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Peaches and Cream Bars

When a neighbor extends an offer to you to grab some fruit off of their tree before they start pruning it back, you do not hesitate and say “Thank you!” I don’t eat peaches (or any kind of baked fruit) myself, but how could I say no to an offering of fresh free goodness and a new challenge?

What was the new challenge? Learning how to prep and peel peaches. I had no idea there was a processes due to the fruit being so soft.

Peaches and Cream Bars - crust and filling prep
Peaches and Cream Bars – crust and filling prep

Seeing as only one of us in the house was going to be eating whatever I made with these fresh peaches, I opted for bars instead of a cobbler or pie. They’re more versatile for snacks and desserts instead of just a large dessert. I was not surprised to find myself leaning toward a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, as her recipes have turned out great in my experiments before. This time was no different.

Let’s dive in.

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Preparing Peaches
Score a small X at the bottom of each peach. Don’t cut too deep.
Prepare a pot of boiling water and a separate bowl with an ice bath (ice cubes and water).
Once the water is boiling, lower each peach into the water using a slotted spoon. Turn the peaches occasionally. Let sit in the water for 30 secs – 1 min until skin loosens (time will vary by ripeness).
Using the slotted spoon, move each peach into the ice water bath and let sit for 1 min to stop the cooking process.
Take a peach out of the path one at a time. Starting at the X, begin peeling the skin off in strips, pulling up toward the top of the peach.
Toss out skin strips. Cut or slice peach as desired.

Peaches and Cream Bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Crust/Topping
1 cup (125 g) All purpose flour
1/2 cup (42 g) Old Fashion or quick cook oats
1/3 cup (67 g) packed brown sugar (light or brown, your choice)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup (70 g) chopped pecans (optional)

Prepare an 8″ or 9″ square pan by lining it with parchment paper with overhangs on all sides (for easy pull out after baking). Spray parchment paper with non-stick spray.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender or two forks, until coarse, pea-sized crumbs form (see Sally’s Baking Addiction post for reference photo).
Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture and put it into a small bowl. Add the pecans. Set aside as the topping.
Evenly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 mins.

Filling
1 large egg
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp (8g) All purpose flour
2 medium peaches, pealed and chopped (about 1.5 cups)

Whisk the egg and the sugar together until smooth and creamy. Add flour. Whisk until combined.
Fold in the peaches.
Remove the crust from the oven after 15 mins and pour filling over the hot crust. Sprinkle the topping mixture on top.
Bake for 30-32 mins or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 mins. Move to fridge and chill for 2 hrs. Once chilled, life out of the pan and cut into squares.

Icing
1/2 cup (60 g) confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk ingredients together. Add more milk to thin it if needed. Drizzle over each square.

Squares can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days if tightly wrapped or in a sealed container.

Peaches and Cream Bars
Peaches and Cream Bars
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Muggles Market and Geek Gala 2019

If you follow Casual Confections on social media, you’ve seen a lot of chatter leading up to the Muggles Market and Geek Gala which both took place last Saturday. Both events were a huge success!

Want to try your hand at making any of the goodies Casual Confections sold or donated to the events? Go for it! These are the recipes I started with and tweaked to end up with the current versions on my menu:

  • Cookie Cat Cookies
  • Butterbeer fudge (gluten free)
  • Dean’s I-Want-Pie Bars (gluten free, vegan)
  • Zuul Slime Cake
  • Strawberry Shortcake-ish Cake
    • Cake – yellow box cake mix
    • Topping – same fluff recipe as above, just add ground freeze dried strawberries, strawberry flavor oil, or strawberry Jell-O mix in place of the vanilla extract. Start with a small amount and add more to taste. Sprinkle with ground freeze dried strawberries.

 

Cookie Cat
Cookie Cat: brownie cookie with strawberry and plain marshmallow fluff

ButterbeerFudgeTray
Butterbeer fudge tray

PieBars
Dean’s I-Want-Pie Bars are very customizable, gluten free, and vegan

ZuulSlimeCake
Zuul Slime Cake: black cocoa cake with vanilla pudding slime

StrawberryShortcakeIshCake
Strawberry Shortcake-ish Cake

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Ice Cream Sandwiches

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making a traditional ice cream sandwich, but didn’t really carve out the time to do so. This week, a video from Delish.com came across my feed and I had to try it. They made red velvet ice cream sandwiches using a box mix. I had a box of devil’s food mix sitting in my pantry and some mint ice cream in the freezer and decided to give it a go.

This recipe takes almost no time on task to whip together. While my sandwich ends were more thin and cookie-like and less thick and cake-like, they made for a very tasty treat!

One thing to note, the recipe in the link has fewer details than the video. The butter should be melted. I creamed some softened butter for mine which may have played a role in the cookie vs cake texture.

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Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches (using a red velvet ice cream sandwich recipe)

1 box cake mix
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 gal ice cream, softened (apply as much as you like. I prefer a thinner ice cream layer, so I only used about half a carton)

Preheat oven 350°F. Line a large rimmed pan baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine mix, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Mix until evenly combined (mixture will be thick).

Spread the batter onto the prepared baking sheet. My batter was quite thick and I found it easier to drop globs on different parts of the pan and using an offset spatula to slowly work it around until there was a smooth and somewhat even layer of batter across the pan.

Bake until set (about 18-20 mins).

Let cool in the pan completely, then cut the cake in half across the middle to make two large rectangles. Spread ice cream onto one half and then place the second half on top to form one large sandwich. Freeze until ice cream is firm (about 2 hours) then slice it into bars (should yield about 12 depending on size of slices). Serve immediately.

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Sandwich
Chocolate mint ice cream sandwich

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Passover Chocolate Raspberry Pecan Squares

Passover is a time of family gatherings which means it’s a great time for baking! The challenge with Passover bakes, though, is that they cannot have rising agents. That means that most cakes and cookies are out. For this Passover, I made two bakes. The first is a chocolate raspberry pecan square recipe from Esthero Design.

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Passover Chocolate Raspberry Pecan Squares

Dough:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
2 cups potato starch
2 6oz bags of ground almonds

Topping:
12 oz chocolate chips (I went with milk chocolate)
8 oz chopped pecans
15 oz raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix the dough ingredients together.

Grease an 11″x17″ cookie sheet and press a piece of parchment paper onto the bottom. (Note: having some parchment paper hang over the sides will help with releasing the bars from the cookie sheet. Otherwise, you may end up needing to cut the bars on your sheet, which isn’t good for the sheet.) Press the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, making sure its distributed evenly. Bake for 20 mins.

Take the dough out of the oven. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. The jam will get easier to spread as it is heated by the hot dough. Sprinkle the chocolate and the pecans over the jam.

Bake for an additional 25 mins.

Allow the squares to cool completely before cutting.

Note: squares taste great frozen!

Passover Chocolate Raspberry Pecan Bars
Uncut tray of Passover chocolate raspberry pecan squares

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Coconut Crack Bars – Keto

My first keto-friendly, sugar-free experiment. I came across a post on The Big Man’s World for a coconut crack bar. Many friends have expressed interest in keto-friendly desserts so I wanted to try my hand at one.

This recipe is simple as you just mix three ingredients. However, it proved to be a pain in my butt today as I had to go to five stores to find unsweetened coconut and to Amazon for the syrup. After all of the running around, my bars didn’t turn out like the picture. However, they are very tasty, work well as a frozen treat, and surprised me with the monk fruit maple syrup!

One thing to note is that the recipe is not clear on whether it needs 1 cup of solid coconut oil, melted, or 1 cup of melted coconut oil. It’s possible mine have a bit more than intended leading to a thinner batter.

Curious? Give it a go!

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Coconut Crack Bars

3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup monk fruit sweetened maple syrup (I used Lakanto brand)

Line an 8×8 or 8×10 pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the shredded coconut. Add your melted coconut oil and monk fruit syrup and mix until a thick batter remains. If it is too crumbly, add a little extra syrup or a tiny bit of water.

Pour the coconut crack bar batter into the lined pan. Lightly wet your hands and press firmly into place. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. Cut into bars and enjoy.

Storage:
Room temp – 7 days
Fridge – 1 month
Freezer – 2 months

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Baklava

Over a year ago, I tried a bacon baklava recipe. It turned out really well! This time, I tried the recipe that the bacon one was modified from. This baklava recipe is from Closet Cooking.

Baklava is fairly straight forward and easy to make. If you’ve never used phyllo dough before, be forewarned that it is a pain. It is a thin dough so it likes to rip and tear and dry out. The dough may make you want to punch a wall, but the nice thing about baklava is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I had several layers of just pieces of shredded phyllo and some layers of uneven filling yet it looks, smells, and tastes great. So if you have the patience to not throw several sheets of phyllo against the wall in frustration, you will be rewarded with a sweet nutty treat. I used Athens phyllo dough instead of making my own.
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Baklava

4 cups walnuts, chopped (I did 2 cups walnuts, 2 cups pecans)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 cup melted butter (I always end up needing more, so have some handy)
1 lb phyllo pastry, thawed

Mix the nuts, cinnamon, and sugar into a bowl. Set aside.

Brush a 9×13 pan with butter. Place one sheet in the pan.* Brush the top of the sheet with butter. Repeat until there are 8 sheets in the pan. (*recipe recommends brushing the top of a sheet before placing in the pan, but I found it easier to brush after placing it in the pan)

Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan. Brush the top of another sheet of phyllo and place into the pan. Brush with butter and add a second sheet. Repeat for a third sheet. Sprinkle another 1/3 of the nut mixture into the pan. Butter and place two more phyllo sheets in the pan. Sprinkle the last 1/3 of the nut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan. Brush another sheet with phyllo and place in the pan. Continue until the last eight sheets are in the pan. Slice the baklava with a sharp knife. Bake at 350F until the top is a golden brown.

Syrup
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
2 inch slice of lemon peel
2 inch slice of orange peel
3/4 cup honey

Bring the water, sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon and orange peels to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add honey and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and peels from the syrup. Pour the syrup over the baklava when it comes out of the oven. Let the baklava cool for several hours.