front hall steps, me grinning sweetly waiting for the perfect photo op and him smirking, waiting for a chance to give me a nougie and mess up my perfectly combed hair….

I don’t have a special Easter dress this year. I’ll have to make do with something in my closet I guess. But I did make a pretty sweet dessert spread for my first Easter with my soon-to-be in-laws, who traveled up to Beantown for the holiday. Maybe out of my kid nostalgia (see above), maybe out of my love of marshmallows (but my hatred for Peeps), or maybe out of my love for The Pioneer Woman from whom I shamelessly copied this idea, I bring you Rice Krispy Easter Eggs. I promise I made some more sophisticated desserts that I will share very soon, but guys, I just couldn’t help it.

Hope the Easter Bunny visits you tonight! But still lock your door… okay?

Rice Krispy Easter Eggs
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

3 Tbs butter
10 oz marshmallows
6 cups rice krispy cereal
Plastic Easter Egg
Sprinkles

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over med-low heat. Add in marshmallows and stir until completely melted and smooth. Stir in cereal until fully incorporate. Turn off heat.

This next part is basically whatever system works for you to smush all that sticky goodness into the egg mold and get it back out in one piece. Here’s how I did it. Lightly grease the inside of each half of the plastic easter egg. Scoop up some rice krispy mixture in each half. Squish them together and wipe off any pieces that came out from the seal. It helps if your hands are a little wet (not dripping). Open up the top half of the egg and add any desired sprinkles. Put the top back on and push the halves together firmly. Open them up and pop the egg onto a cookie sheet to dry, then move to an empty egg carton. Store in an airtight container so they don’t dry out!

 

March 20, 2013

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

I share something in common with Joy The Baker. I’m pretty sure we are both in love with browned butter. And peanut butter I guess.

The first time I ever browned butter I was afraid I would burn all that yummy buttery goodness right up. But the trick is to just keep swirling and watching and smelling that nutty goodness. After the butter melts and starts crackling and bubbling, stay with it. Don’t give in to the urge to whip it off the stove just yet. Because after the crackling starts to subside, you will notice rich amber flecks of brown butter gathering at the bottom of your pan. Once the butter starts to take on this delicious amber hue, get that pan off the stove and scrape all that yummy butter into a bowl to keep it from burning.

These Browned Butter Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats, (any treat with Butter in the title twice has got to be good) are from Joy The Baker’s new cookbook – you’ll have to check it out for the recipe.  I’ll just say that there is browned butter, marshmallows, peanut butter, and rice krispie cereal. How could that possible go wrong! Yes, I know my last post raved about this cookbook as well – it’s that good.

Stay tuned for some seriously good things coming out of my kitchen with my bread baking brother Dan comes to town. Ciabatta? Hungarian Mushroom Soup? Lemon Poppyseed muffins? Hmmm….

March 17, 2013

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

DSC_0041

Sometimes, a girl just needs a makeover. A fresh start. A clean slate.

Ladies and gents, I present the new and improved A Sprinkle In Time.

Yes, it’s been almost a year since I graced your presence with sweet treats. Sorry about that. Sometimes life gets in the way, ya know?

DSC_0051

But I’m back and better than ever.

DSC_0047

Listen, I am generally not into change. I keep the same CD in my car for months on end. I’ve been using the same makeup routine since I was a freshman in college. I must eat pillow cookies every Christmas Eve (more on that someday). I believe in the chocolate chip cookie recipe off the back of the bag and Betty Crocker box mix brownies.

But every once in a while, I get that antsy feeling. I need to shed my skin and try something new. Once upon a time that meant dying or chopping off my hair, or dropping out of college to backpack through New Zealand. I think I’m a grownup now, because all I could think of was a new blog layout… and these brownies.

DSC_0054

Inspired by a recipe from my brand new Joy The Baker Cookbook (which I cannot stop reading cover to cover every other day) and the need for something just a little different, I pulled out my apron and my trusty old camera and whipped up some Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies.

DSC_0010

I must say, I am generally into fudgy brownies over cakey ones (again, not really into change here), and these brownies definitely fell into to cake variety, what with the 4 eggs fluffing things up. However, their deep chocolate flavor mixed with a sticky sweet swirl of peanut butter across the top made for quite the elegant treat. These are grownup brownies. These are brownies to send to your future in-laws. These are brownies for a new beginning.

DSC_0052

Welcome back friends, I missed you.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
adapted slightly from Joy The Baker

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 Tbs unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs (although I’d like to try with just 2 to try a more fudgy version)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 Tbs confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter up a 9×13 pan real good.

2. Mix together flower, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

3. In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolates until smooth. Remove from heat.

4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla until pale and thick.

5. Add chocolate mixture all at once and whisk until completely incorporated.

6. Add flour mixture all at once and whisk until completely incorporated, making sure to scrap to the very bottom of the bowl.

7. Heat peanut butter in the microwave in 10 second intervals (20-30 seconds total) until slightly running.

8. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar. Heat one more time if necessary.

9. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan. Drop dollops of peanut butter mixture on top, all across the pan, making sure to get some near the eduges.

10. Run the blade of a sharp paring knife back and forth through the batter to swirl the peanut butter and chocolate together. Swirl until evenly distributed but not mixed.

11. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.