Showing posts with label bar cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bar cookies. Show all posts

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Pecan Pie Bars #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: We were attending a holiday potluck party and my responsibility was some kind of cookies. I decided this was an opportunity to try pecan pie bars, which would be festive but also easier than making dozens of cookies. I looked at a number of recipes and decided to try one from Life Tastes GoodI made a few tweaks, cutting the salt and subbing some brown sugar for white.

The recipe is not very difficult and it makes a lot. But warning, it’s very very sweet! So cut your bars small. 


3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter

For the topping:

Four eggs
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
One and a half cups sugar (I decided to use a half cup brown sugar and a cup of white)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
One and a half teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups pecans, broken into pieces

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in your food processor. Cut the cold butter into small chunks and with the machine running, feed them into the dry ingredients. This should all begin to hold together a little like pie crust.

Cover a 11 by 15 inch sheet pan with parchment paper so the paper hangs out the sides. (The paper will stick better if you grease the pan, then lay the parchment on top.) Dump the shortbread mixture into the pan and spread it evenly. Bake this for 20 minutes at 350.

Crust baked and ready for action!

While the crust bakes, whip the eggs in your food processor and then add the other ingredients up to pecans. Fold in the lightly broken pecans. When the shortbread crust has baked, remove the pan from the oven and pour in the filling. Spread the pecans evenly over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until nothing jiggles.

ready to bake

Let the pan of bars cool completely before lifting the bars out of the pan with the parchment overhang. Place them on a large cutting board and divide them into individual squares. Store in the refrigerator or freeze them for your party!

Finished bars

Merry Christmas and happy all holidays to our readers and friends!

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Patriots' Day Blondies

Because it was pouring buckets and spitting snow on our regular marketing day, we stayed inside. There’s always some sort of meal we can throw together from what’s in the fridge and pantry. But! there was nothing for dessert, a crisis of epic proportions. So I had to bake.

But I was kind of low on butter, and I didn’t feel like messing with anything fancy, so I went looking for a bar cookies. Lo and behold, the model for this recipe was the first page in the cookie section of my bursting binder of recipes—something I found online in 2008, but had never made.

One small problem: it called for dried cranberries, and I had none. But I did have dried blueberries and dried cherries, and then I realized that with the white chocolate chips (that I did have), I was making red, white and blue bars. I figured I could call it an homage to Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts.

Daniel Chester French's
Minuteman Statue, near
the bridge where the battle
took place
In case you are completely ignorant of Patriots’ Day (no surprise, because few states celebrate it), it commemorates the battle of Lexington and Concord, which took place on April 19, 1775 (you could argue it started on the 18th, which is when Paul Revere’s famous ride took place, but the fighting started on the next day). Nowadays it’s held on the third Monday in April. (Yes, I had an ancestor or three there, and there was that other one, celebrated in family lore, who said “sorry, I need to get this field plowed,” and missed the whole thing.)

Patriots’ Day Bars

3/4 cup butter, cubed
1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
3/4 tsp vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried fruit, coarsely chopped if needed
(blueberries didn’t, cherries did)

Dried blueberries

Dried cherries

One important note: dried fruit works better in a bar cookie or bread (like Irish soda bread, which is where I learned this trick) if you soak it in boiling water for a couple of minutes first. Make sure to drain the fruit well before adding to the batter.

6 oz white chocolate bits (or chunks, chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13x2 inch pan.

Melt the butter in a bowl. Stir in the brown sugar.

Transfer to a larger bowl (if you're using a stand mixer, the bowl for that will do) and let cool. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Sift together the dry ingredients, and add gradually to the butter mixture.

Stir in the fruit and the chocolate bits. (The batter will be stiff.)

Spread in the greased baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clear (do not overbake!). Cool in the pan on a rack.

And enjoy!

My next book will be A Late Frost, the 11th book in the Orchard Mystery series, coming from Berkley in November (yes, a long time to wait!). 

It takes place in February--you know, that month where everybody in Massachusetts is ready for spring but they know that won't happen for a couple of months yet. So the town of Granford decides to start a new tradition: the WinterFare. 

Which turns out really well--until one of the organizers dies.

I'll be telling you more about it over the next few months.

And be sure to enjoy my newly polished website!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

#Easter #recipes -- Carrot-Walnut Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

LESLIE: Why did the bunny cross the road? To get one of these!

Seriously, why do we associate bunnies with Easter? Let alone the egg thing. Turns out, it’s a German legend that probably grew out of the medieval association of rabbits with fertility, because they breed like—well, like rabbits. Some ancients apparently believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites and reproduced without sex, making them ripe for association with the Virgin Mary. (This is getting a little weird, isn’t it?)

So where do the eggs come in? Birds were also an early symbol of fertility. In the Orthodox church, believers did not eat eggs during the Lenten fast. To preserve them for later, they boiled or pickled the eggs, then ate them on Easter, when the fast was broken. Decorating them became part of the celebration.

Eventually, the legends merged, and the Osterhase, or Easter Hare, was born. Or hatched. Like all good mythic holiday figures, he brings gifts for the good children—decorated eggs. The legend came to the U.S. with 19th century German immigrants, no doubt including mine. They also brought us St. Nick and the decorated tree, but happily, those legends have stayed separate.

Beatrix Potter made the clothed rabbit a familiar figure, trotting through the carrot patch.

And that path leads to carrot cake. Which I love, but I wanted to try something different. On my way to digging out my mother’s old recipe for carrot cookies with orange frosting, I found these. They’re a cross between a bar cookie and cake, denser than cake but not heavy. And according to Mr. Right, they make an excellent breakfast.

Half a cup of golden raisins would be a lovely addition. The frosting recipe below is half a typical cake recipe, so if you’d like to use it on a two-layer cake, double it.

(Back before my first book came out, I took a watercolor class. Behold, Bunny Two Ears and Bunny with a Gleam in His Eye!)

Carrot-Walnut Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot-Walnut Bars

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking power
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup oil (I used canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups grated carrots (2-3 medium carrots)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 13X9 inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla, and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the carrots, walnuts, and coconut.

Spread batter into pan and bake 25-28 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack. Frost. Cut in bars and store in refrigerator. Makes 24 bars.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3-4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
milk to thin, if necessary

 With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Add up to a teaspoon of milk to thin, if necessary.

Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating well, until frosting reaches an easy-to-spread consistency.

  Okay, we ate a couple before I took the picture. No eggs for me, I guess!

From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher. 

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Toffee Crunch Blondies

by Sheila Connolly

Last month I went to the mystery mega-conference Bouchercon in Long Beach, California, which is at the coast opposite the one I live on. I will state up front that all my flights were on time, I made all connections, and my luggage followed me all the way. I just want to go on the record to say that it does happen occasionally.

Anyway, between the two legs on my return trip (in some time zone that made no sense to my bewildered biorhythms), I stopped for a meal that was either lunch or dinner or both. The sandwich was not memorable, but I treated myself to a toffee crunch blondie and was blown away: it was the perfect bar cookie for that time and place.

Chocolate and toffee chunks--yum!

This magnificent buttery, sugary creation combined small chunks of both dark and white chocolate and some kind of toffee.  I know this can be made with chips of all of the above, but the one I bought had nice, large, randomly distributed globs of goodness, nestled in the blondie in a series of happy surprises. I wanted more.

I was surprised to find only a few recipes online, but I kind of combined them. (As an aside, when I was a child I used to hate it when my mother tinkered with recipes. Silly me!)

Toffee Crunch Blondies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tblsp milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup toffee bits or chunks (at my market they had one brand, but the chunks were tiny. Instead I bought a package of Heath Bites and chopped them roughly)
1 cup chocolate chunks (I used a semi-sweet candy bar)
1 cup white chocolate chunks (candy bar again)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13” pan (the inspirational blondie I had in the airport was about 1” thick, so I used a 9x9” pan instead—just remember to cook a little longer for the thicker version. Note that you’d get more bars with the bigger plan.)

Don't you love the ratio of chocolate to dough?

 In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until they are fluffy. Beat in the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is creamy. Add the vanilla and blend.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then stir it into the batter along with the milk.

By hand, stir in the chocolate chunks and the toffee chunks.

Ready for the oven

 Spread evenly in the baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool, then cut into bars. Try not to eat them all at once!

They didn't last very long at my house.

The next in the County Cork Mystery Series, coming February 2015.

Have I mentioned here that books make wonderful gifts? If you have any Irish blood, or would like to, or have visited Ireland, or are planning to, or really want to--this series will give you a small taste of the place.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's Cookie Time!

We're kicking off our Cookie Contest here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Submit a recipe and you could win some adorable cookie cutters. We're closing submissions on December 7th, so hurry if you have a great recipe!

This recipe had me at the first line. Smooth, sweet peanut butter cookie with a kiss of peanut butter and chocolate. These cookies are so good that I barely let them cool before I started eating them. They're easy to make, but not so easy to share!

Congrats to Candance Early for submitting this recipe! Please email me at so I can send you some adorable cookie cutters!

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (any brand)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated white sugar
½ cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whole milk
40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped and frozen
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture and mix well. Shape into 40 same size balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for eight minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini frozen peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool before removing from pan. Store cookies for up to a week in an airtight container.
Submitted by Candace Bowen Early

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cherry Almond Bars

Friday afternoon, I got around to making my recipe for the week (yummy cherry almond bars that are perfect for Saturday afternoon tailgating ...).  After I got the oven preheating and finished my prep, I started looking for the camera.


It took me a good 20 minutes to find the camera ... which was sitting smack in the middle of my dresser, in plain sight..

And then, when I finally found the camera, I clicked it on, and the little orange "help me" light started blinking:  the battery was on the brink of death.   Awesome.

We have two batteries for the camera, so we used to keep one in the camera and one in the charger, plugged in and ready to go.  But then we ripped apart the den (where the charger lived) ... and, well, you can see where this is going.

I looked.  Honest, I did.  I pulled the baskets out from the TV stand and searched through the wires and cables stashed there.  I sifted through the stacks of stuff on the dining room table.  I went back to my dresser and checked behind my jewelry box ... thinking, foolishly, that the charger might have been close to the camera.  Finally, I gave up.

When Mr. Wendy got home, I asked if he knew where the charger had landed.  Big sigh.  No.  No, he did not.  But he would find it.

He searched through the cables and wires, sifted through the stacks, checked behind every box and bag and book in sight.  Finally, after about half an hour, he came into the den, the charger raised above his head in triumph.

"Where was it?" I asked.

He shook his head.  "You don't want to know."


"It was in the battery drawer, wasn't it?"

Yes, that's what our life has come to.  Combined, we spent nearly an hour looking for a battery.  Without checking the drawer specifically dedicated to batteries.

The story provides a good context for this week's recipe.  Today, I'm tailgating with a group of friends.  I was tasked with bringing dessert.  I wanted to do something other than the usual chocolate chip cookie/brownie thing, but I wasn't sure what.  I turned to a stack of recipes I recently brought from my mom's house.  They're all culled from my mom's recipe box, some of them handed down from my grandmothers or passed along from neighbors long gone.

I settled on a recipe for cherry almond bars from my Grandma Mary Ellen's collection.  It's dated 1980, and the note in the corner says she got it from the Columbus Dispatch.  I figured it would be like a bar cookie, perfect for tailgating.  Alas, the finished product is more like a crumble.  Definitely something you eat with a fork.  But I really didn't have time to make anything else (either for the blog or for the tailgating).

The bars required a fork, but that didn't really slow us down ...

Thankfully, the bars are tasty as all heck, a perfect blend of buttery, sweet, and tart.  I'm hoping that my tailgating buddies won't mind crumbs and cherry juice dribbling down their shirts.  As for you, my friends, grab your forks and dig in ...

Cherry Almond Bars

Crumb Topping
2 - 14.5 oz cans tart red cherries (in water or juice)
2 Tbs. cornstarch
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
a few drops red food coloring

2 c. flour (I used half all-purpose, half white whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. sugar
1 c. margarine, softened
1 c. flaked coconut
3/4 c. slivered or sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400.

Drain cherries, reserving juice.  Combine cornstarch, 3/4 c. sugar, and reserved juice in a saucepan.  Whisk to remove lumps.  Bring to a boil.  Add cherries, almond extract, and red food coloring.  Bring to a boil again, remove from heat, and cool.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in margarine until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in coconut and almonds.  Pack 3 cups of the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and reduce temp to 350.  Spread cherry mixture on top of the baked base.  Sprinkle remaining crumbs over the top.  Return to oven and bake 25 - 30 minutes.

Allow bars to cool before you cut them.  Yum!


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Babs Hightower with her Grandmother's Baked Beans and Sam's Cookies!

Sam's Cookies
(Hello Dollies)

Please welcome our guest blogger, Barbara (Babs) Downey Hightower. Babs is a passionate book reviewer and blogger who is also an amazing cook. She's sharing two very special recipes with us today: one for a favorite cookie and one for her grandmother's baked beans. Take it away, Babs! 
 ~ Cleo Coyle

I am thrilled to be here with all of you today. Mystery Lovers' Kitchen is one of my favorite sites. I visit each day, so imagine my surprise when Cleo invited me to be a guest.

I love to read, but that has not always been the case. It wasn’t until high school when I had to read Rebecca, that reading caught my attention. The thriller got me hooked on mysteries from then on.

I started my website in 2008 to post my reviews for my close friends as they were always asking if I liked or even if I did not like a book. It started catching on when I asked a few authors to be guests on the site.

One day in 2010, I got to talking to Cleo about being a guest as I have always been a big fan of hers. She took me under her wing and introduced me to the blogging world. She even helped me with the title of my blog, The World of Book Reviews. I did change it to Babs World of Book Reviews as I wanted to stand out a bit more. Since then, the blog has taken off. I have had more authors contact me to be on the blog and review their books than I could ever imagine.

It might sound hard to believe, but mysteries were all I wanted to read until I started my blog. My eyes have been opened to more genres that I did not know I would enjoy. I always frowned on romances while growing up. My mom always read them. I remember her dragging me to the book exchange to turn in her old ones for new ones or the book store for the newest releases. I did not see the big hoopla of it all. Now that I look back, I wish I would have paid more attention to the book shelves when I was younger. My main genre to review is still a good old mystery.

As my husband (TJ) and I have had a recent addition to the family and since Cleo wanted to see a picture of the little fellow, I better tell you about my family.

We have 4 boys that are all adopted and all half brothers. We have Ethan 14, Logan 8, Duncan 18 months and Marco who as of today is 6 months old. We started out with Ethan who was 8 at the time and Logan who was 2. They are my babies (don’t tell Ethan). We got a call last year that the birth mom had another baby boy and would we take him. Well, of course my answer was yes. TJ and I already decided we would keep their family together if we could. So, Duncan came into the picture when he was 5 months old. I was happy with 3 boys and thought that would be it until 2 months ago. We got another call about another little boy, Marco. I never thought I would have 4 children much less 4 boys. I keep hoping for a girl one of these days, but if not, I am just as happy.

Now for the fur babies. We have 13 pets that are all rescues. We have 4 indoor cats as one just passed away. Their names are Bandit, Casper, Timber and Katie Bell. We also have 9 Siberian huskies they are, Winter, Glacier, Nanook, Avalanche, Sleet, Sapphire, Summer, Nomad and Alpine. 

We have a house full of adopted and or rescues. They all keep me on my toes. This isn’t all of the dogs of course but there is TJ holding Duncan, Logan in front of them and Nomad and Summer can’t tell who the ones are behind TJ.  --->>>

Last, but not least there's my love for cooking. My mom’s side of the family is from Georgia. Every summer and any vacation time I had from school, was spent in Georgia with my great grandmother. She cooked everything home made with no short cuts.

My mom said I was 3 years old, on a chair helping grandmother stir whatever was in the pots. She taught me a great deal about cooking and cooking with joy. She always said never treat cooking like it is a chore, if that happens you need to stop cooking. I never copied any of her recipes. I thought she would always be here.

When she passed I was 18 years old and my great uncles surprised me with all of her recipes. One of my happiest days. The most important thing my great-grandmother taught me, southern cooking isn’t just fried chicken and the fixins. It is also about lots of love.

I had so many recipes running through my mind to share. I finally narrowed it down to these two.

I love this recipe as there can be so many variations to make how you like it. This recipe is from a friend of mine.

Sam’s Cookies (Hello Dollies)

Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Oven Temp: 350 degrees F. 
Pan Size: 13 x 9


1 stick butter melted
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1 cup ( 6 oz ) chocolate chips
1 cup medium sized pecan pieces
1 cup coconut ( optional )
1 cup condensed milk

Directions: Line your 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Do not mix above ingredients. Layer each ingredient separately into your pan. Press each layer down as you would in making a pie shell. Finish top layer by spreading condensed milk over it. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes. When the cookies are done, cool, cut and peel off paper.

<< Line pan with parchment.

Layer ingredients >>

<< Finish with condensed milk.

Bake, cool, cut, and peel off paper >>

*  *  *  *  *  *

Western Baked Beans

This next recipe is from my grandmother. We like to use this recipe when we are cooking out on the grill.


2 tablespoons butter 
1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 package onion soup mix
1/2 cup water
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoon vinegar
2- 12 oz cans of any pork and beans
Bacon slices (cooked and drained)

Directions: In skillet, heat butter and brown the ground beef (or turnkey). Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 to 30 minutes. Garnish with bacon strips. I also like to add cheese and sour cream to top mine off. There are so many different ways you can.

I hope you like these 2 recipes just as much as my family does. Thank you for inviting me to be a guest today and hope to see you stop by my blog.

~ Babs


Thank You again to Babs for joining us here today.
I cannot wait to make these amazing recipes!

~ Cleo