Strawberry Streusel Cookie Bars

I’m still alive!

So…I haven’t posted a recipe since February of this year. That’s not to say that I haven’t been baking because I never really stop. However, I haven’t had much time to post (it’s been a crazy, busy year) and there’s also the fact that my kitchen is just about the smallest kitchen you could imagine. It’s temporary, so some day we will have a nice big kitchen with a lot of counter space. However, in the mean time it means I’m a little limited.

With the holidays coming around, I’m getting the baking itch more and more, and the itch to get creative with it as well. I’m also getting a craving for some delicious comfort food. This weekend I was set on making some type of bar, and wanted something with fruit and a streusel topping. Hence, these Strawberry Streusel Bars were born. They’re  not horribly complicated, even though they look decadent.

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Also, I believe that a good chocolate drizzle can improve most anything. For these bars I used premium white chocolate chips and a little oil to melt them with, and decorated them using a plastic bag (a super easy way to pipe icing, or do a drizzle on top of treats if you don’t have any professional instruments).

Ingredients:

Cookie bar base:

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup flour (I use the Kruteaz GF flour blend)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Strawberry topping

  • 1/2 carton of strawberries
  • 2 tsp sugar

Streusel topping

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick melted butter

Directions:

  1. Turn your oven on 350F.
  2. Mix the softened butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla extract and egg and beat until everything is blended.
  3. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and continue to mix until the dough is formed.
  4. Spray an 8×8 brownie pan with Pam and fill it with the cookie bar dough.
  5. Put the pan into the oven to cook for about 6-7 minutes.
  6. While that is starting to cook, make the strawberry topping. Cut about half a carton of strawberries up, add two tsp of sugar and put them in a food processor and pulse until they have a smooth consistency.
  7. Next, make the streusel topping. Put the flour in a bowl along with the brown sugar and the melted butter and mix it all together.
  8. After the pan has been in the oven for about 6-7 minutes, take it out temporarily. The ends will have started to cook and the middle will still be fairly soft, but it’ll be firm enough to add the strawberry and streusel.
  9. First, add the strawberry topping and spread it out evenly on top of the cookie bar.
  10. Next, add the streusel topping. It’ll still be kind of wet, so just break it apart with your fingers and crumble it around evenly on top of the strawberry. You don’t want to cover the strawberry completely, so make sure you leave some room in between.
  11. Bake the bars for about 15-20 more minutes. This might depend on your oven (mine took much longer than I expected, but I think my oven doesn’t get as hot as others). Watch the crumble on top and when it looks like it’s started to cook and is a little golden, the bars should be done.
  12. Pull them out of the oven and let them cool for about 30 minutes.
  13. Slice the bars evenly and remove them from the pan.
  14. Now for the drizzle: I put half a bag of white chocolate chips into a measuring cup along with a splash of canola oil. Usually they say to use coconut oil, which I didn’t have, so that would work as well. This should help the chocolate stay soft and not harden up too quickly.
  15. Put the measuring cup in the microwave for 30 seconds, take out and stir. Put it in for about another 30 seconds and take out and stir again. This time it should be melted.
  16. Pour the white chocolate into a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag. Clip the very end of the bag on the corner so that you have a “piping” bag and (quickly!) drizzle your bars. The chocolate started flowing out of my piping bag very quickly so make sure you’re ready to go. Otherwise you will have chocolate everywhere (it flows more quickly than icing).
  17. Enjoy!

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Glazed Lemon Zested Cookies

I had a challenge this week to make a dessert that was gluten-free and dairy-free. Now, I’m used to baking gluten-free as I’m able, but dairy-free is slightly more challenging as it requires no chocolate, butter, milk, etc. The important thing to note about baking gluten-free and dairy-free is that you don’t have to exclude these things, but rather replace them with alternatives that really do work just as well (I promise). In this case, I used gluten-free flour and a dairy-free butter spread.

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These cookies are super light and fluffy. That’s due to using two eggs (which I hand-whipped for a few minutes separately) as well as the gluten-free flour. I also chilled the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes as well to ensure that the cookies didn’t flat.

These cookies taste like a dreamsicle in a way and the lemon zest definitely enhances the flavor. I brought these to a ladies’ paint class and got rave reviews on them. In the past, I’ve done orange-zested cookies and those are delicious as well – so it’s up to your preference.

Cookie ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of flour (I used Pillsbury gluten-free)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter (I used Smart Balance dairy-free)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Set the oven to 350 F
  2. Mix together the first three ingredients in a bowl and set them aside.
  3. Put the softened butter and both sugars in the mixer and blend together.
  4. In a separate bowl, use a whisk and beat for 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs to the sugar mixture as well as the vanilla extract and continue to mix.
  5. Take a lemon and using a zester, add lemon zest into the mixture. If you don’t have a zester you can use a grater instead.
  6. Cut the lemon in half when you’re done and squeeze out the juice (you may want to do this over a strainer to catch the seeds). Get about a 1/3 cup of juice and then blend it in.
  7. Add the flour mix into the bowl, a little at a time until it is completed blended.
  8. Put the bowl in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  9. Scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet and put it in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies have risen. Try to take them out before or when you see the edges start to golden just a little. You don’t want to over-bake the cookies.

Glaze ingredients:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Splash of milk
  • Lemon Zest

Directions:

  1. Let the cookies cool completely (or else the glaze will not stick).
  2. Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl.
  3. Add the fresh lemon juice, vanilla extract, splash of milk and lemon zest. Whisk together.
  4. I completely estimated the powdered sugar here, but add more if the gaze
    is too thin. It should be a little thick, because it will run right off of the cookies.
  5. For best results, use a cookie drying rack on top of a cookie sheet so that the gaze can run off of the cookies and collect on the pan below. If you try to gaze them on a flat surface, you will have trouble getting them off once they dry and they will fall apart in the glaze.
  6. Use a spoon and drip the glaze over the cookies several times. Let the cookies dry completely for an hour or two before serving.

 

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Iced Egg Nog Cookies

If there’s one thing that I was truly obsessed with as a child around the holidays, it was egg nog. I would stalk the milk section of the grocery store as early as Thanksgiving until the shelves were fully-stocked with the thick, sugary concoction and beg my mom to buy it. No one else in my family would touch it, so I slowly savored it and drank just a little bit after dinner every night until it was gone and I could restock. Today, my adult self shivers at the thought of drinking a full cup of the stuff, but an iced egg nog cookie just sounded too good to pass up.

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As with any good holiday sweet recipe, a golden addition to the mix is a splash of alcohol. I used bourbon in this case, but many people put rum in their egg nog, so you could add that instead. It’s all about preference.

The icing is very rich, but tastes just like egg nog and it spiced just right with a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg to bring out all of the holiday flavors. The recipe uses two egg yolks, which I think gives them a little more of a eggy/cakey texture – they are very light.

I would like to dedicate this post to my Aunt Susan, who I think would have loved this recipe. She passed away in early October and was my number one fan of this blog and sweet treats in general. I know she’s up in heaven licking her lips and telling me how scrumptious these look.  ❤

Ingredients:

  • 1.75 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of cream of tartar
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 6 tbsp softened butter
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup egg nog
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp bourbon

Icing ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp egg nog
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of bourbon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Milk as needed

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix together the first seven dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, blend together the sugar and butter. Add in the egg yolks, vanilla, bourbon, and egg nog and continue to mix.
  4. Slowly add the dry mixture a little at a time until the dough is a good consistency.
  5. Scoop the dough into balls and put on the cookie sheet. This will work best with a cookie scooper as the dough is a little soft and sticky.
  6. Bake for around 10-12 minutes or until you see the very edges start to turn a little golden. Do not bake for too long, as you want them to be soft and light.
  7. Let the cookies cool a little bit while you make the icing.
  8. Using a hand mixer, blend together the icing ingredients. Add more powdered sugar or more milk as needed depending on the consistency you want your icing to be.
  9. Drip the icing over the cookies while they’re still slightly warm. Let the cookies sit out so that the icing can harden a little bit.
  10. Share and enjoy!

Pumpkin Crumble Coffee Cake

Pumpkin lovers rejoice! It is the season for pumpkin everything and although I try to resist the urge at times, I ultimately end up giving in to the craze each year. This year I discovered Trader Joe’s pumpkin pecan oatmeal (amazing), pumpkin spice cheerios and Private Selection New York Cheesecake Pumpkin ice cream.

I broke my foot a few weeks ago and am still recovering post-surgery so it’s been a little difficult to get around and I’ve had a lot of time at home. Although my mobility is limited, my desire to bake has not diminished and it gives me something to look forward to since I’m trapped at home unable to drive for a while. I have this awesome knee scooter that allows me to get around the kitchen fairly easily and it even has a basket on the front so I can transport my materials. I knew I had to bake something pumpkin-related before the month was over and the cravings diminished. Thus, I decided on a pumpkin crumble coffee cake.

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My husband is currently in grad school and this coffee cake was his on-the-go breakfast for a solid week and a half until it was gone. The treat is highly addictive and a delicious decadent indulgence. It’s perfect for a crisp fall morning alongside a nice cup of coffee.

Coffee Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup milk (I use almond)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

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Crumble Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1  cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg

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Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Milk (I used almond)

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8×8 pan with non-stick spray. If you have parchment paper, it may be easier to line the pan with it and make it long enough so the edges stick up and you can pull the cake out of the pan.
  2. In a bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, milk, eggs and vanilla until combined.
  4. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix only until it is evenly combined but no more.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and set aside.
  6. For the crumble, toss sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Stir in melted butter until crumbly. It will still be wet but you will be able to break it up into smaller pieces. Make sure the mixture is crumbly and, if it’s not, continue to add flour a little at a time.
  7. Crumble the topping over the batter in the pan into an even layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. When the cake has cooled and after you can cut it into pieces, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, maple syrup and add a little milk at a time. Add in spices as desired. Keep it on the thicker side so that it’s not too watery and soaks your cake. Drizzle it over the cake.
  9. Enjoy!

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Recipe adjusted from Sprinkle Some Sugar.

Savory Cheddar Mini Muffins

Two big feats today – I’m finally posting a recipe after a lengthy hiatus and it’s not a sweet! I had to make a side dish for a BBQ and a cheesy muffin sounded like an ideal complement.

I like the idea of the mini muffins because they’re easy to pop in your mouth…and you can also eat like five of them. One thing to note is that these are muffins, not biscuits which have a tougher, grittier texture. These are light and fluffy. I used almond milk as I usually do, but I imagine they would be even better with 2%/whole milk or even buttermilk if you have it.

If you make regular-sized muffins they will need to bake for a longer period of time, so adjust accordingly.

The muffins are best served warm with butter. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk (I use almond)
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Dash of onion powder
  • Dash of dill weed
  • Dash chili powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the milk, melted butter and egg.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  4. Add the cheeses to the dry mixture and blend.
  5. Slowly add the dry mixture to the milk mixture and blend together.
  6. Spray the muffin tin with cooking spray.
  7. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, each one about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to brown a little.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool.

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Glazed Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies

Nothing says sweet summertime quite like fresh strawberries. I love this time of year because it means a trip out to Huber’s Orchard and Winery where we pick our own strawberries and sample delicious wine. Each time, I come back with a plethora of strawberries that I can then turn into a new treat. The past two years, I made chocolate chip cupcakes with fresh strawberry icing (you haven’t lived until you’ve had fresh fruit icing). This year I decided to make some thumbprint cookies because they are fairly simple as far as ingredients go and you really get to taste the strawberries.

These cookies are called thumbprints because you make the indention in the middle of the cookie with your thumb. They are also called Hallongrotta, which is a common Swedish pastry. It actually means “raspberry cave” because they are often filled with raspberry jam – which would be delicious as well.

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The cookie part of this is ridiculously simple – flour, butter and sugar is all you really need, along with a dash of vanilla extract. I recommend trying almond extract instead if you’d like; I just didn’t have any on hand. I often make many of my recipes gluten-free or offer a GF version, however I have not tried these with GF flour so I can’t guarantee whether or not it will work as well.

If you want to keep the cookies really simple, you can just use a jam in the middle instead of the reduction that I’ll share here. I like to make everything fresh, but they will be good either way.

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Finally, I drizzle a glaze over the top to finish them off. If you don’t like things to be too sweet, you can leave the glaze off for more of a savory treat.

Ingredients

Cookies:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla or almond extract
  • 2 cups flour

Strawberry reduction:

  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar

Glaze:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Water
  • Dash of vanilla or almond extract

Instructions

Cookie Doughimage

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  3. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Add the flour a little at a time until dough is firm and slightly crumbly.
  5. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour if you have time.
  6. Roll the dough into balls and put them on the cookie tray. Press the middle of the cookie with your thumb and create a little indention in the middle.
  7. Set these aside or stick back in the refrigerator if the reduction or jam is not ready yet.

 

Strawberry Reduction

  1. In a food processor or blended, grind the strawberries for about 30 seconds.
  2. Place a fry pan on the stove and turn on high heat. Spray with a non-stick spray.
  3. Pour the blended strawberries into the pan.
  4. Add 2 tbsp of sugar to the pan as well.
  5. Stir constantly – do not leave the pan alone or the reduction will start to burn on the bottom of the pan.
  6. After the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir for about 3-4 minutes or until it starts to gel a little bit.
  7. Turn the heat off and let the reduction sit for a minute.
  8. Scoop the strawberry reduction into the indention in each cookie.
  9. Place cookies in the oven for about 12-14 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden.

 

Glazeimage

  1. Let the cookies cool completely (on a rack if possible).
  2. Place the rack on top of the pan to catch the drippings.
  3. Mix the powdered sugar and water together, with a dash of almond or vanilla extract. Keep adding powdered sugar until the glaze is fairly thick but still able to be spooned out.
  4. Take your spoon and scoop the glaze and drizzle onto the cookies. It is much easier if you do this on a rack where the glaze can drop off, instead of on the cookie pan, because the cookies will get a little soggy and may be hard to remove from the pan if you do it that way.
  5. Let the cookies sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze to set.

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Cookie dough recipe adapted from Allrecipes.

Lemon Pecan Cake Truffles

It’s been a slow 2016 in the K Bright kitchen, but I recently got excited to make something new for a family Easter gathering. I’ve never attempted cake pops or cake truffles, as I know it is typically a long and complicated process. However, I had some time to spare in the days leading up to the event.

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For these cake truffles, I used my gluten-free lemon cake recipe for the cake base (meaning this version can be gluten-free if you choose to do the same). You can use any cake as a base – even box cake mix if it’s easier for you. Sometimes these types of truffles can be very dense and overwhelming, so I wanted to add some crunch to them by contributing pecans into the mix. You can use whatever type of nut or crunchy addition that sounds appealing. I think the pecans were a good choice and, if you are going to add them, I would either buy pecan pieces or put them in a food processor to break them up into smaller pieces.

You can make these truffles for any occasion, and form them into any shape you desire. For Easter, I went with an obvious egg shape (no chance I was going to try and create bunnies). As far as the chocolate coating goes, I would use melting chips as these are easiest to heat in the microwave. You can either dip the eggs in the chocolate with a fork and lift out (might be a little difficult unless you have thinner chocolate) or you can put them on a drying rack with a pan underneath to catch the excess, and drizzle the chocolate on top and spread with a spoon, as I did.

As I said, this is not a quick process, so either carve out some time to make these or plan on making them a few days in advance and working on them piece by piece. You will have to bake the cake, let it cool, make icing (if you’d like, otherwise use store-bought), combine the cake and icing, form them into shapes, let them solidify in the refrigerator for several hours, coat them with chocolate and then let them solidify in the fridge yet again. I would keep them in the fridge until you plan on serving them as well.

Cake Ingredients:IMG_2260

  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 ¼ cup gluten-free flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ cup milk (I use almond)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ tablespoon finely-grated fresh lemon zest
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Cake Directions:

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with non-stick spray or rub with canola oil.
  2. Whisk together gluten-free flour mix, salt and baking powder until combined
    well.
  3. Stir together almond milk, canola oil, vanilla, a splash of lemon juice and lemon zest in another bowl.
  4. Crack your eggs and blend on high for about a minute.
  5. Blend sugar and eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed just until combined, about 1 minute.
  6. Reduce speed to low and add flour and milk mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined.
  7. Spread cake batter in pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes at the most.

 

Frosting Ingredients:IMG_2263

  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Splash of your choice of milk
  • Splash of lemon juice

Frosting Directions:

  1. Let butter soften a bit before making frosting.
  2. Blend butter with hand mixer.
  3. Add in vanilla extract.
  4. Add powdered sugar in 1/2 cup at a time. Add in splash of milk and lemon juice alternately.
  5. Blend until fully mixed.

Truffle Directions:IMG_2267

  1. Get a large bowl and crumble the cake (once cooled) into very small pieces.
  2. Add in the frosting, a little at a time, and mix it all together.
  3. Scoop out one ball of cake/frosting at a time and roll into a ball with your hands.
  4. Shape the ball into whatever you would like, or leave it as a ball if you would like to keep them in a cake pop form.
  5. Line the eggs or shapes on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for several hours (2-3).

Chocolate Coating:

  1. Put melting chips of your choice into a microwave-safe bowl and heat them for one minute to start.
  2. Continue to heat 30 seconds at a time, taking out to stir in between.
  3. Once the chips are melted (do not overheat, as you’ll burn the chocolate and it will be come hard) take it out and set up a station with your cake truffles.
  4. If using a fork and plate, dip the truffles into the chocolate holding them with a fork on the bottom and placing them on a plate. If you are using a drying rack, as I did, place the truffles on the drying rack and use a spoon to dole out the chocolate onto each truffle and spread around. It’s okay to let some drip down and fall off as you’ll need to cover the sides.
  5. Place the truffles in the fridge to cool for at least an hour.
  6. If not serving immediately, keep them refrigerated until you plan to serve them.