Thursday, December 8, 2022

Dutch Chocolate Bars


Dutch Chocolate Bars  (Source: Maida Heatter's Cookies (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1997 ed.), pg. 128.

This is one of the most simple and fastest desserts I've ever made and it doesn't require a mixer. That is good when your mixer resides downstairs in the pantry (a fancy name I use for "storage room"). 

They are very tasty but it is important to keep them airtight so that the filling will remain moist. A wonderful treat to have with your morning coffee!

This recipe makes 16-18 bars (depending on how you cut them).

Bottom Layer

1/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
5 1/3 TBS. (2 2/3 oz.) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 (use center rack).

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the sugar and the oats and then the butter. 

Place the dough in an unbuttered 8" pan. Press the dough to form a layer.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Prepare the topping as the crust bakes.


2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 TBS. butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 TBS. milk

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and the butter in top of a double boiler. Stir and remove from the heat.

Mix in the sugar.

Add the egg.

Add the vanilla and the milk. Mix until smooth.

Add the flour mixture and mix.

Remove the crust from the oven when ready and spread the topping over it.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until tester comes out clean. Do not overbake (the chocolate should remain moist).

Cool completely in the pan.

Cut into bars or squares with a sharp knife.

Store airtight and do not let me dry out. They are best when fresh.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Sycamore Cookies

Sycamore Cookies 
 (Source: Maida Heatter's Cookies (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1997ed.), pg. 67.

These cookies were a mess (as Michael would say - a "I Maida Mess") and I expected them to be something to forget. However, they are quite delicious so perhaps they should be called a "Maida Redo"? They are delicately crispy and taste like a peanut butter cookie with peanuts.

Although a relatively simple recipe, the problems arise when spreading the dough in the pan and removing them. I would like to try it again with perhaps a parchment sling to remove it from the pan and maybe a smaller pan.

But here are the instructions, as written and the outcome.

1 cup salted peanuts
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 325.

Butter a 10 1/2" x 15 1/2" jelly roll pan and place it in the freezer. This is to make it easier to spread the batter.

Chop the peanuts finely (I probably should have chopped the nuts more than I did but that did not affect the outcome).

Sift together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon. 

Beat the butter and add the vanilla and sugar. 

Mix in two tablespoons of the eggs...

Mix in the flour mixture...

and half of the nuts (reserving the remaining nuts).

Place large spoonfulls of the batter over the pan.

Use the back of a spoon to spread the batter (I found that using my fingertips worked better).

Spread the batter thin and it doesn't matter if there are skimpy areas.

Drizzle the remaining butter over the batter and spread it with a brush.

Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the batter.

Bake for 25 minutes. The top will be lightly brown and soft to the touch.

Let stand for 5 minutes and cut with a small knife into oblong sections. (I did not want to use a knife on my pan so I used an off-set spatula to slide underneath the batter and remove it. I then broke it apart. They were very crispy and I don't believe cutting would have been possible).

Store the cookies airtight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake (Source: Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2006 ed.), pg. 81.

I have to confess that I'm not a big fan of pumpkin and especially pumpkin-flavored desserts. However, if I must eat it, what better way of doing so than with chocolate? It sounds like a winner and sure enough, this cake is really nice. I decided to skip the nuts in this one because I have two other desserts for Thanksgiving with nuts and I often get annoyed with Maida because 95% of her recipes call for nuts. If you haven't noticed, they are very expensive these days!

The original recipe calls for a baking time of 1 1/2 hours! I started checking mine at 55 minutes and felt that one hour was enough. I usually tend to underbake my cakes slightly because they continue to bake after you remove them from the oven. So, I give a baking time of 1 hour to 1 hour fifteen minutes, but use your best judgement and keep checking.

2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
2 sticks sweet butter (softened)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin
1 1/2 cups walnuts (chopped)

Preheat the oven to 325. Generously butter a 10" Bundt pan and dust with fine bread crumbs.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Beat the butter until soft. Add the vanilla and the sugar. Mix well.

Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well.

On low speed, add half of the flour mixture...

Alternating with the pumpkin...

And ending with the last half of the flour mixture. Mix well and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the nuts.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour to 75 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. (See the note in the introduction. My cake was ready in 1 hour).

Let stand for 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Sprinkle with confectioners sugar if desired.