Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

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I adapted these bars in a non-dairy version for my daughter’s bridal shower.  Originally from Two Peas and Their Pod, they are easy to make and a nice alternative to the traditional chocolate based bar.

Ingredients:

For the bars:

2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted pareve margarine, at room temperature
¼ cup icing/confectioners sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the lemon “cream cheese” frosting:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted pareve margarine, at room temperature
8 ounce package Tofutti/pareve cream cheese, at room temperature
Zest of 1 large  lemon
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
5 cups icing/confectioners sugar
Assorted sprinkles

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine, lemon zest and granulated sugar until well combined.

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Slowly add the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

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Add in the eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

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Slowly add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

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Evenly spread the cookie dough into the prepared pan with a spatula.

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Bake for 14 minutes, or until the bars are slightly set in the middle.

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Remove from the oven and let the bars cool completely. While the bars are cooling, make the lemon cream cheese frosting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine and “cream cheese” until smooth.

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Add the lemon zest and lemon juice.

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Slowly add the icing sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Mix until smooth.

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Frost the cooled cookie bars and decorate with sprinkles.

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Cut the bars into squares and serve.  Store the bars in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Using toffuti cream cheese allows these bars to be dairy free, but still get that same creamy texture. Toffuti cream cheese is made from tofu yet is similar in texture and flavour to real cream cheese. This makes these bars just as delicious, but more versatile.

 

Fudgey Brownies

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If you are looking for a brownie to please a crowd, give these a shot. They are quick, easy and delicious! This recipe is from Half Baked Harvest.

Ingredients:

2 sticks margarine
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp instant coffee (espresso powder)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment and spray with canola oil.

Microwave margarine and 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips and stir at 30 second intervals.

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Whisk the eggs for 1 minute. Stir into the chocolate margarine mixture.

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Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and stir until combined. Add the last 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

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Spread out the mixture in the baking pan.

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Bake for 28-30 minutes (until set).

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Cut once cooled.

Science Fact of the Week:

Softened and melted butter act differently in baking. Using melted butter makes it easier for the batter to mix. It can also be substituted for oil.

Chocolate Chunk Oat Bars

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, these bars tasted even better than I would have predicted when I was just testing the recipe.  They freeze well and are easiest to slice when chilled.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. chilled unsalted pareve margarine (14 tbsp.)

For the filling:

½ cup unsalted pareve margarine
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup demerara style brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
½ cup finely shredded coconut
1 ½ cups chocolate chips/chunks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Cut the margarine into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps.

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Transfer the dough clumps to the prepared baking pan and press them evenly across the bottom and ¼ inch up the sides.

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Bake for 17 minutes, until very pale golden.

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Melt the margarine for the filling in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugars and salt.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, and stir in the oats, coconut and chocolate.

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Pour over the parbaked crust, spreading evenly.

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Bake the bars for 23 more minutes until they are firm and golden and the bars are set.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Normally recipes require softened butter or margarine., however for this one it uses chilled margarine. This allows the crust to have bubbles of margarine melt all around, giving it a flakey texture.

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

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ANOTHER SCONE?! Yes… It’s an obsession. Accept it and make them. These are a new flavour variation that I tried. They turned out perfectly!

Ingredients:

2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
6 tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
1 tsp espresso powder mixed with 1/2 tsp hot water
1 cup raspberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

For the Glaze:

1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extra

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400˚F.

Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl.
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Grate butter into flour mixture (using a box grater) and mix with a fork.

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Create a well in the centre and add heavy cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Mix these wet ingredients in the well and then mix with the entire mixture.

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Add in white chocolate and raspberries and mix well (use your hands).

Transfer to floured surface and cut the same way as the Earl Grey Scones with Vanilla Glaze

Bake for 10-15 minutes.

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Allow to cool. Mix glaze ingredients and drizzle on top of scones.

Science Fact of the Week:

White chocolate is not actually chocolate, it is considered a chocolate derivative. It doesn’t contain any cocoa powder, rather it contains cocoa butter.

French Toast Casserole

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More of a star attraction at a brunch, than a dessert, this is a great way to use a leftover challah. Adapted from Bonnie Stern, French Toast Casserole is easy to make ahead and pop in the oven.  No need for any electric devices to prepare this showstopper. With the maple syrup already in the topping, there’s no need to add anything to this final product.

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Ingredients:

1 large challah, cut into cubed size pieces (no need to remove crusts)
2 ½ cups milk (skim, 1%, 2%, lactose free, almond, coconut, soy)
7 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ stick melted butter or nondairy margarine=
¾ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. pure maple syrup

Directions:

Beat eggs together in a large bowl.  Add milk and vanilla and blend until well combined.

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Add challah to bowl and immerse well (best to use clean hands).  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

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Preheat oven to 350F and transfer challah mixture to 9-x13-inch pyrex pan.

Mix butter/margarine, brown sugar and maple syrup in a small bowl and drizzle over entire pan.

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Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

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Science Fact of the Week:

This recipe requires a little advanced planning. It is essential to leave the bread in the liquid mixture overnight to allow the bread to absorb all the liquid. Once baked, the liquid evaporates, leaving you with a crunchy outside and soft inside.

Chocolate Espresso Scones

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Well, I’m back on the summer scone kick. All I’m going to say is if you love coffee, these scones are for you. You might not even need a cup of coffee with this scone.

Ingredients:

2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
6 tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp espresso powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
1 tsp espresso powder mixed with 1/2 tsp hot water
1 cup espresso beans, chopped

For the Glaze:

1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp espresso powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400˚F.

Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl

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Grate butter into flour mixture (using a box grater) and mix with a fork.

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Create a well in the centre and add heavy cream, egg, vanilla extract and coffee mixture. Mix these wet ingredients in the well and then mix with the entire mixture.

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Add in espresso beans and mix well.

Transfer to floured surface and cut the same way as the Earl Grey Scones with Vanilla Glaze

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Bake for 10-15 minutes.

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Allow to cool. Mix glaze ingredients and drizzle on top of scones.

Science Fact of the Week:

 

All I’m going to say is caffeine. These scones are loaded with espresso powder which gives them a caffeine kick. Caffeine is a molecule that crosses the blood brain barrier and suppresses adenosine, a neurotransmitter that tells the body its time for bed.

Lemon Cheesecake Squares

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For those who don’t love chocolate… these tart and sweet lemon cheesecake squares will satisfy the craving.  This cheesecake combines the tart with the sweet in a perfect combination.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup coconut oil (or 1 stick butter, melted)

For the cake:

4 eight oz. bricks light cream cheese at room temperature (total 32 oz), cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 recipe Lemon Curd, warm or at room temperature

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon until well combined.

Drizzle the coconut oil over the crumb mixture and pulse until it resembles wet sand.  Transfer the batter to the pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

In the cleaned food processor bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Process until smooth, about 30 seconds, stopping halfway to scrape the sides of the bowl.

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Add the eggs and process until the mixture is perfectly smooth and blended, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary, about another 20 seconds.

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Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan.

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Fill a small glass bowl with boiling water and place in the oven beside the baking pan (acts as a water bath and reduces cracking). Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center is dry to the touch, about 35 minutes. Turn the oven off and prop open the door for 15 minutes before removing the cake.

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To finish:  When cheesecake comes out of the oven, gently pour all of the curd onto the cheesecake and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.

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Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.  You can refrigerate it uncovered, as no detectable skin forms on the curd.  When slicing into squares, wipe the knife blade with a damp paper towel between each slice.

Science Fact of the Week:

Using light cream cheese in these cheesecakes lightens them up and gives in a smooth and fluffy texture. However, using light cream cheese in a frosting completely changes the texture. It causes it to be more liquidly and not form peaks.

Confetti Cookies

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I made this cookies from Smitten Kitchen and they were an instant winner. No adaptions necessary.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cups cream cheese (55 g)
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

Mix first 4 ingredients in a food processor.

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Add butter and cream cheese in cubes (1/3 at a time) and mix well.

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Add egg and vanilla extract and mix well. If there isn’t enough space in your food processor transfer to a bowl and mix with your hands.

Place dough in refrigerator for 20 minutes and preheat oven to 375˚F.

Roll dough in to balls (approx 1 1/2 tbsp). Once warm from your hands roll around in a bowl of sprinkles to cover.

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Transfer to a cookie sheet and flatten using a drinking glass.

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Bake for 9-11 minutes.

Science Fact of the Week:

Adding cream cheese to these cookies changes the texture from a normal cookie. It softens them and gives them an almost melt in your mouth feeling. It’s crazy how much texture can change with the addition of a single ingredient.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

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For those who love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, this is a great alternative and easy to slice when chilled.  Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, this square is enjoyed by people of all ages.

Ingredients

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2 sticks unsalted pareve margarine, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 ½ cups creamy peanut butter (Skippy or natural)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups raspberry/strawberry jam
2/3 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray a 9 by 13 by 2 inch cake pan with cooking spray.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes.

 

With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

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In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

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Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread the jam evenly over the dough.

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Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam.  Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Although peanuts are high in calories and fat, in moderation they confer many health benefits. Their anti-oxidants even help protect against heart disease!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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This carrot cake is an old recipe from Ina Garten that will be sure to impress a crowd. I made this as an addition to the shavout festival of cheesecakes and it was a huge hit.

The cake is best if you bake the layers the night before and let sit over night in the fridge.

Before starting make sure to prep the ingredients. I used a food processor to grate the carrots, chopped the walnuts and diced the pineapple.

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Ingredients:

 

For the Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups grapeseed or vegetable oil
3 eggs, room temperature (if you forget to bring them to room temperature, allow the eggs to sit in warm-hot water for 5 minutes)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the Frosting:

1.5 bricks of cream cheese (3/4 pound), room temperature
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 2 or 3 circular pans with parchment and spray with canola oil spray.

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Beat sugar, oil and eggs in an electric mixer. Add vanilla and mix again.

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Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt and mix well.

In another bowl toss raisins and walnuts with 1 tbsp flour. Add carrots and pineapple to this mixture. Add to the batter and fold in.

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Divide batter equally between circular pans and bake for 40-45 mins if 3 layers or 55-60 mins if 2 layers.

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For the Frosting:

Cream butter and cream cheese in stand mixer.

Add vanilla and mix again.

Add sugar in 3 parts. Mixing after each to combine.

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To ice:

Place a little bit of icing on the bottom of your cake plate and smooth out. This will help the cake stick in place.

Place first layer with flat side down and spread icing on top. Put second layer and repeat). If using three layers repeat and ensure that flat side is facing up.

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Evenly coat in a layer of thin frosting and refrigerate for 15 minutes to seal in the crumbs.

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Add more frosting on top and smooth out.

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Top with pieces of fresh pineapple.

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Science Fact of the Week:

This cake has plenty of carrots which are a high source of antioxidants and can decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.