Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Bars

I've owned Marcel Desaulniers' Death By Chocolate and Death By Chocolate Cookies books since they came out in 1992 and 1997 (I received them as gifts).  My family has loved every recipe I've tried from these books.  These "take it out the oven only once" bar cookies are simple enough for the cookie jar but add some chocolate ice cream and hot fudge and they are a fancy dessert in my book!  All alone they are to die for--Mr. Desaulniers hit it right on the head.  The texture, and the chocolate, whoa.  The original recipe called for just one cup of chocolate chips, but I always go heavy on those.  I know no other way.

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Bars

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups tightly packed brown sugar (light or dark, whichever you have)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (if you only have salted butter, make them anyway!)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
one 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Move a rack to the middle position before the oven gets hot.  I  usually forget!
Measure flour, salt and baking soda into a bowl, stir to combine and set aside.
In a large bowl combine brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter.  Cream butter and sugars together with your trusty hand mixer til smooth.  Add the eggs and vanilla and keep mixing til all ingredients are incorporated.
Add half the bowl of dry ingredients at a time and mix together til all is completely incorporated.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Butter a 9"x13"x2" baking pan, or spray it with cooking spray.  Or you could use a non stick pan like the book says.
Pour the cookie dough into the baking pan and spread it out evenly.
Place in the 325 degree oven on the middle rack and bake for about 40 minutes.  I usually start checking it at 30 and keep an eye out.  It should be evenly golden brown when done.
Let it cool for a bit before  you cut into it.  That will give you time to get something to drink so you can sit down and have teatime with one of these babies. yum.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Dumpling Meltdown

I've made dozens of apple pies, but never apple dumplings. Looking through a couple of stacks of cooking magazines I found a recipe for pear dumplings. Sounded good, but I wanted to try apples, so I looked around for a recipe and found a few, and ended up using 4 or 5 references and altering a few things, hoping I would get what I wanted. They were absolutely delicious! They were not so pretty by the time I took them out of the oven, but they made up for it, believe you me. They are sweet(sugar), sour(lemon), crunchy(nuts), soft(apple) and chewy(dried cranberries).
I made my own crust, but you could use a mix. Fearing they would brown too fast I put a sheet of foil over them and took it off later, but I ended up cooking them way longer than they needed, and that's why the meltdown happened. I was afraid they would be tough if I took them out too soon. All the extended cooking time did was make them look schlumpy. They look well rested for a dessert. I had planned to take one little dumpling to a pretty plate for a portrait, but it was not meant to be. We scooped them out with a large spoon. So this is a pretty loose recipe. I think as long as you have the apple and the crust, you can really go after your preferences. I've seen recipes for dumplings cooked in sauce or without, with the centers filled or with just sugar. Make it your own, but this is what I did…

Apple Dumplings

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, cold, cut into about 1/2" to 3/4" chunks
3 or 4 tbsp. ice water

Mix together flour and salt then add butter. Use a pastry cutter to cut butter into flour and salt mixture.
Add 1 tbsp. ice water and mix it in with a fork. Add 2 to 3 tbsp. ice water and continue working it in with a fork til moistened. Cover and refrigerate while preparing apples and sauce.


1 cup water
1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. butter

Bring water, sugar, and cinnamon to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Set aside.


1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews. I always have cashews.)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Mix together in a bowl and set aside to fill the centers of the apples.


4 granny smith apples
1/2 of a lemon

Core apples, leaving a bottom in the apple. Peel apples and drizzle with lemon-squeeze 1/2 of a lemon over all four apples.
Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut into 3/4" strips. Wrap strips around apples from bottom to top. I also used a piece of dough to cover up the bottom using a bit water to attach dough to dough. When you get to the top and before you seal it all up, fill the cavity with the nut mixture filling, then continue wrapping and seal it up at the top, forming a stem with the dough or using a clove for a stem. You can also add a cutout dough leaf if you want. When they are all wrapped in dough strips put the dumplings in a shallow baking pan and spoon the leftover filling around them. Drizzle the sauce over the apples and the filling around them being careful not to overfill the pan so it won't bubble out and mess up your oven like mine did!
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven til golden…if the tops seem to be browning too much too soon, put a piece of foil over them til they are closer to being all done. Then take it off so it can all brown evenly. I left mine in for about an hour with the foil on top for much of the time. Next time I will get them out sooner after I test the apples for "done all the way through-ness". So good. We topped them with caramel sauce. If there is someone you want to win over, this could do it.

Transformation Thursday

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Recipe Book Makeover

I have several notebooks and recipe organizers and most of them are not very pretty. After seeing some books on japanese quilting with all those beautiful patchwork covers for books, I decided that I would try to make my own pattern for one of my smaller recipe books. I decided on this pink plaid from my vintage and almost vintage stash (affectionally called "The Fabric Waaaaaallll") for the cover, plain muslin, and a pink/white/green/dark pink print with flowers, leaves and strawberries for the patchwork, and a pink ticking for the binding. It has some polyester in it, and I wish it was all cotton, but it looked good, so I forgave it. After alot of measuring, re-measuring, sewing, quilting, piecing, ripping out and taking it off and on the book, I ended up with what you see here. I put a pocket on the inside front for wayward magazine cutouts and lists.
That's it for
the sewing part… the inside part around the binder thingy was old and ugly (this book is from the 80's but it never has had the pleasure of being useful til now). I looked in my flat box of decorative papers and found a pink and white piece that I liked. Using a piece of copy paper I made a pattern to use so I could cut the paper to match, have it tuck in a little and not have to have a big seam anywhere. Thankfully, that worked and I glued it in place. A little bit of the old book cover shows at the top and bottom and rather than try and cover that up, since it looked good, I chose the fabrics that would coordinate with it. So much prettier than it was, and soft!
This pink book will be for desserts so I will have them in one place, and I'll be making my own dividers and cards which I'll share later.
A red one next, I think.

freckled laundry

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Sweet Beginning

To begin this new blog, I wanted to start with this bar cookie recipe. I found it in a magazine years ago, tore out the page and saved it in my recipe file, and there it stayed until a few months ago. I wish I had tried it sooner, as it is one of my favorites now. It originally called for shortening, but I use butter instead. I like to make bar cookies because I only have to time them and take them out of the oven once! Read over the whole recipe before beginning, and here goes…

Butter-Nut Chewies

1/2 cup of melted butter
2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts

Measure flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and stir to combine. In a larger bowl, beat the eggs until they are about double in size (will only take a minute or so), and foamy. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and then the butter a little at a time. Beat until mixture is creamy. Add the flour mixture half at a time til incorporated. Stir in a cup to a cup and a half of your favorite nuts, or a mixture. I've tried it with cashews and almonds, and we like them both, but I prefer the almonds myself. Pecans, walnuts, whatever you have in the pantry would be good! Next time I may try adding a few raisins. The dough will be stiff. Pour the dough into a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan and spread it out evenly. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. It should be golden brown. Let it cool a bit so it will be easier to cut into squares.

I have sewing, cooking, re-doing and other do it yourself projects lined up, so stay tuned!

See all the goodies at the link parties at, and!
The 36th Avenue

Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!Photobucket