Lemon Bars

In April (yeah, I’m “slightly” behind), coworker Chiemi brought in a bunch of giant lemons from her lemon tree and gave me a bunch to make lemon bars.  I’ve never made lemon bars before.  I don’t even think I’ve ever HAD a lemon bar, so I was kind of clueless as to an “ideal” recipe to use.

I searched through a bunch of recipes listed in a google search.  They can range from using 2 Tbsp of lemon juice, to a whole cup of lemon juice, or using only the juice of one lemon to one whole ground up lemon.  I guess it all depends on how lemony you want your bars.

After looking through some recipes and asking some coworkers on what they look for in a lemon bar, I decided to go with the whole cup of lemon juice route.  I settled on Ina Garten’s Lemon Bar recipe.

They were a HIT!! I’m sure the home-grown lemons contribute to the success, but people LOVED the shortbread in this lemon bar!!!
Definitely will make again! ❤

Lemon Bars (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp coarse sea salt
For the fillings:
6 eggs, room temperature
2.5 cups white sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp lemon zest

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light.
3. Add flour and salt to the butter mixture and mix on low until incorporated.
4. Press dough evenly into a 9×13 baking pan.
5. Bake the crust in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack, and keep oven on.
6. While crust is cooling, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and flour.
7. Run mixture through a sieve to make sure there are no lumps of flour.
8. Stir in the lemon zest into the lemon and eggs mixture.
9. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is set.  Let cool to room temperature.
10. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Enjoy!

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies

The fiance’s dad was requesting a melt-in-your-mouth cookies (back in July…this post is way-late), so I decided to make shortbread.

I was very pleased with Dorie Greenspan’s Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (which I made as VIA-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies), so I decided to use another recipe of hers this time. These cookies weren’t as good as the other ones and were a little on the hard-side, but they were OK.


The original recipe was written with volume measurements, but I decided to weigh everything so that I know the recipe by weight. 🙂

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours)
Ingredients:
210g All-Purpose Flour
35g Cornstarch
1/4 tsp Salt
Pinch of Ground Nutmeg (original recipe calls for Ground Cloves, but I didn’t have any)
226g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
150g Light Brown Sugar
70g Finely Chopped Pecans (I ground mine in the food processor)
Directions:
1. Sift together flour, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg.
2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until very smooth, making sure not to over-beat.
3. Add dry ingredients and beat until flour is JUST incorporated.
4. Add pecans and mix by hand (to avoid over-beating).
5. Transfer dough into a gallon-size Ziploc bag.  Do not seal bag, and put the bag on a flat surface and roll the dough until it fills the bag to the zipper.  Make sure that the surface of both sides of the dough is even.  Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
6. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat oven to 350F.
7. Remove dough from refrigerator.  Carefully remove dough as a sheet from the bag.  Using a ruler as a guide, cut the dough into 49 1.5-inch squares.  Transfer the squares to two parchment-lined baking sheets and prick each square twice with a fork.
8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom, and front to back midway.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

When there’s a bake sale or a potluck at work…I usually get way too excited and go all out.  I love to bake…but I often cannot find enough people to eat my food…so when I KNOW there will be recipients/eaters.  I go for it!!  🙂

This is one of the items I baked for our bake sale at work last month.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get much feedback, but I did try one, and I can’t say I liked it a lot.  I baked another flourless peanut butter cookie a while back, and I THINK that one was better.  This one had a finer/smoother bite to it, but it flattened A LOT as it baked. The other one held its shape, but had more of a crumbly texture.  You could also feel the crunch of the sugar as you chew it.  I guess they each have their pros & cons, but I prefer the older one better.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie (adapted from Chocolate & Carrots)
Ingredients:
1 Cup Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Whole Egg + 1 Egg White
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, sugar, eggs, and baking soda until smooth.
3. Using a spatula, stir in chocolate chips.
4. Using a small cookie scoop, drop dough 2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.
Enjoy!!

VIA-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


Dear friend Minha moved to New York this past weekend, and we had dinner with her before she left. I wanted to give her a going away gift, so I did what I do best, I baked for her! 🙂

We were great friends in high school, then we drifted apart due to some high school drama, then I found her in my arms again. I admit, our friendship is one of the rougher ones I’ve had, but I still love her! So because of this drifting, I really had no idea what to make her, but I do remember that she liked coffee, so I decided to make this…and who doesn’t love shortbread ???…(I hope she does)…:P

This shortbread is amazing! The texture, the flavor, all of it. It’s got an abundance of coffee flavor, that also enhances the chocolate flavor, and the buttery shortbread goodness of it….mmmMMM. If I weren’t trying to lose weight, I might break and eat all of it!! Good thing Steven’s parents like it, so it was gobbled up before I broke. 😛

VIA-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours)
Ingredients:
1 Packet Starbucks VIA (I used Columbia Roast)
1 Tbsp Boiling Water
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Cups Semi-Sweet Mini-Chocolate Chips
Additional Powdered Sugar for dusting
Directions:
1. Dissolve Starbucks VIA in boiling water, set aside to cool.
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and powdered sugar until mixture is very smooth.
3. Beat in vanilla and espresso. Add flour and mix on low just until flour disappears
4. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
5. Place all of the cookie dough in a gallon-sized zipper bag. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out flat (leaving zipper open), filling all corners of the bag. Lift the plastic from the bag to release air bubbles and to remove creases/folds in the dough. When done, dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.

6. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
7. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
8. Remove dough from refrigerator. Using a knife, cut dough into 32 equal pieces (Dorie recommends 1.5″ squares, but I cut mine into rectangles).

9. Transfer dough onto cookie sheets and carefully prick each one couple times with a fork.
10. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom, and front to back halfway through.
11. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar while they are still hot.

Enjoy!!

Snickerdoodles

I wanted to bake just so I could write a blog post for it. And since I’m dieting for my wedding, I needed some volunteers to eat and suggest what to bake. After some discussion, I got myself some volunteers, and dear friend Alley suggested that I make snickerdoodles. Now, I’ve never been really successful in my baking of a snickerdoodle. I don’t think it’s me (I’m not going to admit even if it were), but I never like the ones I bake!

And this time, it’s no different! I think it’s partly the recipe, and partly….not admitting. I think my cookie scoop was a little too small for the baking time. The cookies came out really hard (think stale), while the center was still chewy (which is a good thing!).

I’m still debating if I’m going to ship these off to my eating-volunteers. I’ll let them cool a bit longer and see if the staleness goes away (which I doubt). I might have to find another recipe and hopefully make better cookies before my volunteers get to taste it.

–> soooo…I’m not gonna ship these…so they basically go in the trash or the mouths of others in the household (not me). :/

Other than the staleness factor, I actually don’t like its flavor much. I think I’m looking for the buttery goodness, which is lacking in this recipe (well, it lacks butter as a whole). So, note to self, find a snickerdoodle recipe that uses butter.

I’m not saying not to use this recipe, if you don’t care much for the buttery goodness, then you can go ahead and decrease the baking time a bit, and enjoy the non-buttery goodness of this cookie. 🙂

Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening
2/3 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
(I used Berkeley Farms’ Old Fashioned Cultured Low Fat Buttermilk)
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
(I used pre-ground nutmeg, but I’m sure whole nutmeg ground before using is a lot better)
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
Directions:
1. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the shortening and 2/3 cup sugar until smooth. Add the buttermilk and vanilla, beating until well-combined.
2. Add dry ingredients (nutmeg, flour, baking soda, salt) and mix until the mixture forms a giant dough-ball.
3. Preheat oven to 400F. Place 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon into a zipper bag and mix well.
4. Using a cookie scoop (I used a 2 tsp size (which is too small…yielded 31 cookies), separate dough into equal portions.

5. Place 4-5 dough-balls in with the cinnamon-sugar, and toss. Place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving 1 1/2 inch between balls and continue with the rest of the dough.

6. Using the bottom of a water (or juice, or beer…) glass, flatten each cookie to 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle additional cinnamon-sugar on top, if desired.


7. Bake snickerdoodles for 8-10 minutes (the recipe said to do it for 12 minutes, but I guess my cookies were too small, so they were a little on the hard side when done, so 8 minutes should give a chewy cookie and 10 should give a crispy cookie for this size), rotating pans (top to bottom, front to back) halfway through the baking. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Enjoy!!

Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

My friend Alley made these for a potluck (or party…or something) a while back. I tried a cookie and thought it was SOOO gooood!! So, I made these for a dear friend, Justin. 🙂
(Updated 03.26.11: I actually made these as holiday gifts for coworkers first…then I made 1/2 a batch for Mr. Justin. :))

These were really easy to make! Quick & Simple. You can even freeze the dough-balls and bake one or two or a dozen whenever you want!!!

Peanut Butter Cookie Cups adapted from Peanut Butter Cup Cookies from allrecipes.com:
Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
40 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Minis (Pictured below)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.
2. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well. Shape into 40 balls (this is where you can place the balls on a cookie sheet and freeze.  Once hardened, you can place in a freezer bag and store for up to 30 days(?)), and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.
3. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes (or 15-18 minutes if frozen). Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan (I use a toothpick to “pry” it off the pan).

Enjoy!!

Sweet Melissa Sunday: Chestnut Honey Madeleines

sweetmelissasundays
This week’s Sweet Melissa Sunday recipe is Chestnut Honey Madeleines chosen and hosted by ME! (Woohoo~~)

To tell you the truth, I don’t think I deserve to be a host nor to choose a recipe because I haven’t even been a very good MEMBER!! First, I skip 4 weeks of recipes, then I promise to participate all of June, then I got into a car accident and had to skip last week. BUT, I’m back to host this week’s SMS!! 🙂

I chose this week’s recipe because we love madeleines. In fact, we love it so much that I had to buy a pan couple years back, but never went around to using it…:P I was VERY excited to use my pan for the first time and to bake true madeleines for the first time (I’ve used mini cupcake pans in its place before). I really liked this recipe!! I am a true hazelnut fan, and I just love the nutty flavor of this cookie/cake!! 🙂 I only baked 1/2 of a recipe because I only had one pan, but I’m sure I’d be baking more in the future. 😀

I had a little bit of issues with the recipe:
First, I couldn’t locate chestnut honey and I thought I had some clover honey at home, but I found out right before baking that what I had at home was wildflower honey.
Second, I couldn’t locate whole hazelnuts, and could only locate chopped hazelnuts. I still ended up toasting the hazelnuts, but I may have burnt the tiny tiny pieces.
Third, after baking the madeleines for 15 minutes, they turned out a bit browner than I would’ve preferred. I’m not sure if it’s because our pan is a dark pan or if I burnt the hazelnuts (or even the butter).

Despite all the difficulties, I think they still tasted DELICIOUS!! 🙂

Chestnut Honey Madeleines

2/3 cup roasted hazelnuts
1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
13 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large egg whites
1 tablespoon chestnut or clover (or wildflower) honey

Before you start:
Using a pastry brush, brush on soft butter and then flour two 12-cup madeleine molds. Refrigerate until ready to use.

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, grind the hazelnuts with 2/3 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, pulsing as fine as you can get it, so that it is a semicoarse flour (you should have 1/2 cup hazelnut flour).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour, and the remaining confectioners’ sugar.

3. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until the butter solids at the bottom of the pan turn golden brown. Immediately remove from the heat and strain into a bowl to stop the cooking. Discard the solids.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Add the butter and honey and mix until combined.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared molds, filling almost at the top. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

6. Position a rack in the top and bottom thirds of your oven. Preheat the oven to 375F.

7. Remove the filled molds from the refrigerator. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. After removing from the oven, immediately tap the pans on your work surface to release the madeleines. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

To serve, turn the madeleines scallop side up and dust with confectioners’ sugar. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. For longer storage, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 weeks. Do not uncover before defrosting.

Be sure to check out other bakers’ creations! 🙂