These soft sugar cookie bars were one of the most popular recipes this week on The New York Times’ website. They described them as “worth the hype” and, with their cheerful frosting and sprinkles, as “happiness in a 9-by-13 pan.” 🙂
This recipe was adapted from American Girl Cookies, via The New York Times, contributed by Margaux Laskey. I baked the dough in a rimmed sheet pan and used Meyer lemon juice in the frosting. I love bar desserts! They would be a crowd-pleaser served for Valentine’s Day, a birthday, or just as a special treat.
Yield: 20 cookies
For the Cookie Base:
- 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
- 2 3/4 cups/350 grams all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 (8 ounce/225 gram) package cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups/300 grams granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- lemon zest, optional (or Meyer lemon zest)
For the Frosting:
- 6 tablespoons/85 grams unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
- 2 cups/245 grams confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed (I used whole milk)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, plus more as needed
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- a drop or two of gel food coloring, optional
- assorted sprinkles, for decorating, optional
To Make the Cookie Base:
- Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
- Lightly butter (or coat with cooking oil spray) a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or rimmed sheet pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, running it up the two long sides of the pan and letting it extend past the rim by about 2 inches.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute.
- Add the granulated sugar and beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Add the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest, if using, and beat on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
- Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing on low speed just until blended, about 1 minute.
- Using a spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared baking pan. Using damp fingers or a greased offset spatula, spread the dough into an even layer.
- Bake just until the edges are starting to turn light golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle has moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes. (Do not overbake! The bars should be quite moist, and almost slightly underbaked in the middle.)
- Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Let cool completely. When fully cooled, remove the bars from the pan using the overhanging parchment paper.
To Make the Frosting:
- Place the 6 tablespoons of softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
- Add 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, beating on low speed until fully combined, then repeat with remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar.
- Add the 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, the vanilla, salt and food coloring, if using, and beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides halfway through, about 4 minutes. Add more milk if needed to thin out the mixture. Add lemon juice and vanilla to taste.
- Using a spatula, spread the frosting on top, then decorate with sprinkles, if using. Cut into 20 bars and serve.
Note: I stored the leftover cookies in the refrigerator and we actually preferred them chilled.
Posted in Baking, Cookies, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Recipes
Tags: American Girl, bar cookies, birthday, buttercream, cookies, cream cheese, dessert, frosting, lemon juice, Lofthouse, meyer lemon, soft, sprinkles, sugar cookies, valentine's day, vanilla
I kept waiting for Swiss chard to appear in my CSA box so that I could make this savory galette. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart. We ate it for dinner but it would be perfect for a special lunch or brunch. It was a surprisingly hearty meal served with a green salad. (I will confess that I served it with leftover pizza to please the rest of my crowd.) 🙂
The crust was particularly amazing. It is made with rolled oats and cream cheese which resulted in wonderful texture.
Yield: One 10 to 11-inch tart
For the Crust:
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 ounces cream cheese
- 1 large egg yolk
For the Filling & Egg Wash:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 ounces Swiss chard, leaves sliced in half through the center rib, stems separated and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 3 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 6 ounces ricotta, room temperature
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 large egg yolk
To Make the Crust:
- Pulse flour, oats, and salt in a food processor to combine.
- Add butter, cream cheese, and egg yolk; pulse until dough just holds together, 15 to 20 seconds.
- Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
To Make the Filling:
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add chard stems, onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until stems are soft and slightly brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add vinegar and cook, stirring, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Stir in raisins. Transfer mixture to a nonreactive bowl.
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high. Add anchovies, if using; cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Stir in thyme. (I incorporated the anchovies.)
- Add chard leaves and cook until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
- In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat both cheeses with 2 tablespoons cream until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Stir in nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.
To Make the Galette:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
- On a large sheet of parchment, roll out dough to a 1/8-inch-thick round, about 13 to 14-inches in diameter.
- Arrange onion mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 3-inch border.
- Spread ricotta mixture over onion mixture; top with chard mixture.
- Fold edges of dough over and gently press down to seal.
- Transfer tart (still on parchment) to a baking sheet. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and remaining 1 tablespoon cream. Brush exposed dough with egg wash.
- Bake until crust is golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Posted in Greens, Quiches & Tarts, Recipes, Vegetarian
Tags: anchovies, brunch, chard, cream cheese, dinner, galette, golden raisins, greens, Mediterranean, oats, ricotta, rolled oats, savory, Swiss chard, tart, thyme, vegetarian
I especially loved this beautiful tart because in addition to being delicious, it is made with a flaky and buttery press-in crust and a cheesecake-like no-bake filling. Nice shortcuts! I topped it with my favorite summer fruit- white nectarines. The original recipe uses peaches which would also be fabulous.
This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. The chilled temperature and brightness from lemon zest made it very refreshing.
Yield: One 9 or 10-inch tart, about 8 to 10 servings
- 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from about 1/2 of a large lemon), plus 2 tablespoons fresh juice, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 to 3 peaches or nectarines (1 pound)
1 cup fresh blueberries
mint leaves, for serving, optional
- Preheat oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
- Beat butter with confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Reduce speed to medium-low; add flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and beat until just combined and crumbly (do not overmix).
- Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch square tart pan or a 9- or 10-inch round tart pan, with a removable bottom.
- Dock bottom at 1-inch intervals with the tines of a fork. Freeze 15 minutes.
- Place on rimmed baking sheet or pizza tin, and bake until golden brown and set, 23 to 33 minutes. Let cool completely. (Crust can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 days.)
- Beat together cream cheese, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon juice, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until creamy.
- With mixer running, slowly add cream and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. (You should have about 2 cups.)
- Spread mixture into crust; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel peaches/nectarines, if desired; cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. (I left the peels intact.)
- Transfer to a bowl and stir in berries and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Just before serving, spoon macerated fruit over tart and drizzle some of juice from bowl over it. (I used all of the juice!)
- Sprinkle with mint, if desired, and serve.
Posted in Baking, Fruit Desserts, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Recipes
Tags: blueberry, cheesecake, cookie crust, cream, cream cheese, dessert, fruit, lemon, lemon juice, lemon zest, nectarines, no bake, peaches, pie, press in crust, tart, whipped cream, white nectarines
My friend served delicious pimento cheese sandwiches recently- reminding me how much I enjoy them. 🙂 Eating them also reminded me that I wanted to try this version from Charleston, South Carolina.
The recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by the Lee Brothers. I used Cabot 3-year sharp cheddar cheese. I served it on the Fourth of July as a dip with crackers and pita chips. Alternatively, it could be used to fill about 4 sandwiches. Easy and fabulous.
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups
- 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated with a food processor or hand grater (not pre-grated)
- 1/4 cup softened cream cheese (2 ounces), pulled into several pieces
- scant 1/2 cup jarred pimento or other roasted red peppers (from a 7-ounce jar), finely diced
- 3 tablespoons Duke’s, Hellmann’s or other high-quality store-bought mayonnaise (I used Trader Joe’s)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a large mixing bowl, place the cheddar cheese in an even layer.
- Scatter the cream cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise and chile flakes over the cheddar cheese.
- Using a spatula, mix the pimento cheese until it is smooth and spreadable, about 1 1/2 minutes.
- Transfer the pimento cheese to a plastic container or bowl, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator.
- Serve as a sandwich spread or as a dip.
Note: Pimento cheese keeps in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Posted in Appetizers, Holiday, Quick, Recipes, Vegetarian
Tags: brunch, cheddar, cream cheese, easy, fast, Fourth of July, July 4th, mayonnaise, pimento, pimento cheese, quick, sandwich spread, sandwiches, Southern, spread, tea sandwiches
I have had my eye on a couple of easy sheet cake recipes. My indecisiveness led me to combine them. 😉 It was a successful combination! This cake was moist and delicious.
The simple vanilla cake is from Food 52, from their book Genius Desserts, contributed by Jami Curl. It was proposed to serve it topped with strawberry compote & butterscotch whipped cream. I included these original topping recipes below- just to keep my options open.
The frosting recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. It was originally from an easy sheet cake recipe with a “reverse creaming” technique. Of course, I’ll have to try this cake as well at some point. 🙂
For the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:
- 3 1/3 cups (400 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 1 T plus 2 tsp (20 g) baking powder
- 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup (227 g) sour cream
- 1/2 cup (105 g) canola oil
- 1 T (18 g) pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (75 grams) boiling water
For the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- sprinkles, for garnish, optional
To Make the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:
- Heat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper. Spray with cooking oil spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
- In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and sour cream with a fork, mixing until smooth. Add the oil and vanilla and use the fork to mix until they’re incorporated. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and continue to stir until the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated. The batter will turn very thick.
- Add the boiling water and stir until the batter is smooth and uniform with no traces of unmixed ingredients remaining.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it evenly into the corners.
- Bake the cake for 35 (to be safe- check even earlier) to 40 minutes, until it’s golden, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.
To Make the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Make icing while cake cools.
- Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add powdered sugar, sifted cocoa powder, and salt and beat again, scraping down sides of bowl, until completely smooth.
- Add vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy and lightened in color, another minute.
- Smooth icing over top of cooled cake (it should not be at all warm to the touch, or else the icing will melt).
- Top cake with sprinkles, if desired.
- Cut into pieces and serve.
Do Ahead: Cake can be baked and frosted 2 days ahead. Chill until icing is solid, then cover with plastic wrap and keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.
For the Alternate Cake Toppings:
For the Strawberry Compote & Butterscotch Whipped Cream:
- 4 cups (600 grams) frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups (800 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 cups (480 grams) heavy cream
- 1/3 cup (72 grams) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons (12 grams) pure vanilla extract
To Make the Strawberry Compote:
- Combine the strawberries and vinegar in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the fruit is soft and has released some juice.
- Add the granulated sugar 1 cup (200 grams) at a time, stirring between additions until the sugar disappears.
- Increase the heat to medium and bring the fruit and sugar to a boil. Boil for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn off the heat and let the compote cool before using.
To Make the Butterscotch Whipped Cream:
- Chill a bowl and a whisk.
- Pour the cream into the bowl and add the brown sugar and vanilla.
- Whisk the cream until stiff-ish peaks form. Take care that you don’t turn it into butter by overwhipping.(You can use a mixer with the whisk attachment to whip the cream.)
- Use immediately.
To Serve the Vanilla Sour-Cream Cake with Compote & Whipped Cream: **Two Options:
Option 1: Spoon the Strawberry Compote over the cake. Top the compote with the Butterscotch Whipped Cream, using the back of a spoon to give it some pretty swirls.
Option 2: Use the parchment paper to lift the cooled cake out of the pan. Cut the cake into 12 equal pieces. Spoon some Strawberry Compote over each piece. Top with a generous dollop of Butterscotch Whipped Cream.
Note: The Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake will keep, tightly covered at room temperature, for several days. Once assembled with the Strawberry Compote and Butterscotch Whipped Cream, plan to enjoy this cake the day you assemble it. That said, if you cover and refrigerate it, it will not disappoint the next day or the day after that. Especially for breakfast.
Posted in Baking, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Recipes
Tags: American, butterscotch, cake, chocolate, cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, dessert, easy, Food 52, frosting, fruit, quick, sheet cake, sour cream, strawberries, strawberry, summer, vanilla, yellow
I have made many tried and true dinners and desserts during this quarantine period- more than usual. I was surprised to realize that I’ve never posted our gold standard and absolute favorite ice cream. This is it. 🙂
The recipe is from Food and Wine, contributed by Jeni Britton. I have made it for years! According to the recipe, the ice cream is exceptionally creamy from the inclusion of cornstarch to help thicken the base and cream cheese to make it more scoop-able. I confirm the results. Fabulous.
Yield: 3 1/2 cups
- Fill a large bowl with ice water.
- In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch.
- In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth. (I use a stainless steel bowl.)
- In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean and seeds.
- Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the vanilla flavors the milk, about 4 minutes.
- Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
- Whisk in the salt.
- Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.
- Strain the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (I churn it in the ice cream maker for 25 to 30 minutes.)
- Pack the ice cream into a plastic container or loaf pan.
- Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid or with additional plastic wrap.
- Freeze the vanilla ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.
Note: 1 tablespoon of Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste can be substituted for the split vanilla bean.
Posted in Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Ice Cream, Recipes
Tags: cornstarch, cream, cream cheese, dessert, heavy cream, ice cream, vanilla, vanilla bean, vanilla bean paste, whole milk
My baby celebrated her 13th birthday last week. I officially have two teenagers in my house!
She requested a yellow-themed celebration. Yellow is indeed her favorite color, but I think that it was also an excuse to have vanilla Oreos and goldfish crackers around to nibble on. 😉 Our decor included yellow mums, yellow balloons, yellow streamers, yellow tablecloths and place settings, and “yellowish” birthday cake popcorn. We also had a yellow cake with yellow (sunflower-themed) cream cheese frosting and pale yellow number cookies, our family birthday tradition. It was a solid theme!
The recipe for the yellow layer cake was adapted from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. I used the vanilla cream cheese frosting with Oreo filling from her 12th birthday cake. There was enough frosting for the layer cake and 12 cupcakes- perfect.
Yield: One 9-inch layer cake, generously frosted
For the Cake:
- 7 oz (1 3/4 cups) plain cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 10 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
- vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
- Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
- Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the cake pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
- Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a 2-cup measuring cup with a spout. Measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds.
- With the mixture still running at the lowest speed, add the butter, one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, about 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added.
- Add the reserved 1 cup egg mixture and mix at the lowest speed until incorporated, about 5 to 10 seconds.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Add the remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
- Beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.
- Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans. (about 1 lb plus 2.5 oz per pan) Spread to the sides of the pans and smooth with an offset or rubber spatula.
- Bake until the cake tops are light gold and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 27 minutes. The cakes will mound slightly but will level when cooled.
- Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Run a knife around the pan perimeter to loosen. Invert one cake onto a large plate and reinvert onto another wire rack. Repeat for the other layer. Cool completely before frosting.
For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling & Sunflower Design:
- 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 15 mini-Oreos, crushed in a food processor, plus more for the center of the cake sunflower
- yellow and green gel food coloring
- Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
- If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
- Reserve 1/4 cup icing for the green leaves, set aside.
- Tint the remaining icing pale yellow with food coloring, mixing well.
- Remove 1 1/4 cup of icing for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
- Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling icing. Spread on one of the layers.
- Place the second layer on top.
- Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
- Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale yellow icing.
- Tint the remaining icing deeper “sunflower yellow.” Place in a pastry bag fitted with a leaf tip.
- Tint the leaf icing deep green. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a leaf tip and pipe onto 3 areas of the outside of the cake, or as desired.
- Then, starting at the outer edge of the cake, begin piping the dark yellow flower petals. Work in circles moving toward the center of the cake.
- When about 3 rows are complete, place a dollop of the dark yellow icing in the center and form the center of the flower with mini-Oreos. (It seemed easier to start by placing the first Oreo in the center.)
- Fill the gap between the last piped row of petals and the center by piping an additional row of petals.
- Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.
BTW- If you thought that was enough… we had another celebration that required another dessert- this time yellow cupcakes with yellow (also sunflower) frosting. We do love our celebrations and yellow cake over here!
Posted in Baking, Cake, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Holiday, Recipes
Tags: birthday, cake, cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, cupcakes, dessert, flower, layer cake, oreo, Oreo filling, sunflower, vanilla, yellow