S’mores Blondies

I first made this crowd-pleasing dessert for our last summer beach day and sunset before the start of school. I’ve already made them again! Insanely delicious.

The bars are not overly sweet and they have an amazing texture. I weighed the dry ingredients to ensure perfection. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I modified the method. Fabulous!!

Yield: 24 blondies
  • nonstick cooking oil spray
  • 9 whole graham crackers (about 135 grams), or store-bought graham cracker crumbs (about 1 cup)
  • 1 ¼ cups/160 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 packed cup/220 grams dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces/225 grams bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into chunks (I used 78% cacao Lindt)
  • 2 ½ cups/150 grams mini marshmallows
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and arrange oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  2. Coat the inside of a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of excess parchment on the long sides of the pan. (The excess will help you pull the blondies out later.)
  3. If using whole graham crackers, add them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they form a fine powder. Alternately, you could put the crackers in a large resealable plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin, then add them to the bowl. If using store-bought crumbs, add them directly to the food processor.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the crumbs, and pulse a few times to combine.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed until well incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  7. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  8. Turn the mixer to low and add the graham crumb mixture and mix just to combine.
  9. Add about ¾ of the chocolate to the mixer and mix to incorporate.
  10. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Use damp hands or a small offset spatula to press the dough into an even layer.
  11. Bake on the lower rack until the bars are golden at the edges and the surface has a crackly appearance, 25 minutes on convection or about 30 minutes in a standard oven.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the marshmallows evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate on top of the marshmallows and return the pan to the top rack of the oven.
  13. Bake until the marshmallows have softened and are lightly toasted and the chocolate is melted and gooey, 10 to 14 minutes.
  14. Remove the pan from the oven. If any of the marshmallows have puffed up, use a toothpick or skewer to puncture them; they will deflate easily.
  15. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool, 45 minutes.
  16. Using a thin knife, slide the blade between the blondies and the pan on the short sides of the pan, then use the parchment sling to carefully remove the blondies.
  17. Let cool another 10 minutes, then slice into 24 even pieces and serve.

Strawberry Graham Galette

My husband and I went strawberry picking without the kids this year. I’m so happy that he loves freshly picked strawberries enough to harvest them. 🙂 We brought home nine quarts!

My list of “must make” strawberry recipes seems to keep expanding, so I was lucky enough to have plenty of berries to fulfill the list (links below) and make one new dessert- this delicious galette. I loved the graham cracker crust.

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. We ate it with vanilla ice cream instead of the lime-flavored whipped cream. Wonderful!

Yield: 8 servings

  • 7 graham crackers (about 3.7 ounces)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled, & divided (I melted 6 T and 2 T separately)
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled & sliced
  • 1 lime, zested & juiced, divided
  • ½ cup very cold heavy cream, optional
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional
  1. Place a rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Place graham crackers in a large resealable plastic bag and zip it up, pressing out most of the air. Using a rolling pin, firmly roll over crackers several times, crushing them into fine crumbs (some larger crumbs are okay).
  3. Measure out 1 cup crumbs (which should be almost all of them) and transfer to a medium bowl. Add salt, ⅔ cup flour, and 2 T sugar. Mix with a fork to combine.
  4. Add 1 egg and 6 T melted butter.
  5. Mix with fork until dough forms, then knead with your hands inside of bowl until no floury spots remain and dough is smooth. It’ll be a little soft and slightly oily.
  6. Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and place dough on top. Lightly flour top of dough, then cover with another piece of parchment or plastic wrap.
  7. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a round (it doesn’t have to be perfect!) about 12″ in diameter and ⅛” thick. (I used this amazing rolling pin that creates an 1/8″ thick crust.)
  8. Slide entire sheet of parchment paper onto a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the top layer or plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  9. Sprinkle 1 T sugar over surface of dough, leaving about a 2″ border.
  10. Pile strawberries into center of dough and arrange in an even layer, leaving the same 2″ border.
  11. Sprinkle strawberries with 1 T sugar and drizzle with remaining 2 T butter.
  12. Using a microplane or fine grater, grate zest of about one-half of lime over strawberries.
  13. Cut off half of lime with no zest and squeeze juice over strawberries. Save the other half for later, if making the whipped cream topping.
  14. Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with fork until no streaks remain. Brush egg wash around border of pastry (you won’t use it all). Using edges of parchment to help lift, fold empty border of dough up and over strawberries, working your way around in roughly 2″ sections, overlapping folds as needed. Press all the way around to secure folds and keep dough in place. It might crack or tear in places, just pinch it back together.
  15. Brush top of border with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with remaining 1 T sugar.
  16. Bake galette until crust is browned around the edges and juices from strawberries are syrupy and actively bubbling, 40–45 minutes. If some juices escape and end up on the parchment paper, the parchment will prevent the tart from sticking.
  17. Let cool at least 20 minutes.
  18. For the Optional Whipped Cream Topping: Beat cream with a large whisk in a medium bowl until voluminous, thick, and starts to hold tracks of whisk. Hold whisk upright and look for the “peak” of cream that forms on the end. It should droop and slump over- making “soft peaks.”
  19. Grate zest from remaining half of lime over cream and serve with tart.

Do Ahead: Tart can be made several hours ahead. Let sit at room temperature. Once fully cooled, droop a piece of plastic over top. (I kept the leftover slices in the refrigerator.)

Essential Freshly Picked Strawberry Recipes (in my house):

Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Slaw

I have made slow-cooker pulled chicken sandwiches in the past but felt like they would be improved with slaw. This version fulfilled that wish! We ate them on soft potato rolls with chips. It was a wonderful, casual dinner that we enjoyed outside on a beautiful night.

This recipe was adapted from Just Cook It! 145 Built-to-be-Easy Recipes that are Totally Delicious by Justin Chapple. I used broccoli slaw as a base for the cole slaw topping and opted to not toast the rolls. With minimal preparation required in the morning, it’s a great dish to serve after a busy day.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Pulled Chicken:

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 8 to 10)
  • potato sandwich rolls, split, toasted if desired, for serving
  • slaw (recipe below), for serving

For the Slaw:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 12 ounces broccoli slaw (Trader Joe’s) or Brussels sprouts or shredded cabbage
  • 1 large Ruby Frost or Granny Smith apple, cored and julienned
  • 1 very firm Anjou or Bartlett pear, cored and juilienned
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Chicken:

  1. In a slow cooker, whisk together the apple cider, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, garlic, 2 tsp coarse salt, and 1 tsp pepper.
  2. Add the chicken thighs and mix well.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours or High for 3 to 4 hours, until the chicken is very tender.
  4. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken in the sauce and then season generously with salt and pepper.

To Make the Slaw:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and celery seeds.
  2. Using a mandoline set to 1/8″, julienne the apple and pear. Slice the Brussels sprouts lengthwise by hand, if using.
  3. Add the fruit to the mayonnaise mixture, followed by the shredded cabbage/broccoli/Brussels sprouts.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and mix.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.

To Serve:

  1. Pile the pulled chicken on soft or toasted potato buns, top with slaw, and serve.

Note: The pulled chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Festive Sugar Cookie Bars

I hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July celebration. 🙂

We had a very low-key day followed by a delicious meal prepared on the grill, in Fourth of July fashion. This fun dessert was a festive way to end the day! The meringue icing was incredibly thick and fluffy; the pattern could be easily modified to decorate for any occasion.

This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens. The cookies kept well for several days in the refrigerator.

Yield: 24 bars

For the Sugar Cookie Bars:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • Meringue Icing (recipe follows)
  • red and blue paste food colorings

For the Meringue Icing:

  • 3 cups Confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 T meringue powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a half sheet pan (15×10-inch baking pan) with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and coat the parchment with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl beat butter with mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Add sugars; beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Beat in egg and vanilla bean paste.
  6. Beat in flour mixture. (Dough will be crumbly.)
  7. Pat dough firmly and evenly into prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  8. Meanwhile prepare Meringue Icing. In a large bowl beat Confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup water, the meringue powder, and cream of tartar with mixer on high 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and fluffy.
  9. Divide three 1/4-cup portions into small bowls. Cover remaining Meringue Icing to prevent drying out.
  10. Tint 1/4-cup portions with paste food coloring to make red, light blue, and dark blue. Transfer each to a small resealable (sandwich) plastic bag.
  11. Evenly spread remaining Meringue Icing onto cooled cookie.
  12. For firework “burst” design, snip a small corner from each pastry bag. Pipe concentric circles in different sizes with tinted colors. Pull a toothpick from center to outer edge to create the firework pattern; wipe or replace the toothpick between each pull. Repeat as desired.
  13. Chill, uncovered, 2 hours or until icing sets. To store, cover loosely with foil and chill up to 3 days.

 

Strawberry Pie Bars

I had my eye on this recipe way before I even went strawberry picking…and these pie bars met every expectation. 🙂 This recipe is from Joy the Baker. Wonderful!

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Strawberry Filling:

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced into bite-size chunks (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons minute tapioca
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for topping
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line an 8×8-inch square pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over two edges of the pan about two inches. This will make the pie bars easier to remove after it’s baked. Lightly spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. For the crust, place the butter, sugars, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  4. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, salt, and cinnamon and mix on low-speed until just combined.
  5. Scatter two-thirds of the dough into clumps in the prepared pan, flour your fingers and press the dough across the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan about 1/2-inch. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and set aside to cool while you prepare the topping and filling.
  7. In a small bowl combine the remaining crust and pecans. Stir until combined and set aside.
  8. In a medium bowl toss together the sliced strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, and spices. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes until some juices develop in the bottom of the bowl.
  9. After the juices have developed, add the melted butter and the instant tapioca. Stir to combine. The tapioca will look coarse within the mixture but it will dissolve in the oven.
  10. Spread the strawberries evenly over the crust.
  11. Pinch medium pieces of remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly over the top of the strawberry mixture (they won’t cover the top completely but do your best to cover).
  12. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the topping is brown and the strawberry mixture is bubbling. (If there are still tapioca bits, take the pan out of the oven and gently stir those berries in so the tapioca gets moistened.)
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  14. Chill in the refrigerator to easily remove the bars from the pan. Once cooled, remove from the pan and dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Note: The bars can be stored, wrapped individually or covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Speaking of strawberry cocktails… the added bonus of this amazing fresh strawberry ice cream is that the sweetened vodka-based macerating liquid makes a wonderful base for a celebratory summer cocktail. Nice! 🙂

The texture and color of this ice cream was absolutely incredible. It was the perfect use for my precious, freshly-picked strawberries. The ice cream recipe is from Martha Stewart Living; I included a recipe for the bonus cocktail below.

For the Ice Cream:

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (about 3 cups), plus 8 ounces more, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for macerating
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup vodka or silver tequila
  1. In a blender or Vitamix, puree halved strawberries with lemon juice and salt. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. (You should have 1 1/2 cups of puree; reserve any excess for another use.)
  2. Combine milk, cream, 2/3 cup sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes.
  3. Strain mixture into a bowl set in an ice bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in strawberry puree. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  5. Stir together remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vodka. Add chopped strawberries and macerate at room temperature at least 2 hours, or in the refrigerator, covered, up to 12 hours.
  6. Process puree mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When it has the texture of soft serve, drain macerated berries (reserving syrup for another use) and fold into ice cream.
  7. Transfer to a loaf pan and freeze, wrapped in plastic, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
  8. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

For the Bonus Cocktail:

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • fresh juice from 1/4 large lime
  • 3 oz strawberry-vodka-sugar macerating syrup
  • tonic (for a sweeter cocktail) or seltzer (less sweet), as desired
  1. Combine lime juice and macerated strawberry syrup in a glass.
  2. Fill with ice and top with tonic or seltzer, as desired.

The Union Square Strawberry Cocktail

I have so many delicious recipes just waiting to be shared. Before strawberry season is over, I must share new recipes that I tried with my fresh-picked berries this season.

This cocktail was the very first thing we prepared with our fresh strawberries. My husband made it for me on my birthday! ❤ The recipe was adapted from cocktails that New Amsterdam Gin named to honor modern-day landmarks in New York City, via The Spruce Eats.com. I plan to also try it using vodka instead of gin. Happy birthday to me! 😉

Yield: 1 cocktail

  1. Muddle strawberries with the basil until fully mashed in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add all other ingredients.
  3. Add ice and shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (We chilled the glass by filling it with ice while the cocktail was being prepared.)
  5. Garnish with half a strawberry, as desired.

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