Category Archives: Bakery and Pastries

Apple Harvest Bars

Do you love the chill in the air, the change of color?  All reminders that it is apple harvest time!  This recipe will remind you of apple pie, but in dessert bar form.  Layers of a buttery crust, spiced apples and a lightly sweet topping.  Let the aroma fill your kitchen!

Apple Harvest Bars2

Apple Harvest Bars

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cold butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups peeled and sliced apples (about 2-3 large apples)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375° and grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan.

In a food processor, add flour, 1/3 cup sugar and salt, pulsate once to combine.  Add butter and pulse a few times until the mixture turns to dry crumbs.  Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

In a medium bowl, toss the sliced apples in lemon juice.  Arrange the apples slices in rows on top of the crust.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Sprinkle over the layer of apples.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the coconut, egg, condensed milk, vanilla and pecans in a medium bowl.  Remove the pan from the oven and spoon the coconut mixture evenly over the layer of apples.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes until the coconut is golden brown.

Slightly cool in pan and cut into bars while still warm.

Apple Harvest Bars Sweet Stackers

The aroma of apple pie fills the house!

Apple Harvest Bars Dessert Container

Tip:  Cut dessert bars ahead of time to make an easy-to-serve dessert. Sweet Stackers layer your baked goods in one container so they are ready to serve or transport to a party!  Visit sweetstackers.com to learn how you can convert your containers to multi-level.

 

Double-Lemon Cheesecake Bars

There is something about spring that brings on a cravings for lemon!

These Double-Lemon Cheesecake Bars were perfect for an adult Easter dessert.  Double lemon because the cheesecake had a hint of lemon and topped with a lemon glaze.  Delish!  Cut into individual portions, stacked, stored and ready to transport to a party without a mess using Sweet Stackers.

Hope you had a nice Easter and enjoy this recipe!

SweetStackers Double Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Double-Lemon Cheesecake Bars

  • 2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, divided
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs, 1 separated
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup water

Preheat oven to 325° and line a 9×13 inch pan with foil.  Mix wafer crumbs and butter.  Press into the bottom of the pan and bake 10 minutes.

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour, lemon zest, 2 TB lemon juice and vanilla with mixer until blended.  Add 1 egg white (reserve the egg yolk for later use) and 3 whole eggs, adding one at a time while beating.

Pour batter over crust.  Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set.  Cool 1 hour.  Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Glaze:  Mix cornstarch and remaining sugar in saucepan, gradually stir in water and remaining lemon juice.  Bring just to boil, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir until clear and thickened.  Lightly beat reserved egg yolk and stir in 2 TB hot cornstarch mixture.  Return to remaining  mixture in saucepan.  Cook and stir 1 minute or until thickened.  Cool.

Spoon glaze over cheesecake.  Refrigerate 1 hour.  Use foil handles to remove cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.

 

 

 

Christmas Magic Bars

Simple, Festive, Sweet – the perfect Christmas treat!

There are many variations of “Magic Bars” out there, so I added a little twist of my of my own to make them look more festive for the holidays and also made them with a chocolate graham cracker crust.  The pop of color using the red M&Ms and white chocolate chips looked so pretty on my holiday table.

Holiday Magic Bars

Christmas Magic Bars

2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs

½ cup (5 ½ tablespoons) butter; melted

1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

¼ cup red M&Ms

¼ cup white chocolate chips

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; press mixture onto the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan.  Pour condensed milk evenly over crumbs.  Combine the chocolate chips and coconut, then spread evenly over the condensed milk.  Sprinkle the red M&Ms and white chocolate chips on top, followed by the chopped pecans.  Press down lightly.  Bake 25 minutes or until set.  Cool completely.  Cut into bars.  Store in an air tight container.

Holiday Magic Bars

Ready to store and transport to a holiday event on my Sweet Stackers!  The Christmas Magic Bars were transferred to a pretty crystal plate to pass around this formal event.

Dessert Storage Magic Bars

Sweet StackersTM are the solution to layering pastries, cookies, bakery or even finger foods in one storage container without disturbing their appearance or plainly having them stick together.  Sweet StackersTM allow you to store your bakery in an air tight container by using a stackable tray system.  Visit sweetstackers.com for more ideas on how to use Sweet StackersTM.

 

Homemade Toaster Pastries & The Cookie Thing

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It was quite a chilly day, a perfect day for baking!  I finally got to try a new kitchen tool that I actually won in a giveaway a couple of months ago.  I can already tell it is going to come in very handy next month for holiday baking.  This new tool, called The Cookie Thing, is designed by Susan Butler.  Quite a clever invention to aid in getting a perfectly uniform rolled dough.  It can be tricky to ensure that each batch of cookies is the same thickness!

The package I won came beautifully wrapped containing the roller and 4 different sized measuring boards.

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Toaster Pastry Dough

2 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 sticks of butter, cut into ½-inch dice

6 – 8 tablespoons ice water

Pulse the flour, salt and sugar together in a food processor to combine.  Add the butter and pulse 10 more times.  Add 6 tablespoons of water and pulse 3 more times.  The dough should come together and not be sticky.  Divide the dough in half and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for at least two hours.

For today’s baking project, I used the thinnest measuring boards to roll dough for homemade toaster pastries.

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Cut the dough with a rectangular shaped cutter or knife approximately 4″ x 3″ (I used a toaster pastry press).  Place the bottom layer of dough flat on a cookie sheet.  Add 1 tablespoon of filling and spread leaving a ½ inch border.  Brush the border with egg.  Place another layer of dough on top and crimp the sides to seal all the way around.  Place the pastries in the refrigerator for another half hour.

Bake in a 350º oven for 25 minutes, until the crust is golden.

The fun part about toaster pastry is that you can use a variety of fillings.  Today I used big spoonful of apple butter.  But preserves, peanut butter, hazelnut spread would all be delicious!

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The pastry is so buttery and crunchy.  A classic American treat and so much tastier than the store-bought brands!

 

Kolacky – Stack and freeze them!

Yesterday, I went to Czech-Moravian picnic.  There was Czech food, traditional folk dancing and yummy homemade desserts!  This reminded me of a post that I wrote before last Christmas about Kolacky (i.e. Kolache, kolace, kolach, koláče).  Kolacky are a Czech cookie filled with fruit, poppyseed or cheese.  Many other eastern European countries also make them or something similar.  Check out my post to view the recipe…my recipe produces a moist kolacky dough because it uses a handful of ingredients including cream cheese.  The best part of kolacky is that they can be filled with any flavor of fruit filling.  I think my favorite is when they are filled with apricot.

Kolaches

Raspberry and Apricot Kolacky

My family and I usually bake kolacky for the holidays.  Kolacky are the perfect dessert after a large feast because they are bite sized.  You can always squeeze at least one in!  Since there are so many foods to prepare for a holiday dinner, we bake kolacky a couple of weeks in advance and freeze them.   They freeze perfect!  But, they can’t be stacked in the same container because of the jelly or fruit filling.  I had an idea to design trays that fit in air-tight plastic food storage containers….and that is how SweetStackers came about!  Using the Stackable Food Storage System, you can layer a whole batch of kolacky or any cookies, bars or pastries in two or three layers, in one typical 3″ container without them sticking together.  This makes is possible to place only one container in your refrigerator, freezer or pantry.

Do you make any cookies or bakery that are hard to store in an air-tight container?  Please share and link to your recipes!!

Late night craving…

Late night cravingYes, I had a late night craving.

Oh…what to do….

Then I remembered that I have a secret stash of something sweet in my freezer!    Thawing is much faster than baking a whole batch of brownies or cookies and I am not really up for baking at this time of night, plus the aroma would probably wake up the kids.

My SweetStackers Stackable Food Storage System really did the trick!  They separated and stacked the remaining brownies that I made a while ago in a small 9×9 Tupperware container, perfect for the freezer.   Pull out one brownie (or all of them) when you have a craving.

Check out my original post on how I made these brownies, they are decadent!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Ganache         Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Love this recipe!  So easy, so yummy…and perfect for a play date.  I am pretty sure the kids liked it and I know the Mommies sure did!  Thank you Pioneer Woman for a great recipe.

This recipe intrigued me because the filling can changed to any fruity jam or preserves.  So depending on your mood or whatever jar of jam you have in your pantry, you most likely have all of the ingredients on hand.  Though…it sounds like the strawberry is the best if you need a comfort food.  They were hard to only eat one….perfectly sweet!

Using SweetStackers trays

Using SweetStackers trays

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

  • 1 3/4 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 – 10 to 12-ounce jar strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Add the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter (using your hands, combine the butter into the dry ingredients) until it makes course crumbs.  Spread half of the mixture into the greased pan, pushing it evenly and tightly into the corners.  Add a layer of the jam over the oatmeal crumble, carefully spreading it with a knife.  Then layer the remaining oatmeal crumble over the top of the jam.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Now for the hard part.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

using SweetStackers

using SweetStackers

Balsamic Strawberry-Banana Bread

This is not your ordinary banana bread, which by itself is absolutely delicious.  But I thought to give my banana bread recipe a little make-over and add a summer twist with strawberries.  The base ingredients were the same as my banana bread recipe, but I only added one banana and made a homemade balsamic strawberry sauce.  Balsamic vinegar and strawberries are a great combination because it brings out the sweetness of the berry.  I was pleasantly surprised that this bread turned out even better!

Balsamic Strawberry-Banana Bread

Balsamic vinegar and Strawberry Sauce

1 Cup fresh or frozen strawberries, chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

In a saucepan, stir the strawberries and sugar over medium heat for 5 minutes until the strawberries cook down into a sauce.  Add the balsamic vinegar to combine.  Remove from heat and set aside.

This sauce would even be delicious over yogurt or ice cream.  Ooh…the possibilities!

But here is the bread recipe…

Strawberry-Banana Bread with

Balsamic Strawberry-Banana Bread

2 C flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 C butter

1 C sugar

1 medium mashed bananas

balsamic strawberry sauce (recipe above)

1/3 C milk

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)

1/2 C chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease pan, mix all ingredients together and place in a 9 x 5 x 3 inch pan and bake for 60-70 minutes.  I used 3 mini loaf pans and baked for 45 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

A Fairy Tea Party

This had to be one of my favorite parties!  My daughter turned 6 and she invited a few girls for a quaint fairy tea party.  The weather really worked out because we held it out in our yard under the pergola (though the backup plan was to have it indoors) and the garden was just starting to bloom.  The fairies must have stopped by to open the flowers just in time for this magical afternoon.  Don’t forget to make a place setting for the fairies!

Fairy Tea Setting

The preparations started the night before.  My daughter was just ending her Kindergarten school year and has been very excited about writing.  She left a note for the fairies by one of the many fairy houses in our backyard to “leave a sign that they were here to visit” and invited them to her party tomorrow.  The fairies really did come to visit because when she checked the fairy house first thing in the morning, fairy dust was sprinkled at each fairy house in our yard with a few “gems” or polished glass stones.  She sure anticipated her party after school!

I made the headbands for each girl that attended the party using small silk flowers, ribbon and a butterfly and I found the package of headbands at the dollar store.

Fairy Tea Party Wear

Her guests were welcomed into the yard by a “Welcome to the Enchanted Fairy Garden” sign and a fairy house.

Enchanted Fairy Garden

I made placemats for the girls out of white card stock with their name, butterfly stickers and a fairy quote “Like fairy dust gleams on butterfly wings, little girl dreams are made of magical things”.  At the end of the party I put the placemat and menu in their goodie bag so they could bring them home.

The menu for the fairy tea party was as follows:

Tea Sandwiches

Flower Power Grilled Cheese

Butterfly Egg Salad Sandwich

Ham & Cheese Snail Pinwheels

Raisin Bread with Cream Cheese and Sliced Apple

Sliced Banana and Nutella Spread on Crackers

Fresh Fruit Fairy Wands

Desserts

Chocolate Dipped Fairy Berries

Rainbow Petits Fours

Magical Dragonfly Cupcakes

Beverages

Peach Herbal Tea

Pink Lemonade

Fairy Tea Party Menu & Placemat

I served proper English style tea for the girls using a herbal peach tea.  All of the girls were willing to at least try it.  I think it is important to try new things and it was ok if they didn’t care for it, we then served pink lemonade.

I thought this menu catered to most kid’s and I avoided peanut butter in case of food allergies.  The biggest hit was the butterfly shaped grilled cheese sandwiches.  I had the bread cut, buttered and the sandwiches prepared ahead of time.  As I prepared the three tiered server, I put them on a hot griddle, flipped them and they were ready to serve.

The fresh fruit fairy wands were made using wooden skewers.

Fairy Tea Sandwiches

The dragonfly cupcakes really turned out beautiful.  I dipped pretzels in melted blue chocolate wafers and pieced them together on wax paper.  They perfectly stayed together to adorn the top of the cupcake.  The devils food cupcakes were iced with pink cream cheese frosting.

Dragonfly Cupcakes

Desserts are served!  The petit fours were easily made using frozen pound cake cut into squares and dipped in different melting chocolates.  These could be made a couple days in advance and kept in the fridge.

Fairy Tea Dessert Table

We played two games at the fairy tea party.

The first was an egg hunt in our yard and throughout the garden.  The plastic eggs were filled with small items that the girls will use to build fairy houses to take home.  Some items included, glass stones, buttons, pinecones, sea shells, etc.  The winner had found the most eggs.

The second game was played in between courses.  I filled a tray with “tea party” items and covered it with a table cloth.  Once I removed the cover, I explained the items to the girls and they had one minute to look things over.  I then covered the tray and gave them paper to list out as many items as they could remember.  For young writers, they did a great job!

Fairy Tea Party Game

After the girls finished up their dessert, I cleared the table to work on building a take-home fairy house.  I found these little odd shaped boxes that I thought would be perfect to decorate.  Prior to the party, my daughter and I filled a box with some natural items, clippings from the boxwood bushes, dried pressed flowers, sticks, pinecones and small stones.  I purchased a small bag of moss, seashells and glass stones from the dollar store.  Just a few paper plates with glue and the girls were ready to decorate their fairy houses.  The houses are perfect to be kept in a dry place outside like a covered porch.

Build Fairy Houses Party Activity

It appeared that the girls enjoyed their afternoon together and we were thankful for them coming to our fairy tea party.  The goodie bags included a book on Fairy Houses and a fairy book mark – perfectly matching the Fairy Tea Party theme.

Fairy Party Goodie Bag

Is it a brownie? Is it a cookie?

It doesn’t matter because my sweet tooth had a craving for chocolate and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies or brownies.  Thanks to Betty Crocker, this recipe is the best of both worlds AND I didn’t even need to make a hard choice – ha!  Oh and why stop there with chocolate?  To make these even more decadent, I made a homemade chocolate ganache to top the brownies – check out my recipe below!

Now truthfully, my family and I didn’t eat the whole pan in one sitting.  I cut a few small portions for us to enjoy and froze the rest.  Next time we have a craving for chocolate chip cookie dough brownies, it is as easy as pulling a couple from our freezer.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Ganache

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

1 box Betty Crocker® Original Supreme Premium brownie mix  (Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box)

1 pouch Betty Crocker® chocolate chip cookie mix (1/2 cup butter or margarine and 1 egg called for on cookie mix pouch)

Preheat oven to 350° (325º for dark or nonstick pan) and grease a 9″ x 14″ pan.

Make brownie mix according to the directions on the box and spread in the bottom of the pan.

Make cookie dough according to the directions on the pouch and drop heaping tablespoonful of dough into the brownies mix.  Press lightly to even out.

Bake 40-45 minutes until a inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely before topping the brownies.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie

…and if these brownies are not decadent enough, top with Chocolate Ganache once cooled.

Chocolate Ganache

1 – 10 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate morsels

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

6 Tbsp butter

In a double boiler, heat cream and butter until just before the boiling stage.  Add the bag of chocolate morsels and stir to combine until melted and luscious.

Pour ganache over brownies and let set before cutting.