Today 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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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
- 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
- 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
- Heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
On the tenth anniversary of September 11, nothing could lift spirits higher than indulging in the sweet, comforting combination of peanut butter and chocolate. This cute little dessert is based upon cookie cups which have a crisp exterior while maintaining the soft, sweet interior beloved by all sugar cookie lovers. These cups are filled with a mixture of peanut butter, whipped cream, and cream cheese to create a light, fluffy mousse. Also let’s not forget the peanut butter mousse is sandwiched between a rich layer of chocolate ganache dolloped on the bottom of each cookie cup and drizzled on top for a designer finish. I’m usually the type who tries it after I finish baking it and leave the rest to be eaten by others but I couldn’t even stop munching these days after they were baked. YUM!!!
The whole process begins with something so basic… a bag of sugar cookie mix blended with pecans and pressed into muffin tins. This simple step of the formula creates a crisp yet tender cookie shell. It is important to note that when pressing the cookie mix into the muffin tin, the right amount of cookie mix pressed will seem like a lot but is necessary to create a solid base to build upon later.
Once the sugar cookie cups have been baked and cooled, the peanut butter mousse and chocolate are prepared. A dollop of chocolate is placed in the bottom of each cookie cup. For the most elegant presentation, the peanut butter mousse is piped into each cup using a disposable piping bag fitted with a large star decorator tip. When the filling is piped into the cookie cup, it will resemble the look of a giant rosette on top of a cupcake. If you do not own disposable piping bags or decorator tips, you may spoon the peanut butter mousse into the cups and use a small spatula or back of the spoon to smooth out the top.
Lastly, place the remaining melted chocolate in a squeeze bottle or piping bag fitted with a fine, round decorator tip. Use the melted chocolate to create a swirl design around the piped peanut butter mousse filling. If you are not a chocoholic or lack any of the above equipment needed for the melted chocolate, you may certainly skip this step and keep the rosette look created by the piped peanut butter mousse. Both looks are impressive and elegant in appearance.
The following formula requires a sugar cookie mix for the cookie cup crust. Sugar cookie mixes are found in supermarket baking aisles near the boxed cake mixes. I chose the 17.5 oz. sugar cookie mix by Betty Crocker for this formula. It created the perfect wet sand texture necessary for proper pressing into the muffin tins and when mixed with pecans and filled with peanut butter mousse and chocolate, the processed flavor usually found in cookie mixes was obliterated. All the cookie mix left behind was the desired softness and sweetness expected of a sugar cookie. Perhaps best of all, the sugar cookie mix saves precious time, relieving us busy bakers from the long task of baking the sugar cookies from scratch and cleaning up the numerous dirty dishes left behind!!!
Peanut Butter Mousse Cookie Cups
- 1 (17.5 ounce) pkg. Sugar Cookie Mix (see above for prefered brand)
- 4.5 oz. Chopped Pecans, toasted
- 2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
- 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
- 13.5 oz. Heavy Cream
- 9.75 oz. Chunky Peanut Butter
- 1 (8 ounce) pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
- 4.25 oz. Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 6.75 oz. Semisweet Chocolate Chips
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°. Grease muffin tin. Combine sugar cookie mix, pecans, and flour in a bowl. Slowly add in the butter and stir until the mixture resembles the texture of wet sand. Press a thick layer of the cookie mixture into the bottom and sides of each muffin cup.
- Bake until golden, about 10 minutes, being sure to rotate the muffin pan halfway through the cooking time. Cool 20 minutes in the muffin pan before removing.
- With mixer on medium-high, whip 8 ounces of heavy cream to stiff peaks. Set aside. In mixer, beat peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
- Microwave the chocolate and remaining 5.5 ounces of cream for about 1 minute. Make sure to stir occasionally (to prevent scorching) until the chocolate is melted smooth. Pour a dollop of the prepared chocolate ganache into the bottom of each sugar cookie cup. Fill each cookie cup by piping the peanut butter mousse into a large rosette/swirl formation.
- Drizzle the remaining chocolate ganache evenly over the peanut butter mousse in personal preferred design. Refrigerate the peanut butter mousse cookie cups until firm, at least 1 hour.
- The Peanut Butter Mousse Cookie Cups can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Special Thanks to: My wonderful boyfriend Peter for the photography and Susan Bazan
All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011