Chestnut Honey Squares

Servings: 32 Squares
Preheat: 400
Prep Time: About 45 minutes
Source: New York Times

The inspiration for this foolproof recipe came from the Paris bakery Moulin de la Vierge. These honey-kissed squares can be made ahead, do not require exotic equipment, are relatively simple (you pat the crust in the pan) and are beautiful, with a glistening glaze. Stored in an airtight container, they stay fresh for days.

Ingredients: 

FOR THE PASTRY:

120 grams (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
45 grams (1/2 cup) almond meal (see note)
35 grams (3 tablespoons) sugar, preferably unrefined vanilla sugar (see note)
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
FOR THE TOPPING:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
80 grams (1 cup) sliced almonds
30 grams (1/3 cup) candied orange or lemon peel, cut into tiny cubes
65 grams (1/3 cup) sugar, preferably vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons chestnut honey or other intensely flavored honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: 

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9 1/2-inch-square baking pan with parchment, letting it hang over the sides for easier removal later.

2. Prepare the pastry: In a food processor, combine flour, almond meal, sugar and salt. Pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of water. Pulse to incorporate. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water through the feed tube, tablespoon by tablespoon, pulsing until just before the pastry forms a ball. You may not need all the water.

3. Turn the dough out into the prepared baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven on the center rack and bake until the pastry begins to brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes.

4. While the pastry is baking, prepare the topping: In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the almonds, candied peel, sugar, honey and vanilla extract. Heat just until the ingredients are incorporated.

5. Remove the pan and spread the almond-honey mixture evenly over the pastry. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the topping is a deep gold, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and transfer to a rack to cool in the pan. Once it has cooled, remove from the pan and cut into 32 squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache Bars

Servings: 18 bars
Preheat: 325°
Cook Time: 35 min
Source: New York Times

Ingredients
150 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
90 grams confectioners’ sugar (about 3/4 cup)
26 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
12 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
52 grams cherry jam (about 2 Tbsp)
340 grams bittersweet chocolate, at least 62 percent, chopped (12 ounces)
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp kirsch, rum, brandy or other spirit
1/2 tsp fleur de sel, for sprinkling.

Directions
1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and fine sea salt. Pulse in the butter and vanilla until the mixture just comes together into a smooth mass. Press the dough into the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan. Prick all over with a fork. Chill for at least 20 minutes and up to 3 days.

2. Heat the oven to 325°. Bake the shortbread until firm to the touch and just beginning to pull away from the sides, 35 to 40 minutes.

3. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Brush jam over shortbread’s surface and let cool thoroughly.

4. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the kirsch. Pour ganache evenly over shortbread. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and chill until firm. Slice and serve.

Yield: 18 bars.

Brendan’s Blondies with Pecans and Chocolate Chips

Servings: 2 doz
Preheat: 350°
Cook Time: 25 min
Source: Bon Appetit / July 1998

Ingredients
2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
10 Tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
2 lg eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (about 4 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup chopped pecans (about 3 ounces)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Mix flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in medium bowl. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Remove saucepan from heat. Add sugar and whisk to blend. Whisk in eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually stir in flour mixture (batter will be thick). Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans.
Bake blondies until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Cool blondies in pan on rack. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.) Cut into squares and serve.

Lemon Squares – Carol

Servings: —
Preheat: 325°
Cook Time: 50 min

Ingredients
1 Cup butter
½ cup xx sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
//
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
4 tbs flour
¼ cup lemon juice
½ lemon rind

3 qt glass baking dish

Directions
Mix butter, sugar, flour & salt. Press into pan.
Bake for 25 minutes at 325 degrees

Mix eggs, sugar, lemon & flour.
Bake 20-25 min at 325 degrees.

Cool on a rack, chill before cutting

Mocha Toffee Bars

Servings: —
Preheat: 350°
Source: The Gourmet Cookie Book

Ingredients
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup salted roasted cashews, chopped

Directions
In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter, add the brown sugar, and beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the yolk, add the vanilla and the espresso mixture, a little at a time, beating, and beat the mixture until it is combined well. Add the salt and the flour, beating, and beat the mixture until is combined well. Spread the batter evenly in a jelly-roll pan, 15% by 10% by 1 inch, and bake it in the middle of a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it pulls away slightly from the edge of the pan.

Spread the chocolate, melted, evenly over the baked layer and sprinkle the cashews over it. Let the mixture cool in the pan on a rack, cut it into 48 bars, and chill it for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm.

RECIPE NOTES

1. To offset the sweetness of these bars, we recommend substituting bittersweet chocolate for the semisweet.

2. Butter the pan, line it with two crisscrossed sheets off oil, and butter the foil.

Lighter Lemon Bars

Servings: 16 (2-inch) bars or 25 smaller bars
Preheat: 350°
Source: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich
Tart lemon filling sits atop a crunchy cornmeal cookie, instead of rich shortbread crust. Superbly tart and tangy, which is just the way I like them.

Ingredients
FOR THE CRUST
2/3 cup (3 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1.375 ounces) yellow cornmeal
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup (2.33 ounces) sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon nonfat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

FOR THE TOPPING
2/3 cup (4.625 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
Grated zest of 1 large lemon, preferably from an organic or unsprayed fruit
1/2 cup strained lemon juice, preferably from an organic or unsprayed fruit
1/4 cup (1.125 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

EQUIPMENT
An 8-inch square metal baking pan, the bottom and all 4 sides lined with foil. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Directions
To Make the Crust
Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork.
In a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at high speed for about 1 minute, or until the mixture begins to form a mass. Beat in the egg yolk, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Scrape the bowl and beater. Knead the mixture briefly with your hands to be sure all of the flour is incorporated.
Press the dough evenly into the pan. Prick it all over with a fork. If the pan is lightweight, place it on a baking sheet to prevent the crust from burning on the bottom. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the surface is deep golden brown.

To Make the Topping
While the crust is baking, whisk the sugar with the eggs and the egg white until well blended. Grate the lemon zest directly into the bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice. Whisk in the flour.
When the crust is brown, turn the oven temperature down to 300°F. Slide the rack with the pan out and pour the topping over the hot crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until it barely jiggles when you shake the pan gently back and forth. Cool on a rack. Chill before cutting into squares.
Serve cold (my favorite) or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar. May be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days.

Cranberry Streusel Shortbread Bars

Servings: 3 doz
Preheat: 325°
recipeNotes: The best of Fine Cooking Cookies No. 23 101 bdest-ever recipes, tips, tricks and more
Tangy cranberries and an ultra-rich buttery crust make these bars a decadent treat.

Ingredients
FOR THE CRUST & STREUSEL:
10 1/2 oz. (1 cup plus 5 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to just warm
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. table salt
2 large egg yolks
14 1/4 oz. (3 cups plus 3 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour

FOR THE CRANBERRY TOPPING:
One 12-oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over, rinsed, and drained
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions
Make the crust: Line a straight-sided 13×9-inch metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge for easy removal. In a medium bowl, stir the butter, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the salt. Whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough. Transfer about 2 cups of the dough to the prepared pan, and press the mixture evenly into the bottom. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes (or freeze for 5 to 7 minutes) until the dough is firm.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and another near the top. Heat the oven to 325°F.
Bake the dough on the center rack until the crust begins to set but does not brown at all on the edges (the center will not be firm yet), about 20 minutes. While the crust bakes, prepare the streusel and the cranberry topping.
Make the streusel: With your fingers, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the reserved dough until crumbly. The mixture should hold together when pressed, but readily break into smaller pieces.
Make the cranberry topping: In a medium saucepan, bring the cranberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to a thick syrup, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes-the syrup will continue to thicken as the mixture cools.
Spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the hot crust. Scatter the streusel over the cranberries (don’t crumble the streusel too much or the texture will be sandy). Increase the oven temperature to 350°F and bake the bars near the top of the oven until the streusel is golden and set about 25 minutes. (Baking the bars at the top of the oven helps the streusel brown faster without over-browning the crust.)
Set the pan on a metal rack to cool until the crust is completely firm, at least 1 hour. (For faster cooling, put the bars in the fridge once the pan is no longer piping hot, or even outside in winter.)
When the bottom of the pan is cool, carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer them to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars by sliding a spatula between them. Cut the bars into 1 3/4 inch squares. They will keep at room temperature for one week.

Cream Cheese Brownies

Servings: 2 doz
Preheat: 350°
Source: Holiday Cookies 2010 Martha Stewart

Ingredients
Chocolate Brownies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs

Cream Cheese
4 ounces softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons flour

Directions
Butter an 8 inch square baking pan, line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Butter parchment. Whisk to combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and cool. Add sugar; stir to combine. Add eggs, and mix to combine. Stir in flour mixture just until moistened. Do not over mix.

Prepare cream cheese mixture in a separate bowl.

Alternately spoon brownie batter and cream-cheese mixture into pan; with the tip of a paring knife, swirl to marble.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with only a few crumbs. Cool in pan or wire rack for 30 minutes.

Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. I suggest that you freeze them so you don’t eat all of them.