Cherry Bliss Bars

I know, this picture doesn't look that great (and if you want a good picture you can look at this one), but this bar is SO DELICIOUS you will not believe it until you make it. I found this recipe on the What Megan's Making blog as one of her 12 days of Christmas cookie posts and it is a homemade version of the Starbucks cranberry bliss bars. Seeing as how my husband works there and we just love all things Starbucks, I had to try this! 

Recently I am fortunate to have an abundance of dried cherries and thought, this would be a good use for them. I have always liked the store bought bars and get them every year around Christmas so I wanted to make these to compare. It IS very similar, and really tasty. The frosting is sorta gooey, but I put them in the fridge and like how they taste cold, it helps the frosting harden up a bit. I took them to a party/cookie exchange last night and my friend texted me this morning saying they were, "super scrump!" ( Seinfeld reference, anyone?), and should have taken more.
I am listing cherries in the recipe since that is how I made it and I really liked how it turned out with them but one day I will have to make the cranberry version.

Cherry Bliss Bars
adapted from what megan's making, originally seen on my little mochi

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate chips (or chopped white chocolate)

1/2 cup + 2 Tbs. cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp. salt
4 teaspoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped

Drizzling Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and liberally butter a 9x13 pan*. Set the pan aside for later. Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger and salt and beat well. Gradually add flour, making sure its well incorporated (I did this with a spoon, not the mixer). Stir in cherries and white chocolate. Pour the batter into your pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake for about 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean and it is a light brown color.

For frosting, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, orange zest and juice until smooth. Top completely cooled cake with frosting and sprinkle the chopped cherries on top.

For drizzle, in a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, shortening and milk, adding milk gradually until it becomes a drizzling consistency (almost 2 Tablespoons.) Then spoon it into a plastic bag and cut off a tiny corner, then drizzle it over the frosting. You won't need all of it.

*The butter should help it come out, just make sure not to overcook it because it will get a little tough. I had a hard time cutting it but it might have been because I overcooked it a little. And, I may or may not have put the batter in to bake without the cherries or white chocolate and had to take it out while it was hot, emptying it out into a bowl and then emptied the batter back in without re-buttering it... which may or may not have made it a little hard to cut out.

Chocolate Transfers

I made cookies for my work Christmas potluck using candy melts and chocolate transfer sheets. It was my first time using them and it was really pretty simple. I don't imagine making these too often, but I would totally make these for special occasions!
I looked up alot of YouTube videos on how to use the sheets and on the first one I used, I spread out a layer of candy melts on the sheet and refrigerated it until it was dry, then used a cookie cutter to try to cut out the shapes... and that was a total waste. It looked so simple on the video, but in reality it cracked the candy into lots of little pieces and didn't work at all. Maybe it was only supposed to dry partially before cutting? With these I cut the sheets so they would fit over the cookies, then spread a layer of chocolate on my cookie and pressed the sheet on it lightly. Then I waited for it to dry and peeled off the sheet, this worked really well for me. I decorated a cross shaped cookie and also an ornament shape and I think that simpler shapes work best because details get a bit lost when the sheet is pressed down. I would totally recommend trying this out and if you like this design, you can find it here at the Fancy Flours website. I also tried out this pattern but I would NOT recommend it because it looked really bad. I tried it on red candy and it looked like a crusty white covering and the pattern didn't come out at all, I also tried it on white and the design was so light I could hardly see it. Maybe it needs a brown chocolate background, I don't know.
Aside from the transfers, I also made some cookies with a spread of red candy melts and white pearl candy.


Double Chocolate Snack Cake

 This cake recipe is one of the few recipes I tried  from a Betty Crocker cookbook and, all I can say, is the people behind Betty know their stuff. The recipe is pretty simple and if you follow the directions as written, you don't even need a mixing bowl! You just plop everything together in the baking dish and stir before popping it in the oven, no need to waste precious minutes on dish washing. I don't always do it that way, but if you're in a hurry its a great idea!
I really like this recipe because not only does it taste good, its not hard to make and pretty cheap since it doesn't require any butter or eggs. HAVE YOU NOTICED THE PRICE OF BUTTER LATELY?? The local store sells a pack of 4 sticks for $4.50. It makes me sad, I remember when it was $2.50 and I foolishly took it for granted... but I digress. I think this type of cake can be considered a "depression cake" because its missing butter, egg and milk. And that makes it vegan too... I'm pretty sure.
For this cake I made two layers of this snack cake and filled and covered it with a basic buttercream frosting and a dusting of cocoa, but all of that is totally not necessary. I made single layer and served it with a dusting of powdered sugar at our small group and it was good like that too. Like it's name says, it's a good cake to have for snacking.

Double Chocolate Snack Cake
from Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Cookbook

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Mix flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt with a fork or whisk in an ungreased, 8x8 square pan. Stir in remaining ingredients except chocolate chips. Sprinkle chips over batter ( I mixed mine in).
Bake 35-40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Buttercream Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Gradually mix sugar in with the butter. Beat with a mixer until combined. Add liquids and beat for a few minutes until fluffy.


Tea Party

My sister asked me to make cookies for her tea party and gave me her teacup cookie cutters. I thought I would go with fall colors, brown and orange, but they really didn't turn out like I had expected. Wilton's copper coloring looked the same as orange from the container so I thought, what the heck, I'll give it a try. they ended up with a salmon-y color instead of orange, but I was ok with it. These pictures arent the best quality since I don't have a real camera, but i'm sure you get an idea of how they were.  

Large Teapots

Small Teapots

This one was my favorite

I like how they came out in the end and my sister was happy with them. :)


Red Pepper Bisque

I love this soup recipe! I don't think i'm much of a cook but this is a recipe that i've made several times since finding it last year. I consider it to be a "girly" soup, something that would be nice as a part of a tea party. It's very yummy and rich because of the heavy cream. Yes, heavy cream is our friend!...for this recipe at least. It's a really nice soup to have on a cold day (too bad we haven't had many of those here in so. cal this week).

Red Pepper Bisque
Adapted from Bon Appetit

4-5 large red bell peppers ( I have also used a mix of red and yellow and that works well too) 
3 1/2 cups chicken low-salt chicken broth (2 cans) 
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt, pepper to taste
basil for garnish (optional)

Char your bell peppers over a gas flame using tongs to turn and make sure you get all the sides pretty black and charred. Cover them for about 15 minutes so they become soft so you can peel the skin off. I've heard of different ways to do this, I usually out them in a bowl and cover them with dish towels and a plastic bag... i think I may have seen my mother do this, but do whatever works for you! Peel and seed the peppers and cut them into small chunks. Combine your peppers and chicken broth in a large saucepan. Boil, then reduce heat and simmer until peppers are tender, about 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and in batches, puree the soup in blender until smooth. Be patient and be very CAREFUL! You don't want to splatter scalding hot broth all over, so small batches work nicely. If you have a cheap blender like I do, you might want to cover the top with a dish towel and press down on the lid so it doesn't spray stuff when you start it. Return blended soup to your saucepan. Mix in paprika, sugar and red pepper flakes. Simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. With a whisk, mix in the cream and Romano cheese, make sure cheese has melted before adding salt. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with basil and if you like, serve with toasty bread.



Crack Pie

This recipe comes from Christina Tosi, pastry chef at Momofuku Milk Bar in New York.

According to what I've read, people really like this pie and want to keep eating it after trying it, hence the name Crack Pie. I knew I just had to make this crack pie to see if it's all it's cracked up to be...HA!
All kidding aside, it was a good pie. Really good. Other reviewers have called the taste similar to pecan pie without the pecans. I have never had pecan pie so I wouldn't know. Jason and I tried it and the first thing we thought was blondies. It tastes like BLONDIES in pie form! Probably from all the brown sugar, but what's not to love about that? The crust is really good and I think it would be good in other pie recipes as well.
I especially liked the fact that the recipe used powdered milk, I have a big bag of it from making ciabatta bread and I don't know what else to use it on. I don't know if this is something I will make very often, as blondies are alot easier to make and will supply me a similar taste, but it is yummy and worth trying.

Crack Pie
From Bon Appetit

Oat Cookie Crust:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (for dusting, I forgot to dust mine)

For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
Note: this dough was one of the stickiest doughs I have ever worked with, I had to spread it with my hands and really buttered them.

Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

For the filling:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. 
Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.


Cookie Angels

At my work, they have members bring cookies every Sunday and the people who sign up to bring them are called "cookie angels." My manager Vanessa and I signed up together and I made these sugar cookies inspired by Amanda's (@ I am Baker) V-day cookies. I loved the hearts and wanted to give it a try. Again, these are blurry phone pictures because I took them with my phone. Someday I will get around to buying batteries for our digital camera!

These were made with royal icing. I wanted to make them blue and white but I think the blue is lighter than I had hoped, I was just afraid to put too much coloring in because I have heard that too much will make it taste bitter.  

I still have alot to work on, but I think I am content with how they turned out.


My First Order

Jason took the cake I made in my final class to work and someone wanted me to make a birthday cake! This is what I ended up with. It was a carrot cake using this recipe (without nuts) and a cream cheese frosting. The cake was pretty good, I made a little cupcake with some of the batter. The picture isnt very clear, I took it with with my phone... but I think it came out ok for my first order. Yay!


Last Wilton Class

Tonight was my last Wilton class at Michaels and this is my final cake. The colors are a little off in the picture, in reality the roses are pink not orange. But I think it came out ok!
Yes, for my last class I probably should have used more of a variety of techniques but I ran out of time. Hopefully I will be able to continue the Wilton classes in the future, I did like it and now I know what to do with all those pastry tips I have.


post #1

Hello! This is my first post! I am happy to finally post on this blog. I am hoping that this will be my baking blog, a place to document my journey from this (don't laugh):


someting a whole lot better than this.

Yes, in case you're wondering this is my first cake - and hey, Hey! I heard that! *weeps*
That's ok, you can laugh. Hopefully this is all behind me now. Thanks for stopping by. :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...