Archive | Bars/Brownies

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

So a few weeks ago I noticed that I had three gallon sized ziplock bags full of frozen bananas just hanging out in our freezer.  That was my first big reminder that I haven’t been making banana bread as much as I sometimes do!  The bananas were really increasing in number since I buy bananas on a regular basis and some of them start ripening more quickly than we eat them and so then I just peel them and toss them into bags in the freezer. Do you do that, too?

Well, if you have frozen bananas just hanging out in your freezer it’s time to thaw a couple out and make these delicious, super moist banana bars.

They keep well for a couple of days but if you don’t eat them within those couple of days, just cut them into squares and pop them in the freezer.  Then pull out a few whenever you want some.  They are just as moist and tasty as when they’re fresh.

 

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Ingredients

    For the Bars
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 medium bananas) ~ fresh or frozen, thawed
  • For the Frosting
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk, half & half, or heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

    For the Bars
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the softened butter and sugar. Mix until combined.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until well mixed.
  4. Stir in the salt, flour, and bananas until the batter is smooth and even.
  5. Spread the batter in the prepared baking dish.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the center is set.
  7. Cool, but frost the bars before they are completely cooled.
  8. For the Browned Butter Frosting
  9. In a medium saucepan melt the butter.
  10. Add in the brown sugar and milk and stir until the mixture comes to just a boil.
  11. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
  12. Stir in the powdered sugar with a whisk.
  13. Spread the frosting over the top of the bars and allow the frosting to set and the bars to cool completely before cutting them into squares.
http://www.abrightandbeautifullife.com/banana-bars-with-browned-butter-frosting/

Recipe source: Cookies and Cups, slightly adapted

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Coconut Lime Cheesecake Bars

Coconut Lime Cheesecake Bars

 

Oh my gosh, you won’t believe how delicious these Coconut Lime Cheesecake Bars are.  I saw the recipe on Favorite Family Recipes last fall and made it for a special occasion at the beginning of November.  We couldn’t believe how good they were.  We also shared them with my in-laws and they thought they were super delicious, too.  In fact, my father in-law ate all the leftovers himself!  They’re rich, yet light and refreshing while the lime and coconut balance each other perfectly.  And then there’s the cookie crust.  And the toasted coconut on top.  I can’t say enough good things about these bars.

Then I made them in December for a Christmas party we attended and everyone loved them and I just made them again last week for my birthday dessert.  My hubby and I aren’t huge cake lovers so I decided to make this.  And we had plenty leftover to share with family members on Valentine’s Day.  This is a dessert recipe we plan to keep and make again and again whenever we want a very special treat.

Coconut Lime Cheesecake Bars

Serving Size: 9x13 pan

Coconut Lime Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients

    For the Crust
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the Filling
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 16 ounces cream of coconut (found near the alcoholic drink mixers at the grocery store (it is not alcoholic!)
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • For the Frosting
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • For the Topping
  • 1 cup coconut, toasted ~ how to make toasted coconut

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. For the Crust
  3. In a stand mixer (or by hand), blend the butter and sugar together.
  4. Add the yolks and mix well.
  5. Mix in the salt and then the flour, gradually until it is all well combined. The crust mix will be crumbly.
  6. Press evenly into the bottom of the baking dish.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
  8. Cool for 15 minutes.
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  10. For the Filling
  11. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute.
  12. Slowly add the cream of coconut until it's well blended.
  13. Stir in the lime juice and coconut extract.
  14. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth.
  15. Spread the mixture evenly over the cookie crust.
  16. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set and golden brown around the edges.
  17. Cool for 20 minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate for 1 hour (or a little more).
  18. For the Frosting and Topping
  19. In a stand mixer, blend together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
  20. Add the coconut extract and lime juice.
  21. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and blend well.
  22. Spread the frosting over the cheesecake layer.
  23. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut.
  24. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cutting into bars.
  25. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes

You can mix this dessert by hand but I use my stand mixer for each of the steps. It means that I have to wash the bowl between the steps but I like how they each turn out by using my stand mixer.

http://www.abrightandbeautifullife.com/coconut-lime-cheesecake-bars/

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White Chocolate Blond Brownies

White Chocolate Blond Brownies

I think after you try these blond brownies they’ll be your new favorite.  They’re ours, for sure.

I thought I had the perfect blond brownie with this recipe that I posted last year.  But then I tried this one!  I’ve made it twice in the past month and it doesn’t hang around for long.  Every time someone walks through the kitchen they just have to take another “small” bite until before we know it there isn’t another bite to take. It’s as easy to mix up as brownies and they bake up to a perfectly chewy, buttery, nutty, delicious dessert.

Eaten plain they’re beyond tasty, but topped with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and toasted coconut they’re delectable.

Try them and then let me know if you think they’re as delicious as we all do.

White Chocolate Blond Brownies

Yield: 9x13-inch pan of brownies

White Chocolate Blond Brownies

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces white chocolate chips, divided
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat the over to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Place 6 ounces of the white chocolate chips and the butter in a large mixing bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and melt the chips and butter at 50% power, one minute at a time, stirring between each minute, until they are melted.
  3. Stir in the brown sugar and white sugar and mix well.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just briefly.
  7. Add 1 cup of the chopped pecans and the remaining white chocolate chips and stir until the batter is combined.
  8. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking dish.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining pecans over the top.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the brownies are lightly golden brown and the sides are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few sticky crumbs.
  11. Let the bars cool completely in the dish.
http://www.abrightandbeautifullife.com/white-chocolate-blond-brownies/

Recipe source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, slightly adapted.

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20 Delicious Apple Recipes

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Cashew Triangles

Cashew Triangles ~ A little bit salty.  A little bit sweet.  The perfect combo.

A little bit salty.  A little bit sweet.  The perfect combo.

These cashew triangles are a shortbread type bar with nuts pressed on the top before baking and then drizzled with a bit of unsweetened chocolate after they’ve baked and cooled.  When I made these I considered using sweetened milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate because I thought the unsweetened chocolate would make the bars bitter.  In the end, though, I decided to trust the recipe and used unsweetened and I’m glad I did.  These bars are a great accompaniment to a favorite drink {coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc.} or just great when you might want a little dessert snack that isn’t overly sweet.  I left some un-drizzled because Brent doesn’t like chocolate and they’re really good that way, too.

It’s a bit tricky to spread this dough so there are two methods that will make it easy:  either flour your hands or use plastic wrap layer over the dough and press with your hand.  I prefer the plastic wrap method because it doesn’t add additional flour to the dough.

Cashew Triangles

Cashew Triangles

Cashew Triangles

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 cup chopped salted cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, or toasted almonds
  • 1-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the butter, sugars, vanilla, and egg yolk.
  3. Stir in the salt and flour.
  4. Press the dough in an ungreased 9x13 baking dish. {Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and then press on the wrap to spread out the dough.}
  5. Beat egg white and water; brush over the dough.
  6. Sprinkle with the nuts; press lightly to set the nuts into the top of the dough.
  7. Bake until light brown, about 23-25 minutes.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes.
  9. Cut into about 3-inch squares then cut each square diagonally into halves.
  10. Immediately remove from the pan; cool completely.
  11. Drizzle with chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate is set, about 2 hours.
http://www.abrightandbeautifullife.com/cashew-triangles/

Recipe source:  Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.

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Cherry Pie Bars

Delicious Cherry Pie Bars - all from scratch without using canned cherry pie filling.

These cherry pie bars are the bomb.  Period.

That is, unless you don’t like cherry pie.

But it happens to be my very favorite fruit pie and I’ll almost always choose it over any other.  I’ve seen Cherry Pie Bar recipes all over pinterest but every recipe uses store-purchased canned pie filling, which I don’t like.  So I used my homemade filling recipe and combined it with the bar ingredients from all the recipes floating around the net and came up with this seriously-to-die-for dessert.  Only next time I’m going to leave the drizzled glaze off because it made it just a bit too sweet for our taste.  I like that it’s baked in a baking dish lined with foil so it’s easy to remove from the pan for cutting and serving, and the leftovers were popped into the freezer and pulled out later for individual evening treats.

It’s so much like eating cherry pie and is so delicious served up warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I’m already making plans to make this up with my two other favorite fruit pie fillings:  apple and peach.  So stay tuned…

Cherry Pie Bars

Cherry Pie Bars

Ingredients

    For the Bars:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the Filling
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) pitted red tart cherries, undrained
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
  • For the Glaze: {optional}
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a 9x9 pan by lining with foil and spraying with cooking spray, then set aside.
  2. For the Filling:
  3. Mix the sugar and flour. Stir in the cherries, almond or vanilla extract, butter, and red food coloring. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until the filling thickens. Set aside to cool.
  4. For the Bars:
  5. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mimer, beat the butter and sugar together until it's light and fluffy.
  6. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until smooth.
  7. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.
  8. Reserve about 3/4 cup of the dough for the topping. Spread the remaining dough in the prepared pan by putting it all in the pan and then placing a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and pressing it down to spread out the dough.
  9. Top with the pie filling.
  10. Drop the remaining dough by small spoonfuls evenly over the top of the pie filling, leaving space between the spoonfuls.
  11. Bake for 23-35 minutes, until the dough is lightly browned.
  12. Remove and cool completely.
  13. For the Glaze: {optional}
  14. Whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract, and 1 tablespoon milk.
  15. Add more milk or powdered sugar as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
  16. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled bars and allow to set before slicing.
http://www.abrightandbeautifullife.com/cherry-pie-bars/

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Chunky Blond Brownies

Tomorrow, January 22, is National Blond Brownie Day!

Isn’t that a good reason to celebrate something delicious right in the middle of winter?  Who doesn’t need a tasty pick-me-up when the weather is dreary and the temperatures are frigid?

Chunky Blond Brownies

Regular chocolate brownies are classic, but several years ago these chunky blond brownies won second place in a Taste of Home brownie contest.  Which means they’re ranked right up there in the brownie-delishiousness category.

If you’ve never had a blond brownie I’ll give you a little introduction to them.  They resemble the traditional chocolate brownie, but are based on brown sugar instead of cocoa and are baked in a pan just like chocolate brownies.  They’re sometimes confused with white chocolate brownies, although they are highly different, because they don’t have any chocolate except for chocolate chips.  Blond brownies usually aren’t frosted because the brown sugar gives them a sweet, rich flavor and they may include chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, toffee, or any other chunky candy for added texture.  And just like chocolate brownies, they’re often served topped with ice cream and chocolate or caramel sauce.

A regular chocolate brownie is hard to beat so I don’t make blondies very often but when I do this is the recipe I pull out.  Every time I make them I think why don’t I make these more often?  They’re chewy and packed with lots of yummy goodness without being chocolaty.  Those that don’t like chocolate {like my husband} like these much better than chocolate brownies.

So treat your family to these Chunky Blond Brownies and have a celebration in honor of these little beauties. 

Chunky Blond Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vanilla chips {or less}
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips {or less}
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds or macadamia nuts {I use almonds}

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars.
  2. Add the eggs and vanilla; mix well.
  3. Add the baking powder and salt; stir to combine.
  4. Add the flour and mix well.
  5. Stir in the vanilla chips, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  6. Spread the dough into a greased 9x13 baking dish.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
http://www.abrightandbeautifullife.com/chunky-blond-brownies/

Recipe source: an old Taste of Home recipe

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Chewy Gingerbread Bars

Christmas Baking Series Part 3

After I made these for the first time last year I quickly decided they needed to be a yearly tradition.
There aren’t very many foods that have made it to that status for me.
But these rank right up there as one of my very favorite Christmas desserts.

Chewy Gingerbread Bars

These are seriously the best bars ever.
And the best gingerbread ever.
They’re chewy and soft and have a cream cheese frosting.
It’s hard to only eat one.

Add sprinkles or other Christmasy garnish and they’re festive enough for a party.

These chewy gingerbread bars are so delicious you’ll probably want
to add them to your traditional Christmas baking, too.

Chewy Gingerbread Bars

Yield: One 9x9 pan

Chewy Gingerbread Bars

Ingredients

    For the Bars:
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash salt

Directions

    For the Bars:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) combine the melted butter, sugar, and molasses. Beat until well combined.
  2. Add the egg and beat until smooth.
  3. Add all of the ingredients except the flour and mix well.
  4. Add the flour and mix just until well combined.
  5. Spray a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  6. Press the dough into the dish.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until a knife inserted into the center of the bars comes out clean. Do not over bake. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  8. For the Frosting:
  9. Mix all of the frosting ingredients together in a stand mixer. Beat until nice and smooth.
  10. Spread the frosting over the top of the cooled bars.
  11. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
  12. Store the leftover bars in the refrigerator or freezer.

Notes

If you would like to double the recipe, use a large jelly roll pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

http://www.abrightandbeautifullife.com/chewy-gingerbread-bars/

Recipe source: Jamie Cooks It Up

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Chewy Brownies

Chewy BrowniesThis recipe for chewy brownies comes from America’s Test Kitchen.  Their staff set out to create a recipe that has a chocolaty-homemade flavor with the chewy texture of a box brownie mix.  They discovered that in order to achieve that they needed to manipulate the combination of saturated and unsaturated fats and this recipe is their end result.  Just look at it.  A chewy rich chocolate brownie with a crispy top just like the box mixes.  I slightly adapted the recipe from this cookbook.

Chewy Brownies

Chewy Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine {I used my mini chopper}
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Make afoil sling for a 13x9-inch baking pan and spray the foil with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the water and cocoa together in a large mixing bowl until smooth.
  3. Add the unsweetened chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted.
  4. Whisk in the oil and melted butter. {Mixture may look curdled.}
  5. Add the eggs and yolks and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth.
  6. Whisk in the sugar until fully incorporated.
  7. Whisk in the salt and the flour with a rubber spatula until combined.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread around.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  11. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 1-1/2 hours.
  12. Using the foil overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan and place on the wire rack to cool for another hour before cutting.
http://www.abrightandbeautifullife.com/chewy-brownies/

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{Healthy} Pumpkin Bars

{Healthy} Pumpkin Bars

Well, hello there.  For one last time this year fall pumpkin love was calling me to make something pumpkin ~ perhaps pumpkin bars ~ perhaps {healthy} pumpkin bars. After looking at a lot of cooking blogs I see that I am not unique in my affection for anything made with pumpkin this time of year. Cookies. Bars. Pie. Waffles. Bread. Muffins. Soup. Ice cream. Have you ever tasted homemade pumpkin ice cream? It is divine. I’ll post the recipe the next time we make it.

Back to pumpkin love…  There are recipes galore for satisfying that pumpkin craving. But this time I did something out of the ordinary. I bucked the system. I wanted to make something using whole wheat flour and honey instead of the usual refined flour and sugar. So I did some digging and found this recipe for pumpkin bars in my Whole Foods for the Whole Family cookbook. It has subtle yummy flavors of pumpkin, butter, cream cheese, and honey.

Try making these ~ then let me know what you think and if you tweaked the recipe at all.

Recipe notes: I used raw honey and ground my own white wheat but regular honey and store purchased wheat flour is what the recipe actually calls for / I doubled the recipe and cooked it in a 12×16-inch jelly roll pan / These freeze very well – just cut into bars first. 

Ingredients:

for the bars ~
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs {or 3 medium}
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans

for the cream cheese frosting ~
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2-4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

for the bars ~
Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer or bowl; mix well.
Spread in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

for the frosting ~
Beat cream cheese and butter in stand mixer or with a hand mixer until fluffy. Beat in honey to taste. Add vanilla and pecans; mix well. Frost bars.

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