White Chocolate Cashew Dulce de Leche Bars

In honor of Memorial Day, I’m posting about a certain dessert that I cannot stop thinking about.  I know it might not be the same concept as Memorial Day, but I felt that if I didn’t post about a dessert that I’ll remember forever (or at least a long time) I’d have no other way of acknowledging the holiday.

Besides saying Happy Memorial Day to everyone, and to thank the men and women who have served our nation.

So what makes these bars so darn good?  Well, it’s the flavor combination.  Three things I can’t get enough of (white chocolate, dulce de leche, and cashews) all in one delicious package?  Umm, yes please.

Yes please times a billion.  These bars are essentially a dulce de leche flavored blondie studded with chopped cashews and white chocolate chips.  Their texture is denser than that of a traditional blondie, and therefore even more dear to me.

I am one of those people who likes the gooey center pieces of brownie, not the firm, crispy edges, so to me, the soft chewiness the dulce de leche adds to these bars is ethereal.  Please excuse me, I’ve made myself hungry.  Time to hit the bars, if you catch my drift.

White Chocolate Cashew Dulce de Leche Bars

Adapted from The Capitol Baker

Makes one 8X8” pan

1/2 cup (1 stick)unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup Dulce de Leche (store-bought or homemade)
3/4 cup roasted salted cashews, roughly chopped

1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 x 8” pan and set aside.

Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan.  Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Add the brown sugar to the saucepan and whisk until mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the egg then add the salt and flour and stir until fully combined.  Add the dulce de leche to the batter and stir until it is uniformly combined, then fold in the cashew pieces and white chocolate chips.

Spread the batter evenly in the greased pan and bake for 35 minutes or until set in the center and golden brown at the edges.  A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.  Cool the bars completely in pan before cutting and serving.

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S’mores Cheesecake Bars

So a strange thing has started happening.  My former student’s prom pictures are popping up in my facebook news feed and…it makes me feel so old.  Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing.  It’s nice to be mature and independent, and I get to put on a big, poofy dress in a few months anyway, so I don’t really miss prom or high school life.

Going to Luke’s reunion was a reminder of our age as well.  I didn’t post yesterday because we decided to come home Saturday night instead of Sunday afternoon so Luke had a day to relax before work.  We didn’t get back until really late, and well, I was tired.

But the reunion was nice.  We had a good time, and reconnected, or in my case just connected, with some awesome people.  Luke even got told what a lucky man he is (to have me) by a former classmate 🙂  I knew I was armcandy!

Before my ego swells uncontrollably, let’s move on to the foods.  S’mores are a traditional summer snack, but with no campfire in sight (although I’m contemplating using that baking spices scented candle.) I’m finding other ways of working the summer staple into our dessert rotation.

Enter the s’mores cheesecake bar.  A crumbly graham cracker crust and toasted marshmallows sandwiching a creamy chocolately cheesecake layer.  Let’s call them fancy s’mores.  Let’s call them super amazing s’mores.  I just hope they can power me through my first GRE practice test.

S’more Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Sugar Plum

Makes one 8X8” pan

For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 6-7 graham crackers)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 ounces semi sweet or dark chocolate, melted

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

melted chocolate for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until well combined.  Pat into the bottom of baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and set on wire rack to cool.

In another medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and marshmallow cream until fluffy – about 1 minute. Beat in cocoa powder, vanilla and eggs until combined.  Stir in melted chocolate until combined. Pour filling over crust, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set, and no longer wobbly. Remove from oven.

Preheat oven broiler. Evenly top cheesecake with mini marshmallows and broil for about 10-20 seconds until marshmallows start to brown. Cool on a wire rack and drizzle with additional melted chocolate, if desired. Place in the refrigerator or freezer until well chilled, about an hour or two, and enjoy.


Pumpkin White Chocolate Blondies

Yesterday Luke and I attended our first and only wedding expo.  We were there for one specific reason: to sample the cake of a certain bakery so we could make a decision on where to get our wedding cake.

We accomplished this task about 10 minutes after the expo started.  Then we decided to nibble on a few of the provided hors d’oeurves and wander around carefully.  I say carefully because we just wanted to see what other kinds of booths there were, and not be assaulted by the salespeople attending them.  We already have all of our other vendors set, so we were just there to look.

 The woman at the front table was quite surprised to see us leave so early, but no reason to hang about needlessly since our decision was made.  With our extra time, we decided to go to the mall, looking for a new pair of corduroy pants for Luke.  I ended up getting a pair of jeans at the Gap for $7, but there were no corduroys to be found.  We also went to Trader Joe’s, to stock up on some of Luke’s favorite frozen food, as I’ll be away for a few days starting this coming weekend.

Ok, so that’s the life update, now onto the food.  I’m sure I must have proclaimed my love for pumpkin baked goods at some point, but here’s another out-of-season recipe to prove it.

These bars are thick and chewy, with just the right amount of pumpkin flavor.  I also like the pumpkin/white chocolate combination.  The original recipe called for semisweet chocolate, but I wanted to do something different.  Maybe next time I’ll use butterscotch morsels.  Oh goodness….to the kitchen!!!

Pumpkin White Chocolate Blondies

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Makes one 9X13” pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 cups white chocolate chips

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add pumpkin puree and mix well. The mixture will look somewhat curdled, but don’t worry about it.  Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake bars for 35-40 minutes or until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool bars completely in pan. Cut into squares and serve.


Apple Crumble Cheesecake Bars

Today marks my first annual Christmas cookie-baking marathon!  (hopefully)  Well, technically I’ll be baking both tomorrow and Saturday…can’t make everything Saturday morning.  I asked Luke’s family if I could bring dessert to their Christmas Eve party, and my offering of a cookie platter was accepted.  I’m so excited!  I’ve had the cookie recipes picked out for a week and am chomping at the bit to make them.  I get that way whenever I plan to bake something, or do things in general.  I’m always anxious to get started.

Especially to get started on a new holiday tradition.  This one though, will have a logical origin.  Unlike those of my past.  I asked my mother about where the pickle tradition came from…and she didn’t know either.  I guess it’ll just remain a mystery.  Baking Christmas cookies is always a logical tradition.  Heck, you don’t need a reason to make cookies ever.  Cookies in themselves are reason enough to make more cookies.  But making four different kinds might need a tiny bit of justification…just a smidgeon.  Which is that I get to keep all the cookies that don’t fit on the platter.  Score!

These bars need no justification at all.  Do you like apples?  Do you like cheesecake?  Is making an actual cheesecake a little excessive to justify at the moment? If you answered yes to these questions, you might be me, or at least, a very awesome person who would very much enjoy these bars.  A layer of shortbread combined with a layer of cheesecake filling topped with cinnamon apples and a buttery crumb topping, how could you resist?  Well, I couldn’t, and I was very glad to have done so.

Apple Crumble Cheesecake Bars

Adpated from Zoom Yummy

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

8oz cream cheese (1 package) , softened

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 large apple

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ cup old fashioned oats

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup (half a stick) of butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a small bowl, combine the first two ingredients, then cut in butter with a fork, or your fingers, until the mixture is crumbly.  Press the dough evenly into the bottom of a greased square 8” baking dish.  Bake for 15 mins, or until lightly browned.  Let cool when finished.

While the dough is baking, make the cheesecake layer.  In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add the egg, then stir to combine. Finally, add the vanilla and stir to combine.  To not overmix the batter, as that could lead to excess air incorporation, which could cause cracking.

Pour the mixture over the warm crust.  Peel and dice the apple.  (I did this step first.)  Mix with cinnamon and sugar, then covered the cream cheese layer with the apple chunks.

In another small bowl, combine the oats, sugar and flour.  Cut in butter with fork or fingers until the mixture is crumbly.  Spoon over the apples.  Bakes for 30 minutes, turning the temperature down to 300 for the last five minutes.  Cool on wire rack, then cut into bars.  Store bars in the refrigerator.