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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars


Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are as good as a cookie but so simple to make without the extra step of individually scooping the cookies onto a cookie sheet.  Great for desserts, lunch boxes or snacks.

Who doesn't like Chocolate Chip Cookies?  Even I, who can skip over just about anything chocolate, love Chocolate Chip Cookies. These Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are so easy to make and have the added advantage of not needing to be scooped out individually on a cookie sheet.  Just mix, spread, bake and cut into desired size. Simple as that!  

I am a "nuts in" person when it comes to Chocolate Chip Cookies. My father, who made the absolutely best cookies, always put nuts in his CCCs, so my earliest memories of these delicacies have that nutty flavour mingled with the sweetness of the cookie and chocolate.  Over the years I stopped putting nuts in CCCs because the boys couldn't take them to school with so many people allergic to nuts and peanuts.  But if you can put in the nuts, do so.  They add so much to the flavour of the cookie.  This recipe specifically calls for pecans but walnuts will taste just as good (unless you don't like walnuts).  

I don't know where this recipe came from but wherever or whomever it comes from, I thank you.  

Note: These cookie bars use butter in the batter but because there are no eggs in the recipe it is easy to convert these into vegan cookies if you use a vegan margarine or butter substitute.  



Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Lightly grease or line with parchment paper, a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with sides.

Mix or sift together the flour and salt.  In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the flour into the creamed butter mixture a little at a time. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using. Mix until well blended. Press and press batter into prepared pan.

Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven an place on cooling rack. Immediately score the bars, using the tip of a sharp knife, into the amount of bars you want.  Let cool 5 minutes and cut along the score marks.  I cut mine 6 by 4 to give me 24 bars. Finish cooling in pan on the wire rack.  

When completely cool, store in airtight container.  I suppose they'll last at least 2 weeks but they'll be long gone before that!  The bars can also be frozen.  

Makes about 24-36 bars, depending on the size you want. 



Prepare the pan by lightly greasing and/or lining with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


Mix or sift the flour and salt together.  Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.  Today I pulled out my trusty hand mixer to beat everything together until fluffy.  This will take about 5 minutes with a hand mixer.  Gradually add the flour.  (No need for a flour shower when gradually adding.)  Stir or mix in the chocolate chips and the nuts.  


Spread and press the batter into the prepared pan.  Smooth out the top and pop it in the preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake 20 minutes or until the top is golden.


Place the hot pan of bars on a cooling rack and immediately score the surface into the amount of bars you want.  I scored mine 4 by 6 to produce 24 bars. You can make them a little smaller if you cut them 6 by 6 for 36 bars.


Let the pan of bars cool 5 minutes then completely cut through the score marks. Let the bars cool completely in the pan.


 Ah. . . the coveted end pieces.  Lucky Don!

If you are serving the bars at a family gathering or party, pile them nicely on a pretty plate.  Store any uneaten bars in an airtight container.  But they won't last long. . . trust me!


You know I'm not a chocolate lover so I had to force myself to try one. . . just so I could tell you they are FABULOUS!


All the great taste of a Chocolate Chip Cookie!
Yum, yum, yum!



Monday, September 04, 2017

Orange Layer Cake with Whipped Orange Frosting



Orange Layer Cake with Whipped Orange Frosting is a homemade, from scratch, lovely fine-crumbed cake.  Orange and lemon zest flavour the cake and the whipped cream frosting for a fresh citrusy family dessert. 

Have I mentioned I like (love) cake.  I don't think I could do a birthday without at least one slice of cake.  Who am I kidding?  Ha, give me the full cake. It had better be big because I do want to share it but I want my seconds and thirds after everyone goes home. This year, as it was a momentous birthday for both Don and me, we had a few people in and I made a really big cake.  



Actually, it was two cakes. The bottom cake is my hot milk sponge cake filled with a strawberry cream (or was it blueberry?) filling and the top cake is an orange cake with an orange cream filling.  I had such a craving for an orange cake but didn't have a recipe in my files.  After some searching I came across this one here that seemed quite promising.  With a few adjustments the cake was a triumph until I cut it open.  It was too heavy and dense.  That's what comes from not trying out a new recipe before hand. But not to fault the recipe.  I was in such a rush getting everything ready I didn't take time to properly cream the butter and sugar and letting the oven door bang shut on the half baked layers didn't do the cake any favours.  Nevertheless, I didn't throw out any of the cake.  It's amazing what a little ice cream or a cold glass of milk does for a less than perfect cake.  



I thought the recipe deserved a second chance as the flavour was very good.  So a couple of months later I made the cake again, taking great care to cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and not bang the oven door while the cake was in the critical stage of rising.  I was well rewarded with two very high layers with a lovely fine crumb.  You'd never say the two cakes were the same recipe.  

The recipe calls for cake flour and that's what I recommend for a nice fine crumbed cake.  Cake flour contains less protein than regular all-purpose flour so it's perfect for cake baking.  If you cannot find cake flour your can remove 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour from every cup used and replace with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.  Sift everything together several times to make sure there are no lumps of cornstarch remaining in the mix.  


Orange Layer Cake
2½ cups sifted cake flour (285 grams if you have a kitchen scale)
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
⅔ cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons oil
1½ cups sugar
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup + 1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with a circle of parchment or waxed paper and grease again.


Sift flour once, measure 2½ cups.  If you have a kitchen scale the flour should weigh 285 grams.   Add baking powder and salt, and sift together. Cake flour needs to be sifted to remove lumps. Sifting also adds air to the mix. Lay aside until needed.


Add the lemon and orange rind to butter and oil; cream thoroughly. Add sugar gradually and cream together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add flour in three additions alternately with the combined orange and lemon juices. Beat or stir after each addition until the flour is combined with the mix but DO NOT over beat.  This should be done on a medium to low speed. I have a "stir" speed on my new mixer which is the lowest speed.


Mix in the vanilla.


Divide the batter between the two layer pans and bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes or until done. If you are not sure test the centre with a cake tester or toothpick. There should be no wet batter on the tester when removed. Be very careful not to over bake as this will give you a dry cake.


Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes in pan and then invert on wire cake rack to completely cool.


When completely cool, spread Whipped Orange Frosting (see icing recipe below) between layers and on top and sides of layer cake. If you wish to split the layers of the cake into four thin layers, make a double recipe of the Whipped Orange Cream Frosting.


Makes two 9-inch layers.


Whipped Orange Frosting

2 tablespoons flour
⅓ - ½ cup sugar
Juice and grated rind of 1 orange, about ½ cup juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
1 cup whipping cream

In a small saucepan mix the flour and sugar together. (I find the third cup of sugar to be quite sweet enough.) Combine with the orange and lemon juice, grated rind, and beaten egg. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and there is no flour taste. Let cook 1 minute after mixture starts to boil.  Remove from heat, cover surface with plastic wrap and let cool completely to room temperature. Whip cream until stiff peaks form and carefully fold the cold orange mixture into whipped cream. Spread between layers and top and sides of cake. 


Makes enough to fill and frost a 9-inch layer cake.


Measure and sift the dry ingredients together.  
If you have a baking scale, weigh 285 grams of cake flour.

Beat the butter, oil and grated orange and lemon together until creamed.  Add the sugar a little at a time and beat until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the fruit juice. Mix until well combined.  Add the vanilla.


Pour the batter into the prepared pans spreading evenly.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 28-30 minutes.  The middle should test clean.

Make the orange filling by mixing the sugar, flour, grated orange rind, juice and egg together.  Cook over medium heat until thick.  Cook a minute longer to make sure the flour is cooked.  Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap.  Cool to room temperature. Do not chill.  If chilled remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature before folding into the cream.


Beat the cream and fold into the cooled orange filling.  Fill the middle of the cake with about one-third of the cream filling.


Sorry, this isn't a very good photo but you can see I decorated the frosted cake with fresh orange slices.


Have a slice or maybe two!

Refreshingly delicious on a summer day.


Tasty and luscious Orange Layer Cake.  
Try a double filling for an extra treat.

print recipe

Whipped Orange Frosting
Tangy orange cake with a luscious whipped orange filling and frosting.
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups sifted cake flour (285 grams if you have a kitchen scale)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • Grated rind of 1 orange
  • ⅔ cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with a circle of parchment or waxed paper and grease again.

Sift flour once, measure 2½ cups. If you have a kitchen scale the flour should weigh 285 grams. Add baking powder and salt, and sift together. Cake flour needs to be sifted to remove lumps. Sifting also adds air to the mix. Lay aside until needed.

Add the lemon and orange rind to butter and oil; cream thoroughly. Add sugar gradually and cream together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add flour in three additions alternately with the combined orange and lemon juices. Beat or stir after each addition until the flour is combined with the mix but DO NOT over beat. This should be done on a medium to low speed. I have a "stir" speed on my new mixer which is the lowest speed.

Mix in the vanilla.

Divide the batter between the two layer pans and bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes or until done. If you are not sure test the centre with a cake tester or toothpick. There should be no wet batter on the tester when removed. Be very careful not to over bake as this will give you a dry cake.

Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes in pan and then invert on wire cake rack to completely cool.

When completely cool, spread Whipped Orange Frosting (see icing recipe below) between layers and on top and sides of layer cake. If you wish to split the layers of the cake into four thin layers, make a double recipe of the Whipped Orange Cream Frosting.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12-16 slices



print recipe
Whipped Orange Frosting
Creamy, pudding-like frosting and filling.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ⅓ - ½ cup sugar
  • Juice and grated rind of 1 orange, about ½ cup juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup whipping cream
Instructions
In a small saucepan mix the flour and sugar together. (I find the third cup of sugar to be quite sweet enough.) Combine with the orange and lemon juice, grated rind, and beaten egg. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and there is no flour taste. Let cook 1 minute after mixture starts to boil. Remove from heat, cover surface with plastic wrap and let cool completely to room temperature. Whip cream until stiff peaks form and carefully fold the cold orange mixture into whipped cream. Spread between layers and top and sides of cake.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Enough to fill and frost a 9-inch layer cake