Mixed Berry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart

I first saw this recipe here and knew since my Taste Tester loves a berry tart, I needed to try this recipe sooner than later. I used our favorite mix of berries: strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Though there are several components to this recipe, none were difficult and it came together fairly quickly. You do need to plan ahead a bit as this is not a last minute type of dessert. The dough needs to chill for a while before baking and the crust and topping should be baked and cooled before assembling the tart.

My Taste Tester enjoyed the crust and the crumble of this tart but preferred the pastry cream from our usual tart recipe over the cream cheese filling in this one. He said he could not tell the difference between the two crusts but did really enjoy the crumble and has asked if I can make the topping again and add it to other baked goods. I may try it on top of our usual tart and see how that tastes.  My thoughts are that this tart seems like a more sophisticated version of a fruit pizza, while it is good, the cream cheese filling just didn’t do ‘it’ for me.

I would make this again for company as I do think it is a crowd-pleaser and would be great for a summer dessert.

I rate this recipe an 8

Mix Berry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart
recipe adapted from here

Cookie Dough Tart Crust:
2 tablespoons slivered almonds (I used 1/4 cup)
6 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Almond Crumb Topping:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¼ cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped (I used a bit more)
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and halved (quartered if large) (I used a variety of mixed berries)

1. Make the Tart Crust: Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse repeatedly until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter and pulse again repeatedly until no visible pieces of butter remain (about 10 pulses). Add the yolks and vanilla and continue pulsing until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, shape into a thick disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften at a cool room temperature for about 20 minutes, just until it is soft enough to roll without cracking, but still firm. Unwrap it and place it on a floured surface. Use the palm of your hand to press it to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Flour the work surface and the dough and gently roll the dough into a 13-inch disk, adding pinches of flour under and on top of the dough as needed. Transfer it to a 10-inch tart pan. Evenly fit the dough into the pan, making sure it’s flat against both the bottom and side of the pan. Trim away any excess dough at the rim of the pan by rolling over with a rolling pin or scraping it away with the back of a paring knife. Slide the tart pan onto a cookie sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight before baking.

3. When ready to bake, arrange the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.

4. Make the Crumb Topping: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the chopped almonds. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the butter until all of the dry ingredients have been evenly moistened. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, then use your fingertips to break the mixture into ¼- to ½-inch crumbs. Scatter the crumbs on the prepared pan.

5. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator, and remove the plastic wrap. Line with a piece of parchment paper and fill the pan with pie weights. Bake the tart crust in the lower third of the oven and the crumb topping in the upper third. After 10 minutes, remove the paper and pie weights from the tart shell and place it on the upper rack, and move the crumbs to the lower rack. Continue baking the tart shell until it is dry and light golden, 15 to 20 additional minutes. Bake the crumb topping until it is deep golden and firm, 10 to 15 additional minutes. Check the crumbs around the 10 minute mark and then go from there Cool the crust and the topping on wire racks.

6. Make the Cream Cheese Filling: Beat the cream cheese on medium speed just until it is smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until lightened, about 1 minute.

7. Assemble the Tart: Spread half the cream cheese filling on the bottom of the tart crust and arrange the sliced strawberries on it, cut side down. Spread the remaining filling over the strawberries. Evenly scatter the crumb topping over the filling. Right before serving, lightly dust the topping with powdered sugar and garnish with additional strawberries, if desired. Unmold the tart from the pan and place it on a platter. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers.

Note #1: You can omit the nuts in both the crust and the crumb topping. No need to substitute anything else.

Note #2: You should assemble the tart within a few hours of serving it, as the crust will soften after it has been refrigerated.

Cakey Lemon Bars

This recipe showed up in my Google Reader a while back and I immediately bookmarked them. My Taste Tester and I love a good lemon dessert and we are in love with the lemon cheesecake I make each year for his birthday. I have tried other lemon bar recipes and was excited to give this recipe a whirl.

The texture of these bars is more cake like than a typical lemon bar (as the name states). I  thought I would like these more than I did. The lemon flavor was mild and pleasing but there is just something ‘missing’ with this recipe for me to make them again. Overall I liked them but they just did not ‘wow’ me. I may have had too high of expectations though. I did really enjoy the glaze and may use that on some fruit or on a white chocolate blondie to mix it up a bit. My Taste Tester thought they were “OK” as well but has not asked for them again which is usually a sign that the recipe is not a keeper for our house.

If you like lemon and are looking for a twist on a lemon bar, give these a go, the recipe is simple and easy and the bars are good for a refreshing summer treat.  I would recommend eating these cool as the flavor does get better after a day or so.

I rate these a 6

Cakey Lemon Bars
from here
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Zest and juice two small lemons; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachement, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined. Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Pour into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
When brownies are cooled completely, make the glaze by whisking together all three ingredients. Spread over the brownies with a rubber spatula, cut into bars, and serve!

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie

My Taste Tester and I spent Saturday doing outdoor chores and enjoying the Kentucky Derby. What better way to enjoy the Derby than to make a dessert? We chose a recipe I found on the internet a while back.

I had never made a pecan pie before so I don’t really have anything to compare this one to, but my Taste Tester has eaten several pecan pies in his day and said this recipe is a keeper. The chocolate compliments the sweetness of the filling by adding an extra dimension of flavor. I also added 1/2 cup toffee chips but they were not noticeably detected so I may leave them out next time.

We cheated and used a frozen pie crust (partially baked first) but doing so allowed us to be enjoying this pie in under an hour. I had some extra filling so i filled up a 4 inch ramekin and baked it for about 30 minutes as well.

If you are looking for a great pecan pie this is a keeper with or without the chocolate chips I  am sure. I would suggest eating this pie warm as it is best with the chocolate being melted and gooey.

I rate this recipe a 9

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe from here

1 10-inch Single Crust Pie Crust
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup gourmet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup toasted pecans, shelled and chopped in half if desired (I used pecan peices)
1/2 cup toffee chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll crust out crust and place in prepared pan (fluting the edges) or use a store bought pre-baked pie crust, line a 10-inch deep dish pie pan

In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed with whisk attachment, whip butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy. Gently fold in the pecans, chocolate chips and toffee if using. Blend well.

Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set

Serve warm

Baked Nut Oatmeal

I have not always loved oatmeal, the texture used to really throw me off, it reminded me of wall paper glue with chunks (appetizing, I know). I have always enjoyed it baked in sweet treats but more recently, however, I have really begun to love it on its own. I was given this recipe a while ago and have finally gotten around to making it.

The first time I had baked oatmeal I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had it at this little bake shop and it was pure heaven, so sweet, rich, filling. I fell in love. This recipe does not replicate my first experience but provides a great starting point.

This version of baked oatmeal is a bit more firm than what I would typically like but had great flavor. I found it best warm  and think a drizzle of warm cream would be great on top. As this cools you can definitely cut it into bars so it would be easy to transport if you wanted. If you are wanting an easy homemade warm breakfast this is a good starting point and can be easily adapted to suit your family’s likes. I do plan on making this again with some changes.

I used fresh raspberries this go around but next time I will bake in some cranberries or blueberries. I plan to increase the liquid a bit and add some more brown sugar to increase the sweetness. It was a tad too bland for my liking but that was easily remidied by adding a bit of sugar before serving.

All in all, this is a great starting point and has potential.

I rate this recipe a 7 as is.

Baked Nut Oatmeal
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (I used Quick Cooking)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 TBS melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a 1 quart baking dish with PAM
In a bowl  mix all dry ingredients. In another bowl mix all wet ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to dry, mix to wet. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
Bake 35-40 minutes until set.
Scoop into bowls, serve with fresh fruit.

Double Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

With Easter just around the corner I decided to whip up some cookies using the fun pastel colored coconut M&M’s.  This recipe is based loosely on the Quaker Vanishing Oatmeal  cookie recipe that I love so much.  I basically adapted the recipe based on what ingredients I had on hand.  I typically toast my coconut before using it is baked goods but skipped that step this time around.  I found that the untoasted coconut (while not as ‘nutty’ flavored as the toasted coconut) caused the cookies to remain nice and chewy, so long as you don’t over-bake them. I enjoyed the coconut M&Ms in the cookie but to be honest would break them up next time. I found the size of them (about the size of a peanut M&M if not larger) was a bit too large for these cookies.  They were fine right out of the oven when the chocolate was all melty and gooey on the inside, but once they cooled, the chocolate pieces were large and awkward to eat in the cookie. The chopped M&Ms may not look as pretty but I think the size would better compliment the cookie.

I rate this recipe an 8
Double Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

14 TBS  sticks butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 ¾ cup oatmeal
1 cup coconut
1 cup coconut M&Ms

Heat oven to 350°F.

In large bowl, mix the butter and sugars until creamy. Add egg and egg yolk and vanilla; beat well.

Slowly add flour, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Add oats and coconut; mix well.

Fold in the M&Ms

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonsful onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Recipes Revisted

With Spring weather finally here, I haven’t been in the kitchen long enough to bake anything worth blogging about lately. I have received several emails asking for recommendations for desserts so I thought I would take a minute to link back to a few of my favorite recipes over the years. One would think that the top rated recipes on my site would be the only ones I recommend, however, there are so many recipes that I remake time and time again that my Taste Tester or friends and family love.

Here are a few that I think are worth taking a look at and giving a try:

Quick Berry Tart
The dessert my Taste Tester requests most often

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dream Bars

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oat Bars

The Ultimate Bar Cookie
*Don’t judge by my poor picture

White Chocolate Toffee Pecan Blondies

Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

Frozen Dream Crunch Bars
*I love this dessert in the summer!

 

 

 

One bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze

I don’t bake cakes too often as you can probably tell by looking through my blog. I like cake but always feels it takes forever to make. I can rarely just make a cake without frosting too, and if I make frosting, then I need to make it look half-way pretty but decorating it. Overall I think cakes take too many ingredients, have too many steps and in the end aren’t worth my effort.

I have had chocolate cake on my mind lately. Not sure why but I can’t stop thinking about it. I gave in and finally paged through my cookbooks only to find this super simple, super quick cake recipe that did not call for ingredients (you know, like cake flour or buttermilk) that I usually don’t buy. Just plain and simple. Plus it came with a very quick ganache recipe to pour on top instead of frosting. SOLD!

What I had after 45 minutes (30 of it baking) was a moist but dense chocoate cake with thick, sweet liquid chocolate fudge (best way I can describe it) on top. Oh my, I was in heaven! Now this is not the best ever chocolate cake in the world but it did more than satisfy my craving and the amount of hands on time it took was so minimal I was in awe at how great it turned out.

I did pour the glaze over the cake while it was still warm and I would do so again in the future. I ate this cake every night for a week, simply nuked for 20 seconds to get the frosting a bit melted and dug in! So yummy!

I rate this recipe a 9 

One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze
from Better Homes and Garden Cookbook

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Grease an 8×8 pan,

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add milk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat 2 minutes more.

Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Chocolate Glaze
4 oz chocolate (I used bittersweet and semi sweet)
3 TBS butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
3 TBS hot water or cream

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave (in 20 second intervals) until melted. Beat in powdered sugar and water. Add more powdered sugar or water until pouring consistency.

Pour over cake.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies for Valentine’s Day

I wanted to make some super simple and quick cookies for Valentine’s Day to take to work. I have used a similar recipe before with great results but changed up the proportions a bit. Not sure if I was just in a chocolate mood but these were better than I was expecting.
These cookies were a cinch to pull together and I was finished from start to finish in under 30 minutes. I love that this is kind of a ‘cheater’ recipe since you really only add ‘wet’ ingredients to a cake mix.

The end result is a rich, thick and chewy cookie that is sure to satisfy your chocolate craving. Feel free to mix up the flavor of cake mix to what ever you have on hand, I am sure they will all be good.

I rate these cookies an 8.5

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup butter softened
1/4 cup oil
1TBS water
Chocolate chips (I used 1 cup)
Sprinkes to make pretty

Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
 
In a medium bowl, beat together the butter, oil and egg. Add cake mix and blend well. Fold in chocolate chips or other add-ins.
Chill for 10 minutes.
 
Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
 
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely as they will break easily if moved too soon

 

Butterfinger Bars

If you are looking for  a recipe that takes VERY few ingredients, can be made from start to finish in 30 minutes and is super delicious, look no further. I have had this recipe for years, it was in a homemade cookbook that I got from a school teacher with recipes compiled from her students. There is no name or citation to this recipe so I apologize if this is your recipe (just email and let me know and I will give credit).

The base of the bars is a sweet, buttery oatmeal crust topped with a chocolate and peanut butter mixture. The finished product is like a sinful granola bar. I don’t think they taste a lot like a Butterfinger (since they are named that) but I love them none the less.

These bars are not for the calorie conscious but we all need a treat now and again right? The only down side to these bars is they are very crumbly when warm and still slightly crumbly when cooled. I have made these millions of times and can not get them to be less fragile (email if you find the cure). I keep making these because they take care of my sweet tooth with a small bar, so I don’t feel guilty about eating one (or 10).

I have added toffee pieces to the top of the chocolate mixture (while warm) for a bit of a twist.

I rate these bars a 9 (if for no other reason than they are so simple and easy)

Butterfinger Bars
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar (I use 3/4 cup)
1 cup butter (I use 3/4 cup)
4 cups oatmeal (I use quick cooking)
1 cup Peanut butter (I use creamy)
1 cup chocolate chips (about 6oz or a bit more)

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a baking sheet (for thinner bars) or a 9×13 pan
In a medium bowl mix together the first 4 ingredients until combined and press into the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden but not brown
Melt peanut butter and chocolate chips (I nuke in microwave stirring after every 20 seconds until smooth)
Poor melted mixture over slightly cooled bars.
Cool before cutting (I LOVE these warm and crumbly so I eat with a spoon in a bowl!)

*I have also halved this recipe and used an 8×8 pan and baked for about 15 minutes.

 

Rice Krispy Treats Sandwich Bars

I found this recipe in my google reader, I had added it months and months ago but never got around to making them. Having a few extra days off for Christmas and having not consumed enough sugar (yeah right), I decided now was a good time to try them out.

I am not sure if I did something wrong or what, but these really didn’t do it for me. I wanted to like these, I really really did! But, instead, I found these to be really dry and to have too much butterscotch flavor for my liking. I followed the recipe exactly so I am not sure if I was just unlucky in the kitchen that day or what. Looking at the comments it seems many others like these so it may just be my finicky tastes as well.

The end product kind of reminded me of what my family calls Special K Bars except not nearly as good and a bit more work to make. I am willing to give these another go and maybe add more peanut butter next time to balance out the butterscotch flavor but I think next time I am craving a cereal snack bar I will stick with ones I know will satisfy my cravings!

I rate these a 6 (but would be willing to try again) 

Rice Krispy Treats Sandwich Bars
found here
3 cups (1 ½ 11-12oz bags) butterscotch chips
1 1/2 cups (384gm) creamy peanut butter
12 cups (1 12oz box) crisp rice cereal
4 cups (2 11-12oz bags) semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup (1 stick / 4oz) butter, cubed
2 cups (240gm) confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons water

Line the bottom of a 9×13” pan with parchment paper and spray the sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray (tip: use nonstick cooking spray to help the parchment paper stick to the pan – seems to go against the name of the product, but it works.)

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butterscotch chips and peanut butter, stirring. When smooth, remove from heat and add the crisp rice cereal. Stir to coat. Place half of the cereal mixture into the pan and pat down evenly. Place in the refrigerator to let it firm up a bit while preparing the chocolate.

Place the chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Melt together in the microwave over medium-low heat, stirring every 60-90 seconds, until smooth. Mix in the powdered sugar and water.

Spread the chocolate evenly over the cereal layer in the pan, then gently pat the remaining cereal mixture evenly on top. Refrigerate for at least two hours, then cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Makes 42.