toffee, coconut oreo squares

MOTHER OF PEARL!

These squares are an absolute delight!

Actually … they are more than simply a delight … These are intensely, wonderfully, richly, decadent, sinfully delicious.

Are you sold on them yet?

How about if I promise that they are super simple to make as well?

Are you excited yet?

You should be. These are dead simple … and a huge bang for their buck.

Think I’m overly confident?

I’m not.

These are GOOD.

I’ve brought these into work twice already … had a request to make a batch for a colleague’s niece; baked them for the Halifax Seaport Market, and then baked another batch for last Friday’s Daytime Ottawa appearance on Roger’s (you can watch it hereskip the first 2 minutes).

Obsessed much? These are worth obsessing about.

Consider these the first of my holiday baking recipes. Swap things in and out as you like – pecans can replace almonds … fudgeos can replace oreos … heck … I bet dolce de leche could replace just regular condensed milk to make these even more intensely amazing.

After playing around with the this recipe a few times I’ve realized that toasting the coconut and nuts is the way to go. It adds another 10 minutes to your baking / prep time … but it’s so well worth the effort. I promise … You won’t regret it … although, I think you just won’t regret making a pan of these.

Nuf said. It’s time for me to share the love and the recipe … and it’s time for you to preheat your oven and gather your ingredients. Lovin’ from the oven awaits!

toffee, coconut oreo squares

ingredients:

1/4 c. butter, melted

2 1/2 rows of oreo cookies, crumbled (use a food processor … it saves loads of time)

1 1/4 c. coconut flakes, toasted

1 c. almonds (or pecans), chopped and toasted

3/4 c. chocolate chips

3/4 c. toffee pieces

300 mL can condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper. You want to ensure that the sides hang over the edges of the pan.

Pour the melted butter directly onto the parchment paper. I know … it seems strange, but it works. Spread it around so that the base of the pan is covered with the melted butter.

Dump the oreo cookie crumbs on-top of the melted butter. Flatten the crumbs evenly over the entire base – I use the bottom of a measuring cup to help flatten the base.

That was the most difficult part of the entire recipe. For realz :0)

Take your toasted coconut and evenly sprinkle it over the oreo cookie crumb base.

Now sprinkle the toasted almonds (or pecans) over the coconut layer.

The chocolate chip layer comes next.

Followed by the toffee pieces.

Time for the second hardest part of the recipe. Combine the condensed milk and vanilla together, and then evenly cover everything. Use a spatula to spread the condensed milk to all 4 corners of the pan.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes (my oven seems to be a 33 minute bake). You’ll notice that nothing looks very set when you take the pan out of the oven. Don’t worry. It’ll set.

Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes. I find that it’s then best to place the pan in your fridge and allow the squares to cool for another hour. This allows it to firm up enough to be able to cleanly cut into squares.

As usual I lift the entire, uncut lot out of the pan (thank you parchment paper!) … trim off the sides and then cut into equal pieces. You should get at least 16 squares – more if you want to share the love with more people.

Oh .. and those sides … don’t toss them away. Those are your special treat. After all … you need to reward yourself after slaving away in the kitchen :0)

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obesessed with these brownies

This brownies are the bomb.

Seriously.

And it all started because of this picture. Who wouldn’t see this picture and not be tempted to bake these brownies as well?  I mean … brownie and raw cookie dough.  A-MAZ-ING.  (for realz).

I was checking my email and clicked open an email from the brown eyed baker … saw these beauties and just knew that I had to make them.  IMMEDIATELY. 

I decided that I would follow the brownie recipe that Michelle (the brown eyed baker) used, but wanted to use a different cookie dough recipe.I went back to my roots … and pulled out an old stand-by … Jenna’s chocolate-chip raisin cinnamon cookie dough  – the recipe made famous as the raw cookie dough in the Whalesbone’s sundae bar (I also blogged about it last summer).  The result … well I learned a couple of things …

1.  1 regular batch of raw cookie dough is too much.  I really only needed half the amount.

and

2.  Baking in 40+ weather is not the brightest of ideas.  Especially in a tiny kitchen that holds in all that heat.  sigh.

These brownies were popular (I brought them to a rooftop party @ Platonic Jeff’s place, and they were the most popular item … after my lemon gelato ice cream sandwiches) – but I couldn’t stop thinking about how I could make them better.

That’s exactly what I did a couple of weeks ago.

Jenna told me I could bake whatever I wanted for the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market.  I opted for these brownies.  Only … with a twist.

I needed a raw cookie recipe that didn’t include eggs (tante Michèle would approve).  Plus I wanted to make something that combined two of my favourite flavours:  chocolate & peanut butter.

And that is how my peanut butter cookie dough double chocolate brownies were born.  Brownie base, peanut butter cookie dough filling and a chocolate ganache topping.Rich Perfection.

People at the market thought so too.  These babies sold out.  Whoot Whoot!

Allow enough cooling time between baking the brownie and topping it with the raw cookie dough … and then allow for the ganache to set before cutting the finished product.  Simple and delicious.  Plus … everyone will be hooked.  Afterall … it pretty much pairs everyone’s favourite comfort food ;0)

peanut butter cookie dough double chocolate brownies

ingredients:

brownie:

4 ounces chocolate, chopped

1 c. butter, at room temperature

2 c. brown sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 c. flour

peanut butter cookie dough:

1. c. butter, room temperature

1 c. sugar

1 c. brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. peanut butter

2 c. flour

2 tsp baking soda

chocolate ganache:

1. c. heavy cream

12 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped

To make the brownie base preheat your oven to 325 F and line a rectangular pan with parchment paper, spray with non-stick spray and set aside.  You want the parchment paper to hang over the sides – this will help you pull your brownie out whole in order to cut it properly.

In a double boiler, melt your chocolate until it is smooth and glossy.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together (use your paddle attachment) the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.  Increase the speed to really incorporate everything.  Add the melted chocolate.  Lower the speed of the mixer and slowly add the flour: don’t over-mix, you just want everything to be combined.Spread the batter evenly over the base of your pan.  Bake for about 35 minutes – this brownie recipe really rises in the oven … fear not!  It will deflate once it cools down.

Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.Then it’s time to make your cookie dough! (obviously you can do as I did the first time round, and use whichever dough recipe you prefer … just remember, you likely only need to use half a recipe).

In the bowl of your stand-mixer thoroughly cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth (about 5 minutes).  Stir in the peanut butter, and then add the dry ingredients.  Once combined … that’s it! 

Grab some of the batter and spread it evenly over your cooled brownie base (don’t worry if you don’t use all the cookie dough – it freezes really well).  Use an off-set spatula to get it even and smooth.

Set aside and make your ganache.

Place your chocolate in a medium, heat proof bowl.  In a small bowl over medium heat, bring your cream up to a simmer (well… honestly, I usually let it boil – but just a little).  Remove it from heat and pour it over the chocolate; allowing it to sit for a few minutes.  Then grab a spatula and slowly mix together – stirring until the chocolate has melted and the ganache looks creamy. 

Pour over the cookie dough brownie and allow to set in the fridge (I’d say at least an hour).

Remove the brownie from the pan, trim the edges off and cut into even pieces.

At this point I’m going to guess you ate some of that trim … I sure did (so did Jenna).  I heart this brownie.  Seriously intense … rich chocolate and salty peanut butter.  Heck ya.  A-MAZ-ING.

oh what a week it has been…

I don’t know where to begin.  This past week has been chalk full of activity!  The market, a bonfire, a trip to Antigonish, a cocktail party … and baking for all of it!

Let’s start at the very beginning (“a very good place to start” … name that tune!), last weekend’s lime explosion  at the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market with little red kitsch’n.

It was ridiculously DE-LIC-IOUS (and adorable, non?)

You saw my post on the lime-blueberry cheesecake cupcakes … this is what they looked liked when all was said and done.
These were the first goodies to go.

The lemon-lime cupcakes (filled with lemon-lime curd and topped with lime cream cheese frosting) were also super popular.  A little labour intensive (piping and filling on the spot) … but oh so wonderful.

Since the entire theme was based on that bon appétit magazine (“lime juice is the new salt”) – we swapped out Jenna’s usual lemon meringue tarts for some lime raspberry meringue tarts (the bon appétit recipe used blackberries – but since they aren’t in season, we used raspberries).

And then … the pièce de résistance … cranberry-lemon-lime-white chocolate mousse squares.

Intense?

Amazing?

Yes … and … yes.

Another bon appétit recipe (from their desserts cookbook), only, we played around with it to make it work for our purposes.

We wanted squares.

We wanted a graham cracker base.

We wanted to switch the layers around.

It was a S-U-C-C-E-S-S.

Tart and fresh.  Not too heavy (the white chocolate mousse was a nice surprise), the addition of chinese five spice to the cranberry compote was pretty spot-on, and my graham cracker base was epic (Jenna’s words, not mine).

Since this is a layer dessert, you’ll probably expect me to tell you it isn’t difficult, but it does take a little bit of time.  Don’t worry – you can basically make everything in one go, and then just assemble in stages … in the end, not overly labour or time intensive, and oh so worth it.  Seriously … I can’t wait to whip these up again!

cranberry-lemon-lime-white chocolate mousse squares

(based on bon appétit’s cranberry-lime tart)

ingredients:

graham cracker base

*this is completely unmeasured … I used two sleeves of graham crackers (the large ones) and pulsed them in a food processor.  I then melted (about) 1/2 cup of butter, and slowly poured it into the food processor and blended everything together.  You want the base to hold together when you pinch it together … but not get so saturated in butter that after you bake the base it would harden because of all the excess fat.

lemon-lime curd

zest of 1 lemon and 2 limes

1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon & 2 limes)

1/2 c. sugar

6 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

cranberry topping

1/4 c. water

1 1/2 tsp cornstartch

2/3 c. sugar

3 tbsp honey

1 1/2 tsp chinese five-spice powder

1 12-ounce bag (3 cups) fresh or partially thawed frozen cranberries

white chocolate mousse

5 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1/2 c. + 2 tbsp sour cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Once you get all those ingredients together … it’s time to start baking!

base:

Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Line a square baking pan with parchment paper, spray with non-stick spray.

Press the graham cracker base into your prepared pan.

Trick of the day (thank you Jenna): in order to get an even base, press the graham cracker base with the base of a measuring cup … you’ll see that by pressing the base of the cup across the top of the crust you’ll get a pretty perfect graham cracker base.

Bake for about 12 – 17 minutes.  You want the crust to be firm.  Remove from heat and allow to cool on a wire rack in the pan.

lemon-lime curd:

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the lemon – lime juices, lemon – lime zest, sugar and butter.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.  When the butter has melted in the saucepan, whisk some of the warm liquid into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly while you pour (this prevents the eggs from curdling).  Once done, pour the egg mixture into the saucepan (that is still over low heat).  Cook, whisking constantly, the curd will start to thicken – don’t let it start to boil.  Remove from heat.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl.

Pour the curd into the strainer – this will remove any little bits, and make for a silky smooth curd.  Allow to cool slightly, then pour into the pre-baked graham cracker base.

Bake in the oven (again, at 325 F) until set – about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely (stick it in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap to speed up the process).

white chocolate mousse:
Stir chocolate on top of a double boiler over simmering water until it’s melted and smooth.  Remove from the water and heat and whisk in the sour cream and vanilla.  Cool completely (speed up the process by putting it in the fridge – remember to cover it with plastic wrap).
cranberry topping:
In a medium saucepan (and off the heat), whisk the water and the cornstarch until blended.  Add the sugar, honey, and five-spice powder.
Stir over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
Add cranberries, cook until the mixture boils and berries just begin to pop but still retain their shape, occasionally stirring gently, about 5 minutes.  Cool completely – don’t worry if you think this topping is too thin… it thickens in the fridge.  I decided to cool it overnight … it got nice and thick.
At this point you’re ready to pull the white chocolate mousse from the fridge and gently spread it over the baked and cooled graham cracker base and lemon-lime curd filling.
Before you start cutting – you need to allow this to cool and firm up.  Again, I allowed this to cool overnight in the fridge … bon appétit recommends freezing it for 15 minutes.  You could try that as well :0)
Once set, it’s time to lift it out of the baking pan and then trim the sides … there are two reasons for this: (1) it makes for perfect squares and (2) it allows YOU (the baker) to taste-test.  Nibble on one of those cast-off trim pieces …
Once the trim is removed, you should be able to cut out 16 pieces … if you have a nice little square cookie cutter you would get perfect pieces ;0)  Top with the cranberry topping and serve immediately.  If you aren’t serving right away, don’t top the squares, return them to the fridge and finish assembling them as needed … and if you don’t need the whole lot of them at once, freeze them, uncovered by the cranberry topping in an airtight container.