Posts Tagged ‘Bars’

Perfect Pumpkin Bars with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Relishing ItI’ll admit it, one of the main reasons I’m writing this post is so next year, when I’m craving a perfect pumpkin bar, I’ll know exactly where to look.  But that doesn’t mean they’re not for you, too.  They make an excellent dessert alternative for Thanksgiving.  I like pumpkin bars that are thick– I have no time for those weak, thin and flimsy ones. I suppose one could even say that this is more a pumpkin cake, but the fact that I swoop into the pan and eat this treat with my hands, makes me comfortable with the bar title.

Perfect Pumpkin Bars with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Relishing It

Perfect Pumpkin Bars with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Relishing ItOne of things that makes these bars stand out is the use of virgin coconut oil.  I try to swap out vegetable or canola oil whenever I can.  I find the smell and taste of those to be somewhat off-putting.  And aside from the better flavor, coconut oil is much healthier.  Both the coconut oil and the pumpkin make these bars stay moist for days and days.  The maple cream cheese frosting is the perfect way to top them.

Perfect Pumpkin Bars with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Relishing It

Perfect Pumpkin Bars with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Relishing It

These bars would be fantastic on your Thanksgiving table for those guests who aren’t into pie so much.  They can be left in a regular cake pan, or to fancy things up a bit, put them on a festive platter.  Using parchment paper in the pan makes them really easy to lift out.  However you decide to serve them, I know your friends and family are going to love them.  Enjoy!

Perfect Pumpkin Bars with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Relishing It

The Recipe: Perfect Pumpkin Bars with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

(makes a 9 x 13 pan)

2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup coconut oil, melted, then cooled a bit

4 eggs, room temperature

1 15- ounce can plain pumpkin purée

1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Frosting:

3 cups confectioners sugar (about 12 ounces), sifted

8 ounce package of cream cheese (full fat)

1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

toasted walnuts, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 9 x 13 cake pan with parchment paper (let enough hang over the edges to be able to grasp and lift the cake out with) and coat with non-stick cooking spray (if wanting to remove from pan in one large piece) or just grease pan with coconut oil, butter, or spray.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.  Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer (or using a regular bowl and wooden spoon) fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the coconut oil and sugars together until blended well.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until somewhat creamy, 3 minutes or so.  Then add the pumpkin puree and blend until uniform.

Sprinkle the dry ingredients on top of the wet and use a spatula to fold everything until moistened, (this will prevent a big cloud of flour from landing on your countertop), then using the paddle attachment again mix until just combined.  Do not over mix.  Bake for 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.  Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer (or a hand mixer, or wooden spoon) mix all of the ingredients together, except the confectioners sugar, until smooth and creamy. Then add the sifted confectioners sugar and mix until smooth.

Remove cake from pan once it has cooled, if desired.  Or frost it in the pan. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts, if you like.  Keeps well for days covered at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!



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The Best Apple Bars | Relishing It

I know it’s a bit much to say that these are the best apple bars that exist in the world.  But the truth is, I’ve never had better.  These are the apple bars that I grew up with– the ones that my Mom made.  I begged for these beauties throughout my childhood.  And I haven’t found a better apple bar in the last 30 years.

The Best Apple Bars | Relishing It

The Best Apple Bars | Relishing It

The Best Apple Bars | Relishing It

This is almost identical to recipe that my Mom used– it still has the wonderful unique qualities that make these bars so good.  There are crushed cornflakes on the bottom layer, which may sound a bit odd.  But they add something amazing– something magical– to the texture of the bars.  I wouldn’t say it’s a “crunch”, but whatever it is, it’s necessary.  The meringue is still there, too.  Meringue on apple bars isn’t standard, but on these it adds a little wow-factor in both appearance and texture.   I sometimes increase the amount of meringue, because my daughter and I fancy it so much.

The Best Apple Bars | Relishing It

The one thing that I did change about the recipe is substituting butter for the shortening that my Mom used.  I’ve actually made them both ways in order to see if using shortening was worth it (I don’t generally cook with shortening).  I used a butter-flavored shortening for comparison, and while it did lack a bit in flavor, it also made for a sturdier crust.  In the end, I decided that butter was the better option.  The crust is still amazing, and I’d rather put good, quality butter into my kids’ diet than shortening.  So, you can decide which route you want to go– either way will make an amazing apple bar.

The Best Apple Bars | Relishing It

A side note:  I’ve been a mother for seven years as of yesterday.  This sweet boy has brought so much joy to my life.  He’s an old soul, a funny trickster, and has a huge heart.  I’ve loved every day with him.  Happy Birthday to our sweet Aanen!


The Recipe:  The Best Apple Bars

For the Dough:

2 1/2 cups (11 7/8 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed (or coarsely grated, if frozen)

1 egg yolk in a measuring cup, then filled with milk to reach 2/3 cup total

For the Filling:

about 9 medium apples (or more), thickly sliced

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup coarsely crushed cornflakes

1-2 egg whites (depending upon how much meringue you like)

For the Icing:

about 1 cup powdered sugar

splash of milk

To Make the Dough:  In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and salt together.  Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until it is crumbly (it should resemble small peas).  Then, use a fork to mix in the egg yolk and milk mixture.  Mix until all of the dry ingredients are wet.  Put the mixture onto a flour surface and knead a couple of times and divide into two.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.  (Follow these photos, if you feel the need for visual help.)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Peel and slice the apples.  You may need more or less apples depending upon the size of them.  You’ll want enough apples to fill the pan to the top.   In a medium bowl, toss the apples, cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of salt together.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one ball of dough out to fit into a 9 x 13 x 1 inch pan.  It should hang over the edge just a bit.  Sprinkle the crushed cornflakes onto the pan.  Then top with the apples.  Roll out the other ball of dough to fit on the top.  Fold the two layers of dough together along the edge and then press together with a fork to prevent leaking.  Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, or handheld, beat the egg white(s) until somewhat stiff.  Gently place the egg whites on the top of the bars.  This can be somewhat unruly and you may have to use your fingers.  Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown.  Make sure the meringue doesn’t get too dark.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Mix the powdered sugar and milk together and drizzle over the bars.   These bars are best eaten within the first two days.  Store leftovers underneath a tea towel.  Enjoy!

Thank you so much for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a wonderful weekend.



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Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Malted Buttercream via Relishing It

What should you make for the special people in your life for Valentine’s Day?  I’ve been waiting to answer that question for awhile now.  These cute little brownies are the perfect sweet treats for your loved ones.  I love brownies when I need a chocolate fix.   These, from an earlier post, are always a hit.  They have a perfect balance of chocolate-y chewiness.  And these are fabulous when I’m in the mood for something a little out of the ordinary. But the fudge brownie bites with chocolate malted buttercream that you see here are perfect for turning brownies into an indulgent dessert for Valentine’s Day.  The chocolate malted buttercream is spectacular.



To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how many batches of these I made this summer.  They’ve become a favorite in our house.  And in the mini-muffin pan, they’re transformed into perfect bite-sized treats.  The brownie is more chewy than cake-like, which is how I prefer them.  The stirred-in chocolate chips add a nice pool of chocolate throughout .  Yes, they’re delicious on their own, but the malted-milk buttercream frosting makes these mini-desserts.

Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Malted Buttercream via Relishing It

Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Malted Buttercream via Relishing It

I’ll be baking up another batch of these sweets for our Valentine’s Day this year.  We’ve had a tradition for years– even before our little ones were born– of making a nice meal, opening a bottle of wine, and enjoying a candlelight dinner at home.  Now that we have kids, I always look forward to making a meal with them.  In the past we’ve had a nice pasta dish, such as this one.  Heart shaped pizzas would be fun, too.  Though, I’ve been in the mood for seafood lately, so this is also an option.  Whatever we choose to make, I know it will be fun.  Have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Malted Buttercream via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Malted Buttercream

(makes an 8×8 square pan or 24 mini-brownie bites)

For the Fudge Brownies:

3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon espresso powder

1/2 cup butter

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (preferably Ghiradelli’s 60% cacao)

For the Chocolate Malted Buttercream: 

(Note: double this buttercream recipe if you enjoy your brownie bites loaded with frosting, such as in the photos.  If you prefer a normal amount, one batch will be fine)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons malted milk powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the rack in the middle of the oven.  Prepare either an 8×8-inch square pan or a mini-muffin pan with either butter/flour, or a shot of cooking spray with the flour in it.  Set aside.

To make the brownies:  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a microwave for 25 seconds (or you place the bowl of chocolate/butter over a saucepan of steaming water).  Stir and repeat until the chocolate is melted.  Whisk in the brown and granulated sugars, and espresso powder.  Then, mix in the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla.  When it is uniform, fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to over mix.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Bake for 25-30 minutes for the 8×8-inch pan or 14-16 minutes for the mini-muffin pan.  A tester inserted should come out clean and the tops of them should be slightly cracked with a bit of color around the edges.  Cool in 8×8-inch pan completely.  Remove the mini-brownies once they have cooled in the pan for about 3 minutes.  Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:  Mix together the cream and malted milk powder.  Set aside.  In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (a hand mixer or your muscles will work, too), cream together the butter, cocoa powder, and salt for about 3 minutes on medium speed.  As always, scrape down the sides of the mixer, as necessary.  Add about 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low to combine.  Add the milk and vanilla and mix.  Slowly add the cream/malted milk mixture while mixing on medium speed.  Mix until it is the consistency you like, add more powdered sugar, if necessary.

Spread frosting onto cooled brownies.  They will keep well for days covered with aluminum foil or in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Joy Wilson’s Joy the Baker Cookbook

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!


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The St. Patrick’s Day preparations are in full-swing at our house!  My parents will be coming for a visit this weekend to help us celebrate, and my kids are about to burst with excitement!  The brisket is already in it’s brine for homemade corned beef.  I made and toasted my own mixture for pickling spice this year.  The fragrance was fantastic.  So exciting!  The fun party hats and favors have been purchased, and I found a fabulous “green” dessert to help mark the day.

I’ve actually been wanting to make these bars for quite some time, but that beautiful green hue made be hold off until St. Patrick’s Day.  Last year I made this indulgent stout cake that still ranks as one of my favorite cakes of all time.  Apparently, a bit of alcohol in the token St. Patty’s Day dessert is how we roll in the Kulseth house.

My kids are big fans of mint.  In these bars, when combined with the chocolate, it’s brilliant.  These little numbers do not disappoint.  The brownie layer is perfectly fudge-y.  It’s worth noting that under-baking the brownie layer by a minute or so will lead to a perfect bar in the end.  The mint buttercream in the center is ideal– perfectly minty, but not overpowering.  And the top layer is a rich chocolate shell that holds it all together.  These bars keep very well, they’ll last at least 4 days in the refrigerator.

The Recipe: Grasshopper Bars

For the Brownie:

3/4 cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa

5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60-72%) coarsely chopped (I used Sharffen Berger)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

For the Buttercream:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into small chunks

3 tablespoons crème de menthe

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For the Chocolate Glaze:

6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-72%) coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or metal 9-by-13-inch pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.  Set aside.

To make the Brownie:  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan over medium/low heat,  add the chocolate and the butter.  Stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until everything is completely melted.  Be careful not to burn the chocolate.  Alternately, this can be done over a hot water bath.  Remove from heat and whisk in the sugars until they are completely combined.  Pour into a large bowl, and let sit until it cools to room temperature.

In a small bowl, gently mix the 3 eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder.  Add the egg mixture to the bowl of chocolate.   Whisk until just combined.  Be careful to not over -mix the batter, as it will lead to a cakey brownie.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate and fold the dry ingredients into the wet using a rubber spatula until just a trace amount of flour/cocoa mixture is visible.  Again, do not over-mix.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out with an offset spatula.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway.  These brownies will benefit from being slightly under-baked.  A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

To make the Buttercream:  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together.  Add the milk and cream and cook and cook over medium heat, whisking often until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 5-7 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on high speed until cool.  Reduce speed to low and add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until filling is light and fluffy.  Add the crème de menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined.  If the buttercream is too soft, chill slightly in the refrigerator and then mix again until it is the right consistency.  If the buttercream is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and re-mix to the right consistency.  Spread the filling evenly across the top of the cooled brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator for a minimum of 45 minutes.

To make the Chocolate Glaze:  In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.  Stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and stir vigorously for 1 minute to release some of the heat.  Pour the mixture over the chilled mint buttercream layer.  Use an offset spatula to smooth it out into an even layer.  Place the pan back in the refrigerator until it hardens, about 1 hour.

It is best to cut into the bars using a knife warmed underneath warm water, wiped clean each time.  Store the bars covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Baked Explorations

Be sure to check back later this week  — Relishing It will be having it’s first giveaway and I’m so excited!


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If you’ve spent even a small amount of time here, you know that I love cookbooks.  Even on hectic days when my two little ones run me ragged, I try to find time to clear my head with a warm cup of coffee and a few peaceful moments paging through recipes.  So what makes a cookbook ‘good’?  Well, rather than listing page after page of instruction, for me the best cookbooks are like settling in and sharing ideas with a comforting friend.  They have stories wrapped around a theme, emotions that tie the dishes to the author’s life and loved ones, and– obviously– brilliant food.  I want to know the recipes are part of the author’s life, that they’re important enough that she needs to share them.  I want to make them become part of my family’s traditions and story, because that’s really what eating together is about– shared experiences.

One of my favorite cookbook authors is Melissa Clark.  Along with her popular column for the New York Times (A Good Appetite), she has authored or co-authored dozens of fantastic works.  Her cookbook “In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite” gives you a flavor of her journey to where, and who she is today.  I’ve waxed about her creativity in the kitchen and her way with words in this past post.  Today’s recipe, these decadent brownies, comes from her new book, “Cook This Now”.  In a word, both the brownies and the book are brilliant.  In her latest collection, she shares experiences of her life as both a mother and a wife centered around meals for family and friends.  The book’s format mirrors the seasons– which is how I try to cook.  The individual recipes are varied, creative, and mouth-watering.  I decided to make these brownies first, to share with a friend on his birthday– he loves chocolate and coconut.

I love the coconut/chocolate pairing, and in this recipe they really work together brilliantly.  This is not a normal, cake-like brownie.  Instead, it has a moist fudge-y density and texture that delivers a huge chocolate punch.  And the two layers of coconut add nice subtlety.  The first coconut layer (on top) crisps up beautifully.  The second (baked into the brownies) provides nice textural contrast to the brownie itself.   A sprinkle of fleur de sel on top makes them perfect.   Enjoy them with coffee while reading a good cookbook, or share them with a friend.

The Recipe: Coconut Fudge Brownies

1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil (butter may be substituted, if necessary)

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/2 cup sugar

1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups sweetened shredded coconut  (do not substitute unsweetened, as it will be too dry for the brownies)

Fleur de sel, for sprinkling (kosher salt may be substituted)

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate, and boiling water together until smooth.   Whisk in the the melted butter and coconut oil.  Don’t be alarmed if the mixture looks curdled.  Add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla, and whisk until combined.  Whisk in the sugar until fully incorporated.  Add the flour and salt and gently fold with a spatula until just combined.  Fold in the bittersweet chocolate pieces.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth in out.  Sprinkle 1 cup of coconut on top of it.  Spread the remaining batter on top of  the coconut.  Sprinkle the remaining cup of coconut on top of that.  Dust with a bit of fleur de sel and bake until a tester inserted into the center of the brownie is just set and shiny, 30-35 minutes.  If you test with a toothpick, it may seem wet, which is fine.   It will solidify as it cools.  It is better to under- bake these brownies, than to over-bake them.  Cool completely before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now Cookbook

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