Bars, Tia's Treat of the Week

TTW: Snickers Brownie

I know the site has been a little delayed lately.  Don’t worry.  Tia is still cranking out her weekly’s.  It’s the fault of the blogger they have not made their way to the web.  I’m currently in the works to correcting this problem.

Here is a decadent one to keep you on a sugar high until I figure out the best way to keep this blog current.  This is a Snickers brownie that has about a million variations on Pinterest.  I will tell you, Tia said there was a lot of cursing when these bad boys were made.  They are difficult to cut and get out of the pan.  We’ve discussed some ideas for the future, like lining the sheet with parchment. But we wanted to give you the warning.  These suckers are ooey-gooey.

They also pack a punch in the sugar department.  If you have a weak sweet tooth, this will knock you over.  If you are sugar-lovin’ enough to handle a brownie inspired by a candy bar, than you are going to be in Heaven.

Rating: Doesn’t matter.  Tia said she’s NEVER making them again.

Tia's Treat of the Week

TTW: Snickerdoodle

The snickerdoodle is a classic cookie.  Funny part is the fact I’d never really had a snickerdoodle before meeting Tia.  She introduced me (and my daughter) to the world of a soft sugar cookie rolled in a cinnamon/sugar coating.  The concept sounds so simple, but as we’ve discovered through several tastings of snickerdoodles all over Oregon, it’s not as easy as it looks.

Success for the cookie is in the balance of cookie to sugar.  We’ve tried huge cookies where the sugar crust was sparse, hard cookies that didn’t give the comfort of a chewy consistency, and the worst of all gooey cookies on the edge of raw.  From our tastings, we’ve agreed Tia’s staple of the Betty Crocker Snickerdoodle is one of the best recipes around.  It has all of the best elements with a generous coating of sugar, a crisp outside edge with a soft middle, and the chewiness of a good homemade cookie.

If you don’t believe me about the awesomeness of this cookie, ask my 6-year-old daughter.  When she tried a local bakery’s version, she snubbed her nose and declared Tia’s were better.  On another occasion she asked if I would ask Tia to make her some of these cookies.  When I told her Tia was busy and we could try to make them together, she gave me a sideways look and said “Maybe she’ll do it if you whisper the question.”  Needless to say, Tia melted with the story, and my daughter ended up with a boatload of cookies.

Rating: Classic Delish

Cakes, Tia's Treat of the Week

TTW: Rainbow Cake

From the moment I saw the creation of Rainbow Cake I’ve been gushing, “We must make this.”  Tia answered the call before I had a chance.  It didn’t mean I was out of the loop.  In fact, we had many conversations about it before it was created.  But Tia did all the heavy lifting to complete the masterpiece.

After many oooh’s and aaah’s, people wanted to know how it was done.  The easy answer–you make a lot of cake and it takes a lot of time.  But if you are still interested, here’s a play-by-play.

Mix up your first batch of batter, divide it into two, and bring out your colors.  First step is coloring the batter:

The next step is baking.

Repeat three times until you have all the colors.

Now comes the assembly.  This is the area where we had the most discussion.  You could stack all your cakes and have an enormous final product.  I’m sure the kids would love it.  But I wanted something normal looking (and Tia agreed).  This is where you split the cakes and start assembling TWO separate cakes.  Yup, you heard me right — two.

As with any cake, especially important with a light-colored frosting, you need to do a crumb coating.  Tia used a whipped cream frosting which I think adds to the idea of the clouds on the outer edges of the rainbow.

The most amazing part is when you cut it open.  Remember those ooohs and aaahs I was talking about earlier?

Pretty cool, huh?  You can see at this finished level it’s important to have thin layers of white frosting between each of the cakes.  This really brings out the colors and keeps the cake from being a giant.

This cake definitely has a WOW factor.  I can’t wait to make it myself.  I’m excited to try some frosting techniques to match the coolness of the inside.  It isn’t really necessary because in the end, it’s about how it tastes.  And this cake was moist and delish!

Rating: A Rainbow of Flavor Delish.

Quick Breads, Tia's Treat of the Week

TTW: Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

There is something about April that reminds me of lemons.  Maybe it’s the matching yellow from the rough skin of the fruit to what it supposed to be the sun shining in the sky.  Or maybe it’s the fresh citrus smell to match the blooming tulips.  It may even be the hope there will be lemonade stands in the summer heat around the corner.  Although I’m not sure of the reason, I do know the reminder the sun should be coming out soon has been needed more than a couple times with this long winter extending it’s arm well into the spring months.

Tia went with a solid staple in her repertoire this week.  I love the combination of lemon and poppy seed.  The bread has a light consistency, but a gooey crunch from the sugary glaze on the top.  To say it was good would be misleading because it was downright fantastic.

Hopefully you will try the recipe and enjoy a taste of spring while you are fighting off the winter blues.  Trust me, if you do, you will be thanking Tia for bringing sunshine back into your life.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

2 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp poppy seeds
3 c all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ c milk

Icing:
2 tbsp lemon juice
¾ c confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350oF.  Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.  Combine sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and lemon extracts in a large bowl; mix well.  Stir in poppy seeds.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add flour mixture and milk to sugar mixture alternately, mixing well after each addition.  Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Loosen edges from sides of pans.  Cool loaves in pans for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto wire racks.

For icing, blend lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl.  Drizzle over warm loaves.

Bars, Tia's Treat of the Week

TTW: Banana Bars

When a banana passes that day where you want to eat it straight out of the peel, it turns into something delicious.  Sure, there’s no possible way you are going to eat it as a mushy mess and unless you have a baby in the house, no one else will either.  Bakers all over the world know the next step is to turn those slightly brown fruits into baked goodness.

Most people think of the obvious, banana bread.  But Tia’s treat this week is a nicely done variation of the traditional quick bread.  Instead, this gives a nice cake like texture with its softness versus the breads dense insides with a thicker crust.  The addition of mini chocolate chips and sprinkled with powdered sugar makes this a nice treat rather than a breakfast meal.  It might even be considered a healthy dessert.  Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but it was a nice addition to a long day at the office.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (about 3 medium) mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease a 15×10-inch jelly-roll pan.
COMBINE flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in bananas and egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture; stir in morsels. Spread into prepared jelly-roll pan.
BAKE for 20 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Rating: Going Bananas Delish

Drop Cookies, Tia's Treat of the Week

TTW: S’more Cookies

Even though I’m late in getting the treat to you, it wasn’t because Tia didn’t do it.  She’s kept up with her treat of the week and it is I who has delayed in getting it to you.  After doing breads and bars, Tia wanted to mix it up with something different.  It was the perfect time to bust out a s’more cookie.

I guess Tia is as interested for summer to get here as I am.  This cookie is based on the camping treat of graham crackers, Hershey chocolate, and marshmallow.  The dough of the cookie is made with crushed graham crackers and then topped with the traditional pieces.  When I sampled it, I thought the cookie was a bit crumbly for my taste.  It’s soft dough falls apart, not like how chewy one would hold it’s shape.  The marshmallow is what you would expect and it better be melted Hershey’s chocolate if you want satisfied cookie eaters.  If you even think of messing with semi-sweet or Nestle, you are ruining a classic combination.

I like the idea of these cookies.  They would be a great addition to any camping trip in lieu of the known s’more concoction.  The cookies reduce the worry of kids falling in the fire, what to do with marshmallow singed metal sticks, and how you get marshmallow out of a six year old’s hair.

Rating:  Delishy Goodness

Quick Breads, Tia's Treat of the Week

TTW: Hawaiian Bread

We’ve been buried under grey clouds and rain for far too long.  Last week it even snowed.  To fight away the dreaded winter blues, Tia showed up with a tropical quick bread.  Right from the start, the cheery yellow color brightened the room (and day).  The texture was typical of a quick bread with a dense middle flecked with coconut pieces and a nice soft crust around the outside.  The bread alone was delicious.

The thing which takes this bread to a different level than the typical banana or zucchini is the fact it came with a great spread.  Now, I will tell you Tia’s husband did not like the macadamia nuts in the cream cheese spread.  I disagree.  The crunch with the sweetness of pineapple chucks and the tang of the cream cheese made it something interesting.  (Looked pretty cool, too.)

It was a nice treat to remind us summer will be here one day and we will see the sun.  Even though we expect a heavy dose of rain next week, the bread gave me hope of feeling warmth again.  Okay, it didn’t really do all of that, but it was sure darn good.

Rating:  Really Delish

Bars, Tia's Treat of the Week

TTW: Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars

Like millions of other women out there, Tia and I are addicted to Pinterest.  It’s a hotbed for pinning different ideas and brainstorming our own twists on them.  One of our baking differences is Tia is traditional about following a recipe while I don’t sweat the details.  And at different times, we both are left scratching our heads wanting to know what went wrong.

Tia’s Treat of the Week was a recipe we both pinned separately and desperately want to try.  Tia cued it up for this week and we couldn’t wait to see the final product.  But what we got was something that left us perplexed.  Tia always doubles the recipe to feed her large team and the mooch batch of co-workers trolling around in the area when she brings in a tray.  But this might be part of the downfall of this recipe.  No doubles allowed.  Where the recipe indicated “dollops” of the cheesecake topping to be dropped in, Tia found the white creamed cake was covering the sea of red.  There was no swirl or anything resembling the photo we’d been gushing over for weeks.  Instead, the finished product baked up like this:

With any new recipe, Tia and I recap what went right and what went wrong.  The overall taste of the bar was good.  In our sampling of many cheesecake blend bars we’ve come to discover the cheesecake part doesn’t really stand out.  This one was the same.  However we didn’t expect the cheesecake part to separate and or the top to brown so much.  It isn’t anything near the creamy texture of cheesecake we were hoping for.  Even the red dye from the cake bled.  Not the look either of us wanted.

But this is the beauty of trying new recipes and having someone to talk to about them.  Tia’s team still mowed through them without hesitation.  Their representation of appreciation was evident even though it wasn’t the visual either of us expected.  It was a success for the team and a miss for the bars.

Rating:  Delish Miss

Bars, Tia's Treat of the Week

Tia’s Treat of the Week: Coconut Pie Bars

Tia and I both have “real” jobs.  The dreaded “day job.”  But we really don’t dread it that much because we work together and talk about baking a lot.  We have the same job of being supervisors over a staff of 14 each.  Part of our job involves making sure our staff knows how much we appreciate them.  For two chicks who like to bake and try out new recipes, I’ll give you one guess what we do the most for them.

Tia’s goal for 2012 was to make her team a new treat a week.  Some weeks will be her old standbys; the tried and true of her baking repertoire.  Other weeks, she looks for inspiration in other places.  (Can you say Pinterest?)  It’s been impressive to watch the different things she’s tried.

This week was coconut pie bars.  Tia was inspired to try this because it’s the pie flavor I can’t resist.  The creamy middle with the crunchy shreds on top are delish!  Tia was seduced by her favorite baked form, the bar, with its capability to feed more.  (Like a large team.)  Here were the results:

The toasted topping makes a great contrast in color and texture.

Everything is from scratch, of course.  Tia almost broke her arm whisking the custard to make sure it thickened properly and didn’t burn.  But she wasn’t too exhausted to finish it off with homemade whipped cream.  It would have been a crime to add something tragic like Cool Whip.  Oh, the terror of Cool Whip.

I can give you a first hand taste account it was delightful.  The bars served well and get a great shape after sitting on its own plate.  A testament to the success of the filling.  This was definitely a keeper recipe.

Rating:  Super-Delish!