Tag Archives: recipe

Best Ever Crumble Bars

19 Sep

Same stuff, different URL!

I have moved to: harvette.com

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About four years ago I came across a recipe for “Apricot Crumbles” in Real Simple magazine. I pulled it out and I’ve used it about a million times since then, though oddly enough never using apricot of any sort.

Though the original recipe calls for pre-made apricot jam with a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger added, this is an excellent base recipe for crumble bars that can adapt to any fruit filling you are currently inspired by. If you have about 3/4-1 cup (sometimes I like more filling) of your favorite jam, preserves or fruit compote, you can use it in this recipe. In fact, you could even skip the vanilla extract and cut back on a most of the sugar in the crust to go with a smaller amount of a more savory filling, like hot pepper jam or jelly for instance. Serve the finished crumble bar with a dollop of goat cheese or greek yogurt and that would probably taste divine!

Some of the combinations I’ve made in the past: raspberry jam with added cardamom and cinnamon, french blueberry preserves (the most expensive filling ever, at $10 a jar!), homemade apple cinnamon jam, homemade apple-cranberry jam… and the most recent one featured in this post: homemade blueberry-cherry jam with ginger and cinnamon.

I wish I could share the recipe for the blueberry-cherry jam, but it was really more of a “I want to make crumble bars, don’t have any pre-made jams on hand, let’s raid the frozen fresh fruit I have in the freezer” situation. If you’ve read any other post on this blog, you know I like to experiment and I’m also unfortunately (for YOU and ME!) bad at measuring when I get into experimentation mode. I threw a bunch of frozen blueberries and frozen cherries into a pot over medium heat and let them defrost. Then I added  sugar, powdered ginger and cinnamon and brought it to a boil, then let it bubble away for about 10 minutes. Came out very tasty and I even have left overs!

The recipe calls for using a food processor to blend all the ingredients. This is so that the cold butter is incorporated into the flour quickly, with minimal heat so that the butter stays cold  (same technique used for pie crust and other similar pastries) while it’s blended into the flour mixture.  I’ve never used a food processor until this most recent instance of making them. I didn’t really enjoy using the food processor this time – either my processor blades are dull or the processor is just a bit too small for this recipe, because I had a bit of a hard time getting the egg and vanilla (added at the very end) into the rest of the dough mixture.

Many years ago I learned a technique for blending cold butter into flour quickly from a Cook’s Illustrated article about making biscuits – it involves using just the very tips of your fingers to rub small chunks of the butter into the flour very quickly, flinging the pieces back into the bowl, never letting the butter warm up in your hands. It doesn’t really take much more time than a food processor, especially once you’ve done it a few times, and I think it’s important and fun to learn how to do these things by hand. It helps you understand how the ingredients you are using work together to make the desired end result.

To each their own though! I left the instructions for the food processor in the recipe because I can imagine that is how most people will make them.

Best Ever Crumble Bars

  • 1 3/4 sticks butter, cold, cut into pieces (I use salted, if you use unsalted add 1/2 teaspoon salt)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of your favorite jam, preserves or fruit compote

Heat oven to 375° F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking oil spray.

In a food processor, combine the flour, white and brown sugars, baking powder, and salt if needed. Pulse to combine.

Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and pulse until the mixture just comes together but is still crumbly. Transfer 3/4 cup of the dough to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Use your fingertips to press the remaining dough evenly into the baking dish, pushing the dough up about 1/4 inch around the edges.

Spread the fruit mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining refrigerated dough over the top.

Bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before cutting.

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Pumpkin Cookies

23 Aug

Same stuff, different URL!

I have moved to: harvette.com

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You could almost consider these cookies a quick bread in cookie disguise. Because of this they are great as a snack any time of the day – due to their muffiny texture, you can even eat them in the morning with your coffee and not feel guilty about having cookies for breakfast. Any cookie that tastes incredible AND doesn’t make me feel guilty is a winner in my book.

Many people make a version of pumpkin cookies in the fall – I’ve tried many variations on this recipe made by others, but I have to admit to enjoying my version of this recipe the most. These are moist without being too sticky on the outside of the cookie, light and airy and not dense and lumpy… all things I’ve experienced with other recipes. They also pair incredibly with dark chocolate – either in the form of  dark chocolate chips added to the batter or melted down and drizzled over top. I’ve also edited the spice mixture from what you would find on most recipes. I nixed nutmeg altogether (as I’ve mentioned before, it’s the most evil of all spices) and added ginger and cardamom, two spices that should be included in any fall spiced dessert!

I do caution you against making these on a humid day – because it seems that no matter what recipe you use, they are going to be sticky. Humid days aren’t for baking anyway, they’re for relaxing on a deck someplace with a glass of fruity sangria.

Note: This is a very sticky batter. Having a cookie scoop is incredibly useful for these cookies. I would not suggest buying one JUST for this recipe, but if you make cookies often and don’t already own one, or more, you should pick one up at your nearest kitchen store!

Pumpkin Cookies

With optional sugar glaze

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For optional glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and mix until creamy.

Mix in dry ingredients, just until all flour is incorporated.

Drop onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet by the tablespoon. Having a cookie scoop is incredibly helpful when making these cookies.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies on cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.

For the glaze: whisk the sugar and cinnamon together to combine. Slowly add very small amounts of  warm water (1-2 teaspoons to start) to the mixture until it just reaches a drizzle consistency. I brush my glaze on with a pastry brush, so the whole cookie is covered.

Time to Bake the Granola!

7 Aug

Same stuff, different URL!

I have moved to: harvette.com

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I’ve only made homemade granola once before today, last summer during one of my “gluten free” stints: it turned out OK but I promptly turned it into granola bars that were not very tasty. They tasted very “healthy” and not in a good way. I brought them to a party, no one really ate them (except for the “pity tries”) and I wasn’t very surprised. Those got mostly tossed.

I eat granola on a daily basis – at least one meal each day consists of greek yogurt, granola, raw nuts, a bit of honey or a bit of raspberry jam. This has been one of my favorite meals for years and it’s very often my lunch at work. I normally shell out the big bucks for small containers of healthy granolas that are high on nutrients and low on sugar and other uneeded crap.

So, with my granola recipe I was looking for something versatile that I could add nuts or dried fruit to – this time I’m using pecans and dried cranberries, my current favorite combo (another recent favorite is almonds and dried apricots). I read through a number of recipes before deciding to just make up my own recipe this morning – it turned out great, so I’ll share it with you! And just in case you were wondering, Ruby waited on the back deck while I cooked in the kitchen.

Granola

Yields about 6 1/2 cups, fit into a 7 cup container perfectly

NOTE: Due to the fact that my pecans got a little dark, I think I’ll wait until the last 5-10 minutes of cooking time to mix those in next time.

I used:

  • 5 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 1 cup pecan halves broken up into smaller pieces
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons canola or other cooking oil
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a very large cookie sheet or baking tray by spraying it with non-stick spray.

In a small sauce pan mix the liquid and spice ingredients: honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and canola oil. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar melts and the mixture just begins to bubble around the edges. It will smell AWESOME. Remove from heat to cool just a bit.

Measure the oats and break up the pecans, mixing them into the oats. Slowly pour the sugar mixture over the oat mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula – though, like me, you may find it easier to just stir with your hands, to ensure everything is evenly coated!

Turn out the entire mixture onto your prepared cookie sheet. My cookie sheet was FULL, so I patted it down and smoothed out the top.

Cook for about 30 minutes (the longer you cook it, the crunchier it will be), stirring it around at least once or twice. You may find it easier to remove the pan from the oven to stir the mixture around – my pan was so full I didn’t want to risk oats all over the bottom of my oven.

Once the mixture is browned to your liking (at 30 minutes the granola was perfectly crunchy for me, but most of the pecans were too browned for my liking), take out and place on a wire rack until completely cool.

Once cool, put into a storage container and mix in the dried cranberries. This should keep indefinitely in the fridge – but I’m going to try keeping it out of the fridge in an attempt to ensure it stays very crunchy.