Zingier Cookie Bars
I love holiday baking. Let me repeat I LOVE holiday baking. But I don’t always have time for it. Then my 12-year-old mentions she needs a plate of goodies for choir or I really want to give a baked present to a friend but I have about 30 minutes to make something decent–and yeah, I need to do a load of laundry in between.
My secret? A little zing can make any cookie bar better, whether you’ve made it from scratch or enlisted the help of Krusteaz or whatever boxed mix you happen to have on hand. (Nope, no sponsorship from Krusteaz here, I just really like their raspberry crumb bars.)
Here are a few tweaks that will make your cookie bars stand out–
•Zest: Lemons, limes, oranges, clementines, adding a little citrus zest to your crumble bar batter will give it an added tanginess. (Use about a teaspoon of zest for a small batch and zest the entire fruit for a cookie-pan sized batter.) Fun pairings: orange zest with chocolate, lemon zest with raspberry, lime zest with strawberry.
*Confused about how to zest? No worries. Click for the lowdown on zesting.
•Almond extract: My vanilla extract bottle has been gathering dust lately. I don’t know, it just doesn’t have enough oomph for me. But the smooth flavor of almond just screams holidays to me. So I’ve been putting almond extract in place of vanilla in every recipe.
•Nutmeg: Another flavor that will inspire you to start singing Christmas carols, any recipe that calls for cinnamon, go ahead and add some nutmeg (about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon). If you’re daring, toss a few shakes of ground ginger in the batter too. Nutmeg pairs perfectly with most recipes calling for oatmeal.
•Nuts: Pecans are pricier than other nuts so I usually only get them around the holidays. Looking for a less expensive option? Almond slivers. No need to chop them before you use them, just add a few slivers to one of your favorite bars to make it look a little fancier. Or what about cashews?
•Chocolate: Okay, if you read my blog regularly you know I’ll use any excuse to add a little chocolate, but try something different–like mini-chips or chunks instead of your regular variety.
And to make your cookie bars really stand out, forget the bar! Refrigerate the cooked bars for about 1 hour and then instead of cutting, use a cookie cutter to make different shapes (warning: you’ll get fewer bars this way, but your kids will love having the job of eating the extras.)
Ready to get baking? Check out these recipes for the Best Cookie Bars. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team. Once a week, I’ll be posting about the exciting things not to miss on the their site, and their affiliates. (The peanutty buckeye bars are on my list to make:)
What about you? Do you have any hints for making your cookie bars even more tasty?
about 3 months ago - 1 comment
We’ve all been there – forgot you were having guests over for dinner or maybe needed a dessert in a hurry? That’s how I came up with this idea for chocolate croissants. Regular chocolate croissants have dark chocolate tucked inside the buttery layers. No way I have time to make croissants from scratch, let alone More >
about 6 months ago - 1 comment
In honor of Germany’s recent World Cup win we made Black Forest Cupcakes. Black Forest cake is the quintessential dessert of the southwest Germany home to Schwarzwald (yes, Black Forest in German). It’s known as the setting for many of the Brothers Grimm’s collected fairy tales with its rolling hills that dip into valley towns and More >
about 8 months ago - 2 comments
Once a year my mother would make chocolate mousse. It was usually at Christmas time. Well, it’s not Christmas but for Mother’s Day I thought making mom’s mousse recipe would be a fitting way to celebrate. Right now my mom and dad are living abroad at the moment as medical missionaries so communication is More >
about 8 months ago - 2 comments
Tres Leches translates into three milks cake. With nearly the consistency of a pudding cake, the dense cake batter is designed to soak up a sweetened milk glaze that you pour over it before after baking and before adding the frosting. I first sampled the traditional vanilla tres leches not in Mexico, but La More >
about 10 months ago - 2 comments
My husband has asked me never to make these cookies again. Ever. They’re just too addictive. It’s impossible to eat just one and so we’ve been chowing down these homemade Girl Scout Thin Mints. See, I had to make Thin Mints. We didn’t have any Girl Scouts come by and so I was left to More >
about 11 months ago - 4 comments
Layered with two kinds of ice cream and topped with an impossibly golden meringue topping, Baked Alaska is an impressive dessert to serve to your family (invite guests for this one!). Here’s the secret: it’s really easy to make. The key? Be patient and have lots of freezer space. Lots. So keep it cool for More >
about 12 months ago - 1 comment
Admission: I’m a Broncos fan and fully expect them to win the Super Bowl this Sunday (even though Peyton Manning has a 0-4 playoff game record when it comes to temps under 40 degrees). These easy chocolate almond footballs are a fun way to dress up your Super Bowl party table or top game-day More >
about 1 year ago - 5 comments
Thank you Kris Bordessa at Attainable Sustainable for introducing me to this fabulous fudge recipe. I put my own spin on it this Christmas season by infusing it with some of my favorite ingredients–coconut and walnuts. Recipe Servings: 1 9×13″ pan — plenty of thick pieces Ingredients 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 1 More >
about 1 year ago - 7 comments
Holiday cookie time. Who’s ready to start baking? I wanted to make the richest, darkest cookies I could find. I aimed for a recipe like flourless cake that left all the flavor to the chocolate. This IS it. WARNING: These are dangerously chocolatey. You can roll the dough balls in powdered sugar for a hint More >
about 1 year ago - 2 comments
Ohio inspires ice cream makers. The proof? Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams started serving scoops in 2002 in Columbus and blossomed into an ice cream dynasty. Jeni Britton Bauer’s book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home has become New York Times Best-Selling cookbook teaching regular cooks to craft Jeni’s signature flavors like Brambleberry Crisp, Salty More >