Salted Caramel Brownies

20171108_155227When one door closes another one opens, yet instead of focusing on the closed door, I ended up developing these delicious brownies. The journey began after a long weekend of performances for my daughter at our church’s annual festival, in which I had no time left to shop for food like I normally would. I did manage to squeeze in some time to brainstorm recipes I planned on developing for Thanksgiving, the first of which was to be a lighter & more portable spin on monkey bread. I knew I already had all the ingredients on hand, including the all important yeast.

20171108_155319Well fast forward a few days and I was ready to make monkey bread. I grabbed all my ingredients from the pantry, including the all important yeast, only to discover it had expired ages ago. Any other day I would have just put everything back and started over once I picked up some fresh yeast from the store. The reason I couldn’t do that this time was because my oldest daughter was so excited to bake something I just couldn’t say no.

IMG_20171108_1I quickly searched the pantry for ideas but all the recipes I had begun developing all required ingredients I had yet to purchase so I couldn’t start those either. I spotted some cocoa powder and immediately thought about brownies. I decided that brownies would be quick and easy for her to make and something I had everything on hand for. As an added bonus to my quick thinking, I could easily dress up the brownie base my daughter helped make with caramel, drizzled chocolate, and sea salt, making them decadent enough to share here with all of you. Crisis officially diverted!

20171108_155342So if you need a last-minute, crowd-pleasing dessert or something fun amd easy to make with your kids, these rich layered caramel brownies dusted in flakes of sea salt will not disappoint!

Salted Caramel Brownies

Brownie Ingredients:

  • 3.4 ounces (¾ cup) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ½ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ cup chopped Walnuts; toasted

Topping Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup (4 tbsp.) Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Evaporated Fat-Free Milk
  • ¼ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate; coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. Coarse Sea Salt

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat an 8 x 8 inch metal pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. To prepare brownies, combine flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, brown sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine the 6 tbsp. melted butter, eggs, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, stirring well to combine. Gently stir in the walnuts until just combined.
  3. Scrape batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool brownies completely in pan on a wire rack.
  4. Once brownies have cooled completely, prepare the topping. In a small saucepan, melt 4 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add ¼ cup brown sugar and milk; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and Confectioners’ sugar. Stir with a whisk until mixture is smooth. Working quickly, spread caramel mixture over brownies, spreading evenly to coat all areas. Let stand 20 minutes or until caramel has set.
  5. Once caramel has set, place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 50% power for 1 minute, or until melted, stirring every 20 seconds. Once melted stir just until chocolate is smooth then drizzle over caramel topping. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Let stand until chocolate sets before cutting into squares.

 

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MAUREEN CALLAHAN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

 

 

 

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No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake Bars

20170629_102444If you haven’t already noticed, this summer I am all about the no-bake desserts. With limited time available and no desire to make the A/C work any harder than it already is, no-bake desserts are a perfect option. Not only are these cherry cheesecake bars an easy summertime treat but they are also a great addition to your 4th of July picnic or party.

As with every dessert I make I try to make it as healthy as possible without the taste being noticeably off. These bars are no different. Instead of a traditional graham cracker crust made with fattening butter, this crust is made with olive oil containing heart healthy fats and omega-3 rich walnuts. The walnuts add a touch of extra flavor to the crust to make up for the loss of richness when butter is cut from the equation. To keep saturated fat in check in the filling, regular cream cheese is swapped out for a blend of reduced-fat cream cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt. You can even make these bars gluten-free if you make the simple exchange of gluten-free graham crackers for regular.

20170629_102431Whether you want to pass a delicious dessert at an Independence Day themed picnic/party or simply desire an easy, no bake summer dessert for your family, these no-bake cherry cheesecake bars are sure to never disappoint!

No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake Bars

 

Ingredients:

  • Half of a 14 oz. box of Graham Crackers; preferably whole-wheat
  • ½ cup chopped Walnuts; toasted
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup light Olive Oil
  • 2 (8 oz.) pkg. Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese (Neufchatel); softened
  • 2 cups Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 6 tbsp. Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cans Cherry Pie Filling (you may not need all of the 2nd can)

 

Preparation:

  1. Process graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar. Drizzle with the oil and stir to combine. Press into the bottom of a 13-x-9 inch baking dish.
  2. Beat cream cheese, yogurt, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread evenly over the crust. Spoon the cherry topping over the filling until no filling shows through the topping. Cover and refrigerate until cold and set, about 3 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: CAROLYN MALCOUN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

Skinny Bourbon Pecan-Date Bars

20161114_103250Halloween has come and gone in the blink of an eye and now Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Two quintessential Thanksgiving treats found on almost every family’s Thanksgiving table tend to be Pecan or Pumpkin Pie. I try to make one or the other every year and I also like to reinvent old flavors into new favorites. These bars are a re-invention of the traditional pecan pie. In the South, pecan pie traditionally gets spiked with a bit of bourbon but dates are usually not in the mix. The date palm across the street from our house currently dropping fruit gave some inspiration for the non-traditional addition and I must say it was a success.

20161114_103003One thing I dislike about pecan pie (or inspirations derived from it) is the mess. These bars are no different. They are sticky messes of deliciousness so I suppose it is all worthwhile in the end. If you do decide to prepare these keep in mind that they are just as sticky as a pecan pie and they can fall apart like a pecan pie if not allowed to properly set. In order to avoid some of the mishaps that may come from this I have a few simple suggestions. First, plan on making these at least a day in advance. This is beneficial in two ways. The first is that the bars are much easier to cut when they have had a chance to chill. The second is simply saving you time on Thanksgiving to devote to other items you can’t prepare in advance.

20161114_102718Unfortunately, sometimes when we solve one problem we ultimately create another. That is the case with chilling these bars. When they are chilled, they set up properly and allow you to cut them easily and uniformly. However, they are extremely hard to separate from the pan when cold. I do have a solution to this minor issue. Simply make sure that after these bars have cooled completely, run a knife around the outer edge to loosen the bars from the pan but refrain from cutting into portions before chilling. Chill the bars at least 3 hours but preferably overnight. Once fully chilled, you can cut into portions and not struggle to cut the edges from the pan when they are rock solid. The edges should slide away from the pan easily. Enjoy!!!

Skinny Bourbon Pecan-Date Bars

Crust Ingredients:

  • 4 ½ oz. All-Purpose Flour (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ cup Chilled Butter; cut into small pieces

Filling Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Light Corn Syrup
  • ¼ cup Molasses
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • ¼ cup Egg Substitute
  • 2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp. Bourbon
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 Large Egg
  • ½ cup chopped pitted Dates
  • 1/3 cup Chopped Pecans; toasted
  • Toasted Whole Pecans; for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Coat an 11 x 7 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the crust, whisk the flour, brown sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the butter pieces to the bowl and cut in using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture looks like coarse meal. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until crust is light brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. In a large bowl whisk together the corn syrup, molasses, brown sugar, egg substitute, flour, bourbon, vanilla, salt, and egg. Stir in the dates and chopped pecans. Pour the filling over the prepared crust. Place the whole pecans on top of the filling to create a presentable pattern. Bake bars for 35 minutes or until set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Use a knife to separate bars from edge of pan. Cover and chill 3 hours or until firm. Cut into bars and serve.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Bar)

 

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Weight Watchers: 5 Smart Points, 3 Points Plus, or 2 Traditional Points

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: JULIE GRIMES BOTTCHER
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016

Apple Cobbler Bars

DSC_0146Whenever the days turn cooler everyone in the house begins craving warm drinks, rich spices, and anything apple. Today was one of those days where it was cool but not freezing, reminding us of a brisk fall day more than chilly winter. Unfortunately, I did not have any apples on hand to make a pie but I did have some dried apples. Dried apples are perfect for apple bars because they do not make the bar too soggy like a fresh apple would. Problem is I love the flavor fresh apples bring to any baked good. To amp up the flavor of the dried apples I turned to a favorite of mine that I always use in my apple turnovers, apple butter. I had some apple butter I had made in the fall from fresh apples still in the refrigerator so I paired that with the dried apples to rehydrate them with the flavors of their fresh counterpart.

DSC_0147I love apple cobbler but it is something you need to sit down and eat from a bowl. I love these bars because it makes apple cobbler portable for our always on the go family. The following recipe yields approximately 24 bars. You can use homemade fresh breadcrumbs or plain store bought breadcrumbs without any noticeable difference. Also make sure you toast the walnuts before you add them into the bars. The toasting helps bring out the nutty flavor and enrich the bars overall.

Apple Cobbler Bars

Crumb Topping Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Bread Crumbs
  • ½ cup Walnuts; toasted & chopped
  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • ¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter; chilled, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 2/3 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • 2 Eggs
  • ½ cup Apple Butter
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Walnuts; toasted & chopped
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Dried Apples, chopped

Formula:

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil. Be sure to allow excess foil to hang over the sides of the pan to allow an easier lift. Grease the pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. To prepare topping: In a food processor pulse bread crumbs, walnuts, sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon until coarsely ground.
  3. To prepare bar base: In a large bowl combine the flour and baking powder. With a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, apple butter, and vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture. Continue to mix until just combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts by hand.
  4. Press the dough into the prepared pan. Scatter the apple slices over the dough. Sprinkle with the crumb topping and bake until the bars are deep golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the bars completely on a wire rack, at least one hour. Once cooled, use the excess foil to lift the bars out of the pan. Cut the bars into squares and serve. Bars can be stored at room temperature in a sealed container for about 3 days.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2015

No-Bake Goody Bars

DSC_0093Anything that claims to be no-bake always catches my eye because it is synonymous with quick and easy, two words I enjoy hearing or reading. Being a stay at home mommy I am always looking for things that are quick and easy. Sure I stay home all day but that doesn’t mean I am full of free time. I am constantly doing homework for my college coursework as well as chasing around a very active 21 month old girl, all while trying to combat active Crohn’s Disease, which can sometimes make me want nothing to do with food for extended periods of time. Finding things that are no-bake fit perfectly into my schedule and I’m sure many others who have busy lifestyles. When I am craving something sweet, these bars are quick and take very few ingredients (with most ingredients being pantry mainstays) making them the perfect go-to treat.

DSC_0089If all of that was not enough to entice you into trying these bars, the fact that they taste like a cross between a Rice Krispie Treat and a Baby Ruth should. Peanut lovers will rejoice at these bars that are full of peanut goodness. Not only do these bars use peanut butter but they are also filled with chopped peanuts, making them chewy, crunchy, and all around satisfying.

Since these bars only require six ingredients and are rather simple to make there are not too many warnings to be concerned about. I think the biggest mistake people can make is not greasing the pan liberally enough because these bars are sticky and if you neglect the pan of the grease they need it will surely result in the bars sticking as you try to cut and remove them from the pan. Also be very cautious when melting the chocolate. Melt over a double boiler stirring constantly making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the top pan or melt in a microwave. If you choose to melt in the microwave, do very short intervals and stir a lot to make sure the chocolate melts evenly and does not get overcooked and separate.

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Note: The following makes approximately 24 bars. Store in an airtight container. Bars are best consumed within 2 days of being prepared.

 

No-Bake Goody Bars

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Salted Dry-Roasted Peanuts; chopped
  • 6 cups Cornflakes
  • 1 (12 oz.) bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips; melted

 

Formula:

  1. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan very well (I used nonstick cooking spray). In a large pot, bring sugar and corn syrup to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the peanut butter and chopped peanuts, stirring until the mixture becomes smooth. Add the cornflakes and gently stir until the peanut butter mixture is evenly distributed (there should not be any dry cornflakes).
  2. Place the mixture into the greased pan and press evenly across the pan and into the corners with a greased spatula. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the bars and spread evenly with an offset spatula to cover the entire surface (bars should not show from underneath the chocolate). Allow the bars to cool completely and chocolate to set, approximately 30 minutes. Slice to desired size and serve.

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014

Dreamy Coconut Cookie Cups

20140128_162242Today was a rather dreary day and that made it perfect for staying in and baking. After a relatively busy day yesterday full of appointments revolving around my little one and grocery shopping, I was ready for a mellow day. After making breakfast for my little family I took on a recipe called Dream Bars. I decided to reinvent it into a more convenient, portable treat.

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Sure they may not seem like much but they sure do taste delicious. Surprisingly, despite how simplistic they may appear, these little guys can cause some problems. First off, most of the traditional Dream Bar recipes out there were just too sweet, even for my very forgiving sweet tooth. To overcome this, I wanted to overcome the sweetness with nuts. By toasting the nuts until crunchy, it cut through even the toughest of residual sweetness.

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Perhaps my favorite part of this treat is the coconut topping. Of course my favorite things always end up being the most problematic… go figure!!! Shredded coconut on its own would just dry out, burn, and become gross. To keep the shredded coconut moist and delicious I soaked it in cream of coconut, which not only kept it moist but added richness and the perfect concentration of sugar that results in a caramelized topping without being overly sweet.

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To further balance out the sweetness it is key to dial back the sugar in not only the topping but also the crust. By making the crust thicker and resemble a shortbread cookie instead of the typical thin, weak base, the nuttiness is more prevalent and keeps the sugary topping at bay. Speaking of sugar, I’m sure Domino Sugar would be hating on me for discouraging the over usage of its product since back in the day it was the bar version of this recipe that was used as a marketing tool to sell their sugar to housewives. Sorry Domino, please forgive me 🙂

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I will admit this isn’t my strongest post, but it was never meant to be. It was meant to be an experiment, a way to refresh a recipe created in the Great Depression into something modern for our crazy, hectic world we now reside. It is not glamorous or gourmet. It is homey, practical, and satisfying. Probably why it has stuck around for so many years and had so many back-of-the-box variations. If it made some of the harshest moments of American history a bit more dreamy, than it is okay in my book!!!

Note: Formula yields 18 cookie cups. Cookie cups can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 5 days.

Dreamy Cookie Cups

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup Dark Brown Sugar; packed
  • ½ cup Pecans
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 10 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; cut into pieces & chilled

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Shredded Coconut
  • 1 cup Cream of Coconut
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ cup Dark Brown Sugar; packed
  • 2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla-Nut Extract
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Pecans; toasted & chopped

Formula:

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To make the crust, process flour, sugar, pecans, and salt in a food processor until pecans are coarsely ground. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture firmly into the bottoms of each muffin tin. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the topping. Combine the shredded coconut and cream of coconut in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Stir in the pecans, then spread over the cooled crusts, dividing evenly among each cookie cup. Dollop heaping tablespoons of the coconut mixture over the filling and spread into as even a layer as possible.
  4. Bake the cookie cups until deep golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  & STAGING

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM MARIA DEL MAR SACASA

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014

Pecan Bars

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Christmas is just one week away and I have yet to finish my Christmas shopping. Surprise Surprise. I am however a lot closer to being finished than previous years. That is either because I have been more organized this year or because I less to spend on presents and therefore I am not buying as much and I finish quicker. I choose to look at it positively.

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This will be the first Christmas for my daughter and I am quite excited. She will be 11 months old on Christmas Eve and she has been “helping” me in the kitchen as she walks around yelling and giggling trying to pull anything and everything out of the refrigerator as it is open. I can’t help but laugh.

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Today I will share with you my Pecan Bars. If you didn’t get a chance to eat Pecan Pie at Thanksgiving or are just an addict to anything Pecan Pie related than these are surely for you. They are very simple to make and can be doubled with ease to create larger quantities for big families. They have a cookie base similar to a shortbread in taste and texture which is a perfect complement to the gooey sweet Pecan Pie reminiscent topping. The shortbread soaks up the caramel juices of the topping and isn’t too showy itself that it allows the pecan topping to shine in all its delicious glory.

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A few little pointers for cookie number 2 in this years line up: Be sure to not skip the step of foiling the pan. Otherwise you will have a disastrous sticky mess on your hands and be very disappointed. Also be careful as you are adding the cream into the caramel mixture because it can bubble rather vigorously and we don’t want any burns just before Christmas!!!!

 

Pecan Bars

 

Ingredients:

  • 20 tbsp. (2½ sticks) Unsalted Butter; softened
  • ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 ¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • 1/3 cup Honey
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla-Nut Extract
  • 2 tbsp. Heavy Cream
  • 1 ½ cups Pecans; Toasted & Chopped

Formula:

  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil. Be sure to leave excess hanging around the edge to have an easy removal later. Grease the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To make the cookie crust, beat 6 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar in a stand mixer set to medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour. Mix until combined. Don’t overmix. Press the dough into the prepared pan. Dock the dough with a fork by making several piercings in the dough like you would to a baked potato before microwaving. Bake until the crust becomes light golden in color, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
  3. To prepare the caramel filling, melt the remaining butter in  a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, honey, and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cream and cook for about 3o seconds. Off heat gently stir in the pecans.
  4. Pour the caramel mixture over the cookie crust. Bake until bubbly and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Using the excess foil overhang, gently lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into squares. Bars can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days.

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  & STAGING

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM KAREN KUHN

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2013