In case you missed it, the super bowl was this weekend, and…it. was. amazing. While I will never give up hope of seeing a Browns super bowl in my lifetime, the caliber of the patriots vs. seahawks game really made appreciate ‘Merica. Also, can we please talk about that half time show? While I am by no means being unfaithful to my one true love (Taylor Swift), Katy Perry did a phenomenal job. The whole thing was American entertainment at its finest.
We had a small get together at our house, in the midst of a terrible snow storm. There may or may not have been multiple difficulties getting both in and out of the driveway, but everyone (amazingly and thankfully) made it both here and back safely. Thanks for braving the weather for us! There was lots of food, including my all time favorite pizza bites, and of course these cookie bars.
I picked these because they were relatively simple and can be made with ingredients you probably have lying around the house – butter, sugar and sprinkles -so they are perfect for a snow day. I actually used left over halloween sprinkles for the inside, and then some left over stars for the topping. What I like most about these bars is that they can so easily be adapted for any holiday depending on the sprinkles you choose. With valentine’s day around the corner, there may be another batch coming up shortly (I’m sure no one will protest).
Funfetti Sugar Cookie Bars
adapted from Smells Like Home
Makes one 13×9 inch pan
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbs sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.
Whipped Vanilla Frosting
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp heavy cream (substitute sour cream if unavailable)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Eeek. I can’t believe I’m already done with more than half of my third year of medical school. Seriously! When patients ask me how much time I have left, I have started saying, “About a year” because it just seems easier than saying 16 months. To mark the end of my internal medicine rotation, and the end of a very good 3 weeks working in Lima, I decided to make these pecan bars to bring into the office. I have to admit that when I started this rotation, I was a little bummed about having to leave our brand new puppy for 3 weeks, but it has really worked out for the best. I’ve gotten to come home quite a bit, the gym in Lima is really nice, and being somewhere unfamiliar with no real television has a way of making you get a lot done. Plus, the doctor I’m working with is a great teacher, and now I can actually read an EKG confidently! He has also reminded me that being stressed out at your job is really your choice- it doesn’t get the job done any better, or faster, and it makes me feel like crap.
So about these pecan bars. Everyone at the office (including myself), loved these, and a few people even asked me for the recipe. (Of course, I was immediately excited to be able give them the “Spice is Nice” business cards I got for Christmas… it’s the little things.) I was between this recipe and one from Barefoot Contessa. I went with one because the Ina version called for over a pound of butter (granted it made a larger pan…but still!) I’m certainly glad I did because there is really nothing I would change about this recipe. I accidentally forgot to drizzle chocolate over the top, but in retrospect I’m kind of glad I left it off. These were plenty rich on their own, but if you are a true chocolate lover, feel free to make this into a chocolate and pecan dessert.
Makes about 16 bars
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarse
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 and 3/4 cups pecans, toasted and chopped coarse
- 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate
- For the crust: Preheat oven to 350º.
- To prepare the pan, spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper perpendicular to one another in the baking pan so that there is overhang around all the edges. Overlap is important to ensure filling doesn’t leak below one layer. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup pecans in a food processor.
- Process the mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal, about 5 one-second pulses.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles sand, about 10 one-second pulses.
- Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake until the crust is light brown, about 20 minutes.
- For the filling: While the crust is in the oven, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, bourbon, and salt and egg, in a medium bowl until just combined.
- Pour the filling on top of the hot crust and sprinkle the 1 & 3/4 cups pecans evenly over the top.
- Bake until the top is brown and cracks start to form across the surface, 22 to 25 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour.
- For the drizzle: Melt the bittersweet chocolate, if using, in the microwave for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Drizzle the chocolate evenly over the cooled bars.Let sit until room temperature, about 1 hour.
- Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment paper “handles” and transfer to a cutting board; cut into desired sizes.
This week marks the end of another wonderful rotation and so therefore also another baked good. As I said, I’m working on dermatology and I’ll have to say I’m spoiled. Not because I have the best hours (we work 11-12 hour days, there is a dermatologist shortage!) But I’m spoiled because I think I am working with one of the kindest, most cheerful and sincere doctors I have ever met, and I’m just not sure if my future rotations can live up to these high standards.
Since I went home this weekend, I had the pleasure of going raspberry picking with my mom (and dragging John along), which opened a new world of recipe possibilities. Despite the fact that it was about 97 degrees, we had a lot of fun and came home with quite a loot of berries. I have come up with quite a few fun ways to put them to use, so consider this fair warning if you soon tire of seeing raspberry recipes on this blog. As far as I’ve heard raspberry season (at least in Ohio) doesn’t end until mid-October so go ahead and pick some berries for yourself – you won’t even have to suffer through the heat.
About the bars themselves, I brought them in today, and they were a big hit. I described them as raspberry bars , and one of the nurses said, “They taste like raspberry lemonade!” I thought this was ironic because that was the actual name of the original recipe but she came up with that description de novo. If you notice this recipe requires a lot of juicing of lemons. I found this to be the most troublesome part, especially considering that after I had juiced 8 lemons I somehow managed to spill the entire cup of lemon juice all over myself. Since I didn’t have enough lemons to make another cup, I used some bottled lemon juice to make up the difference. They still tasted good but I wouldn’t recommend substituting all of the fresh squeezed lemon juice for the bottled stuff as it tends to be more tart. The other tedious part of this recipe is separating all those egg whites. If your wondering what to do with the leftover yolks, that’s easy – make ice cream! Of course you could also make traditional lemon bars if you want to skip the raspberry flavor all together, but I’m not advocating that.
Raspberry Lemonade Bars
Makes a 13 x 9 inch pan. * Recipe can be halved to make an 8×8 pan, but will need a slightly reduced baking time.
For the Crust:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Raspberry Lemon Layer:
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 3 T. lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups raspberries (thaw if using frozen)
- 6 large egg whites
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups freshly squeeze lemon juice
- Powdered sugar for dusting (if desired)
To make the Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13×9 inch pan with parchment paper.
Combine butter, sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl and mix until butter is evenly cut into dough. Press dough evenly into pan, sprinkling additional flour if dough is sticky. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and keep warm
To make Filling:
Add flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Add the berries to a fine mesh sieve and mash through with a spatula to extract as much pulp and juice as possible, leaving behind the berry seeds.
Add the raspberry puree, egg whites and eggs and lemon juice to the flour mixture and whisk until evenly mixed. Pour over the warm crust.
Bake pan for 35-40 minutes until the center is almost set. Remove from oven and cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove bars from pan using the parchment paper and run a sharp knife under water to slice bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.