Category Archives: Blondies, Brownies, & Bars

Snickerdoodle Squares

Snickerdoodle Squares

I try very hard to keep a baking schedule that allows me a full day off every week, but as with everything, there are exceptions. For example, a friend of mine had a fully-vaxxed get-together last weekend. You know I couldn’t show up empty-handed!

Snickerdoodle Squares

Enter these Snickerdoodle Squares, the perfect low-maintenance party treat. They have all the flavor and texture of classic, cinnamon-crusted Snickerdoodle cookies, but bake up in a square pan with limited fuss!

Snickerdoodle Squares

These soft, chewy squares are easy as can be, with slightly tangy sugar cookie centers and crisp cinnamon-sugar edges. The base is very similar to my favorite blondie recipe, with the biggest deviation being the additions of baking powder and cream of tartar for a more cookie-like texture. It’s an easy, no-mixer batter that requires few ingredients and almost no time to whip together.

Heads up: there is no substitute for cream of tartar—it is a classic snickerdoodle ingredient that gives these squares that signature tang. If you don’t have any on hand, you can leave it out without any major consequences, but the flavor will be a bit less snickerdoodly. Snickerdoodlesque?

Now onto the main event: the cinnamon sugar! You simply can’t have a snickerdoodle without cinnamon sugar—it’s basically the whole point. Here, it’s scattered in the bottom of the buttered pan before being topped with the batter and more cinnamon sugar. As the squares bake, the top layer expands and cracks with the batter, while the bottom layer melts and caramelizes. After the squares cool completely in their pan, that bottom layer will be extra-crispy, like a thin layer of cinnamon sugar glass against all that cookie square goodness! Textural diversity for the win.

Snickerdoodle Squares

Y’all, these Snickerdoodle Squares are as satisfying as they are simple. All the flavor and texture of a perfect, soft snickerdoodle and half the work! The combination of the crunchy, crystalline cinnamon sugar on the top, the crackling-crisp layer on the bottom, and the thick, chewy centers is irresistible. I, for one, will be hauling these to every picnic, party and anything else I’m invited to this summer, and I have an inkling you will be, too.

Snickerdoodle Squares
Snickerdoodle Squares
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan, about 16 squares

Cinnamon Sugar:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Batter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan well with butter. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for removal. Grease again.

Make cinnamon sugar. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar and cinnamon.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar in the bottom of the prepared pan. Tilt the pan around to coat the bottom. Set aside both the pan and the remaining cinnamon sugar.

Make the batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Mix in the egg, followed by the vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt, and whisk just until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to gently spread it to the edges, covering the layer of cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over the top, taking care to get all the way to the edges. Tap full pan on the counter a couple of times to knock out any large air bubbles.

Bake squares for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter). Let squares cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Once cooled, use the parchment overhang to lift the bars onto a cutting board. Discard parchment. Slice into 16 squares with a large, sharp chef’s knife. Serve.

Leftovers will keep well covered at room temperature for up to four days.
Snickerdoodle Squares
Snickerdoodle Squares

Friday Favorites: Sweet Cherries

Friday Favorites: Sweet Cherries

Fresh sweet cherries are one of my absolute favorite summer fruits, but they sure don’t last very long! Buy a bag too early and they taste like chlorine; too late and they’re mush. But right now? Right this minute? They’re perfect! Sweet and pretty and perfect for eating on their own or adding to your summer bakes. Here are all my favorite sweet cherry recipes from the archives.

Friday Favorites: Sweet Cherries

Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars

Like cherry pie but less than half the work, these shortbread bars are a summer staple around here. These are so simple—think fresh cherry pie filling sandwiched between two layers of shortbread. They’re sooo good, but if you want to turn up the volume…

Friday Favorites: Sweet Cherries

Sweet Cherry Cheesecake Bars

…you can add in a layer of cheesecake! Cherries and cheesecake are a classic match, especially when they’re paired with shortbread crust. Mmhmm.

Friday Favorites: Sweet Cherries

Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble

Are you sensing a theme? Because I am! Sweet cherries and buttery cookie anything are absolute magic together. Here, sweet cherry pie filling is topped with a boatload of crumbled sugar cookie dough, then baked until brown, bubbly and screaming for ice cream.

Friday Favorites: Sweet Cherries

Sweet Cherry Rhubarb Galette

Rhubarb isn’t just for strawberries anymore! Here it’s paired with sweet cherries, wrapped in homemade pie dough and baked until golden. This galette is sweet, tart, and perfect for any summer get-together.

Friday Favorites: Sweet Cherries

Sweet Cherry Turnovers

I love a cherry turnover! As with so many other recipes on this list, the combination of sweet cherries and butter(-y pastry) are what makes these rustic little hand pies so irresistible. These are a summertime must-make.

Have you made these or any of my other sweet cherry recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Strawberry Lemon Bars

Strawberry Lemon Bars

I feel like I’ve been throwing freeze-dried strawberries in everything lately, but who can blame me? They’re pretty readily available at your local Target or Trader Joe’s, are consistently tasty, and can be eaten as a snack or pulverized into powder and tossed into anything that you wish to look and taste like summer. You know, like these Strawberry Lemon Bars.

Strawberry Lemon Bars

These are simply Lemon Bars with two tablespoons of pulverized strawberry powder in the filling and a tiny bit more in the confectioner’s sugar topping. Seriously, that’s it—no other changes. Easy peasy.

The primary flavor here is lemon, but there’s just a *little* hint of strawberry—think something akin to pink lemonade. It’s a subtle thing, to be sure, but it’s there and it’s delicious.

Strawberry Lemon Bars

The color, as you can see is anything but subtle. It’s bright as can be, in fact, and I totally dig it. I mean, why make another batch of regular old lemon bars when you can add one ingredient and get to show up to the party/picnic/cookout/your couch with these gems? I think we can call agree that pink, summery desserts just taste better.

Strawberry Lemon Bars
Strawberry Lemon Bars
makes 16 bars

Shortbread Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes

Strawberry Lemon Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
2 tablespoons pulverized freeze-dried strawberries, from about 1/2 cup pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 3 medium lemons
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 drop red food coloring (optional)

Topping:
3-4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pulverized freeze-dried strawberries (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with parchment or aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides for removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the shortbread crust. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Mixture will be very crumbly and dry. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and use your fingertips to press it into one even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack for a few minutes while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, lemon zest and pulverized strawberry powder. Use your fingertips to rub zest and powder into sugar until combined. Mix in all-purpose flour and salt. Whisk in lemon juice, followed by eggs and egg yolk, and melted butter. Add food coloring, if using. Mixture will be thin.

Pour filling over the shortbread crust. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until center is set. Let cool completely on a rack before chilling for at least four hours.

Use the foil overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel parchment (or foil) from the edges. Use a large, sharp chef's knife to slice bars.

In a small bowl, stir together confectioner’s sugar and pulverized strawberry powder. Sift confectioner's sugar over the tops of the bars before serving.

Serve bars immediately or refrigerate for up to three days. Confectioner’s sugar will degrade over time—this can be remedied by sifting more over the tops.
Strawberry Lemon Bars
Strawberry Lemon Bars
Strawberry Lemon Bars

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Of all the bits and bobs you can mix into baked goods, none can compete with semisweet chocolate chips. They’re small, eye-catching and good in everything. Even if you’re not much of a baker, you probably have a bag somewhere in your pantry right now.

Tomorrow, May 15th, is National Chocolate Chip Day (not to be confused with National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, August 4th). Celebrate by making one of these chocolate chip-centric treats, or just eating the morsels by the handful!

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

“I Got Yolks” Chocolate Chip Cookies

You can’t celebrate chocolate chip day without cookies! These are made with all egg yolks so they’re super soft and rich.

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Crispy, Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These crunchy cookies are incredibly easy and so good, they’ve been known to convert avowed chewy cookie people.

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

A recent update of an ooooold blog recipe, the flavor of these Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies is amped up with—you guessed it!—100% whole wheat flour.

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

100% Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

Whole wheat flour also does wonders for these chocolate chip muffins!

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Scones

Oh yes, I did. These tender scones are made with chilled brown butter and packed to the gills with chocolate chips. Needless to say, they’re so good, it’s stupid.

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

These ooey-gooey chocolate chip squares are filled with soft salted caramel! They’re super easy to make and always a hit, as all salted caramel chocolate chip things are.

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumb Cake

This is coffee cake for chocolate chip cookie people! No cinnamon—just chocolate chip sour cream cake and crunchy cookie crumbs.

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Basic Blondies

When I don’t have it in me to make cookies, I make blondies! These six ingredient bars are great on their own, but chocolate chips make them sing.

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

One Big Chocolate Chip Cookie

If you love chocolate chip cookies and hate sharing, this is a great recipe to have in your back pocket.

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

And if you love sharing, this cake can’t be beat.

Have you made these or any of my other chocolate chip treats? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Friday Favorites: Chocolate Chips

Pecan Pie Bars

Pecan Pie BarsI’ve been thinking about Texas a lot lately, partially because I haven’t been to visit my family in 14 months and also because there was a devastating winter weather/energy crisis all over the state last week. Truly, I was consumed with horror listening to the news and compulsively checking in with friends and family to make sure they were alright.

Thankfully, all my loved ones seem to be “okay” (all things considered) and have handleable structural damage. I am obviously not personally affected as I haven’t lived in Texas for 13+ years, but I learned a few things about myself last week while I held my breath for everyone who does.

1) It doesn’t matter how far away I live or for how long, I will always hurt when Texas hurts.

2) If I am ever in a full-scale disaster, I’m calling my sister-in-law so she can tell me what to do. She thinks of everything and is the most prepared person I know. She ground coffee beans in her car, y’all.

3) Thinking about Texas makes me think about pecans, which make me think about pecan pie.

If you didn’t know, the pecan is the state nut of Texas (though we have a lot of men of note who might give it a run for its money). We call them “puh-cahns” in my neck of the woods and we put them in everything: chocolate chip cookies, sticky buns, Thanksgiving stuffing, you name it. The queen of all pecan desserts is obviously Pecan Pie, which (surprise!) happens to be the Texas state pie. It’s been declared by the Texas House of Representatives, so it’s legit.

I make a killer Maple Pecan Pie and have recipes for Pecan Pie Brownies and Pecan Pie Kolaches, but Pecan Pie Bars were missing from my culinary arsenal until last week. Rest assured, they were worth the wait.Pecan Pie BarsMy Pecan Pie Bars are thick and buttery, with equal layers of brown sugar shortbread and sweet pecan pie filling. While some pecan pie bar recipes have a single layer of pecans perched on top of approximately 100 feet of sugar goo that goes everywhere the second you take a bite, that’s just not my style. Nope! These babies are packed to the gills with toasted pecans and will not disintegrate before you finish them. Handheld desserts shouldn’t require a fork and three napkins, y’all.Pecan Pie BarsI prefer the pecans in my Pecan Pie (and adjacent desserts) to be chopped pretty thoroughly, but feel free to leave the pieces larger (or even whole) if that’s what makes you happy. You could also tile whole pecans on top of the filling before baking if a pretty topper is important to your Pecan Pie Bar enjoyment. As for me, I think these are pretty perfect as-is. They may not quite be the state pie of Texas, but they sure are delicious.Pecan Pie BarsIf you’d like to make a donation to help with hunger, housing or damage from the events in Texas last week, please consider supporting Funky Town Fridge, Austin Mutual Aid, or Lucha Dallas. I am seriously considering hosting a virtual baking class (either via Zoom or live on a social media platform) in the next few weeks to benefit continued relief down there. Would you be interested in participating or donating? Let me know in the comments!

Pecan Pie Bars
makes one 8- or 9-inch pan, about 12-16 bars

Pecan Pie Filling:
1 1/3 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
2/3 cup maple syrup or light corn syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Shortbread Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch rimmed square baking pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for easy removal. Set aside.

Scatter pecans on a dry rimmed sheet pan. Roast 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.

Make the shortbread crust. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It may be powdery, but should hold together when pinched.

Press shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using the flat bottom of a measuring cup (or the heel of your hand) to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Bake 10 minutes to set.

Make pecan pie filling. In a medium saucepan, whisk together maple syrup (or corn syrup), brown sugar, eggs, vinegar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Add butter. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat, just until it’s just beginning to bubble at the edges (about 7 minutes). Mixture will barely thicken.

Set a mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl. Pour filling mixture through to remove any bits of cooked egg. Fold pecans into filling.

Spoon pecan pie filling over par-baked shortbread. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the center barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Chill for 1-2 hours for cleanest slicing.

Use parchment overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into bars, wiping clean between cuts as necessary. Serve.

Leftovers will keep an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Pecan Pie BarsPecan Pie BarsPecan Pie Bars